The U.S. election process is under siege from liberal election officials trying to wrestle it away from the electorate, two political experts say.
Hans von Spakovsky, a Georgia lawyer and Bush appointee to the Justice Department, and Roman Buhler, a Virginia lawyer, Republican activist, and party consultant, alleged pervasive polling place shenanigans in a recent Heritage Foundation radio blog. The problems no longer can be written off as merely “a pesky problem created by the fringe left,” as the Obama campaign claims, Spakovsky said.
They also criticized Sen. Barack Obama’s ostensibly tenuous relationship with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), saying instead that he has had a close relationship with ACORN for many years.
The panelists cited numerous cases in which they said Democratically controlled election boards subverted and ignored federal and state mandates requiring accountability in the voting process. They cited ACORN organizers’ missteps in Missouri, Nevada, and Ohio as prime examples, but they said schemes also are under way in several other states, including Georgia, Alabama, and Indiana.
The Heritage Foundation headliners are no strangers to controversy in keeping tabs on elections. Buhler has drawn fire from the mainstream press for criticizing Democrats’ ignoring voter registration laws. Von Spakovsky, an expert on voter integrity issues and the Bush administration’s point man in the Justice Department, drew the ire of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and CNN political analyst Jeffrey Toobin in 2006 for supporting photo IDs for voters and questioning the validity of felons on Georgia’s voter lists.
Kennedy told the Associated Press that requiring photo ID’s hurt black voters. Toobin accused von Spakovsky in “The New Yorker” magazine of secretly targeting black voters to gain a Republican advantage in Georgia.
The truth is vastly different, said von Spakovsky, who said he was interested only in protecting the system from schemes taking advantage of lax voter registration laws.
Democrats passed the 1994 National Voter Registration Act, popularly known as the "Motor Voter Act,” he said. That initiative remains the root cause of voter irregularities in the nation’s presidential elections.
In 1993, Congress succinctly stated the aims of the well-intentioned law, including to “protect the integrity of the electoral process” and to “to ensure that accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained.”
However, Republican skeptics quickly dubbed it the “Auto Fraudo” law because it stripped most efforts at accountability during the registration process, Buhler said.
By way of example, Buhler cited St. Louis, where ACORN and similar community action organizations allegedly have subverted the streamlined registration system during the past two decades. Although only one of many large cities where voter fraud has been documented, it is perhaps the best example of a system that has run amok, he said.
In 1994, ACORN in St. Louis was investigated after the successful election to legalize gambling in Missouri revealed it had submitted hundreds of fraudulent voter registration cards to the city election board. Rural voters, outnumbered by the last-minute, inner-city voter registration drive, lost the hotly contested referendum after defeating a similar measure in a April election when ACORN wasn’t involved. No one was indicted.
During the 2001 Missouri gubernatorial election, Republicans claimed that their candidate, Bob Holden, narrowly lost the election because of Democratic malfeasance at the polls.
In light of the charges, St. Louis Election Board officials examined 29,500 registration cards that came in shortly before the deadline for the Nov. 7 election after discovering that most of 3,800 cards submitted during the February primary were bogus. Hundreds of general registrations proved to be phony, too, though no charges were pursued.
After the 2006 general election, eight ACORN organizers in St. Louis were convicted of voter fraud for submitting hundreds of phony registration cards. This year in Kansas City, Mo., four ACORN organizers have been indicted for voter fraud, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is investigation ACORN in connection with irregularities that surfaced in September and early October.
Concerns about the integrity of national elections go beyond irregular registration practices, Buhler said. For instance, Democrats killed a law this year that would have ensured that all military absentee ballots would be sent home via Express Mail instead of languishing for three weeks via regular mail. The Democrats sided with the postal service union, which opposed the measure.
"They clearly don't want the military to vote," Buhler said.
"The conservative movement has been what Americans look to when they think of political integrity," Buhler said. "Democrats were the party of Chicago and the Daleys. We must convince people that it is the left that breaks the law, and that they haven't changed."
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