It must really be tough to be a public affairs guy at the Department of Justice who has to explain why the Civil Rights Division is not carrying out its enforcement responsibilities. I have posted previously about the failure of the Civil Rights Division to enforce the Help America Vote Act against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who has refused to forward information about mismatches between the information contained on new voter registration forms and other state records to county election officials (they have also failed to sue the Wisconsin election board for the same problem). This is a real concern given the credible allegations of thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms being submitted by ACORN. In an interesting side note, John Fund has revealed in his Political Diary that Brunner’s campaign consultant in 2006 is a development director for Project Vote, an ACORN organization.
No wonder Brunner doesn’t want county election officials investigating problem registrations.
After being taken to task by the Wall Street Journal in an editorial on Monday, a Public Affairs official for Justice wrote a letter to the WSJ defending the Civil Rights Division. He excuses DOJ inaction by saying that Brunner has issued a Directive after “discussions” with the Division “regarding the processing of duplicate voter registrations and identifying deceased registered voters” as if that satisfies the verification requirements of HAVA. It certainly does not.
If the Secretary of State is only sending information about duplicate registrations and dead voters to county election officials, then she is still completely neglecting to send county officials information on new voter registrations forms that have other problems that may be just as serious, such as registrants whose name, address, age or citizenship status don’t match with driver’s license or social security records. That could be an indication of a fraudulent form submitted by a noncitizen, a fictitious individual, someone who is underage, or someone who is lying about where they live (like an individual from out-of-state). However, Justice apparently doesn’t think the 200,000 mismatches in Ohio are important to litigate over and seems unwilling to do anything substantive about it.
One final word – in the past, career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division have felt no compunction whatsoever about violating their professional ethics and leaking their opinions to the news media when their superiors have not agreed with their recommendations on legal matters. I despise unauthorized leaks by such staff, but particularly in this case, it would certainly be interesting for the political appointees to publicly disclose what the career lawyers in the Voting Section of the Division have recommended be done about the Ohio situation, and why they have or have not taken their advice.