90 Miles From Tyranny : Left works to loosen election rules, experts say

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Left works to loosen election rules, experts say

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org
Four secretaries of state gave presentations on elections security measures in their states at the True the Vote conference in Houston this weekend.
Four secretaries of state discussed elections-security measures at the True the Vote conference in Houston this weekend.
HOUSTON – The Legion of Doom is spending $100 million to wreak chaos on the American electoral system and then exploit that lawlessness to get leftist candidates elected.

That was the message at the annual summit of True the Vote held in Houston in this weekend.

Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s president, was joking with the comic book reference, but she was serious about the danger.

In December, some three dozen of the most prominent liberal groups in the country, including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the NAACP, and the National Education Association, launched an initiative to rewrite the ground rules of American politics in their favor.

Elections law attorney Christian Adams said the groups had pledged more than $100 million to three procedural issues: restricting spending on political advertisements, expanding voter rolls while blocking voter ID laws, and reforming Senate rules to curb the filibuster.

“Here’s what liberals do: they worry about process,” said Cleta Mitchell, a political law attorney. “Process, process, process.”

While Republicans are talking policy and politics, she said, “the left is always trying to rewrite the rules of the game.”

“Our side does not seem to understand this,” Adams said.

While the press tends to portray True the Vote’s efforts as a discriminatory solution to a non-existent problem, the group sees its efforts as a late entry into a field of law that’s been the exclusive domain of liberals for decades.

“For 20 years, (leftist) groups like Project Vote were the only people litigating,” Adams said. “Our side was too busy buying radio ads.”

Even now, whenever there are elections law hearings in a statehouse or amici briefs to be filed, True the Vote often finds itself alone on one side, Adams said, while on the other, “there is a pack of wolves – well-funded, heavily lawyered wolves.”

Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN/Project Vote operative who blew the whistle on corruption there, reminded the audience of the extent of the group’s fraud – out of one batch of 1.3 million registered voters, maybe 450,000 would be found legitimate.

“They ever expected anyone to stand up and fight for election integrity,” MonCrief said.

“The left isn’t fighting for election integrity,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “They’re not fighting for what they say they’re fighting for. When they talk about increasing turnout, they’re talking about getting people who are ineligible to vote to vote.”

The standard accusation from the left is that voter ID laws are meant to disenfranchise minorities. The charge can be traced back to a single study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, based on a 2006 phone survey of 987 self-professed American citizens.

The researchers asked people if they were Americans and if they could get the papers to prove it by “tomorrow,” and then extrapolated from the survey what that meant for the country as a whole.

Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation has just published a new paper citing a U.S. Census survey that found that while registration difficulties are relatively rare, they disproportionately affect wealthy and educated voters.

A panel of four secretaries of state said voter ID laws aren’t keeping people from voting in their states. Kris Kobach of Kansas said that of 1.2 million voters in the last election, 838 people didn’t bring a photo ID. Since Kansas law allows you cast a provisional ballot and bring the ID in later, 300 people followed up. Kobach checked on the remainder, and about 500 of them had licenses.

“So we’re down to about 30 people without photo IDs,” Kobach said. The idea that anyone is being kept from voting because of ID laws “is a myth.”

Matt Schultz, the secretary of state of Iowa, said voter ID opponents were resorting to name-calling.

“They try and basically call you a racist,” he said. “They call you names to make you feel like you did something bad.”

Schultz pointed out that he speaks Spanish, had lived for two years in Argentina, and his wife is Latina.

In practice, Iowa’s election security measures haven’t been anti-Latino, either, he said.

“Most of the people we’ve caught so far have been Canadians,” he said.

Adryana Boyne, the director of development for Voto Honesto, the group’s Latino outreach initiative, said, “Latinos are people that are used to have a photo ID with them.”

As if to prove the point, Voto Honesto invited Victor Manuel Guerra, the executive director of Mexico’s federal elections registry, to give a presentation on how Mexico handles elections security.

To repeated audible gasps of pleasure from the audience, Guerra reviewed Mexico’s various security measures.

There are universal voter ID cards – 92 percent of the population has a current one. The latest versions of these have not just the photos and holograms found on U.S. identity documents, but a digital fingerprint, a signature, a quick-response (QR) code, and another machine-readable code.

Mexico handles its undocumented citizens with a simple, effective measure: two friends or family members (who do have ID) vouch for him.

“In each of the polling stations, there is this booklet that has the picture and information of each citizen that can vote in that location,” Guerra said.

And instead of passing out little flag stickers that say “Ya voté,” poll workers dip each voter’s finger in a dye that lasts for two weeks, so nobody comes back for seconds.

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