>Nevada Elections: Vote Suppression Legislation Still Lives

>While the case of Ann Coulter’s voting fraud case is still fresh, and while we still remember the attempts to purge 17,000 Nevadans off the rolls in the 2004 elections, and while AB 569 awaits action in the Nevada Legislature, it’s a good time to talk about vote fraud.

OK, let’s investigate Voter Fraud. The Republicans seem to be most agitated that somewhere out there lurk “illegals” and “felons” and “graveyard dwellers” anxious to vote. Indeed, the GOP managed to get two people in Wisconsin charged with vote fraud — an individual acquitted because her “crime” consisted of filling out two registration cards because the first had been filled out incorrectly and her registrar asked her to make the corrections on a second card; and, a woman on probation who incorrectly believed that because she was not in jail or on parole that she was eligible to vote. Then there is the saga of Usman Ali, a Pakistani jewelry store owner who hastily signed a form offered at the DMV, never tried to vote, but found himself deported anyway. [TPM] via [DKos]

If we are going after people who file corrected and amended registration applications, those who register “in ignorance,” and small business owners who don’t realize they’ve registered — how about we (as in Our Department of Justice) taking another look at Anne Coulter’s voting antics in Florida? [BrdBlg]

Or, should we re-open investigations into the purge of some 57,700 voters in Florida of whom at least 90.2% were innocent of everything in 2000 except being African American? [Nation] Undaunted by jokes about Florida’s “Electile Dysfunction” in 2000, the Florida Secretary of State was about to “evaluate” some 40,000 “potential felon matches” in the 2004 elections. People for the American Way and other groups jumped in to publicize the 2nd Coup attempt. The New York Times picked up the story, reporting that of 48,000 on the list only 61 were Hispanic, but more than 22,000 were African American. “State officials acknowledged that the method for matching lists of felons to voters automatically exempted all felons who identified themselves as Hispanic.”[NYT]

Lest we forget: Before Nevadans get all righteous about Florida’s fraudulent registration purges, we might do well to remember that Dan Burdish, former Nevada state Republican Party chair filed a challenge to 17,000 Democrats in October 2004 on the grounds that they were “inactive.” When Burdish couldn’t demonstrate that he had any personal information about the people he was challenging (required by statute) he huffed: “I’m not suppressing any vote unless it’s in a local district they are not allowed to vote in.” [MSNBC] Good advice for Ms. Coulter as well?

Las Vegas wasn’t the only target in ’04. In Reno, Washoe County registrar Daniel Burk faced a small group, including an “official of the Republican Party” who asked how to launch a “full scale program for challenging voters who come to the polls. Burk says he informed the Republicans that vote challenges should be used narrowly, when one voter with personal knowledge of another calls attention to a problem. “One said, ‘Well, we were thinking of a wider scale use of it. We were thinking of challenging lots of voters,’ ” says Burk. It was the way they looked at each other, he says. “I began to wonder, what are they up to? I just told them I wouldn’t tolerate it. The process isn’t designed for one party challenging another.” [CD]

The GOP strategy is succinctly summarized in Talking Points Memo: “Republican party officials and elected officials use bogus claims of vote fraud to do three things: 1) to stymie voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in poor and minority neighborhoods, 2) purge voter rolls of legitimate voters and 3) institute voter ID laws aimed at making it harder for low-income and minority voters to vote.” [TPM]

How does Nevada’s experience fit the check list?

#1 stymie voter registration drives – Check. One can always resort to using the services of Voters Outreach of America to register Democrats and Independents and then shred the non-Republican voters’ applications. [KLAS] Little wonder that the FBI (which intervened on behalf of Ms. Coulter) and our then Secretary of State, now Republican Representative in Congress, Dean Heller, found no violations of the law? [LVRJ] A person can bet confidently that should community activists launch voter registration drives in minority neighborhoods it won’t take long for the GOP to fax press releases to the local papers about “improprieties.”

Section 27 of AB 569 provides that a registered voter who initiates a challenge must submit an affirmation under penalty of perjury stating that the challenge is based on personal knowledge. AB 569 awaits action by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. Section 8 of AB 328 would make it a felony to knowingly and willfully alter, deface, destroy or fail to return completed voter registration applications. AB 328 received a Do Pass recommendation from the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on May 11, 2007.

#2 purge rolls – two good attempts so far in Nevada, and no indication that they’ve stopped trying. — Check.

#3 institute voter ID laws that make it harder for lower income, working class, and minority voters to vote. AB 451 introduced by Assembly Republicans to require proof of citizenship before voting registration making it a category E felony to knowingly vote when not in compliance, died in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. SB 385 however, is alive and well and requires county clerks to issue voter identification cards based on Driver’s licenses, Armed Forces ID cards, passports, Native American Tribal ID, or an ID card provided by the county clerk for those without photo identification. The bill is now in the Senate Finance committee in which it was mentioned but not acted on on the May 11, 2007 agenda.

It might be a good idea for those in Nevada who are interested in free and fair elections to let their Assembly representatives and State Senators know that paper audits, and fair registration requirements are a priority; and, that attempts at voter suppression, as in SB 385 are unwelcome.
More Nevada Legislative news at Blue Sage Views


Filed under elections, Nevada legislature, Vote Suppression

6 responses to “>Nevada Elections: Vote Suppression Legislation Still Lives

  1. >I researched the changes made in Nevada’s elections back in 2003 and 2004 extensively. I know for a fact that Win Smith, Elko County Clerk, purged the same time of “voters” from the roles back then and also prior to the 2006 election.I believe that Dean Heller was involved in pushing through these voter purges and this was encouraged at all county levels throughout the state. I only wish I had the time to prove this theory. I have no faith in the upcoming presidential election and totally believe that it will be stolen in the west with Nevada at the helm unless the state Dem party pulls it’s collective head out and stops this from happening.Read the new edition of “Armed Madhouse” if you want to understand more about this.Thanks for the research you have done here too.

  2. >correction:…purged the same TYPE of “voters” …sorry about that.

  3. >NVM: Could be.What’s given me some comfort is that the more blatant versions of GOP vote suppression in this session of the legislature have, at least for the moment been beaten back in the Assembly. If a bill hits the Senate Floor and needs a 2/3rd majority, it may not get it given the Woodhouse win in the last election that tightened up the numbers. However, you’re correct that the result of previous purges can have lasting effects long after the perps have gone on to other projects.

  4. >TPM’s list is not exclusive. In fact, it astoundingly omits what is arguably the most basic purposes of Republican voter fraud allegations.Going back decades, long before the GOP dreamed up voter ID laws, these allegations have served as a smokescreen to its own voter suppression tactics.That is only partly covered by (2) purging voter rolls. Republicans traditionally have used a wide variety of tactics to suppress the votes of non-Republicans. For example, there is the intimidation of voters at polling places by frequent challenges. There are false rumors that the GOP often spreads, especially in poor neighborhoods. There are police-checkpoints on Election Day. There are phone calls and advertisements designed to annoy voters to the point that they refuse to vote. There are fraudulent calls on Election Day intended to send voters to the wrong polling place (I received one of these from the Bush campaign in 2004).I would say that this is the original goal of vote fraud allegations–to distract the public and journalists from the very real vote-suppression that the GOP relies upon.It is only after vote-fraud allegations had become a regular part of every election cycle that Republicans began to see that they could be extended to other goals, such as advocating voter ID laws.

  5. >Sm: Good point, and we’ve seen some of the examples — push polls, phone jamming, billboards and flyers threatening prosecution, Wrong Day announcements for voting, phony voter guides… the entire list is truly disgusting. Sometimes it appears as if the GOP doesn’t see the Ballot/Voting as the ultimate act of citizenship in a democracy, but as merely part of a tawdry power grab game.

  6. >DB, you’re exactly right; the Republicans at the national level view elections as conspiracies to deny them their rightful power, and they try to ensure that elections are as tawdry as possible.