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Monday, May 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - More on: Potential appeal of Indiana voter ID case to Supreme Court anticipated

As the ILB wrote on May 2nd, "The papers have been full of stories about pressure being put on U.S. attorneys nation-wide to dig out and prosecute examples of voter fraud."

Today the Washington Post has a story reporting:

The behind-the-scenes maneuvering to replace U.S. attorneys viewed as weak on voter fraud, from state Republican parties to the White House, is one element of a nationwide partisan brawl over voting rights in recent years. Ever since the contested 2000 presidential election, which ended in a Florida recount and intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, both political parties have attempted to use election law to tip close contests to their advantage.

Through legislation and litigation, Republicans have pressed for voter-identification requirements and other rules to clamp down on what they assert is widespread fraud by ineligible voters. Starting early in the Bush administration, the Justice Department has emphasized increasing prosecutions of fraudulent voting.

Democrats counter that such fraud is rare and that GOP efforts are designed to suppress legitimate votes by minorities, the elderly and recent immigrants, who are likely to support Democratic candidates. A draft report last year by the Election Assistance Commission, a bipartisan government panel that conducts election research, said that "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud."

That conclusion was played down in the panel's final report, which said only that the seriousness of the problem was debatable. * * *

Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School who runs an election law blog, said that "there's no question that Karl Rove and other political operatives" urged Justice officials to apply pressure on U.S. attorneys to pursue voter-fraud allegations in parts of the country that were critical to the GOP.

Hasen said it remains unclear, however, "whether they believed there was a lot of fraud and U.S. attorneys would ferret it out, or whether they believed there wasn't a lot of fraud but the allegations would serve political purposes."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 14, 2007 12:32 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions