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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Gonzales Mess Part of Venerable GOP Tradition

Those looking for an article to put the purge of federal prosecutors scandal in historical perspective are directed to Paul Rogat Loeb’s post at TomPaine.com. In three well-documented nut graphs, Loeb lays it out thusly:

…the administration and its allies have a long history of using the specter of election fraud to justify reprehensible actions. In 2000, Jeb Bush claimed to be fighting potential fraud when he purged over 55,000 voters from the Florida rolls for felony convictions that under law should have had their voting rights restored—or that never had them revoked to begin with. Some simply had names similar to that of a convicted felon. Staffers of ChoicePoint, the Republican-tied data-collection firm that handled this effort, acknowledged that they disproportionately targeted low-income Democrats, particularly African Americans. A follow-up by BBC investigative reporter Greg Palast found that 90 percent of those scrubbed were legitimate voters, enough by far to have made Al Gore the winner. And the Supreme Court that handed Bush the presidency was led by William Rehnquist, who got his start harassing black and Hispanic voters in South Phoenix as part of a Republican effort called Operation Eagle Eye.
Election fraud was also the watchword in 2004. Ohio Secretary of State (and Bush campaign chair) Ken Blackwell claimed he was just protecting the legitimacy of the vote when he knocked 300,000 voters off the rolls in key Democratic cities like Cleveland, far exceeding Bush’s margin of victory. Blackwell also tried to reject new Democratic registrations because an arcane law said they were supposed to be on 80-pound paper stock (presumably more secure), then had to back off when his own official forms failed the same criterion. And he went to court to ensure that provisional ballots would be considered only if cast in the right precinct, defeating their key purpose, even as he sowed voter confusion by pulling machines and closing down polling stations in longstanding Democratic neighborhoods.
But maybe voting integrity really is the issue in the current wave of firings. In the same 2004 election, Karl Rove aide Timothy Griffin, just named the new U.S. Attorney for eastern Arkansas, originated a strategy to send 70,000 letters challenging the addresses of black and Hispanic voters in places like Florida’s Jacksonville Naval Air Station, a local homeless shelter and the historically black Edward Waters College. As Palast writes in another BBC report, Republicans sent the letters out with do-not-forward instructions. When they came back undeliverable, as when soldiers were deployed overseas, Florida then struck the voters from the rolls so even absentee ballots no longer counted…

Loeb has more to say about why the Administration’s supposed ‘concern’ about voter fraud is awash in hypocricy. His article scratches the surface of the GOP’s long and sorry history of voter suppression through “ballot security” scams, felon disenfranchisement and other initiatives to thwart pro-Democratic voters, particularly African Americans — and shows why it takes a lot of nerve for Republicans to even mention the subject of voter fraud.

One comment on “Gonzales Mess Part of Venerable GOP Tradition

  1. ChuckJonesAtChoicePoint on

    ChoicePoint responds to erroneous information in this post:
    There are any number of myths about modern American politics and one of the more obviously false is the one surrounding ChoicePoint and its alleged role in the 2000 presidential election.
    First, ChoicePoint is not “Republican-tied.” In fact, the company’s president ranks as one of the leading contributors to the Democratic Party in the Southeastern United States.
    Second, ChoicePoint was not involved in the 2000 election and has never been involved in any election in any country. The confusion arises from the fact that ChoicePoint bought Database Technologies (DBT), a company that was under a publicly bid contract to review Florida voter registration rolls from 1998 through 2000.
    As an aside and in direct rebuttal to a related myth, the contract DBT was awarded was signed not by Katherine Harris in her capacity as Florida Secretary of State but by Ms. Harris’ predecessor, Sandra Mortham, who occupied that post until 1999.
    To be clear, ChoicePoint was not in the voter registration review business before the DBT acquisition, did not know that DBT was itself in that business when it purchased the company and discontinued providing that service after the acquisition. These charges are seven years old and don’t get any more legitimate with age.
    As to the specifics of what DBT did for the State of Florida, the best source is clearly the U.S. Civil Rights Commission report on the 2000 presidential election, (http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/vote2000/report/ch5.htm).
    — Chuck Jones, ChoicePoint


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