Lawsuit filed over AG investigation into ballot fraud
There's been a lot of noise made by Republicans in the past couple of years about ballot fraud. It's what's been driving their efforts to require picture IDs when voting, and now it's driving Attorney General Greg Abbott's investigations into violations of a 2003 state law that makes it a crime to put other voters' absentee ballots in the mail or deliver them to election officials. You hear a lot about how "epidemic" these abuses are.
Problem is, a lot of the allegations being made are crap. Nobody ever cites any actual evidence that anything other than a tiny number of votes are being cast by people who misrepresent themselves at the ballot box. And Abbott's methods are being challenged by a lawsuit that claims he is enforcing the law in an unconstitutional manner.
Democrats complain, and the suit will argue, that Abbott is selectively enforcing the law against Hispanics and blacks to intimidate minority voters and dilute their strength at the polls.
Abbott, a Republican, said he's enforcing state law to root out an "epidemic" of fraud and to prevent "cheaters" from abusing or intimidating the elderly or disabled. For too long, he argues, Texas officials have failed to hold accountable those who undermine the electoral process.
"This has to do with breaking state law, falsifying state documents, registering illegal people to vote, casting votes for people who are dead, casting votes for other people," he said.
Abbott announced in August the indictment of a Hispanic Port Lavaca city councilwoman on allegations she falsely registered and encouraged noncitizens to vote and told one voter how to mark a ballot. Last month a Corpus Christi woman pleaded guilty to marking ballots for other voters without their consent, a third-degree felony. And, in July 2005, another woman pleaded guilty to mailing in a ballot for her dead mother.
Yet, of the 13 individuals indicted on charges of voter fraud by Abbott, 10 are accused of simply possessing another's absentee ballot for delivery to election officials or to a mailbox, Democrats say. Such activities had been legal until the 2003 law turned them into crimes.
Note first that Abbott's definition of an "epidemic" is 13 cases, of which 10 involve an activity that used to be legal. According to the Lone Star Project
, the total number of ballots in question is 50. Given that the lowest turnout in a statewide election since 1998 is 3.7 million, that's got to be one of the smallest epidemics I've ever seen.
Both Democratic and Republican political activists have traditionally assisted elderly or home-bound voters who need help in voting, said attorney J. Gerald Hebert, executive director of the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center, who plans to file the lawsuit on behalf of Democrats.
"Now, merely possessing the mail-in ballot of another person is a misdemeanor. If you do it for several voters, it becomes a felony. It is my view that this is unconstitutional," said Hebert, who headed the U.S. Justice Department's voting section of the civil rights division until 1994.
Democrats also complain that of the 13 individuals indicted by Abbott for voter fraud, 12 are minority women while one is a white male. Moreover, Abbott's voter fraud indictments include no Republicans.
"I think it's evident that Abbott's practice of singling out minorities and seniors is a shallow political effort to suppress the votes," said Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Amber Moon. "It's being done disingenuously. The majority of these cases are well-meaning folks who are simply trying to help their neighbors to vote."
Abbott's PowerPoint primer on voter fraud, "Investigating Election Code Violations," illustrates the discriminatory nature of his enforcement, Hebert argues, because it cues law enforcement to link voter fraud with black voters.
One slide alerts authorities to look for evidence of fraud on documents, especially specialty stamps. It depicts a sickle cell anemia stamp of a black woman holding a black baby, a stamp often used by blacks.
Another slide shows five black people in line for early voting, noting "all laws apply," while no white or Caucasian people are shown voting in the 71-slide presentation.
Abbot spokesman Tom Kelley said the stamp depicted was among evidence gathered in one investigation, but there was "absolutely no reason whatsoever" that the presentation only portrays blacks voting.
Just one of those coincidences, I'm sure. Look, this whole thing is baloney from top to bottom. It's overblown in a way that would make Andy Taylor blush, it's nakedly political, and it's too focused on minority voters. I'd say Abbott should be ashamed of himself, but based on this report it's not clear to me that he has it in him. PDiddie
Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 19, 2006 to Legal matters
More Ballots...Less Fraud...
The Let America Vote Act!
Call it LAVA....
THE LET AMERICA VOTE ACT!
CALL ON CONGRESS TO PASS 'EMERGENCY PAPER BALLOT LEGISLATION' NOW!
Every Registered American Voter Must Be Allowed to Vote This November!
Given this year's primary election meltdowns and train wrecks that we've been reporting since March 7th of this year, in which electronic voting machines have failed to start up and thousands of American voters have been turned away from the polls when they came to vote, but couldn't
Given the fact that one such meltdown occurred last Tuesday in Maryland, where many of the DC media and politicos live
Given VelvetRevolution's new Princeton Diebold Virus Hack report demonstrating conclusively that electronic voting machines may be hacked in a minute's time resulting in flipped elections without a trace left behind
Giving that American democracy and the right to vote in that democracy ought to be a beacon to the world.
It is NOW time for Emergency Paper Ballot Legislation to be brought and passed immediately by both houses of the U.S. Congress, in order to at least mitigate the coming train wreck this November 7th.
Call it the Let America Vote Act (LAVA) of 2006 Let democracy flow!
The legislation can, and should be, as short as a single paragraph so that it can be read and passed quickly by every U.S. Congress member. It can apply only to this November's general election, if that is needed to get it passed and signed quickly.
It should read something like this.
LET AMERICA VOTE ACT
(EMERGENCY PAPER BALLOT MANDATE OF 2006)
Emergency paper ballots shall be made available at every voting jurisdiction in the United States during the November 7th, 2006 General Election. These paper ballots shall be available in sufficient numbers for optional use by voters who prefer to use them, and by all voters in the event of voting machine failure or unavailability. These paper ballots are not to be provisional ballots, but regular paper ballots that shall be counted immediately upon the close of polls on election night along with all other votes cast by properly registered voters.
Note: At this point, I don't give a damn how the Emergency Paper Ballots will be counted; by hand, by optical scanner, whatever. So long as voters are not disenfranchised by the millions - as thousands have already been so far in this year's primary elections across the country - by showing up to the polling place only to be told they can't vote at all, or by being told they must vote provisionally (provisional ballots are not counted on election night, and frequently not at all) because the new voting machines are broken or otherwise unavailable.
States such as Texas, Arkansas and other have already had to do this this year when Secretaries of State put out emergency notices to Elections Administrators to create such Emergency Paper Ballots after the voting machine companies failed to provide programmed ballots or working machines.
All states are already required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to have such paper ballots available at every polling place as Provisional Ballots, so those can be copied NOW if need be for use as Emergency Paper Ballots (which is better than the scraps of paper some counties reportedly have tried to use in emergency situations so far this year!)
BOTTOM LINE: With the passage of this Emergency Legislation, at least properly registered American citizens will be able to cast a vote on Election Day if they choose to!
Feel free to call it the "Hail Mary Emergency Election Protection Act" if you want. I don't much care, so long as it's passed by Congress in time to ensure that voters can actually vote this November!
I've spoken with a number of people on the Hill and within the Election Integrity movement scientists, activists, politicians, in DC and around the country, and they have all been in favor of this legislation and have pledged their support.
I am attempting to find sponsorship for this bill in Congress, and I'm calling on all Election Integrity organizations and concerned citizens who may have better connections than I to help find such Congressional sponsorship immediately.
I am calling on these same people to then call on Congress to pass this legislation immediately!
I am hoping to have an official version/wording of the bill posted shortly. It will, of course, be available as a new item here at The BRAD BLOG no later than tomorrow. It will spell out, in official "bill-like" language, precisely what I've posted above.
Democracy is at stake. After at least two years of reporting in exhaustive details on these matters here, and at this late stage of the game, I believe the above "reform" is, unfortunately, the most we can likely hope for in time to have any real impact in mitigating a full-on train wreck during this November's crucial exercise of the rite of democracy.
Please forward this item to everybody you know, cross-post it or link to it as you see fit (this is the URL: http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3495) And please contact your Congress person and ask them to support and/or sponsor this initiative today!