Congressional leaders must decide whether to try to rewrite the provision the court struck, but it’s not clear how such an effort would fare in the Democratic-led Senate and the GOP-controlled House. And at the state level, elected Republicans are enacting tighter voting restrictions that Democrats blast as harmful to their traditional base of supporters and groups the Republicans say they want to attract.
“I’m hopeful Congress will put politics aside,” Cantor said, “and find a responsible path forward that ensures that the sacred obligation of voting in this country remains protected.”
I don’t think Republicans are doing or plan on doing any “outreach” at all, on anything, but there’s a bigger myth in this narrative and it’s that national Republicans are somehow better than state level Republicans on voting rights. The only reason we don’t have restrictive national legislation on voting from national Republicans like what see at the state level is because most election law is state law. That’s why we needed the Voting Rights Act.
Let’s go all the way back to the Bush Administration and see how Republicans did on voting rights nationally, back when Republicans were principled centrist moderate good government types. We don’t even have to go back to Bush v Gore. There was plenty after that. Let’s begin with the witch hunts national Republicans launched against individual voters who might be Democrats:
Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records.
Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.
Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show. The push to prosecute voter fraud figured in the removals last year of at least two United States attorneys whom Republican politicians or party officials had criticized for failing to pursue cases.
Previously, charges were generally brought just against conspiracies to corrupt the election process, not against individual offenders. The Justice Department stand is backed by Republican Party and White House officials, including Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser. The White House has acknowledged that he relayed Republican complaints to President Bush and the Justice Department that some prosecutors were not attacking voter fraud vigorously. In speeches, Mr. Rove often mentions fraud accusations and warns of tainted elections.
Enlisted to help lead the effort was Hans A. von Spakovsky, a lawyer and Republican volunteer in the Florida recount. In 2003, when the Texas Congressional redistricting spearheaded by the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, was sent to the Justice Department for approval, the career staff members unanimously said it discriminated against African-American and Latino voters. Mr. Spakovsky overruled the staff, said Joseph Rich, a former lawyer in the office. Mr. Spakovsky did the same thing when they recommended the rejection of a voter identification law in Georgia considered harmful to black voters. The Republican National Committee and its state organizations supported the push, repeatedly calling for a crackdown.
After the 2000 Florida election debacle, Congress established a body called the Election Assistance Commission to improve voting and democracy in this country. Two years ago, the commission approached me about doing a project that would take a preliminary look at voter fraud and intimidation and make recommendations for further research on the issues.
Yet, after sitting on the draft for six months, the EAC publicly released a report — citing it as based on work by me and my co-author — that completely stood our own work on its head.
We said that our preliminary research found widespread agreement among administrators, academics and election experts from all points on the political spectrum that allegations of fraud through voter impersonation at polling places were greatly exaggerated. The commission chose instead to state that the issue was a matter of considerable debate. And while we found that problems of voter intimidation were still prevalent in a variety of forms, the commission excluded much of the discussion of voter intimidation.
What was behind the strange handling of our report? It’s still unclear, but it is worth noting that during the time the commission was holding our draft, claims about voter fraud and efforts to advance the cause of strict voter identification laws were at a fever pitch in Congress and the states. And it has been reported that some U.S. attorneys were being fired because they failed to pursue weakly supported voter fraud cases with sufficient zeal.
If the point of these narratives about an imaginary national/state Republican split on voting rights is that national Republicans may have a difficult time pretending they are better than state level Republicans on voting rights, I agree, it will be hard to pull that off. There’s no difference between national and state level Republicans on voting rights. They’re opposed.