WI's Republican AG Files Voter Suppression Suit
The Republican Attorney General of Wisconsin is in a position to meddle with elections, so of course he can't resist. J.B. Van Hollen has sued the state because it has not forced local clerks to "crosscheck voter names with driver's license records for voters who registered to vote or changed their addresses on or after Jan. 1, 2006." State election officials argue that conducting any required crosschecks "would cripple efforts to prepare for the Nov. 4 presidential election because they don't have the staff to check so many names in the next eight weeks."
If Van Hollen wanted to solve the problem, he would work with the governor and legislature to find a political resolution. That he chose instead to file a suit that seeks the disenfranchisement of newly registered voters suggests that Van Hollen's true motivation is the suppression of Wisconsin's new voters because they are enthusiastic supporters of Barack Obama. That suspicion is only heightened by Van Hollen's role as "state co-chair of John McCain's presidential campaign."
Van Hollen's lawsuit seeks an order that would impose a severe burden on the electoral process -- a burden that the Justice Department does not require. Van Hollen filed suit to force county clerks "to check the names of everyone who filed registration papers on or after Jan. 1, 2006 - more than 1 million people."
Department of Justice officials have said they want election officials to check only the names of those who filed paperwork by mail or with special registration deputies that work for volunteer groups. That would affect about 241,000 voters.
The fear is that Van Hollen's lawsuit would disenfranchise any legitimate voter who gave an address or other information on the registration forms that doesn't precisely match DOT records.
Board officials say it is common for voters to have data that does not match for innocent reasons, such as missing middle initials or mistyped driver's license IDs. One in five voters who registered to vote last month initially failed the data check. ...
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Waunakee) said as the highest-ranking elected Republican in Wisconsin, Van Hollen "should be careful not to use his office to try to undermine democracy. Bureaucratic failures should not deny someone's right to vote."
Van Hollen's public position -- he denies that he's trying to remove everyone who doesn't pass a crosscheck -- differs from the remedy his lawsuit seeks.
Van Hollen's suit asks a Dane County judge to issue an order "to remove ineligible voters" from the voters list.
Van Hollen's special assistant provides a more nuanced explanation:
He said Van Hollen is not asking the state to take away the voting rights of people who have missing initials or other minor errors because that's a matter for the board to decide.
So Van Hollen just wants the clerks to identify the voters who have missing initials and it will be up to the Government Accountability Board to decide whether they get to vote. Great. And why are we doing all this in the absence of any but the most anecdotal evidence that fraudulent registration is a problem?
Van Hollen is doing this because Barack Obama inspired record numbers of new voter registrations in Wisconsin. The more of those voters who are disenfranchised on a technicality, the better are John McCain's chances of winning Wisconsin. What's good for John McCain is good for J.B. Van Hollen. He can look forward to a nice job in the McCain administration.
And that's just one more reason to vote for Obama.
|< NATO And Georgia: Not A Campaign Issue But A Real Issue | Palin Derangement Syndrome >|