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June 09, 2009

Department of Justice Takes a Pass on Protecting Voters

Hans A. von Spakovsky writes a stellar op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today about the new course set by Obama's DOJ when it comes to voting rights. He starts with the New Black Panther voter intimidation case we wrote about here at the HQ a few weeks ago:

Justice won the suit by default when the Black Panthers and three individual defendants didn't show up in court to deny the allegations. But instead of following through and getting an injunction to prevent this behavior in future elections, the department, now under Mr. Holder, dismissed the lawsuit against all but one of the defendants (the nightstick holder). Even then, Justice requested only a watered-down penalty: an injunction to prevent him from carrying a weapon in a polling place. But only in Philadelphia and only until 2012!

He then moves to AG Holder's DOJ abuse of the Voting Rights Act, again for partisan purposes:

Justice recently stopped Georgia from implementing a key provision of the Help America Vote Act. Passed in 2002, the act requires states to verify the accuracy of information voters provide on their registration forms by comparing it with state driver's license and Social Security records -- a sensible requirement. With input from Justice Department lawyers in 2008, Georgia implemented this verification process, including checking the citizenship status of applicants.

Has this verification process depressed minority voter turnout, as some claim? Hardly. There has been a 140% increase in Hispanic turnout and a 42% increase in black turnout since the 2004 election.

But Georgia is still covered under the outdated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires the state to submit any "change" in voting to the Justice Department for preclearance to assure it is not "discriminatory." On May 29, the department vetoed the state's verification program based on the spurious claim that it would have a "disparate" impact on minority voters -- particularly Asians and Hispanics, who are supposedly "twice as likely to appear on the list" of potential noncitizens than whites. Never mind that only 35% of Hispanics and 58% of Asians in Georgia are citizens. Or that not one eligible individual has come forward to claim this program prevented him from voting in the November election.

Read the whole thing.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:12 AM

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