This column by Kerry Picket was published May 1, 2013 on Breitbart.com.
Two Mississippi counties are facing lawsuits filed by the American Civil Rights Union (ACRU) that seek injunctions to compel election officials in Jefferson Davis and Walthall Counties to clean up their voter rolls. The two cases could have a nationwide ripple effect if the plaintiffs prevail.
“We hope to get an affirmative ruling from this court, and then proceed to other counties that have irregularities,” said ACRU Chairman Susan A. Carleson. “The goal is to ensure the integrity of the voting process, without which we cannot continue as a self-governing nation.”
Former U.S. Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams and former DOJ Voting Section Chiefs Christopher Coates and Henry Ross filed the lawsuits on behalf of the ACRU; they claim U.S. census data shows both counties have more active registered voters than there are voting age-eligible residents.
“Right now states fear the left more than they fear the enforcement of this law,” Adams told Breitbart News. “Look at Michigan. Right before the 2008 election, the Michigan Secretary of State started cleaning up their voter rolls of dead people and ineligible voters.”
“The left rushed in and filed a lawsuit against her under the same provision and blocked her from doing her job and so we had a 2008 presidential election with dirty voter rolls,” Adams claimed.
The lawsuit filed against Jefferson Davis County says the county has 10,078 active voters but only 9,536 age-eligible citizens. “More than 105 percent of living citizens old enough to vote were registered to vote in Jefferson Davis County in 2013,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit filed against Walthall, the county has 14,108 registered voters but only 11,368 age-eligible citizens. This would mean that 124 percent of Walthall’s eligible voters are registered to vote.
The plaintiffs asked the court to order election officials to make available records and data for public inspection as required by Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the “Motor Voter Law.” Under Section 8 of the NRVA, state and local election officials are required to make “a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters” from the voter rolls.
“Motor Voter passed in 1993. It had provisions in it that required registrations at DMV offices and other public welfare agency welfare offices. The voter registration part of it is Section 7,” Adams explained. “There was also Section 8 and that’s what we sued in Mississippi under. Section 8 requires counties and states to keep their voter rolls clean.”
“The problem is this law gathered dust for 20 years,” he continued. “And there hasn’t been a single private plaintiff who has ever brought and won a case under Section 8.”
“We intend to change that and have these two counties clean up their voter rolls,” Adams said.
According to Adams, only a private party like ACRU or the Justice Department can file such a lawsuit under Section 8. “But the Holder Justice Department will not enforce this law, because while I was there we were given instructions that they would not enforce this law,” Adams claimed.
Coates asserted that when he recommended that eight states be investigated for violation of Section 8, he was ignored by then-DOJ Civil Rights Division Chief Thomas Perez.
Former Justice Department Attorney Hans Von Spakovsky writes:
Eventually, Coates was forced out as a career manager at the Division because of his willingness to enforce this federal law, as well as for his views supporting race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (a view that Perez told the IG he does not share). In Perez’s opinion, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act does not protect white voters from racial discrimination.
Adams was Coates’ co-counsel; he resigned from the Justice Department over the dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. Perez is currently President Obama’s Secretary of Labor nominee.
Coates testified in front of the House Civil Rights Commission about the Justice Department’s reluctance to enforce Section 8 of the National Voter Rights Act; his testimony was detailed in the Inspector General’s report released four weeks ago. According to the OIG report, 13 witnesses claim Julie Fernandes, a political appointee in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ, “‘did not care about’ or ‘was not interested’ in pursuing Section 8 cases, or similar formulations.”
For instance, Chris Herren, who was later promoted by current Division leadership to Section Chief, told the OIG that Fernandes made a controversial and “very provocative” statement at this brown bag lunch. In particular, Herren stated that Fernandes stated something to the effect of “[Section 8] does nothing to help voters. We have no interest in that.” Herren told the OIG that he winced when he heard Fernandes’s response because he believed it would raise a controversy. Two other Section attorneys took 100 handwritten notes at the meeting, both of which quoted Fernandes saying that she did not “care” about Section 8.
The report later claims Fernandes defended her position of not taking on Section 8 cases:
Fernandes noted that the list-maintenance provision of Section 8 requires jurisdictions to employ reasonable, non-discriminatory measures to ensure that people who are eligible can vote and those who are ineligible cannot. Therefore, Fernandes stated, she does not care whether a jurisdiction’s voter list is big, but rather whether it has a list-maintenance program that does not work. She explained that the fact that a jurisdiction’s voter list is too big means that the Section may want to inquire about the jurisdiction’s list-maintenance program, but that alone would not justify bringing a lawsuit.
Adams, who testified about voter roll irregularities before the House Judiciary Committee recently, sees it differently: “This has partisan implications, because the Democrats like Eric Holder and Tom Perez seem perfectly content to have bloated voter rolls.” He added, “This also folds into the Perez nomination, because Tom Perez the labor nominee could’ve done something about this but chose not to enforce the law.”
“This is a nationwide problem. There are over 200 counties that are exactly the same that have more people than registered voters,” Adams said. “There are places in Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arizona. It’s a problem across the country.”
“Normally the left, ACLU, the Advancement Project, Project Vote, all the Soros funded groups, are the only groups that bring lawsuits under this law and it’s normally to open up floodgates and welfare agencies,” Adams explained. “The conservatives are usually outmanned 100 lawsuits to one, because conservatives don’t seem to care about process as much as the left does. So that’s why these cases are important.”
The two lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi are part of the ACRU’s Election Integrity Defense Project. The architects of the project include Edwin Meese III, who was U.S. Attorney General under Ronald Reagan and a board member of the ACRU, and J. Kenneth Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State and a member of the ACRU’s policy board.