The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a vigorous Opposition [PDF] to a Motion to Intervene [PDF] filed by the Republican "voter fraud" group calling itself "True the Vote." In its motion, True the Vote seeks to become a party to the DoJ's federal legal challenge to Texas's polling place Photo ID restriction law, SB-14.
The DoJ's opposition is rather straightforward. The right wing-funded True the Vote, they argue, has not established that it is entitled to intervene because it sets forth nothing more than a generalized grievance and because its allegation "that illegal voting might be prevented by enforcement of SB 14 is, at best, speculative."
Anyone familiar with this organization and its history, should appreciate how absurd it is that they should be taken seriously at any time, much less allowed to intervene in a critical lawsuit filed in federal court.
Permissive intervention is inappropriate, according to the DoJ, because True the Vote has failed to establish that its interests would not be adequately represented by the State of Texas. Indeed, its participation in the case, DoJ says, would be unduly burdensome in that the group seeks to divert the court's attention from the legal issues relating to polling place Photo ID restriction laws "to issues concerning True the Vote's numerous allegations of purported voter registration irregularities."
The DoJ notes that, for identical reasons, True the Vote, whose 2011 list of "Recommendations for Legislation" [PDF] was topped by the desire to enact the polling place Photo ID law at issue, was excluded from participating in the Department's legal challenge to last year's ill-fated effort by Florida's Gov. Rick Scott (R) to purge "potential non-citizens" from the Sunshine State's eligible voter rolls.
True the Vote's deceptive tactics should come as no surprise to long time readers of The BRAD BLOG. The group is essentially the latest pretend "election integrity" arm of the Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact voter suppression laws across the country.
The nature of their hostile, anti-voter tactics, according to the Houston NAACP, included an alleged attack upon its "volunteer poll monitors for handing out water to voters at Early Vote locations and for assisting Disabled and Elderly voters by standing in line for them or asking younger people in line to let the elderly and disabled go ahead of them in the line to vote."
Unmasking True Skew the Vote
Last year, we documented the deception behind the group's silly report entitled: "Did You Know There are Voter Fraud Convictions and Prosecutions in 46 States?"
The report was meant to support the group's efforts to enact polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country.
As it turned out, the report did not actually cite a single case of "voter fraud" that could have been prevented by the polling place Photo ID restrictions the document pretended to advocate in favor of. Twenty (20) of the cases cited entailed absentee voter fraud (not deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions). There were seven (7) false residency cases (also not deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions), which, as we've reported, has become an "epidemic form of elite voter fraud" over the last several years. Influential right wing media pundits, like Ann Coulter, and powerful politicians like former GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been accused of it, while Indiana's then Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted on three felony voter fraud counts for it. All of them, documentation shows, cast votes in precincts where they did not lawfully reside.
As we went on to report late last year:
4 cases cited by True the Vote were for double voting (also not prevented by Photo ID laws); 4 were for ballot petition fraud (forging signatures in an effort to get a candidate or initiative placed on the ballot -- the same thing the state of Virginia was investigating Newt Gingrich's campaign for earlier this year, which also has absolutely nothing to do with polling place Photo ID laws); 3 cases were related to convicted felons voting in states where they are barred from doing so (Photo ID laws don't prevent that); and 3 cases were related to vote buying (paying someone to vote a certain way, also not prevented by Photo ID.) Finally, there were 2 cases that involved identify theft with people voting in the names of others. But in those cases, the voters had assumed the identities of those in whose names they voted, and had drivers licenses and other documentation with their photo on them to (falsely) prove it. They would not have been prevented from voting by True the Vote's polling place Photo ID laws either.
The truth is that cases of in-person voter impersonation, which is the only type of voter fraud which can possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions, are about as scarce as hen's teeth. Either True the Vote doesn't know that, or they are willing to lie about it, which should also disqualify them from intervening in the DoJ case against TX' photo ID law.
As related in sworn Congressional testimony by Loyola Law Prof. Justin Levitt, between 2000 and 2011 there were just "nine allegations of votes [in general elections] that might have involved votes cast by individuals impersonating others" out of some "400 million votes cast." A subsequent, exhaustive study by a non-partisan investigative news consortium which looked at every single documented election fraud case in all 50 states since 2000, found that just ten (10) cases of in-person voter fraud had been reported out of hundreds of millions of votes across the nation during the period 2000 - 2012.
Last year, while seeking to defend a polling place Photo ID law that had threatened to disenfranchise between 750,00 and 1.3 million voters in Pennsylvania, the state's Republican administration entered an in-court admission that they were unaware of so much as a single case of in-person voter fraud having ever been committed at any time during the entire storied history of one of our nation's founding states.
But that's not all...
Well-documented and easily-checked facts, however, are no match for the fantasists at True the Vote!
Following last year's election, the group published yet another silly and wildly inaccurate report claiming "TRUE THE VOTE PROVES WIDESPREAD CLAIMS OF VOTER SUPPRESSION FALSE" (their caps) in a document called "The 2012 Voter Suppression Myth". That report was perhaps even more embarrassing for the group than the one we had previously dissected.
As FairVote's Rob Richie detailed at Huffington Post last March, True The Vote "cooked numbers on voter turnout" in their "Myth" report in order to incorrectly claim that states with strict Photo ID restrictions actually increased voter turnout in 2012 over 2008. In fact, they had compared two completely different sets of numbers from each state in those years in order to make their outlandish claims. Using the correct apples to apples comparison, as Richie explained, revealed the complete opposite of True the Vote's supposed findings.
Professor Paul Gronke, a non-partisan academic researcher on early voting and election reform at Reed College, politely wrote that "their conclusions about the relationship between voter ID and turnout are wrong."
When True the Vote was finally forced to correct the numbers in their report (they did so without noting the changes), Gronke struggled to continue to be polite by explaining that they "continue to print untrue things." Their "corrected" version was also incorrect, as it turns out, leading him to chide: "The discussion [of the impact of Photo ID requirements on turnout and wait times] isn't helped along by badly misleading and poorly documented reports."
True the Vote was not the first of the Photo ID proponents to attempt to erect the fact-free claim that Photo ID laws actually increase voter turn-out.
During a September 2011 hearing before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, GOP 'voter fraud' front man, Hans Von Spakovsky, made a feeble attempt at the same deception only to have his facts demolished on the spot by Prof. Levitt. Von Spakovsky was also called out for his deceptive effort by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).
With what is, at best, an inability to get the facts right, but more likely a deliberate desire to deceive, True the Vote now seeks to be a part of the legal case defending the Lone Star State's Photo ID restrictions on voters?
While the discredited group was unable to make the case that Photo ID increased turnout in this year's report, or cite any cases of in-person voter fraud in their report last year, they have not been shy about committing actual fraud in service of their agenda. Last year, the bipartisan Board of Elections of Franklin County, OH barred True the Vote's polling place observers after it determined that they had "forged" and photocopied the signatures needed to allow the group's poll monitors access to precincts in the county during the Nov. 6, 2012 Presidential Election.
Prior to that, the group used a fraudulent photo of an African-American woman holding up a (Photoshopped) sign reading "I ONLY GOT TO VOTE ONCE!" in a well-polished video used to announce their national launch back in 2010. (The real photo, before it was faked, reveals the woman holding up a sign at a Florida protest during that state's Presidential Election debacle in 2000. The sign actually read, ironically enough, "DON'T MESS WITH OUR VOTES".)
And, on August 8, 2013, it was revealed that True the Vote was part of a well-coordinated, secret Republican cabal committed to an assault on the right of citizens to vote. It was, as a part of that secret, right wing-funded group that True the Vote introduced its "Hydra" campaign claiming absurdly that "The Left Plans to Destroy American Elections" and they must be stopped. (See video and their document below.) "Hydra," according to Mother Jones' David Corn, is but a part of a "30 Front War" carried out by "Groundswell" -- a coalition of hard-right groups headed by the likes of Ginni Thomas (wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas), former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), and right wing media pundits, whose radical strategy, spelled out in internal memos and audio recordings, seeks to "fundamentally transform the nation".
That's what they may seek, but there is no reason they should be allowed to deceptively do so in our federal courts.
-- Additional reporting by Brad Friedman
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.