Voter Suppression - Part I

Original Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Voter suppression in America may have affected our last three Congressional and last two Presidential elections. The efforts uncovered so far have been aimed at suppressing minority votes or those who traditionally vote for Democratic political candidates. Have there been more? We don't know. But we can and must look at the data now available to see if further investigation is warranted.

"Caging" is a method of voter suppression in which first-class mail is sent to registered voters to confirm their addresses. If the letter is returned to the sender, the name and address on the returned mail is entered into a database known as "caging list." A document, "State Implementation Template III.doc," last saved by Christopher Guith, attorney and Bush-Cheney2004 campaign official, provides a template of plans for challenging voters at the polls based on caging.

II. Precinct Identification Method

Every precinct/ward in the state that had 60% or more votes for Gore in 2000 AND every precinct/ward that had 60% or more votes for Bush should be identified as target precincts.

V. Pre-Election Day Operations - New Registration Mailing

At whatever point registration in the state closes, a first-class mailing should be sent to all new registrants as well as purged/inactive voters. This mailing should welcome the recipient to the voter rolls. It is important that a return address is clearly identifiable. Any mail returned as undeliverable for any reason, should be used to generate a list of problematic registrations. Poll watchers should have this list and be prepared to challenge anyone from this list attempting to vote.

Voter Suppression - Part II

Original Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jacksonville Caging List: Impact

Analysis of Caged Data

Despite the fact that letters appeared to be sent broadly geographically, the RATE of acquisition of "caged" addresses was higher in the precincts in which Blacks are concentrated. One can determine the caging rate by evaluating the number of caged addresses per the total number of registered voters in a specific precinct. For example, in precinct 07R (with a Black population of 63.6%), there were 67 addresses "caged" from a population of 1733 registered voters. Thus, the rate of caging is 38.7 addresses per 1000 registered voters. more ...

 

That "voter fraud" was on her mind when responding to allegations about the caging list suggests that challenging voter registration was imagined as a potential use of the list. Indeed, court filings in the Ohio caging case and documents obtained at GeorgeWBush.org (see below) clearly indicate the caging lists were to be used to mount pre-election and election-day challenges throughout the country.

The Alberto Gonzales Appointments: How the Process Has Changed and Why this is so Important

Original Publication Date: 
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The news over the past few weeks regarding Alberto Gonzales and the resignations and replacements of US Attorneys has generated much attention. The reasons are certainly numerous: the timing of Scooter Libby's trial, the ties that the replacements have to the Bush administration, the questions surrounding the abrupt nature of the resignations and the inevitable comparisons to the Saturday Night Massacre back in 1973.

Until recently (as with many actions regarding political and governmental appointments), there was a general process that was followed when a candidate is suggested, nominated, appointed and confirmed as a U.S. Attorney. Both the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch are involved in this process.

Background

There are 93 US Attorneys (including Puerto Rico and Guam), with each Attorney representing a "district." Obviously, some states have more than one district while some states have only one district. The following basic information is from the US Department of Justice's web site (emphasis added):

United States Attorneys are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, the President of the United States, with advice and consent of the United States Senate.

The Gonzales Seven - Part II

Original Publication Date: 
Monday, January 29, 2007

Arkansas: H.E. (Bud) Cummins

Nominated by George W. Bush 12/2001 and approved by the US Senate 12/26/2001

In June 2006 Bud Cummins received a call from the Justice Department asking him to resign. Paul Krugman of the New York Times reports that Dec. 15th,

"[...] Bud Cummins, the U.S. attorney (federal prosecutor) for the Eastern District of Arkansas, received a call on his cellphone while hiking in the woods with his son. He was informed that he had just been replaced by J. Timothy Griffin, a Republican political operative who has spent the last few years working as an opposition researcher for Karl Rove."

Cases under investigation by Cummins' Office

The Gonzales Seven - Part I

Original Publication Date: 
Monday, January 29, 2007

What do U.S. Attorneys Lam, Ryan, Bogden, Iglesias, Cummins, Charlton, and McKay have in common?

The short answer: They may have been encouraged to resign by the United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

It is no news by now that over the past few months (and gaining speed since the November elections returned the House, the Senate and many state governments to Democratic control) Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department has been moving stealthily to force at least 7 U.S. Attorneys out of their appointed positions.

Gonzales himself acknowledges that (since the reauthorization of the Patriot Act (in March 2006) which allows for these interim "recess appointments") 11 U.S. Attorneys have resigned. With only 93 U.S. Attorneys, this represents a full 11.8% turnover in less than 9 months.

The last time this many US Attorneys have been forced out in one fell swoop was back in, well, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein quoted Peter Nunez: "This is like nothing I have ever seen in my 35-plus years." Nunez, who served as the San Diego U.S. Attorney from 1982 to 1988, has also stated: "I've heard nothing but complaints over the last six years about how many things the Justice Department is demanding relating to bureaucracy and red tape."

Notably, in these seven cases there appears to be no allegations of wrong doing.

So who are the seven and who replaces them?

The Voting Rights Act, Voter Disfranchisement and the Tail Wagging the Dog

Original Publication Date: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
As The New York Times points out, (subscription) United States Attorneys have been forced to try to create a voting fraud scandal when none existed.

But just beneath the surface of the multiple U.S. Attorney scandals lie hints and teasers of the Bush Administration's potentially more damaging politicization of the Justice Department. Indeed, The Civil Rights Division appears to be morphing into a tool to manipulate elections. Control seems to be held by a "shadow" Civil Rights Division - populated by ideologues and their fellow travelers -- which has usurped litigation decisions, the hiring process, training and the Division's traditional civil rights agenda.

The Civil Rights Division under the Bush Administration has been turned inside out -- in the same manner as the Clean Air Act, Clear Skies Initiative and the Healthy Forest Initiative, all of which legislate the very opposite of what their titles suggest. Instead of protecting the civil and voting rights of minorities, the Division seems to be employing twin engines of an attack on our elections system:

Litigation: By focusing on cases under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA),which are targeted to enforcement of regulations, the politicized Civil Rights Division can point to a record of fighting supposed Voter Fraud and being champions of "voting integrity."  This action serves to energize the far right Republican base and further alienate the rest of the voting public.  The litigation in and of itself seems to be designed to embarrass districts that are by and large Democratic.  Even the cases filed under the language minority provisions of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act have focused, more often than not, on Democratic jurisdictions.  Meanwhile, traditional voting rights cases filed under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act have plummeted, and a case was even filed to "protect" the voting rights of whites in Mississippi.

Spotlight on Carol Lam, Southern California

Original Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On January 16th, 2007 Carol Lam, US Attorney for California's Southern District, announced she would step down from her post, and her last day will be February 15th, 2007.

According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Lam was targeted for dismissal because of "performance-related" issues after the Justice Department received complaints from members of Congress about her handling of immigration enforcement cases, said Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.

However, there is another side to the dismissal. From the same Union-Tribune article:

The critics have speculated that Lam is being removed to cripple an investigation into corruption in Congress. Lam's office prosecuted former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and that case has led to investigations of other lawmakers.

Spotlight on Daniel Bogden, Nevada

Original Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Over the last several weeks the brouhaha over the forced resignation of several US Attorneys from around the country has continued to grow. Daniel Bogden, US Attorney, Nevada announced his resignation last month and has recently announced his last day will be February 28th, 2007. There has been no report yet of Senator Ensign recommending a replacement to President Bush, and no report of an "interim" being named by the Attorney General. Senator Reid expressed surprise at the announcement, but Senator Ensign (who recommended Bogden to Bush in the first place) said he was not surprised. He had learned in December 2006 that Bogden was being removed from his position. From the Las Vegas Sun:
 

Reid's office could provide little information as to why Bogden was apparently forced out.

Ensign, a Republican who has known about Bogden's departure since Justice Department officials told him about it during a briefing last month, would not offer any explanation.

So, why was Bodgen pushed out? From all reports, he was good at his job and respected by the people of the state of Nevada. Again from the Las Vegas Sun Article:

During his five-year reign as the highest-ranking federal prosecutor in Nevada, Bogden has scored some notable successes. His office boosted firearms prosecutions, secured the convictions of dozens of violent gang members and oversaw the cases against four former Clark County commissioners convicted of taking bribes.

Spotlight on David Iglesias, New Mexico

Original Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Ironically, of the seven US Attorneys purged by Alberto Gonzales last December, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, who has received little attention in the press, is perhaps the most famous of the group...but most people just don't know it.

While a Navy JAG officer in 1986 he was the defense counsel in a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, court-martial of two men accused of assaulting a fellow Marine. Iglesias, and his defense in that case, later became the inspiration for the movie, "A Few Good Men."

Nominated for the position of US Attorney by George W. Bush in August of 2001 and approved by the US Senate in October, Iglesias became the first Hispanic to serve as U.S. attorney since the Nixon administration.  

He announced his "forced resignation" on December 19, 2006.

Spotlight on H.E. Cummins, Eastern Arkansas

Original Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Pages

Author: 
Polydactyl
Original Publication Date: 
Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Editors' Note: On the first year anniversary of Katrina, Louisiana resident and writer, Polydactyl reflects on her in-the-moment journals and diaries to remind us of what it was like in the eye of the storm.

about the author: Polydactyl dons her blogger's hat in Central Louisiana between shifts as a wife, mom, cat-herder and computer healer.