Following up my post below on the new stepped up Justice department efforts to root out Democratic voters and throw out the votes of those who do manage to vote, Jeffrey Toobin has an article in the New Yorker on the same subject. Jesus, it's going to be tough to win this one even if we win this one. It's not just the voting machines:
On October 8, 2002, Attorney General Ashcroft stood before an invited audience in the Great Hall of the Justice Department to outline his vision of voting rights, in words that owed much to the rhetoric used by L.B.J. and Lincoln. “The right of citizens to vote and have their vote count is the cornerstone of our democracy—the necessary precondition of government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Ashcroft told the group, which included several veteran civil-rights lawyers.
The Attorney General had come forward to launch the Voting Access and Integrity Initiative, whose name refers to the two main traditions in voting-rights law. Voter-access efforts, which have long been associated with Democrats, seek to remove barriers that discourage poor and minority voters; the Voting Rights Act itself is the paradigmatic voter-access policy. The voting-integrity movement, which has traditionally been favored by Republicans, targets fraud in the voting process, from voter registration to voting and ballot counting. Despite the title, Ashcroft’s proposal favored the “integrity” side of the ledger, mainly by assigning a federal prosecutor to watch for election crimes in each judicial district. These lawyers, Ashcroft said, would “deter and detect discrimination, prevent electoral corruption, and bring violators to justice.”
Von Spakovsky, a longtime activist in the voting-integrity cause, has emerged as the Administration’s chief operative on voting rights. Before going to Washington, he was a lawyer in private practice and a Republican appointee to the Fulton County Registration and Election Board, which runs elections in Atlanta. He belonged to the Federalist Society, a prominent organization of conservative lawyers, and had also joined the board of advisers of a lesser-known group called the Voting Integrity Project
The V.I.P. was founded by Deborah Phillips, a former county official of the Virginia Republican Party, as an organization devoted principally to fighting voting fraud and promoting voter education. In 1997, von Spakovsky wrote an article for the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a conservative research group, that called for an aggressive campaign to “purge” the election rolls of felons. Within months of that article’s publication, the V.I.P. helped put von Spakovsky’s idea into action. Phillips met with the company that designed the process for the removal of alleged felons from the voting rolls in Florida, a process that led, notoriously, to the mistaken disenfranchisement of thousands of voters, most of them Democratic, before the 2000 election. (This year, Florida again tried to purge its voting rolls of felons, but the method was found to be so riddled with errors that it had to be abandoned.) During the thirty-six-day recount in Florida, von Spakovsky worked there as a volunteer for the Bush campaign. After the Inauguration, he was hired as an attorney in the Voting Section and was soon promoted to be counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, in what is known as the “front office” of the Civil Rights Division. In that position, von Spakovsky, who is forty-five years old, has become an important voice in the Voting Section. (Von Spakovsky, citing Justice Department policy, has also declined repeated requests to be interviewed.)
Well, I feel much better about these coming elections knowing that such a fair minded, non-partisan civil servant is working to ensure that all goes well.
In case anyone is wondering about the Voter Integrity project, it is another poisonous tentacle of the VRWC run by Helen Blackwell, wife of Morton Blackwell uber-conservative co-founder of the Moral Majority, recently renowned for the classy act of handing out purple band-aids at the Republican convention. (More on Blackwell at Democratic Veteran.)
I think it's also a good bet that Spakovsky is friends with the infamous Buckhead, fellow Atlanta republican elections board supervisor and federalist society clone.
Sometimes I think this whole VRWC could fit into a large jacuzzi.