US Justice Dept: Non-GOP Votes Not Worth Protecting

Author Steven Rosenfeld shares this timely Alternet commentary in the hope people with power to protect the upcoming election will see reason and respond to the need to stop Republican voter- disenfranchisement schemes, which are well under way. So far, those seeking to protect American votes are getting no reply — apparently, the Justice Department only answers the cries of GOPpers whining about ACORN and its nonexistent threat…

Be sure to read the entire article. Make no mistake: GOP vote-stealing, voter intimidation and vote suppression is the McCain/Palin ticket to “victory.” If they are ultimately successful, prepare for the eight-year-long Bush nightmare to continue and this time around, it will be much, much worse. Fight – fight – fight for every vote to count and for every voter to be respected… or get ready for a Palin in the White House.

Partisan considerations still appear to be contributing to the Department of Justice’s actions when it comes to enforcing the nation’s voting rights laws.

With Election Day less than two weeks away, proponents of more tightly regulating the voting process — this time led by congressional Republicans — have gotten their desired response from the nation’s guardian of civil rights’ laws: a FBI investigation into ACORN, the low-income advocacy coalition that registered 1.3 million new voters in 2008.

Last week, two FBI officials told reporters an ACORN investigation was underway, violating Department rules for disclosing information on cases that could impact an election. The Obama campaign’s response was to ask the Attorney General to include that leak in a special prosecutors’ investigation of the U.S. attorney firing scandal. No response to that request has been forthcoming.

But more disturbing to civil rights attorneys is the Department’s silence on what voting rights lawyers say are myriad voter suppression tactics by partisans in the campaign’s final weeks. These efforts include attempts by Republicans to disqualify legal voter registrations, unlawfully purge voters, threaten individual voters with polling place challenges, fabricate barriers to student voting and abuse prosecutorial authority by investigating 2008’s early voters.

“Voter suppression is not new. But this year has brought heightened efforts to disenfranchise and intimidate voters,” said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, in a Wednesday press conference. “We’ve seen legal challenges to registered, valid voters in Ohio; Fear tactics threatening that mortgage foreclosures or unpaid bills will thwart your right to vote or may even result in arrest; and massive attempts to confuse voters through robo-calls, official looking web sites and e-mails. These are targeted and insidious attempts to suppress the vote, particularly in communities of color.”

The Justice Department … does not have to wait until Election Day to act. Under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, the Department can move to stop voter intimidation schemes without having to prove the motive behind those actions. This section of the law does not require the government show any intent by partisans to discriminate, the lawyers say. Instead, if the result is intimidation or suppression of minority voters, it can act.

“We really need the Justice Department to get out there and make a pronouncement, publicly, that voter intimidation and voter suppression will not be tolerated because it violates federal law,” said Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and a former Department Voting Section Chief. “We have asked the Attorney General to do this and thus far there has been a deafening silence.”

“I think the Department’s response to these issues, at best, is tepid, and at worst ignores what we think is a serious problem and their responsibility to address it,” Henderson said. “The Department of Justice often argues that its jurisdiction is limited. But we think the interpretation that they have given to their jurisdiction is exceedingly narrow and it certainly ignores the larger responsibility to use the bully pulpit of the Attorney General to make clear that the Department will vigorously prosecute where possible, under federal law, any attempt to suppress the right of duly registered American citizens.”

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