The IRS could be directly to blame for lower voter turnout during the 2012 election after conservative groups were left sidelined by the IRS decision to target them, according to John Fund, national-affairs columnist for National Review Online
In his Thursday column, Fund said there is little evidence to substantiate claims that turnout was lower because voters, particularly minorities, were thwarted from casting their ballots due to tighter state laws requiring photo-ID at polling stations.
"All of this proved to be twaddle," wrote Fund, pointing to an August 2012 Washington Post poll that showed nearly two-thirds of African Americans and Hispanics backed photo ID. Moreover, the Census Bureau, he said, has since reported the voter turnout rate for blacks exceeded that of whites for the first time.
"But it now turns out there may have [been] suppression of the vote after all," he wrote, pointing to a conversation he had with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who said, "It looks like a lot of tea-party groups were less active or never got off the ground because of the IRS actions. Sure seems like people were discouraged by it."
Fund said he had also spoken to several conservative groups that were directly impacted by having their nonprofit status delayed by "either IRS inaction or burdensome and intrusive questioning.
"At least two donors told me they didn't contribute to True the Vote, a group formed to combat voter fraud, because after three years of waiting, the group still didn't have its status granted at the time of the 2012 election," Fund wrote.
"The IRS claims that all the delays and information demands were rooted in mere mismanagement and misjudgment, a stance that began to look even shakier [Wednesday] when Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS' exempt-organization division, took the Fifth Amendment before a House committee," wrote Fund.
He concluded, "It won't be easy to discover whether the 'voter suppression' engaged in by the IRS was malicious and political. But we have to make every effort to find out before the American people start losing confidence in the integrity of our elections."
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