Cegavske: A Solution in Search of a Problem – Vote Suppression Nevada Style

State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Clark8) would like to be our next Secretary of State, in part because:

“One of my main goals is to ensure the integrity of elections in Nevada. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our state and federal constitution in which we all believe. I strongly support and encourage the active participation of all the citizens of Nevada to exercise their right to vote. Nevada voters deserve assurance that the manner in which their elections are conducted and in which the votes are counted, is above reproach. I will endeavor to provide that assurance.” (emphasis added)

Notice the Buzz Words.  “Integrity of elections,” and “Voters deserve assurance.”  Both of the phrases are connected to the Republican vote suppression rhetoric.  In fact, there is an Election Integrity project, operating out of Santa Clarita, CA.  Some background may be in order at this point.

Follow The Money

Catherine Englebrecht is the founder of the King Street Patriots and and True the Vote — a product of the maelstrom of right wing politics which is the state of Texas.  Convinced that Hispanic and African American voters, abetted by the ‘nefarious’ ACORN were fraudulently participating in elections, the self-styled Patriots and Truthers, launched various and sundry schemes to minimize the votes from African American, Hispanic, and young people.  Elections, the self-styled Patriots said, should be free from any contamination and from charges of fraud and sloppy practices — translation — too many “other kinds of people” voting.

Adding one more link to the chain, the attorney representing True the Vote, is none other than Kelly Shackelford, of the free market think tank Liberty Institute. A few more clicks and we find Shackelford listed as the president of the Free Market Foundation, which in turn links to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  And, wonder of wonders … check deeply enough and there’s a Koch Brothers connection: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation both support the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[3]$113,800 received from Koch foundations 2005–2008 Total Koch foundation grants 1997–2008: $122,300 [4] [SW]

There’s another link to right wing organizations which have proposed vote suppression measures:  The State Policy Network is funded by all the usual suspects, major corporate interests like Reynolds American, Altria (tobacco), Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Comcast, Time Warner, and … the Koch Brothers. [SPN funding]  The link is formed when we find out that True The Vote received funding from the State Policy Network during the 2012 election season. [ConsTrans]  We’d be remiss if it weren’t noted that the State Policy Network also bestowed its largess on the Nevada Policy Research Institute. {above, p.2}

From whence comes the funding for the State Policy Network?  A significant portions comes from the Pope Foundation and other conservative funding fonts, along with a very healthy infusion of money from the Donors Capital Trust.  Read: Koch Brothers.

And yet still another — to Judicial Watch.  This organization has made no secret of its desire to restrict the opportunities of ‘undesirables’ to vote, as indicated by some of its activities in Florida and other states.

“Judicial Watch is crusading to force states to carry out voter-roll purges like the one that has subjected Florida to multiple lawsuits. Together with Judicial Watch, True the Vote formed the 2012 Election Integrity Project, launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Through the Election Integrity Project, the group has sued to allow Florida’s purge program to commence, and has sent letters threatening lawsuits in Indiana and Ohio to do the same.” [HuffPo]

In the No Surprise Department we find Judicial Watch teaming up with the Election Integrity Project to “watch” the 2012 elections.  In case anyone was thinking some 700 people in Nevada’s Clean Up The Vote campaign came to all their notions from burning sage brush — the Clean Up The Vote is an affiliate of True The Vote. [NPR]

Follow the Record

It’s all well and proper to note the funding chain linking the Koch Brothers and their ultra-right wing allies with organizations seeking to propose and enact vote suppression activities, and another to claim that a particular candidate is aligned with their intentions. What’s the record?

During the 2013 Legislative session, Senator Cegavske was one of the primary sponsors of SB 239 in the fine print of which was the coordination of Social Security Administration and voter registration lists to “insure” dead people weren’t voting. Further, the bill would have allowed county clerks and election officials to send out sample ballots electronically.   First, we’d have to believe that there are “dead people” voting.  During testimony on the measure, Senator Settelmeyer (R-CUSA) defended the bill citing that his recently decease mother was still on the mailing lists of several candidates and campaigns. [Legis PDF]

Senator Cegavske also cited a family matter, noting that her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease was in a Minnesota nursing facility and the family had requested that mailings not be sent to her home address.  Representatives from the Secretary of State’s office noted that we should be cautious about removing anyone from voter rolls simply for being old, and that statutes do provide a process by which suffrage could be refused. [Legis PDF] At no point during the testimony on April 9, 2013 did any of the proponents of the bill describe any actual instances of fraudulent voting by or on behalf of dead people, demented people, or any other imposters.  There was no such testimony on May 8, 2013. [LegisPDF]   Nor was there any such testimony on May 20, 2013. [Legis PDF]

The Assembly side took up the bill on May 29, 2013.  Once more Sen. Settelmeyer spoke of his mother, but again, there was no testimony that any such actual voting impropriety had ever taken place. [Legis PDF] Nor was any such testimony forthcoming at the final hearing on June 3, 2013. [Legis PDF]

In 2009 Senator Cegavske was also concerned about fraudulent voting, as a primary sponsor of SB 315.  The bill received two hearings in the Nevada State Senate.  During the first of which the  point that photo identification was a “solution in search of a problem”  as opposed to the proponents laudatory contributions about the Indiana Voter Photo ID bill. [Legis PDF] During the last hearing Senator Lee asked the obvious: Do we need SB 315?  Senator Washington offered the Suppressionist Party Line in response:

“The voting process is sacred. We never want to give the impression of fraudulent voting. We need something in place to determine if there is voter fraud. Poll workers are there to stop any fraudulent voting. This would add one more safeguard to maintain integrity in the voting process.” [Leg PDF]

SB 315 died in committee. Note, once again, only the potential — after explanations aplenty from county and state officials that there was no evidence of voter impersonation — of fraud was ever alleged. At no point in testimony in either 2009 or 2013 was evidence of actual fraud brought forth.

We can go back yet another session, to 2007, in which Senator Cegavske sponsored SB 385, to require that county clerks issue voter ID cards.  The theme remained the same, there was a potential problem with impersonation — during the testimony given on the bill no one offered a single instance of actual voter fraud to the committee on March 27, 2007. [Leg PDF]  The bill got a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate committee, on March 29, 2007, but no examples of actual voter fraud emerged. [Leg PDF]

SB 385 came up for discussion again on May 3, 2007, with Barry Gold of the AARP testifying that approximately 125,000 elderly Nevadans would be negatively impacted by the bill. The hearing closed. [LegPDF]  A second hearing provided more examples of voter inconvenience and expense than it did of any real problems, especially since none of the latter were mentioned.  [LegPDF]  The bill never emerged from the State Senate.

And so, since 2007 Senator Cegavske has been looking for the solution to Senator Washington’s “problem,” i.e. how should legislation be crafted so that no Republican can ever claim any indication of potential voter fraud?   This is particularly difficult since the underpinning of the voter fraud allegations is the notion that Democrats can only win elections by cheating, and therefore, if a Democrat wins it must be by nefarious means.

We might await the day when more than six members of the Republican Party are willing to admit that various forms of suppression including purging rolls and photo identification requirements are simply about disenfranchising those who are likely to vote Democratic.  [National Memo]

It would be seemly if Senator Cegavske, while campaigning to assume the mantle of elections chief in this state would care to take some time to explain why she sought “solutions” to election problems which never actually took place, and existed only in the heated imaginations of right wing, Koch Brothers funded, political operatives and their think tanks.

 

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