Showing posts with label Reince Priebus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reince Priebus. Show all posts

Apr 1, 2013

Stopping that 'Urban' Vote

Update: Here we are, March 2014. The Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act a year ago; Republican attacks on early voting in cities continue; Republicans enact obstructive voter ID laws in state where they have power; and Paul Ryan keeps sounding the racist dog whistles about the "inner cities." In Wisconsin, Right Wisconsin, a new Tea Bagger website, is known among political writers as White Wisconsin. Thousands of Scott Walker and his aides' emails are ordered released, and racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic jokes are found to circulate freely in Scott Walker land.

Racism and misogyny are the theme songs for a political party that has become detestable.
"Well, I could call my good friend, Lenny Kravitz. He's only half-urban," said (in disgust) the fictional talk show producer, Artie, in the hilarious Larry Sanders Show (HBO. 1992-1998).

Artie refers to the fictional network's concern that the guest rap group, Wu-Tang Clan, is too black and scary for small-town white America.

The relevancy to today's politics is that the Republican Party and the Tea Party will not halt their voter obstruction program aimed at 'urban' voters, and use the same euphemism, urban for black.

The difference between elections and comedy is depriving Americans of the right to vote is not a funny matter, outside of Tea Party and GOP circles where a sitting GOP member of Congress feels free to make "wet back" jokes on the radio.

Without racism, the GOP and Tea Party (the white parties) are dead.

In Wisconsin, urban means Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties. Along with Dane County, these four counties comprise some one-third of Wisconsin's 2012 presidential election voting total.

The GOP stops enough 'urban' people voting, and they win.

The current national GOP chair is Wisconsin GOP's voter obstruction operative, Reince Priebus, so look for this contemptible voter obstruction program to continue regardless of wins the Wisconsin Supreme Court race.

As Paul Ryan said after the 2012 presidential election, "The surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race." (Shear, Steinhauer. NYT. Nov. 13, 2012)

Those "urban" voters—almost a half century after the civil rights movement's legislative accomplishments like the Voting Rights Act, they still don't know their place.

Maybe the five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court (and the four Republicans on the Wisconsin Supreme Court) can take care of this "urban" problem.

Dec 6, 2012

New GOP Chair: Mascot or the Weasel

Jim Galloway writes today that "disappointed Republicans have been lining up behind J.C. Watts as an alternative to GOP national chairman Reince Preibus, who faces a re-election bid early next year. In this well-worth-watching CNN clip with Erin Burnett from last night, Watts takes on Republican detachment from the minorities it seeks to bring into the party’s ranks."

So, to front for the GOP, the nation sees Reince Preibus (enough said), and J.C. Watts.

As David Plotz memorably wrote of Watts (and Oklahoma) in 1998:

Watts is slightly less conservative than those three [Oklahoma crazies]--he halfheartedly defends affirmative action--but no less unworthy of national influence. The [former] lone black congressional Republican and a former football star, Watts offers little but a sunny temperament and bootstrapping Christian banalities. Issues stump him. Republicans studiously overlook his deficiencies because he's such good press: He delivered a major speech to the 1996 Republican National Convention and the Republican response to the 1997 State of the Union address, two plums that no other two term congressman would ever get. ... Watts is too unimpressive to be more than a mascot.
Doesn't know issues and is unimpressive. Perfect for the GOP.

If Watts gets the GOP gig, don't look for him to suddenly say: 'You know what? Blocking blacks from voting is just unAmerican.'

Nov 3, 2012

RNC Scandal Includes Wisconsin

Nathan Sproul
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

Criminal Investigation of GOP Voter Registration Worker Arrested for Destroying Forms in Virginia Expands to Broader Probe of RNC-Hired Firm

Brad Friedman has a must read this morning on Nathan Sproul's Strategic Allied Consulting firm that suppressed Democratic-leaning voters in a far-reaching program of illegal, political dirty tricks committed by a shady outfit hired by the national Republican National Committee and state Republican parties.

Friedman has broken numerous stories on Sproul and his Strategic Allied Consulting:

When the RNC invested $3 million to hire Strategic Allied Consulting, a company quietly created this August by Sproul, a paid political consultant to Mitt Romney, and then instructed state GOP affiliates in seven key battleground states (Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin and Ohio) to do the same, they knew very well about his companies' long documented history of alleged electoral misconduct and voter registration fraud.
Nixonian. One could say Reince Priebusian, Wisconsin's own voter obstruction operative now atop the RNC.

May 31, 2012

Desperate GOP: Block the Black and Brown from Voting

Andrew Goodman - Murdered in 1964 for
standing up for voting rights of our black brothers
Born  Andrew Goodman

(1943-11-23) November 23, 1943
New York City
Died June 21, 1964 (1964-06-21) (aged 20)
Mississippi, U.S.
Cause of death   Murder
Ethnicity   Jewish

Minorities are actually voting in the Wisconsin recall elections!!!

Early absentee voting in Milwaukee foreshadows a heavy turn-out in Milwaukee County.

And the GOP is already busily at work trying to discredit the recall election against Scott Walker and gin up hatred towards Milwaukee African-Americans.

The nerve of minorities for voting!

See Cognitive Dissidence.

Hatemonger, Charlie Sykes:

"If this election turns out to be neck-and-neck; if it turns out to be decided, let's say Tom Barrett were to win this election by, say, 7,000 votes, I can tell you right now: There is not a single conservative, not a single Republican in the state of Wisconsin that would think that was a legitimate election, that it was not stolen. ...

On fellow hatemonger, RNC chair Reince Priebus:

The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Wednesday GOP candidates have to perform 1 or 2 percentage points better than they otherwise would to overcome voter fraud -- claiming that voter fraud is far more pervasive than what official reports have shown.

Ralph McGill (1898-1969)
Writing on the front page of the Atlanta Constitution in 1958: "You do not preach and encourage hatred for the Negro and hope to restrict it to that field. It is an old, old story. It is one repeated over and over again in history. When the wolves of hate are loosed on one people, then no one is safe."."
- Ralph McGill
Atlanta Constitution, Oct. 13, 1958
McGill won the Pulitzer Prize for a furious column denouncing the 1958 bombing of a Jewish Temple. The journalist, who had covered the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938, linked the bombings of the 1950s-60s to the racial hatred of the South’s white leaders. History is repeated today, as GOP leaders denounce blacks and Latins' voting as "fraud," as hate crimes rise with the approval of the Republican Party.

Mar 9, 2012

GOP Loses Big Voter Suppression Case in Federal Court

Federal Court of Appeals Districts
Wisconsin is only one battle in the GOP war against voters.

Without massive voter suppression, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus and the GOP cannot win a national electoral election.

So the RNC has tried to launch its 'ballot security' project again used to intimidate minority voters.

The Court of Appeals for the Third District knocked the RNC down in a unanimous opinion issued yesterday against the GOP's reprehensible practice.

Steven Rosenfeld quotes from the opinion reading:

The RNC asks that our court vacate a decree that has as its central purpose preventing the intimidation and suppression of minority voters. When, as here, a party voluntarily enters into a consent decree not once, but twice, and then waits over a quarter of a century before filing a motion to vacate to modify the decree, such action gives us pause... At present, appellant [the RNC] seeks review of the District Court's order denying vacatur because it prefers not to comply with the Consent Decree at a critical political juncture -- the upcoming election cycle.
Rosenfeld notes, "In other words, the RNC was hoping to remove the legal bind it agreed to three decades ago so that it could obstruct the voting process in 2012's swing states."

No matter how vital, how fundamental, voting rights are to a democracy the Republican Party seeks to undermine voting as an integral part of its desperate acts to rule over the American people.

Case is DNC; New Jersey Democratic State Committee; Feggins; Monroe v. RNC; New Jersey Republican State Committee; Hurtado, Kaufman, Kelly [No. 09-4615 - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District]

Feb 18, 2011

Wisconsin Battle Goes National; Reince Priebus Says: "Obama -- Send Your Union Thugs back to DC"

Update: "An agenda of busting public employee unions does not appear to be any sort of budgetary silver bullet, and instead, should just be understood as representing the ancient conservative hostility to unions and workers' rights generally," said Ed Kilgore.

Reince Priebus, Chairman, Republican National Committee, in a fund-raising appeal this afternoon is telling his supporters that Wisconsin families are "union thugs" sent by Organizing for America -- the remnant of the 2008 Obama Campaign and current arm of the Democrat National Committee.

The appeal makes no mention of collective bargaining rights nor the unions' stated intention to negotiate, bargain and offer concessions on pensions, health care and salaries.

The title of the Priebus e-mail is "Obama -- Send Your Union Thugs back to DC."

The Priebus e-mail continues:
Clearly Obama and his DNC cronies are determined to ignore the will of the Wisconsin people and the clear message they sent to the politicians in Madison last November. The Democrats' "politics as usual" tactics of rewarding their leftist special interest allies at the expense of the taxpayers would be tolerated no more. ... [emphasis in original]

Today the fight is in Wisconsin, but soon it will be nationwide.

Jan 15, 2011

New GOP National Chair Is Voter Obstruction Operative from Wisconsin

The Republican National Committee selected a new leader on Friday, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, the NYT reports. So who is Reince Priebus? Priebus is a partisan, voter obstruction operative from Wisconsin who lost his bids to roll back Wisconsin's historically progressive tradition to open and fair elections.Priebus is the outgoing chair of Republican Party of Wisconsin and a partner with the GOP-heavy law firm, Michael Best and Friedrich (LLP), recently retained by the new GOP-led Wisconsin state legislature to redraw and gerrymander national and Wisconsin legislative districts. (The GOP legislature is not allowing democrats to have the counsel of tax-financed law firms to redraw districts.)

The Michael Best and Friedrich firm includes another partner, former Bush-Cheney, corrupt and disgraced U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Steven M. Biskupic, infamous for his prosecutions of the innocent DOJ-VA-persecuted veteran, Keith Roberts, the innocent Georgia Thompson, and several overturned voter fraud cases [see also Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals].
Voter obstruction

Priebus is known in Wisconsin political-journalistic circles for his dedicated (and so far unsuccessful) efforts to obstruct Wisconsin voters, suppressing the wrong kind of votersblack, old, and disabled. The Priebus-led voter obstruction programs are consonant with national GOP efforts to obstruct Democratically leaning voters.

In October 2008, it was reported by Mark Pitsch (Wisconsin State Journal) and WisPolitics that Priebus and Republican Wisconsin Attorney General (and McCain-Palin co-chair) J.B. Van Hollen (and Van Hollen's top aide) met before and at the 2008 National Republican Convention in St. Paul to discuss voter obstruction efforts which would be employed by the Van Hollen-headed Wisconsin Department of Justice during the late stages of 2008 presidential campaign and on election day.

GOP allegations of organized voter fraud has been shown to be a fiction, by the Brennan Center for Justice and by a Wisconsin-federal committee looking into past GOP allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 election.

After contacts with Priebus, Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed a lawsuit (Van Hollen v. Government Accountability Board)demanding that the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) use the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to obstruct Wisconsin voters.

Van Hollen had denied any contacts with the Republican Party and the McCain campaign about this voting rule lawsuit, a denial that was contradicted by WisPolitics' reporting of an audio recording revealing Van Hollen promising legal action to Priebus on alleged "voter fraud" during an address at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul.

Several civil rights and public interests groups submitted their amici curiae brief in support of the Wisconsin General Accountability Board's (GAB) successful motion to dismiss the Attorney General's legal petition. The Van Hollen-Priebus suit was subsequently tossed out of court by Dane County (Wisconsn) Judge Maryann Sumi.

In some many words, Priebus and Van Hollen lost their efforts to obstruct voters in Wisconsin in 2008.

Sumi ruled on October 23, 2008, citing precedent and federal and Wisconsin law: "'It is evident that this court has consistently placed a premium on giving effect to the will of the voter.' ... 'the will of the voter in terms of the ability to go to the polls, vested with the franchise' (to vote)." ... "Nothing in state or federal law requires that there be a data match (among bureaucratic listings of names) as a prerequisite for a citizen's right to vote." [Opinion - Order and Hearing Transcript (Case No 08CV4085)]

The GOP searches for other tools to obstruct.

2011 and on

After the GOP retook the Wisconsin legislature in 2010, one of the Party's first bills introduced in 2011 is a photo ID bill that would "mean folks without driver's licenses - disproportionately poor, minority, or elderly, would not be able to vote." (Neil Heinen, WISC TV)

Reince Priebus must be proud.

Sep 21, 2010

GOP and Tea Party Team Up to Obstruct Voters in Wisconsin - Plot Caught on Tape

- CAUGHT ON TAPE: Wisconsin GOP and Tea Party Target to block Minorities and College-age Voters in Voter Caging Plot -

Those high Wisconsin election turn-out rates just drive the GOP and the self-proclaimed liberty-loving Tea Partiers crazy.

Listen to the voting-obstruction tape: Download the audio of the Tea Party meeting. Read documents detailing voter suppression plan, read transcript of Tea Party meeting audio.

Plot begs question: Is Wisconsin alone in Tea Party-GOP voter obstruction plot?

From One Wisconsin Now and Save Wisconsin's Vote:
The Conspirators of the Voter obstruction plot

Wisconsin GOP

Republican Party of WI

WISGOP will allegedly provide training for 'poll watchers' and an army of lawyers to support the caging efforts. WISGOP would also allegedly provide the voter database to create the caging list.

Americans For Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity

AFP of Wisconsin will allegedly provide the funding for the mailer to be sent to voters targeted for caging.

Tea Party Groups

WI Tea Party Groups

Various Tea Party groups would provide volunteers who will act as poll watchers on

GOP- Tea Party Coordination on Voter Caging, Targeting Minorities, College Students Outlined in Documents, Tea Party Meeting Recording

A coordinated plot by the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and organizations in the so-called Tea Party movement targeting minority voters and college students in a possibly illegal "voter caging" effort for voter suppression has been uncovered in evidence we have obtained.

Based on what we have heard, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and leading Tea Party organizations are in collusion in an effort to suppress the ability of minorities and university students in Wisconsin to exercise their right to vote this November. We will be providing all of the evidence we have received on this wrongdoing to federal and state authorities so that they can investigate to ensure justice and democracy prevail."

One Wisconsin Now has filed formal requests for investigation with the U.S. Attorney's Office, as well as the Wisconsin Attorney General's Election Integrity Task Force and the Government Accountability Board demanding a full investigation to ensure the right to vote is not stolen by these plans.
The non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice outlines the process of voter caging:
Voter caging is the practice of sending mail to addresses on the voter rolls, compiling a list of the mail that is returned undelivered, and using that list to purge or challenge voters registrations on the grounds that the voters on the list do not legally reside at their registered addresses. Supporters of voter caging defend the practice as a means of preventing votes cast by ineligible voters. Voter caging, however, is notoriously unreliable. If it is treated (unjustifiably) as the sole basis for determining that a voter is ineligible or does not live at the address at which he or she registered, it can lead to the unwarranted purge or challenge of eligible voters. ...Moreover, the practice has often been targeted at minority voters, making the effects even more pernicious. [Brennan Center, "A Guide to Voter Caging," 6/29/07]One Wisconsin Now obtained an audio recording it has verified as authentic from a June 12, 2010 meeting between the leaders of the state's Tea Party movement, led by Tim Dake, head of the GrandSons of Liberty. Dake serves as a regular spokesperson for Wisconsin's Tea Party organizations and is widely viewed as the movement's Wisconsin leader. The full audio, available at One Wisconsin Now's voter protection website,, details the plans for a coordinated voter suppression efforts, which is anchored in challenging voter eligibility on Election Day this November 2.

According to the statements made on the recordings, Dake lays out the plans, detailing contact between himself and Reince Preibus, the Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair and Mark Block, state director of Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin:

• The Republican Party of Wisconsin will use its "Voter Vault" state-wide voter file to compile a list of minority and student voters in targeted Wisconsin communities.

• Americans for Prosperity will use this list to send mail to these voters indicating the voter must call and confirm their registration information, and telling them if they do not call the number provided they could be removed from the voter lists.

• The Tea Party organizations will recruit and place individuals as official poll workers in selected municipalities in order to be able to make the challenges as official poll workers.

• On Election Day, these organizations will then "make use" of any postcards that are returned as undeliverable to challenge voters at the polls, utilizing law enforcement, as well as attorneys trained and provided by the RPW, to support their challenges.

According to the recordings, Dake told the assembled Tea Party members he leads:

So, what we're hoping is that the various groups in the coalition plus Americans for Prosperity and Mark Block, who has been in on this, and the Republican Party, and this is coming all the way from the top: Reince Priebus has said, "We're in." And there's a reason why these guys are volunteering to work with us. They have access to what they call Voter Vault, you know the records of voting. They can go in there and look for lapsed voters. They can go in and compare lists of voters and say, "Oh look at this. This person is registered in this county, this county, this county, and this county." And do something about this. So we're talking about a broad based support behind this idea. What they're offering is training.Dake continues in the recording to outline the plan:

[RPW is] offering to do the training; it's not going to cost anything, but what we're looking at is statewide getting our groups involved, getting people, like my group has a 2,700 person email list. We want to hit that and see how many of these people we can get involved in this one project. The idea being at some point to go in on September 14 and November 2 and have these people involved and doing poll watching and checking. There are some consultants that have offered to step up, "We're Watching" is stepping up; attorneys from the Republican Party.Later in his presentation, Dake adds:

Okay, poll watchers what you can do is you can call in a lawyer. The Republican Party, this is one of the things they're offering, they're saying they'll have their lawyers standing by so that if you call, let's say you're poll watching in say Hales Corners and you see something really fraudulent, they will send a lawyer out right away and be able to say, "Here's the deal, here's the law, this is what we expect." Bring the police in and make your complaint that sort of thing. So, we've got that. You can challenge voters through the precinct captains. This is one of the things they will teach you how to do and anybody can challenge a voter. And since the voter law did not get passed this year that could hit you with $100,000 and three years for unsuccessfully challenging a voter, we can still do this.Dake is interrupted at this point by an unidentified coalition member who shouts, "Hallelujah." Dake adds, "Yes, everybody gets to take credit for that." He goes on to outline Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin's role and how to target law enforcement:

So we're talking about AFP is willing to fund doing a mass mailing to registered voters on this, about getting them involved with this, making sure that their information is current, because people periodically need to go back and check. I found, before we bought the house we lived in. Four years ago I lived in a brand new condo, the first people to live in it. I went to vote and found twelve people registered at my address. My wife and I are the only people to have lived there. Yet, there were twelve people registered to vote. I couldn't believe it. They said, "Wow, you must have a big family." And I'm looking at names and going, "No, there's nobody named 'Nguyen' and 'Din' and that sort of thing in my family." So that's the kind of thing we need to clean up and people need to be aware of. Go in and check who else is registered at your place and ask to have them tossed off. Work with the media on this and district attorneys. Try to get them involved early and fired up about this and say look, "We know you're shorthanded, we're hands, we're boots on the ground. We will help you, just bring the weight of the law behind us." One of the things we're going to do is take these addresses that people give and we want to send out a postcard that says, "You need to call and confirm this. And if you haven't called, well then it could get tossed out." We're also looking for when you send these cards out is they'll come back if it is an undeliverable address.THE QUOTES: Among some of the discussion also captured on the audio:

"[Y]ou run into the racial thing. You have people screaming, 'Oh, you're denying the minorities the right to vote.' No., we're denying their right to vote multiple times." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"Work with the media on this and the district attorneys. Try to get them involved early and fired up about this and say look, 'We know you're shorthanded, we're hands, we're boots on the ground. We will help you, just bring the weight of the law behind us." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"I was a poll watcher from 2000 to 2006 and if you've got a university in your county, or your city, students will come down in droves and then they will all vouch for each other. I had this one kid come in five times with five separate groups of people and this person brings in students, they're usually from Minnesota or wherever up by Eau Claire, and you go, 'Do you live here?' 'Yes.' 'Well do you have anything that shows your address?' 'No.' Then that one student says, 'I vouch for her, I vouch for him.' And they all vote. [Shane McVey, Eau Claire Tea Party]"This is apparently a very effective deterrent, just having people standing there. Poll watching tends to discourage people when they know someone is looking." [Tim Dake, GrandSons of Liberty]"It's just having people who have the courage and conviction because in our society we have been 'wussified'.... [T]hey try to claim intimidation and they'll bring a whole bunch of people. If you do challenge a vote like three people will surround you and they'll all start getting in your face and threatening you with legal action and all that stuff. You just have to be strong willed and be able to take that stuff." [Shane McVey, Eau Claire Tea Party]


The possible illegality of the RPW-AFP-WI-Tea Party plot that One Wisconsin Now lays out in the requests for investigation to law enforcement officials assert:

• Federal law prohibits racially targeted caging operations. Statements made during the June 12 meeting make clear that race is a motivating factor in the planned caging and challenge effort. Any efforts to deter qualified electors from voting based on their race must be immediately investigated and, if substantiated, stopped. [42 U.S.C. §§ 1973(a); 1973gg]

• The organizations' Election Day plans could put the state at possible risk of violating federal law. Federal law makes clear that elector challenges cannot be based solely on returned mail. The organizations' plans to recruit individuals to become poll workers in order to conduct challenges based on the returned mail would result in individuals acting unlawfully under color of state law. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg; Tiryak v. Jordan, 472 F. Supp. 822, 824 (E.D. PA 1979)]

• Federal law also makes clear that private actors are similarly prohibited from challenging voters based solely on undelivered mail. Even if a challenge comes from a volunteer election observer, the challenge is unlawful if it is based on the voter's failure to respond to the mailing. Any challenge to an elector's eligibility based on such unreliable grounds is an abuse of the right to challenge and violates state and federal law, subjecting the challenger to removal and other sanctions. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg]

• Disturbingly, the mail program described by the Tea Party members will contain false and misleading information. The Tea Party plans to tell certain voters that their name may be removed if they fail to call the telephone number provided. It would be illegal to remove a voter from the statewide database based on this reason. [42 U.S.C. § 1973gg]

• The deceptive nature of the planned mailing is particularly troubling because the mailing described would almost certainly would appear to be an official governmental mailing. For the same reasons that it is unlawful to use official attire to challenge a voter at the polls on Election Day, it is unlawful to send a mailing that appears to be an official action of the governmental. [18 U.S.C. § 242; 42 U.S.C. § 1973i(b)]

Based on our discussions with legal counsel, we believe certain statements made at this Tea Party meeting clearly outline a plan by these organizations to engage in what may potentially be illegal conduct. The voter caging and challenge plans outlined by the Tea Party could result in an apparently illegal effort to deter qualified citizens from voting. As described, their plan would deter qualified citizens from voting in a manner that is coercive and without sufficient basis. All of these activities raise serious concerns and should be investigated further to determine whether illegal activity has occurred.

The full recordings, as well as a transcript and other information, is available at One Wisconsin Now's voter protection website:

Oct 7, 2008

Civil Rights Brief: Toss AG Voter Suit, AG Misreads Fed Law

Update: Link to brief filed by Milwaukee Branch of NAACP and the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. NAACP/Teachers brief:
A provisional ballot is a second-class vote. The voter leaves the polling place not knowing whether his or her vote will count. He or she will only find out by calling a toll-free number or checking a website. If the answer is that the vote was not counted, the voter will be given a reason, but by then it will be too late to correct. That voter will have been directly and absolutely deprived of the right to vote without a meaningful remedy.
Seven civil rights and public interests groups submitted their amici curiae brief in support of the Wisconsin General Accountability Board's (GAB) motion to dismiss the Attorney General's legal petition endorsed by the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Voters' rights communities fear that the Wisconsin Attorney General would suppress voters in the presidential election, characterize the move as a continuation of the national GOP voter suppression effort, and see a corrupt use of the Attorney General's office for partisan gain.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed an extraordinary writ of mandamus petition seeking a court-ordered remedy that would overrule a state agency, the Governmental Accountability Board (GAB), as the GAB seeks to protect legally voting citizens in a highly politicized voting issue implementing a federal law during this year's presidential campaign.

Though Van Hollen's suit is now effectively moot in a sense as any judicial remedy would not be workable two weeks out from the election when a Dane County judge is expected to rule on the merits and appeals are expected, Van Hollen, already suffering from diminished credibility for the partisan action, may now further politically suffer for the ambiguity and the lack of precision in his legal arguments that do not nearly meet the exacting requirements for the sought court-ordered remedy.

The civil rights amici curiae brief is often harsh in its tone of rebutting Van Hollen's arguments through its dissection of the September brief supporting his complaint, and the GAB's brief arguing in favor of dismissal is not much less harsh.

Look for a successful dismissal in late October.

From the Brennan Center for Justice:

The amicus brief—click here to read—explains Van Hollen's attempted purges and database matching goes beyond the intended scope of (Help American Vote Act ) HAVA. 'No other state has ever undertaken the kind of retroactive matching that the attorney general seeks,' said Wendy Weiser, director of voting rights and elections. 'It’s bad policy—a recipe for chaos, confusion and, inevitably, disenfranchisement.'

Identification Not Eligibility and Removal

The brief argues that Van Hollen is wrong in arguing that the Help American Vote Act (HAVA) obligates Wisconsin’s GAB to review the voting eligibility of Wisconsin voters who have registered to vote.

Rather HAVA “generally requires Wisconsin (and other states) to utilize database matching for the limited purpose of ensuring that accurate identifying numbers are assigned to registered voters,” reads the brief.

This means simply that one registered voter should get assigned a specific identifying value like a DOT number or the last four digits of a Social Security number.

The civil rights’ groups brief importantly argues that HAVA:

… does (not) include any language specifying that an unsuccessful computer match should result in the registration applicant being excluded from the rolls. It likewise does not include any language specifying that an unsuccessful match generally should result in any limitation being place on the registrant’s ability to vote. … (T)he Attorney General does not cite any such language in HAVA (demanding specific rules and actions by a given state). (pp 7-8)

Instead the Attorney General essentially contends that what Congress meant to say, but did not say, when it specified that ‘[the computerized [registration] list shall be coordinated with other agency databases within the State,’… and specified that matching should include use of the driver’s license and Social Security Administration databases, was that states are required to disqualify registrants (or otherwise generally limit their right to vote) if and when they are the subject of an unresolved computer match. (p. 8)

The brief notes that Van Hollen's complaint does not say specifically that mismatched registrants should be removed from the state registration list, but this would appear to the only "reasonable" interpretation of Van Hollen's claims. (p.7 [footnote 3])

Van Hollen has spoken repeatedly about and his Sept. 10 petition warns that "… properly qualified voters are at risk of having their votes diminished and diluted by the votes of unqualified, ineligible voters who are not entitled to cast ballots." (p 3)

Van Hollen and the GOP have argued throughout his efforts that Van Hollen’s office says stretch back some two years that they are simply trying to follow the HAVA law and its requirements.

But, as looks quite possible, the judge rules that Van Hollen is fundamentally misreading the HAVA law, Van Hollen's statements demand that incompetent be placed alongside corrupt in describing the partisan track of this case and the Attorney General's office.

The brief continues:

…Congress clearly understood that database matching potentially could be linked with voter eligibility, understood how to write specific language that links the two, and chose not to require such a link except with regard to a narrow group of voters (those voters who have registered by mail and have never voted for federal office). (pp 8-9)

The absence of any ‘database-matching, voter eligibility’ requirement in HAVA (except with regard to the aforementioned narrow group of voters) also means that the GAB’s actions do not, under HAVA, raise any specter that persons ineligible to vote have been included in the state’s voter registration database. The Attorney General’s assertion to the contrary is simply his personal, unsupported opinion. (pp 9-10)

The brief also argues that the plain language of HAVA imposes specific restrictions on the authority of Wisconsin to remove persons from the registration rolls so as to ensure that persons who are eligible to vote and are registered to vote are not mistakenly deleted from the rolls, citing HAVA text reading that all states must provide “(s)afeguards to ensure that eligible voters are not removed in error from the official list of eligible voters.”

In the GAB’s brief in its motion to dismiss is this excerpt that is an overview in the introduction stating the GAB is the responsible and appropriate state agency to determine the implementation of HAVA:

Simply put, the Attorney General asserts that his interpretation of HAVA‘s requirements regarding the maintenance of that list and its coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation database is right, and the Government Accountability Board’s interpretation is wrong. However, it is the Board, not the Attorney General, that has responsibility and discretion to interpret and implement HAVA’s provisions. (pp 1-2)

Political Implications

The question for Wisconsin citizens is whether Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen used his office to further the political cause of the Republican Party and its presidential nominee, John McCain.

What did Van Hollen, the McCain co-chair, do?

WisPolitics reports:

“A week before he filed suit against the Government Accountability Board, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen promised Wisconsin delegates at the Republican National Convention they'd be hearing much more from the Department of Justice on targeting those who (are) ‘illegally and illegitimately registered to vote.’”

Van Hollen’s position is at best highly controversial.

But according to the AG’s office, Van Hollen is just seeking to “enforce the law” in a non-partisan manner for the people of Wisconsin.

Asks Dem Party Chairman Joe Wineke: “If JB Van Hollen is claiming that this lawsuit isn’t political, then why did he discuss it with the RPW chair at a partisan political convention and send signals to fellow Republicans that he was mobilizing the Department of Justice to take action?" (WisPolitics)

Here are some more questions.

Among the many public statements made by Van Hollen about enforcing the law and protecting the right of Wisconsin citizens to vote in this manner, how many statements did the nonpartisan attorney general make at the Democratic Convention, or any other Democratic gathering?

How many statements did Van Hollen make on this matter to civil rights groups like the NAACP?

How many conversations did his top aide, Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora, have with Democratic Party officials like Joe Wineke, like Taffora did with Reince Priebus, the GOP party chair?

What empirical evidence does Van Hollen present in his complaint that merits such an extraordinary legal action in the face of the 2005 Republican US Atty Biskupic and then-District Attorney E. Michael McCann's task force's report that rejected the notion that voting fraud occurred in any extraordinary manner in the last presidential election?

None that I can read. But Republicans are sticking to their guns.

Sep 28, 2008

'Ballot Security' in Wisconsin Has Civil Rights Workers Wary

It has brought to our attention that "(s)enior Justice Department officials told civil-rights organizations they plan to deploy hundreds of poll monitors in November to prevent voting-rights violations and deter fraud (Perez, Wall Street Journal, September 9. 2008).

In light of the Wisconsin DOJ/GOP's efforts at voter suppression (that now looks to fail) and the McCain Campaign project sending misleading absentee ballots to voters, the presence of U.S. DOJ officials at polling places has civil rights groups nervous, though it's not confirmed that the DOJ officials will be in Wisconsin at this point.

As Evan Perez writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Some critics of the Bush administration said the Justice Department appears to be giving equal weight to preventing vote fraud and enforcing laws aimed at helping minorities cast ballots. 'For the department, the focus should be on voter access,' said Kristen Clarke, voter-participation co-director for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 'It does seem the criminal division is spending some of their capital on vote fraud, which is disconcerting.' ... In the 2006 election, the department came under criticism from Democrats and some judges for pursuing cases involving Democrats that courts later ruled should never have been brought.

The U.S. DOJ pursuing voting so-called fraud cases in Wisconsin that should never have been brought is not a new development in Wisconsin. As Scott Horton lays out in Harper's (Sept. 7, 2007):

We know that (US Atty) Steven Biskupic, the U.S. Attorney in Milwaukee, was initially put on a list of those to be fired by Karl Rove’s office. Then suddenly Mr. Biskupic got deeply engaged in a series of truly dubious cases, all of which had a distinctly Rovian political flavor. First, Biskupic became one of the nation’s most enthusiastic participants in the 'voting fraud' fraud. He brought an array of insane cases, including one against a grandmother, which were detailed by The New York Times in an acid review of Biskupic’s mercenary political style. These cases generally involved voters who made honest mistakes about registration, but were prosecuted anyway (with many convicted). The targets were always Democrats who were from the major threat communities publicly identified by Rove—minority groups from the inner city. And the prosecutions were transparently pursued for purposes of voter suppression (i.e., an arguably criminal agenda).
The recent creation of a state nonpartisan task force charged with investigating voter fraud allegations (announced in mid-September) and chaired by Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen, co-chair of McCain’s campaign, does not assuage concerns that one political party, the GOP, dedicated to voter suppression as one tactic of its electoral strategy, will prove successful in disenfranchising 1,000s of Wisconsin voters.

Chisholm is an honest DA, but I do not understand why he is trucking with dishonest players investigating fictitious voting fraud when even U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic concluded that no widespread fraud existed in the 2004 election.

Van Hollen, Chisholm, and anyone claiming an interest in fair elections ought to be conducting an investigation into McCain's dirty-trick absentee ballot applications stunt.

The fact that even the Milwaukee police department (not known for it judicious investigative techniques as its unwise forays into federal election law and voter fraud show) has been discredited and knocked down so hard it ought never be able to stand does not inspire confidence in those simply wanting to cast a vote because the GOP has not renounced its commitment to keeping the wrong-voting people from casting their ballots.

To help fight voting suppression and its allies, the nonpartisan Election protection coalition ( is a great resource.

Readers are invited to post other resources in comments. The stakes are high.

The ACLU and NAACP hit the state voter fraud task force on Sept. 17.

ACLU, NAACP Object To Discriminatory Election Enforcement In Wisconsin (9/17/2008)


The ACLU of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP are deeply troubled by the apparent discriminatory focus of the "election fraud" task force set up by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

The formation of a voter fraud task force only in Milwaukee County reinforces an unsubstantiated perception that City of Milwaukee residents are more prone to commit election fraud. And, regardless of intent, a racial subtext is barely below the surface, given the fact that Milwaukee is the only majority-minority city in the state.

The truth is that voting irregularities can and do happen throughout Wisconsin - but when they do not occur in Milwaukee, they are called "mistakes" and not "fraud." There was, for example, no law enforcement outcry when earlier this year we learned that hundreds of voters in Oconomowoc voted at the wrong polling place for years, in ways that likely influenced local election outcomes. There is no evidence that voting errors in Milwaukee are any more grounded in "fraud" than were the voting errors in Oconomowoc.

Nor does unlawful voting only occur in Milwaukee. To the contrary, the clear majority of allegations of vote fraud in 2006 occurred outside the city of Milwaukee, in dozens of communities around the state.

The ACLU and NAACP also question involvement by the Milwaukee Police Department in any election task force until such time as there is public disclosure of the role of officers in publishing a biased report earlier this year on the 2004 election making recommendations they had no authority to make, without the approval of their superiors.

The much ballyhooed, but practically non-existent, phenomenon of voter fraud does not warrant the development of a "task force" anywhere, but certainly not just in Milwaukee. Indeed, as law enforcement officials recognized this morning, the City Election Commission has made great strides in promoting fair and transparent elections, and the creation of a "fraud" task force only undermines faith in those elections. State and local officials should focus time and resources on facilitating election administration, not frustrating the rights of persons lawfully entitled to vote.


Sep 25, 2008

Van Hollen's Voter Suppression Set to Fail

In this day and age we're still fighting off voter suppression?

Yes, it's the age of the ahistorical GOP.

But Wisconsin citizens can take solace in the fact that Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's scheme that forgets that the civil rights movement ever happened (and fails to appreciate the immorality of suppressing voters) looks doomed to fail.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi will not rule on a dismissal motion until a couple of weeks out from the election.

Van Hollen and Wisconsin GOP will play Chickenlittle running around telling everyone that an implied conspiracy of fraudulent voters will corrupt the election, but the GOP's proposed remedy to this election conspiracy fantasy, voter suppression, will not be implemented in time to impact the November 4 election. That's the take-away of Judge Sumi's hearing yesterday.

This ditches Van Hollen's scheme to run Wisconsin's voter registration list with the DOT database in the hope those voters with less time and money on their hands will be knocked off the voting rolls, or prevent as many as possible from voting in a forced two-day, provisional-voting process amid long lines and confusion.

Sep 23, 2008

GOP Chair Met Van Hollen at Convention, Talked 'Follow-law' Shop

Interesting piece in the State Journal by Mark Pitsch this morning.

Reince Priebus, the Wisconsin GOP party chairman, confirms that he

had multiple conversations with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's top aide before Van Hollen filed a lawsuit against the state election agency to compel expanded voter registration checks.

But Reince Priebus, the party chairman, defended his contacts with Deputy Attorney General Ray Taffora, his comments in Van Hollen's presence this month at the Republican National Convention criticizing the election agency, and meetings between GOP lawyers and the Justice Department lawyers handling the lawsuit. ... 'It's important that in my comments to the delegation and even standing around in the breakfast room or the staff room with J.B., there was nothing more I said than the continuation of my general feeling that the Government Accountability Board needs to follow the HAVA law,' Priebus said. 'There was no strategizing.'

No strategizing, just following the law?

The problem is the GOP's view of following the law led to its voter suppression efforts. Must have been a fun party though.

The GOP knows fully well it's trying to suppress turn-out in what it hopes will be a close race this November.

Can't have too many of those non-driving blacks voting.

Does this piss off everyone?

But maybe it went down like this:

Reince Priebus: Hey JB, you know: We really to need to follow the law and stuff.

J.B. Van Hollen: Yep, we need to follow the law; just have to. Protect voters.

Reince Priebus: Yep.