La. Sec’y of State: DOJ abusing Motor Voter law for ‘political agenda’

Kevin Mooney Kevin is a journalist and investigative reporter for the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.
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Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler told The Daily Caller that the federal Motor Voter law was set up to “ensure controversy” and that the Obama administration is using it “to advance a political agenda.”

“I think it’s time for someone in the states to stand up against this foolishness coming out of Washington D.C.,” he said.

Schedler’s concerns echo those of a former Justice Department civil rights lawyer who recently told a Tulane Law School audience that the Obama administration is selectively choosing which parts of the National Voter Registration Act to enforce, in order to expand the voter rolls in every way possible.

The Obama DOJ filed suit against Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration in July 2011, claiming that the state failed to provide eligible voters with sufficient opportunities to register. Under Section 7 of the Motor Voter law that President Bill Clinton signed in 1993, state health and social service agencies are required to offer voter registration forms to all eligible adults.

Project Vote, an affiliate of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has filed a separate Motor Voter suit against Louisiana, in partnership with the NAACP.

Both lawsuits focus on Section 7 of the law while ignoring Section 8, a provision requiring state officials to keep voter rolls up to date, and to purge the names of deceased and ineligible voters in order to reduce the opportunity for voter fraud.

Schedler told TheDC that Louisiana government agencies have taken a “proactive approach” toward voter registration. He also explained that there is no evidence of state employees deliberately neglecting to make voter registration forms available, even though citizens who come to the same agency 10 times for services must, by law, be offered the same voter-registration opportunity on all 10 occasions.

“With all the challenges we have today, I find it hard to believe that our federal officials having nothing better to do than filing these kinds of suits,” Schedler exclaimed.

While attorneys in the Obama Justice Department are busy enforcing Section 7 of the in the run up to the November elections, they have consistently declined to enforce the anti-fraud Section 8 for ideological reasons, said attorney J. Christian Adams during a recent Tulane Law School forum sponsored by the Federalist Society.

Adams is a five-year DOJ veteran who served in the department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Congress passed Section 7 and Section 8 as a way to increase participation and as a way to combat voter fraud,” Adams said during his talk. “It was a compromise.”

“Section 7 would not have become law without Section 8, because there would not have been enough votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster of Motor Voter. What we have now in the Justice Department are bureaucrats who have vetoed out that compromise from 1993.”

In his book “Injustice,” Adams described how Obama’s top DOJ appointees scuttled Section 8 investigations that could have limited the opportunity for fraudulent voting.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes made it clear during a “brown bag” meeting in November 2009, he wrote, that the agency had “no interest in enforcing that provision of the law” since it was not related to boosting voter turnout.

Christopher Coates, the former chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section, testified in September 2010 before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, saying that there were eight U.S. states with more voter names listed on some counties’ registration forms than there were citizens of eligible voting age. This, he said, put those states out of compliance with Section 8 requirements.

Since DOJ refuses to take action, Adams intends to personally sue governments in 16 states where he says people are listed on voter rolls who are not eligible to vote.

He cited several parishes in Louisiana with “implausible” registration numbers that exceed the number of people living there, according to U.S. Census data. The parishes include Cameron, St. Helena, St. Bernard, Orleans, St. Landry and Plaquemines.

The public interest watchdog Judicial Watch recently obtained documents under the Freedom Of Information Act that highlight a relationship between the Obama DOJ and various pressure groups. That list includes ACORN’s Project Vote, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Fair Elections Legal Network and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Judicial Watch has argued that the Motor Voter law is being used as part of a national strategy to maximize Democratic turnout for President Obama in 2012.

And Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN Project Vote employee who is now aligned with the tea party, now encourages Louisiana officials to resist a legal settlement with the federal government “that will tie their hands” and make voter fraud easier to carry out.

Settlements reached in New MexicoIndianaRhode Island and other states, she explained, now constrain state officials from purging voter rolls of any ineligible names until after the November elections.

“The lawsuits are coming out of nowhere in multiple states and they are coming fast,” MonCrief told The Daily Caller. “This is part of a coordinated effort. These groups are very well-funded, and they have lawyers doing pro-bono work. The idea is to pressure secretaries of state into accepting consent agreements that will weaken election laws.”

MonCrief testified against Project Vote and ACORN in a 2008 Pennsylvania election lawsuit.

In his book, Adams explored what he says is active coordination between the Obama DOJ, ACORN’s Project Vote, the NAACP and other groups.

“The DOJs aggressive hiring of left-wing activists is tantamount to providing a taxpayer subsidy to their movement,” he wrote.

In Louisiana, Schedler doesn’t appear ready to wave a white flag anytime soon. He believes that if the Motor Voter law’s registration requirement is worth enforcing, its anti-fraud provision must also be protected.

“I’m not going to surrender,” he told TheDC. “We will fight this. It is patently unfair.”

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