Voter watchdog Catherine Engelbrecht denounced Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s allegation that Republicans are pushing voter identification laws to suppress Democratic turnout in 2012.
“I think that’s preposterous,” Engelbrecht said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV. “I think that that is being used as a political talking point to further an agenda. I think that when you look at the facts about photo voter ID — the facts — you will see that in states that have enacted it, participation and voter turnout has increased.”
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On Nov. 16, the Florida congresswoman accused GOP officials of “attempting to impose voting restrictions” that she likened to the modern-day equivalent of poll taxes and literacy tests, according to The Hill.
Speaking from the House floor, she urged colleagues to rally against voter identification laws in their states. “We cannot allow state legislatures to drag our nation backward in what is nothing more than a political quest to protect their governing majority’s interests.”
Engelbrecht, who heads the nonpartisan True the Vote, told Newsmax that, despite Wasserman Schultz’ claims, Democrats tend to push the envelope more than their Republican counterparts.
“Without question, of the two parties, it would seem that the Democratic Party is determined to fight for every vote that they possibly can and I think that that could potentially present itself in a number of ways,” said Engelbrecht, whose Houston-based organization was born out of the 2009 elections when she and others started looking into the process.
They didn’t like what they found.
“Based upon what we saw, we thought that we should just deconstruct the whole process and figure out where citizens can get involved at every stage along the way,” she said, noting that the group has grown to include volunteers in 30 states.
“What that now looks like two years hence is a model that any state in the union can follow that encourages people not only to work at the polls, but to look at the registry, to look at their election code and to make sure that from soup to nuts the process is as free and as fair as it can be.”
Democrats are not above crossing the line, she told Newsmax.
“All I can really tell you is that it would seem that there is a willful intent to disregard law when it serves them well. And the counter to that of course is a citizen-led effort that says law matters,” she explains. “The rules matter. Let the best man win, but let it be a free and fair process.”
Based upon the rhetoric she’s been picking up from union leaders and community organizations around major metropolitan areas of the United States, she predicts that the 2012 presidential election is going to be “fairly heated.”
She stops short of saying that President Barack Obama might encourage bad behavior from his supporters.
“What we know is that the president has continued to stand on the side of those who would apparently stand against freedom,” she said. “We know that his background is as a community organizer. We know that recently he’s made it very, very clear that he stands with Occupy Wall Street and the occupy efforts despite the obvious violence, despite the continued breakdown of that process in terms of how it has taken over our cities and defiled public property.”
In contrast, Obama has been far less supportive of the tea party movement, which often is dismissed as a radical conservative group. “I think it’s’ pretty clear what side of the fence he’s on,” she said.
She urges people not only to vote but also to get involved in the election process if they want change.
“It’s hard to imagine the speed at which we have declined as a country,” she said. “I think that’s going to be true again in 2012. It’s hard to imagine what it is that we’re going to be facing because the rules don’t matter. The current administration has made it very, very clear that the end justifies the means.
“What that ultimately then means for citizens is that they must get involved. They must engage. Simply going and voting is not enough. You’ve got to find a place to serve. It’s our civic duty now to hold the line for our country.”
She points to the Secretary of State Project, which a group of liberal California activists created in 2006 to influence the elections of secretaries of state, and possibly other elections as a result.
“To the surprise of many, the secretary of state is the ultimate authority of an election in the state. They are the ones that are certifying the results. That’s where the buck stops,” Engelbrecht said.
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