The American Civil Rights Union’s (ACRU) Election Integrity Defense Project last Friday sued two Mississippi counties that have more registered voters than voting-eligible citizens.
The ACRU, headed by former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell and former Attorney General Edwin Meese, claims that the counties are not complying with Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act, also known as the “Motor Voter” law, which requires states to remove ineligible voters from their registration lists.
These counties are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Despite being named for the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis County is a majority-black county that gave Barack Obama 60 percent and 62 percent of its vote in 2008 and 2012. Walthall County is a majority-white county that gave John McCain 55 percent and Mitt Romney 54 percent of its vote.
But as the federal lawsuits outline, while the U.S. Census says that Jefferson Davis County has only 9,536 residents of voting age, the county has 10,078 registered voters, giving it a registration rate of 105 percent; the national average hovers at about 70 percent.
Walthall County was even worse: With only 11,368 voting-age residents, it has 14,108 registered voters, or 124 percent of the residents that the Census says live in the county. Walthall County refused to even respond to the ACRU’s request for information on what it was doing to comply with the requirements of Motor Voter.
Section 8 requires election officials to make “a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters” when they die or move away, but this is a provision of federal law that the radical wing of the civil rights community does not like. The Obama Administration has not filed a single case to enforce Section 8 despite the fact that there are many counties across the country that are not updating their voter registration lists by deleting those who have died, moved away, or otherwise become ineligible to vote.
Ten Department of Justice (DOJ) employees told the DOJ inspector general that one of Obama’s political appointees to the DOJ, Julie Fernandes, told Civil Rights Division staff that the Administration was not interested in pursuing any cases under Section 8 because it did not expand voter access.
These are important cases. The Motor Voter law has been in force since 1993, and Section 8 has almost never been enforced despite the dangers posed to the integrity of the election process by inaccurate and unreliable voter registration lists. Not a single Section 8 case was filed during the Clinton Administration; the first such case was filed in 2005 by the Bush Administration, which was subjected to harsh criticism for trying to enforce Section 8.
By trying to enforce federal laws intended to secure the integrity of our democratic process and our most fundamental right—the right to vote in free and fair elections—the ACRU is doing what the DOJ should be doing and would be doing if its law enforcement decisions were not so politicized.