New Group Takes Aim at Wake Voter Rolls

A new group in Wake County has filed challenges this summer to almost 900 people on the voter rolls in Wake County, saying they are either not citizens or the person registered to vote is dead.

Voter Integrity Project Executive Director Jay DeLancy and his volunteers say they are on a mission to clean the voter rolls in North Carolina, by researching registered voters and filing challenges to voters in as many counties as they can.

Such challenges are causing tensions with the Wake County Board of Elections, whose chair wrote recently in an online posting that the approach undermines the integrity of the electoral system.

But DeLancy said if dead people once voted in Chicago, they can do so in North Carolina.

“We all roll our eyes and wink about it, but if that's true, why not here? It's like some kind of Jedi mind trick: they say there is no voter fraud in North Carolina. And I'm not drinking that Kool-Aid. I'm just like 'no, I think there is' and the only proof they have is that no one has been prosecuted. So my comeback to that is: the one party that has been in control of the electoral process for 100 years assures us there is nothing wrong with the system, then what's wrong with us checking?” he said.

Who They Are
The conservative-leaning Voter Integrity Project-North Carolina describes itself as a “non-partisan, volunteer organization that works for “free and fair elections.”

It's a mission that caught DeLancy's eye after the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. The ensuing debacle in Florida left DeLancy feeling uneasy.

“The discussion after that Bush v. Gore race - and that churning in my stomach I have had after every election after that,” he said. “I thought, 'This is where I'm going.'”

The former Halifax County ROTC teacher was about to retire from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel when he read about a Texas group called True the Vote.

He attended its training session and learned about members' efforts to clean voter rolls. In a list of 3,800 voters, he said they found 600 with suspicious addresses – vacant lots, businesses and post office boxes.

DeLancy returned to North Carolina in 2011 and decided to try something similar.

Although loosely based on True the Vote, DeLancy's Voter Integrity Project is not affiliated with any national organization.

So far, he's working with a small group of volunteers, who hope to spread the effort statewide.

It's set up as a for-profit corporation, which he said was to protect the information of any future donors.

The Voter Integrity Project

What: For-profit corporation, established in June 2012
President: Jay DeLancy
Mission: “Free and fair elections”

“I don't have any yet, but when I do, it protects them from being randomly attacked … for supporting organization some may not like – something 'not mainstream,'” he told the Record.

DeLancy said the group itself is non-partisan; state voter registration records list him as a registered independent.

“I really want this not to be a partisan issue,” he said. “I view it as an issue that cuts to the core of our Constitution. If we lose control over the ballot box … we're going to wake up to being a ... Venezuelan-type dictatorship eventually.”

That non-partisan approach is exactly why Janice Wilson volunteered to help. She's a member of the Wake County Republican Party – its liaison to the Board of Elections, in fact – but called DeLancy's goals her “grail.”

“It was just exactly what I knew we needed here in Wake County,” she said. “Because even though the Wake County Board of Elections is extremely diligent in trying to keep things on the up and up, their first priority is the voter, and that means they have to allow everybody to vote. We knew we had to step in somewhere.”

An Attack
Stepping in can mean stepping on a few toes. Some have said challenging voters who claim not to be U.S. citizens is an attack on minorities, or those with foreign-sounding names. But DeLancy said when conducting the research, he did not look at names. He said those who imply he's targeting people are just “distracting from the real issue.”

“We stripped away political party, gender, race, information like that we didn't need,” he said. “The implication was you're targeting people of color. No, we just want the chips to fall where the chips fall.”

Some have also suggested he's out to attack the Board of Elections members and staff, his challenges a critique on their methods or an implication that that they're not doing their job.

Wake Board of Elections Chair Aida Doss Havel commented on DeLancy's May 30 blog post to say she does not appreciate “gotcha” tactics.

Havel's comment also responded to DeLancy's claim that she scolded them during a previous hearing.

“Actually, I did not 'scold you to make the quiet phone call next time,'” she wrote. “What I said was, if you identify a problem, or what you perceive to be as problem, come to us and tell us about it as an adult. There is no need for covert, 'gotcha' type of tactics, and yes, those types of actions do undermine confidence in the system. If, instead, you walk in the front door and say, 'I’ve identified something that may be a problem. Am I looking at it correctly? If so, how can we fix it?' you not only help us and help the system, but you give yourself more credibility.”

Read the post and her comments.

DeLancy said in his mind, his actions do the exact opposite of “undermine confidence in the system.”

“I think the voters when they see this kind of give and take it and they see us wrestling with these kinds of problems, it actually strengthens people's confidence,” he said. “If they see us work through this and solve it, it actually will strengthen their impression of it.”

Havel declined to speak to the Record about the Voter Integrity Project, because its challenges are ongoing.

Wake Board of Elections Director Cherie Poucher also declined to comment on the group.

Voter Challenges
The group has filed voter challenges in multiple counties, a move DeLancy calls his “offense” – attempts to clean up the rolls as best they can before the next election.

“We're looking at the voter rolls, and we're looking at what we do now to prevent wholesale theft, people who do mass registrations of fictitious people,” he said. “We've already found a P.O. box with 20 people registered to it. Things like that raise questions about the legality of voter registration.”

DeLancy declined to elaborate on the P.O. Box, saying only that it was not in Wake County and that an announcement is forthcoming.

The group recently filed challenges against 386 deceased Wake County citizens who they claim are still on the voter rolls. Members of VIP-NC in Alamance and Halifax counties filed similar challenges.

In a press release about the filing, the Voter Integrity Project mentions member John Pizzo, their research director, who worked to prevent election fraud as part of the 2010 Bill Randall for Congress Campaign. At that time, he found the same type of problem in election offices.

“I found several hundred deceased voters on the rolls back then,” he said in a press release. “And the campaign quietly notified the election boards and gave them spreadsheets to make the process of removal as easy as possible.”

Pizzo said now he's found 74 of the same deceased Wake County residents still on the voter rolls more than two years later.

DeLancy said they matched the voter rolls against the official death records provided by the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

“All the data that's out there, why couldn't you just clean the voter roles using available public data?” he said. “More to the point: how come the government doesn't do that automatically? They have data we don't have.”

However, the state and county Boards of Election already conduct checks of voter lists. In 2011, while conducting a cross-reference check of the rolls, the North Carolina State Board of Elections identified and removed 12 non-citizens who had improperly voted in a North Carolina election.

Veronica Degraffenreid, elections liaison with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said those removed had voted at various times from 2006 to 2010 since they were initially registered.

The State Board of Elections also uses the same lists DeLancy used to remove the deceased. Since 2008, more than 13,000 deceased have been removed from Wake County's voter rolls.

Degraffenreid said even with regular checks, yes, sometimes, the deceased remain on voter rolls.

After receiving the information from the Department of Health and Human Services or from family members, county election officials must follow up to make sure they remove the correct voter. In some cases, they cannot be sure, Degraffenreid said.

“We have to be careful they do not remove a voter improperly,” she said. “There are cases where we don't have enough information to feel sure that this is the voter that needs to be removed.”

Degraffenreid gave the example of a woman who may move and change her last name.

Voter Challenges Hearing

What: A hearing to debate 18 challenges to the voter rolls.
Who: Voter Integrity Project and the Wake County Board of Elections
When: 9 a.m. Aug. 21
Where: Public Safety Center Conference Room

“A county has no way of knowing that Jane Doe at 123 Main Street may be the same as Jane Smith at 456 Oak Avenue,” she said. “There's not enough data element there to make a data match.”

Voter Integrity Project isn't just looking for deceased voters. Earlier, the group filed more than 500 challenges to voters who had told the courts they were ineligible to serve as members of a jury because they are not U.S. citizens. One must be a U.S. citizen to vote.

The Wake County Board of Elections dismissed 510 of those challenges at a preliminary hearing based on information from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, which indicated those residents hold North Carolina driver's licenses or a “legal presence” driver's license if they are not citizens.

DeLancy responded to the dismissal with a complaint filed in superior court claiming DMV records aren't enough proof.

Proof of residency, name, age and Social Security number were not required to obtain a driver's license in North Carolina until the 2006 Technical Corrections Act.

“The breathtaking assumption they are making is that if they have an LP by their name, they are not a citizen, and if they don't, they are,” he said. “And that, to me, is worth cross-examination.”

Another 18 challenges from citizenship list will be heard by the Board Aug. 21.

A DMV representative was not present at the preliminary hearing, but someone will be at the next one, DeLancy said.

Voter ID
Despite DeLancy's emphasis on the Voter Integrity Project's non-partisan stance, the group's first issue – voter ID – prompted controversy and divided along party lines. They campaigned last year to require voters to show identification before voting.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 17 states require photo identification to vote. Another 16 require some type of identification. The others, including North Carolina, have no voter ID law.

DeLancy said it simply makes sense to have people prove they are who they say they are before voting.

“What's wrong with a few minor safeguards?” he said. “Would you ride on a airline that only looked at your utility bill?”

The General Assembly passed a Voter ID bill last year – House Bill 351 – but it was later vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat.


Voter Integrity Project Timeline

2011

-DeLancy begins VIP-NC
-Begins pushing Voter ID in North Carolina
-June 16 - House Bill 351 approved
-June 23 - HB 351 vetoed by Governor

2012

-DeLancy begins researching voter challenges
-June 26 – VIP-NC files as corporation in North Carolina
-June 27 – Wake Board of Elections Rejects more than 500 of VIP-NC's voter challenges
-July 6 – VIP-NC files suit in Wake County Court following the rejection of those challenges
-July 25 – VIP-NC files challenges to 386 deceased voters in Wake County
-Aug. 21 – Elections Board scheduled to hear 18 other citizenship challenges

Indeed, it seems to be an issue favored more strongly by Republicans; earlier this year, the Republican majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners threw its approval behind House Bill 351. But to DeLancy, it should be a non-partisan issue.

“Anyone who calls this a partisan issue is either sadly mistaken or they're being agitational,” he said “We view this as a Constitutional issue, as a democratic – with a small d – issue that cuts to the core of our freedom in this country, that one person, one vote, one time per election is standard. Without that, we run the risk of falling into all sorts of evil.”

Opponents to the law claim even those with identification will feel “disenfranchised” by having to present ID at the polls. DeLancy said he doesn't want to disenfranchise anyone.

“But a stolen vote is disenfranchising someone else,” he said. “It cuts to the core of our entire way of life.”

Opponents also argue the move will hurt minority voters, who may be less likely to have a driver's license. DeLancy points to what he said happened after Voter ID laws passed in Georgia and Indiana.

“You had greater participation among minorities in those states than you did in demographically neighboring states. Georgia and Mississippi and Indiana-Illinois – in both cases, the minority representation after Voter ID was far greater than prior. I think the reason is, because they began to wake up and think, 'you know, my vote really counts. I think I'll go do it.'”

What's Next
DeLancy said the recent voter challenges are “offense.” Once election season begins, his next step is “defense,” which means training people to watch the polls on Election Day.
Wilson said the group's objective is to have two observers at each polling place – an ambitious goal with 200 polling places in Wake County alone.

But she and DeLancy say it's necessary to keep an eye out for fraud – something pollworkers and partisan officials are too busy to do.

“Observation changes behavior,” Wilson said. “This is where Voter Integrity comes in and that's why it needs to be nonpartisan.”

Although other issues bother him – the fraud potential of early voting, for example – DeLancy said he “can't think past November.” He said he will put a document together with recommendations for the legislature, but otherwise, will leave the future of the Voter Integrity Project “in the hands of someone greater than me.”

He has no plans to run for office, and said he might go back and teach school.

Wilson said she sees the project living on, growing and adding volunteers in other counties.

“We're doing all the counties that we can. We're going to move forward,” she said. “This is a living thing. Voter registrations change monthly.”

DeLancy, too, knows it's not over. Whether North Carolina turns out to be as bad as old stories of Chicago or not, doesn't mean it might not someday occur if no one is around to watch it.

“We're never going to 100 percent solve voter fraud,” he said. “We'll never know how much fraud there is. I'm looking at minimizing it.”



13 thoughts on “New Group Takes Aim at Wake Voter Rolls

  1. Thanks for telling our story, Jen. Two updates I would like to give is one correction to my words about “mainstream.” Survey data from Elon and Civitas both suggest that WE ARE the mainstream on this issue. In both surveys, 74% either favored or strongly favored real ID at the voting booth. In the Civitas cross-tabs, every demographic supported real voter ID, except for self-identified “Liberals” who only showed 46% support. The other update involves our size. We were a lot smaller when you and I sat down for this interview, but the growth has been amazing! People really resonate with our concerns; so as of 1 Aug, we are pushing close to 200 volunteers from all over the state. While nobody has taken the time to count, I’d estimate that we have representation in somewhere between 40 to 50 counties.
    So…stay tuned!

  2. I’d be more concerned if the deceased who remained on the rolls were continuing to vote. Was there any evidence of that?

    What is the voting record of the people they are challenging as ineligible (non-citizens, etc)? Are they active voters? People who vote sporadically, or not at all? On the one hand, I’d be very sure I was 100% correct before challenging an active voter. And on the other hand, a non-voter who remains on the list probably isn’t the biggest threat to fair and valid elections.

  3. “I’d be more concerned if the deceased who remained on the rolls were continuing to vote. Was there any evidence of that?”
    >>> Short answer: Yes. These will need to be handled in the legal system, not the election system.

    “What is the voting record of the people they are challenging as ineligible (non-citizens, etc)?”
    >>> Records show that hundreds have voted in Wake County alone. Again, this is a matter for the legal system, as it is a felony to register to vote, and obviously, to vote, as a non-citizen.

  4. This reads more like a press release than a genuine news article. I wish there had been any sort of balance to this story other than hiding behind, ‘Some have said” and “Some have also suggested”. You also say that “Opponents to the law claim” and”Opponents also argue” as a method to let Mr. DeLancy “prebut” the statements they attached to, and it doesn’t appear that any “opponents” were spoken to, at all.

    Also, is this about challenging invalid registrations and removing them from the rolls, or a Voter ID law? Because the voters being challenged for removal woukd not have been prevented from voting with a new law, since “510 of those challenges at a preliminary hearing (were) based on information from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, which indicated those residents hold North Carolina driver’s licenses”.

    No, deceased voters are not voting in Wake county. State law does not allow “deceased voters” to be removed by any person other than a family member or through other state agencies. This article and this group have not shown that any of these “deceased voters” have ever cast a ballot, either, even though it is implied. “On the rolls” DOES NOT equal “has voted”.

    As for, “it’s necessary to keep an eye out for fraud – something pollworkers and partisan officials are too busy to do.”? Also not the case. This is not something “extra” that needs doing, but exactly what is being done when pollworkers are processing voters – verification and then the signing of legally binding documents attesting to that verified information. It IS the job!

    And do you really want to give pollworkers the ability to turn ANYONE away from the polls? Their average age is in the 60s, many with sight issues, and inclined to err on the side of being overly cautious/zealous, because most take this duty very seriously. For instance, would you want me, the theoretical pollworker, who does this once every 2-4 years as a volunteer, to decide whether that picture really looks like you? And would you want to give me the ability to tell you that you can’t vote today?

    Registration fraud is not the same as voter fraud. It may be that “Proof of residency, name, age and Social Security number were not required to obtain a driver’s license in North Carolina until the 2006 Technical Corrections Act.”, but they are required to register to vote in Wake County – you need proof of residency, name, age and Social Security number to register t, just not each and every time you vote.

    As far as “Whether North Carolina turns out to be as bad as old stories of Chicago or not, doesn’t mean it might not someday occur if no one is around to watch it. “? Seriously? So no proof required, and even though there is no, zero, none, of these illegal voters found, and “the Wake County Board of Elections is extremely diligent in trying to keep things on the up and up”, and “Since 2008, more than 13,000 deceased have been removed from Wake County’s voter rolls.”, we should throw out hundreds, or even thousands, of legitimate voters “just in case’?

    Doesn’t sound very American to me.

    Insinuations like this, “We’ve already found a P.O. box with 20 people registered to it. Things like that raise questions about the legality of voter registration.” lead people to believe there is a problem where one doesn’t exist (and there are several legitimate reasons for this scenario). And, even worse, it has nothing to do with the challenges in Wake County, since “DeLancy declined to elaborate on the P.O. Box, saying only that it was not in Wake County”.

    Besides, if the point is to keep people from illegally voting, why don’t we just use the “purple finger” method? Anyone voting illegally has no chance of swaying an election, so they must be voting multiple times, right? “Purple fingers” would solve that.

    But the truth is, individual,in person voter fraud is not now, nor will be the problem with our elections, election fraud is.

    In Florida, manipulation of voter rolls and faulty ballot deign were the real problems in 2000. In Ohio in ’04, it was the rejection of legitimate registrations because they were on the “wrong weight” of paper, voting booths not allocated where needed, and a “secret emergency” that had them counting votes in secret, behind locked doors. They also had “statistically impossible results”, surprise, surprise, surprise.

    We have easily hacked voting machines, some with no paper trails or ability to verify their accuracy, and at different times were manufactured by by companies owned by the Chinese and Venezuelan governments.

    That is how you really steal an election.

    But, then again, if it stops people that have been proven to vote illegally, like Mitt Romney, Ann Coulter, the Indiana Secretary of State (who was found guilty of felony voter fraud yet still wanted to oversee that state’s elections), and our own Rep. Patrick McHenry’s roomate and campaign worker. But to be honest, voter ID wouldn’t have stopped any of these since they were voting in the wrong district/state.

    Bottom line? Registration fraud IS NOT voter fraud IS NOT election fraud. They are NOT the same, and voter ID won’t stop any of it – it will only make the lines longer.

    In person voter fraud is NOT AN ISSUE! Not one study, not one court, even the Supreme Court, not one legislature has found evidence to the contrary.

    Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

    And, BTW, ““What’s wrong with a few minor safeguards?” he said. “Would you ride on a airline that only looked at your utility bill?” ” is nonsense. For real, comprehensive information about ensuring the integrity of our elections, the best source, by far, is bradblog.com, who has been covering this issue for many years.

    Just remember, these are not the words that you would use to convince people that you’re not trying to block legitimate voters:

    “Because even though the Wake County Board of Elections is extremely diligent in trying to keep things on the up and up, their first priority is the voter, and that means they have to allow everybody to vote. We knew we had to step in somewhere.”

    Oh the humanity!

  5. 12 of those 18 challenged voters were registered to vote in WC at a date when they were NOT citizens. We know that because they disqualified themselves from jury duty as non-citizens and provided their green cards as proof. 4 of them voted. These are both felonies under existing NC Law. Is that okay with you Penny? Or, are you too busy plucking out whiskers from places where they don’t belong….

    But, Darlin’, let me ask you one question: are you so partisan that you think non-citizens, even those with green cards, should be allowed to vote with impunity?

    OK, you can resume plucking…..

  6. @Pizzo Two of the 18 are people I know personally. They both became naturalized citizens in last couple of years. Which means they disqualified themselves from Jury duty before they were citizens and now that they are citizens they want to vote. Now that they know which party is trying to take their votes away, that may have an effect on whom they vote for.

    Do you understand that people who are previously non-citizens can become citizens through naturalization process? Looks at the list of the of 18 people and you can see that these people are trying to keep some minorities away from voting booth. Shame on these people.

  7. @Pizzo – Stay classy. Nothing like an ad hominem attack to make your point.

    As for the “4 of them (that) voted”? One was born in NJ and had a US passport, two were never proven to be ineligible (seven of the eighteen were proven to have registered after becoming legal citizens, so obviously there is a problem with the ay the data was interpreted). Based off of the results from the rest of the list it is far more likely they were legal than not. The remaining voter, who was not legally registered, did vote once – 11 years ago!

    ONE ILLEGAL VOTE IN 11 YEARS! I am perfectly fine with that.

    As U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank said when he dismissed a complaint seeking to end Election Day Registration in Minnesota, as filed by a number of right-wing organizations in Minnesota Voters Alliance who said that it “violated the rights of eligible voters by diluting their votes” :

    “flawless elections are not constitutionally guaranteed”

    WC may not have a “flawless election”, but one illegal vote in 11 years is as close as anyone will ever get.

  8. Have you forgotten these were merely 12 of 239 who did the same thing, and that is the tip of an iceberg because it was gleaned from a two year jury pull? This ‘pull’ is only about 1/8 of the county, so when you extrapolate to the whole county, you can multiply 239 timesX8 (approx 2000 ) to come up with a reasonable estimate for Wake County alone. Since they provided their green cards to the Court and yet are on record as having been already registered to vote prior to that, this is voter fraud. This Board conducted a sham hearing and each will be held personally accountable for their malfeasance and obstruction of the law once they find themselves out of their jobs next year. also in trouble are those in the DMV that have allowed phony classifications of driver license status. Are you one of those who will be included in such future actions? (You appear to be an ‘insider’ and unconcerned, if not supportive of, vote fraud. Frankly, I do hope you are currently employed by the state of NC in some capacity. (:-)

  9. …and Penny, it’s not just voter fraud in Wake County, it’s going on throughout the nation.
    Why not your turn your blind eye to Maricopa County……..

    Top-two primary backers don’t qualify for ballot
    Maricopa County finds high rate of invalid signatures

    The supporters of a retooled primary-election system for the state acknowledge they won’t qualify for the ballot and will have to take their case to court to get the matter before voters this fall.

    The Open Elections/Open Government backers say they are puzzled that Maricopa County elections officials found a higher rate of invalid signatures than the campaign’s internal check detected. Maricopa County’s percentage of invalid signatures is also significantly higher than any of the other 10 counties that have submitted their check of the initiative petitions to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

    “We are baffled about this,” said Joe Yuhas, who is running the campaign.

    Wednesday morning, the Maricopa County Elections Office said 33 percent of the signatures it checked were invalid, meaning they did not match the county’s voter-registration rolls or had other discrepancies, such as lacking a date when the petition was signed. The rate is high enough to disqualify the measure from the ballot, Yuhas said, even though four other counties have yet to return their check of petition signatures.

    Yuhas said campaign staffers began reviewing Maricopa County’s work immediately and had already found discrepancies, although he declined to elaborate. That work will lay the foundation for a lawsuit, which he said is likely to be filed quickly, since the law gives a five-day window for filing challenges and because elections officials start printing ballots at the end of the month.

    “We have to once again go to the courts as we have done in the past,” Yuhas said.

    Last week,the state Supreme Court ruled the Open Elections measure meets the state’s single-subject rule and was eligible for the ballot pending the counties’ signature check. Members of the state’s political parties, as well as the League of Women Voters, had challenged the ballot measure, which would abolish partisan primaries and have all candidates for a given office compete in a single primary. The top-two finishers would advance to the general election.

    State law requires a validity check of 5 percent of all initiative and referendum petition signatures. The petitions are sent to county elections officials for validation, and of the 11 counties reporting as of Wednesday, all but Maricopa had validity rates of 75 percent or better.

    Karen Osborne, Maricopa County’s elections director, said most of the invalid signatures her office found were from people who are not registered to vote.

    Maricopa’s rate of 67 percent is an “anomaly” that needs more scrutiny, Yuhas said.

    The campaign submitted 358,640 signatures last month to put the measure on the Nov. 6 ballot. A minimum of 259,213 valid signatures is required.

  10. For less-than-casual readers of this blog….

    Every Single One: The Politicized Hiring of Eric Holder’s Voting Section
    All sixteen new hires to the Voting Section have far-left resumes — which were only released following a PJM lawsuit. (This is the first in a series of articles about the Civil Rights Division’s hiring practices since President Obama took office.)

    by
    Hans A. von Spakovsky

    Recently released documents — disclosed by the Obama Justice Department only after a court battle — reveal that the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice is engaging in politicized hiring in the career civil service ranks. Typical Washington behavior, you say? Except the hiring in question is nearly unprecedented in scope and significantly eclipses anything the Bush administration was even accused of doing. And the evidence of the current political activity is far less impeachable than what was behind the libelous attacks leveled at officials from the Bush years.

    For nearly a year, the Civil Rights Division rebuffed PJ Media’s Freedom of Information Act request for the resumes of attorneys hired into the Division during the tenure of Eric Holder. PJM was finally forced to file a federal lawsuit earlier this year. Only then did Justice relent and turn over the documents. The result leaves little wonder why PJM’s request was met with such intense resistance.

    The Department’s political leadership clearly recognized that the resumes of these new attorneys would expose the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s polemical attacks on the Bush administration for supposedly engaging in “politicized hiring” — and that everyone would see just how militantly partisan the Obama Civil Rights Division truly is. Holder’s year-long delay before producing these documents — particularly when compared to the almost-instantaneous turnaround by the Bush administration of a virtually identical request by the Boston Globe back in 2006 — also shows how deep politics now runs in the Department.
    Advertisement

    As Richard Pollock of PJ Media observed in an article, none of this should surprise anyone even remotely familiar with Holder’s highly partisan nature. Indeed, Holder boasted to the American Constitution Society (an organization started as a liberal counterweight to the Federalist Society) back in June 2008 that the Obama Justice Department was “going to be looking for people who share our values,” and that “a substantial number of those people would probably be members of the American Constitution Society.” The hiring records from Holder’s initial thirty months in office underscore how serious he was about this mission.

    This is the first in a series of articles by PJ Media about the Civil Rights Division’s hiring practices since President Obama took office. These accounts will put to the test Holder’s repeated (and all-too-rarely scrutinized) statement that ideological considerations play no role in the hiring of career attorneys in his Department — a test that the Department’s practices clearly fail.

    The evidence will demonstrate that, in contrast to the Bush administration’s Civil Rights Division — which hired individuals from across the political spectrum — there has been nary a token conservative welcomed into the Division under Holder. More than that, though, this series will show that the ranks of new civil servants arriving in Holder’s civil rights shop in protected civil service slots are some of the most strident ideologues in Washington.

    But don’t just take my word for it. Let the resumes speak for themselves.

    We start today with the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section. This Section is responsible for enforcing, among other things, all aspects of the Voting Rights Act. This includes reviewing redistricting and other pre-clearance submissions under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act that covered jurisdictions throughout the country must submit to the Justice Department for approval. Redistricting maps, voter ID statutes, citizenship verification laws, and a host of other politically contentious election issues rest in the hands of these Voting Section bureaucrats.

    Long a refuge of partisan activists and ideological crusaders, the Section has been filling its ranks over the last 30 months with like-minded liberals ready to do the bidding of left-wing advocacy organizations. Sixteen attorneys have come on board in this hiring binge. Who are these new radicals?

    Bryan Sells: Mr. Sells was recently hired as one of the Voting Section’s new deputy chiefs. He comes to the Department from the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where he worked for nearly 10 years as a Senior Staff Counsel. During his tenure, his organization strongly opposed all voter ID laws, and challenged the right of states to verify the U.S. citizenship of individuals seeking to register to vote. He also characterized state felon disenfranchisement laws – which are expressly authorized in the Constitution — as a “slap in the face to democracy,” and consistently took the most aggressive (and generally legally unsupportable) positions on redistricting cases throughout the country.

    Meredith Bell-Platts: The other new deputy chief hired by the Voting Section, Meredith Bell-Platts, also comes from the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, where she, too, spent nearly 10 years. Much of her time there was devoted to blasting voter ID requirements, which she claimed were motivated by people who do not want to see blacks vote (an issue on which she consistently lost in court). Before arriving at the ACLU, Ms. Bell-Platts was a founding member of the Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, a publication whose stated “mission is to explore the impact of gender, sexuality, and race on both the theory and practice of law” and thereby “complement[] a long tradition of feminist scholarship and advocacy at the [Georgetown] Law Center.”

    Anna Baldwin: While all of the new trial attorneys hired into the Voting Section have streaks of radicalism, few can match Ms. Baldwin. A financial contributor to the Obama presidential campaign, she clerked for two liberal Clinton appointees on the federal bench and then worked briefly at Jenner & Block (a D.C. law firm which has been a major feeder of Democratic political appointees to the Obama administration), where she primarily pursued liberal positions in pro bono litigation. During law school, she interned at the International Labor Rights Fund and Women’s Agenda for Change.

    Prior to that, Baldwin served for three years as field coordinator for Equality Florida, where she “coordinated lobbying and state legislative policy work on behalf of Florida’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities.” Meanwhile, in her undergraduate days at Harvard, she was a member of the “Queer Resistance Front” and was frequently covered in the Harvard Crimson for her radical antics. A review of these campus newspaper articles suggests that Ms. Baldwin will have to work very hard to separate her activist politics from her role as an apolitical civil servant. Then again, if she takes her cues from most of her Voting Section colleagues, she won’t even need to attempt such separation. As the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case showed, partisanship and law enforcement are one and the same in Holder’s Civil Rights Division.

    Risa Berkower: Ms. Berkower was hired into the Voting Section following a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Christopher Droney, a liberal jurist who President Obama recently nominated to the Second Circuit and whose brother is the former state chairman of the Connecticut Democratic Party. During law school at Fordham, she interned in the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, a notorious hotbed of left-wing activity. She also worked on the “Student Hurricane Network” with members of the NAACP LDF, the Advancement Project, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. It was in her undergraduate days at Yale, though, that she really let her left-wing political colors shine. While on the Yale College Council, she wrote an editorial advocating support of unionization of Yale graduate students and advocated “neutrality” in card-check reform (which has become a major Obama initiative as a sop to organized labor).

    It is quite ironic that a lawyer who refused to oppose the effort by unions to get rid of the secret ballot, a fundamental mainstay of our democracy, is now charged with protecting voting rights. All of the leadership positions on Berkower’s resume were conspicuously redacted by the Obama administration in its FOIA response to PJM. And lest you think she abandoned her radical ways since arriving in the Civil Rights Division, Ms. Berkower is the same Voting Section attorney who negotiated the outlandish consent decree with the state of Rhode Island earlier this year in a case under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act which, as Christian Adams detailed extensively, ignored the requirements of federal law and represented a gross abuse of federal authority.

    Daniel Freeman: Mr. Freeman comes to the Voting Section following a fellowship at the New York Civil Liberties Union. He previously interned at the ACLU, where he assisted the organization with its efforts to attack the Bush administration’s national security policies. He also helped to challenge the “state secrets privilege” and to support the rights of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay during an internship at Human Rights First.

    On his resume, Freeman proudly notes his membership in the liberal American Constitution Society, as well as his service as co-chair of the Yale Law School Democrats. Of course, being a member of the American Constitution Society does not bar you from federal employment. Yet the Bush administration was castigated for hiring lawyers who were members of the Federalist Society. Incidentally, Mr. Freeman is helping lead the Voting Section’s review of redistricting submissions from the state of Alabama.

    Jenigh Garrett: Ms. Garrett worked for approximately five years as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF), where she worked on voting-related litigation. She co-drafted the NAACP LDF’s amicus brief in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, claiming that voter ID laws are unconstitutional (a position the Supreme Court rejected in an opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens).

    Garrett also was a member of the organization’s litigation team in Hayden v. Paterson, arguing that felon disenfranchisement laws violate the Voting Rights Act (a position the Second Circuit rejected). She is a member of the American Constitution Society and recently gave a presentation at Yale Law School on “The Future of Black Legal Scholarship and Activism.” Although DOJ’s FOIA shop notably redacted her other activities on her resume, perhaps legislators in Virginia can ask her about them: she is the redistricting point of contact for the Commonwealth.

    Abel Gomez: Mr. Gomez initially came to the Voting Section in the waning days of the Clinton administration as part of a wave of hiring engineered by former Acting Assistant Attorney General Bill Yeomans. The intent: stack the Civil Rights Division with left-wing activists before President Bush took office. Gomez had previously served for six years as a public defender in Tallahassee, Florida. In 2007, he left the Civil Rights Division to join another component of the Department of Justice, but was eager to rejoin the Voting Section once Obama and Holder were in charge. In addition to his voting work, FEC records reveal that he is a significant financial contributor to the “Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund” and to organizations opposing California’s Proposition 8 (Marriage Protection Act).

    Bradley Heard: Before joining the Voting Section, Mr. Heard worked for a number of years at the Advancement Project, a radical left-wing voting organization. The Advancement Project has worked closely with the ACLU, NAACP LDF, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, and other liberal advocates to oppose voter ID statutes, felon disenfranchisement laws, and citizenship verification regulations, and to take myriad other militant positions on state and federal voting rights laws. Mr. Heard fit right in at the Advancement Project, having previously founded the Georgia Voter Empowerment Project, which describes its mission as increasing the “civic participation levels of progressive-minded Georgians.”

    Amusingly, before moving to Washington, Mr. Heard had a nasty breakup with his plaintiff’s civil rights firm in Atlanta. He commenced litigation against his partners, who in turn claimed he was engaging in misconduct. Heard then sought criminal arrest warrants against his former partners, charging that they had engaged in false voter registration and voting by an unqualified elector, both felonies. The court declined to issue the warrants. South Carolina officials can ask Mr. Heard about these events during his review of the state’s redistricting submission; after all, he is the point of contact for the Voting Section.

    Michelle McLeod: Ms. McLeod has overcome substantial adversity in her personal life, and her story is an admirable one in many respects. But her liberal bona fides are equally genuine, and likely represent the primary reason why she was hired into the Voting Section under Eric Holder’s regime. Ms. McLeod came straight to the Justice Department after her graduation from law school at the University of Maryland, where she worked as a research assistant to Professor Sherrilyn Ifill, a radical academic whose writings and media appearances on voting rights and race issues take her well out of the mainstream.

    Ms. McLeod also worked in the law school’s Post-Conviction Appellate Advocacy Clinic, assisting convicted felons with their direct appeals and habeas corpus challenges. As an undergraduate at East Carolina University, she interned for the SEIU Local’s New York Civic Participation Project, where she wrote articles favorable to labor unions. She also interned for the National Employment Law Project, drafting pro-union articles and other publications relating to workers’ rights. She is now one of the Voting Section’s points of contact for redistricting in Mississippi.

    Catherine Meza. Ms. Meza, who contributed $450 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign before getting hired by the Voting Section, has a rich history of liberal advocacy. During law school at Berkeley, she interned for (i) the NAACP LDF, where she worked on voting rights and “economic justice” issues, (ii) Bay Area Legal Aid, (iii) the ACLU of Northern California, (iv) the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), (v) Centro Legal de la Raza, and (vi) the East Bay Community Law Center Workers’ Rights Clinic. She also worked as a legislative intern for Democratic Rep. (now Sen.) Robert Menendez of New Jersey as part of a fellowship with the liberal National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. On her resume, Meza proudly proclaims her membership in the American Constitution Society and her role as an Advisory Board Member of the Thelton Henderson Center for Social Justice. Talk about filling the whole bingo card! Meanwhile, while working a brief stint at the Fried Frank law firm after law graduation, she assisted on a pro bono case seeking to preserve the confidentiality of ID cards issued to illegal aliens by the city of New Haven, Connecticut, an effort to help illegal aliens avoid being prosecuted for violating federal law. She also helped draft a report for the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in which she suggested that the U.S. “government’s programs and policies continue to perpetuate segregation and concentrate poverty in communities of color.”

    Kelli Reynolds: Ms. Reynolds arrived in the Voting Section having worked for several years as the Senior Redistricting Counsel and Assistant General Counsel at the NAACP. While there, she managed the organization’s National Redistricting Project, no doubt working closely with many of her now-colleagues in the Voting Section. She also boasts on her resume of her membership in the American Trial Lawyers Association (or, as that plaintiffs’ lawyers group now likes to euphemistically refer to itself, the “American Association for Justice”).

    Elise Shore. Ms. Shore came to the Voting Section by way of the “Southern Coalition for Social Justice,” where she worked as a legal consultant focusing on “voting rights, immigrant rights, and other civil rights and social justice issues.” The far left-wing positions of this group are nicely summarized on its website. Ms. Shore also made a $1,000 contribution to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

    Before joining the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, she worked for more than two years as a Regional Counsel for MALDEF. There, she was an outspoken critic of Georgia’s voter ID law and well as its proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration (which, incidentally, have been found to be non-discriminatory by a federal court) and described how heartened she was that the Civil Rights Division had objected to the registration law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But her joy must have been fleeting: the Division later capitulated and withdrew its objection after Georgia filed a federal declaratory judgment action. It will be interesting to see if Shore can put her politics to the side in her role as the Voting Section’s point of contact for all redistricting submissions in the state of Florida.

    Jaye Sitton: Ms. Sitton first joined the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration, but left immediately before President Bush took office in order to become an international human rights lawyer. (This desire not to serve in a Republican administration seems to be a recurring theme among many of the individuals hired into the career ranks of the Division during the Clinton years.) Before recently returning to work as an attorney the Voting Section, she volunteered to work in North Carolina for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

    Sitton is a member of the “Intersex Society of North America,” an organization “devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female.” She also taught a course on “sexuality, sexual orientation, gender, and the law” at the College of William and Mary Law School, and wrote a law review article titled “(De)Constructing Sex: Transgenderism, Intersexuality, Gender Identity and the Law” for the William and Mary Law Journal.

    Sharyn Tejani: Ms. Tejani is another activist who has come to the Voting Section to masquerade as a career civil servant. She also first joined the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton administration but left within two months of President Bush taking office. Her resume boasts of her work defending affirmative-action programs, i.e., racial quotas, during that earlier stint of employment. She recently returned, however, after having worked as a Senior Policy Counsel for the National Partnership for Women and Families, a left-wing organization that advocates greater abortion rights and is deeply involved in judicial nomination battles in favor of liberal candidates and in opposition to conservative candidates. Prior to that, Tejani served for more than three years as an advisor to one of the Democratic commissioners on the EEOC, and for three additional years as the Legal Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. In her writings, she has advocated for the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require equal pay for men and women even when there are legitimate work- and experience-related reasons for those pay disparities. She also wrote an article for Ms. Magazine sharply criticizing any efforts by the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics to modify Title IX regulations to stop the discrimination that has occurred against men’s sport programs.

    Justin Weinstein-Tull: Mr. Weinstein-Tull, a $250 contributor to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, was hired into the Voting Section following a clerkship for Judge Sidney Thomas, one of the most liberal judges on the Ninth Circuit. One can see why Judge Thomas was eager to have him in chambers. Indeed, Mr. Weinstein-Tull interned with the ACLU of Southern California, worked as a research associate at the liberal Urban Institute, and served as a fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center.

    He also wrote a law review article for the University of Virginia Law Review in which he criticized the Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales v. Carhart – affirming the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 — as a setback to a woman’s right to choose abortion. Mr. Weinstein-Tull will now be one of the Voting Section’s points of contact for redistricting submissions from the state of North Carolina.

    Elizabeth Westfall: Last, but certainly not least, is Ms. Westfall. According to the Federal Election Commission website, she contributed nearly $7,000 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election campaign, contributed another $4,400 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, contributed $2,000 to Wesley Clark’s presidential campaign in 2004, contributed $3,000 to John Kerry’s presidential campaign and compliance fund in 2004, contributed $500 to former Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s PAC in 2004, and contributed $2,000 to Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2000.

    In addition to this incredible funding of Democratic candidates, Westfall worked for six years at the far-left Advancement Project, directing its Voter Protection Program and managing its litigation and advocacy activities. She also previously served as a staff attorney at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in its Fair Housing Group, and worked on the Hill as a legislative assistant to then-Congressman Bill Richardson (D-NM).

    On Westfall’s self-drafted Harvard alumni biography, she notes that she has testified before the U.S. Congress about supposed “barriers” to voter registration, “unwarranted” purging of the voter rolls, and voter caging. While those subjects may sound benign, in fact, the Advancement Project and the Lawyers Committee claim that common-sense reforms like voter ID or requiring proof of citizenship are “barriers” to voting and registration and that removing voters who have moved or otherwise become ineligible to vote is “unwarranted purging.”

    “Vote caging,” an imaginary crime the Left dreamed up several years ago, faults any efforts by private parties to challenge the eligibility of voters when first-class mail sent to their registration addresses is returned by the U.S. Postal Service as undeliverable because they no longer live there. This despite the fact that federal law specifically authorizes election officials to use the USPS for that very purpose. Just the kind of neutral, detached attorney a state wants reviewing its redistricting submissions and applying the heavy hand of the federal government in voting rights enforcement actions. California’s redistricting submission will be in the hands of Ms. Westfall.

    These 16 new attorneys, liberal partisans one and all, now join the career civil service ranks of an already heavily politicized Voting Section in the Civil Rights Division. Supervision, meanwhile, comes from Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes, whose public pronouncements about her refusal to apply the voting rights laws in an even-handed and race-neutral format are now infamous. The likelihood of the federal voting-rights laws being enforced in a fair and neutral fashion by this group of radicals is incredibly slim. Eric Holder clearly recognizes, as Ronald Reagan astutely observed, that “personnel is policy,” and Holder and his staff are doing everything in their power to ensure that the policies and legal positions advanced by the Civil Rights Division bureaucracy are in line with those of the Obama administration.

    The real scandal, however, is the utter disregard by the so-called “mainstream media” and DOJ Inspector General’s Office of the blatant politicization of the hiring process in the Obama Civil Rights Division. I previously wrote about the absurdity of the attacks on Bush civil rights officials who were unfairly pilloried for supposedly hiring on the basis of political affiliation. I pointed out how the IG’s Office and the former Civil Rights Division attorney who spearheaded the Office of Professional Responsibility’s joint review glibly ignored all evidence that did not fit their biased narrative. A blind eye was turned towards the numerous liberal attorneys who were hired and promoted in the Voting Section during the Bush years.

    Now, though, with the Obama Civil Rights Division virtually devoid of conservative hires, the press has gone silent and DOJ’s internal watchdogs have expressed nothing but indifference. This is particularly ironic given that almost all of these hires previously worked at organizations labeled as “liberal” by the joint OIG/OPR report attacking the Bush administration. So by the OIG/OPR’s own prior standards, the Obama administration has hired individuals exclusively from only one side of the political aisle. Once again, the one-way ratchet.

    No apology will be forthcoming to the Bush Justice Department officials who were subjected to outrageous and unwarranted attacks, of course. But at least the public record is being fleshed out. Perhaps the Inspector General’s Office will redeem itself as a credible organization in its new probe of the Voting Section’s activities over the last 20 years. Whatever happens inside DOJ, though, at least the public is now aware that the almost daily rhetoric about neutrality that emanate from Eric Holder and his civil rights chief, Thomas Perez, is belied by their hiring decisions.

    From the racially motivated dismissal of the New Black Panther Party lawsuit, to the partisan Section 5 objection to the change to nonpartisan elections in Kinston, N.C., on the offensive and patronizing grounds that blacks are not smart enough to know who to vote for without a party label next to the candidate’s name, to the baseless objection to Georgia’s citizenship verification requirements (later withdrawn by the Voting Section in the face of a federal lawsuit), to the dilatory and inept efforts to protect the voting rights of active military personnel, to the complete and total paucity of enforcement of Section 8 of the NVRA (requiring that voting rolls be purged of dead and ineligible voters), Eric Holder’s tenure has been distinguished by weighty evidence of partisan and ideological decision-making.

    It seems that enforcement activity is governed predominantly by political, not legal, factors. And with the new radical ideologues in the Voting Section, it is difficult to imagine the situation improving any time soon. Americans deserve much better from their Department of Justice.

  11. Fraudsters are now turning on each other…..ala the recent Charlie Rangel primary vote fraud fiasco. This is turning into a dog-eat-dog story.

    Dem candidate accuses another Dem, David Cicilline (RI-01),of voter fraud
    Comments
    Permalink
    Posted by William A. Jacobson Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 5:09pm

    Little would surprise me when it comes to former Providence Mayor and since 2010 congressman David Cicilline. But massive voter fraud?

    That’s what Cicilline’s Democratic primary challenger Anthony Gemma alleged at a press conference today. Via The Providence Journal:

    Congressional candidate Anthony Gemma alleged Wednesday that a private investigation has uncovered voter fraud linked to U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, his opponent in the upcoming September primary.

    Gemma contends an investigation he initiated by retired state troopers found evidence of people being paid to vote for certain candidates, people voting multiple times at different voting places and people who impersonated other voters.

    Speaking at an outdoor press conference near his headquarters, Gemma called Cicilline the “common denominator” through most of the evidence, some of which dates to 2002.

    The findings, Gemma said, are not “run-of-the-mill dirty politics” or “gossip, but evidence of conduct that compromises the very core of our electoral process.”

    Cicilline’s campaign characterized Gemma’s allegations as an “outrageous political stunt” with “not one shred of evidence.”

    It seems that Gemma has more than “not one shred of evidence” but it’s unclear how much more.

  12. Hans A. von Spakovsky on politicization of hiring?

    That takes nerve!

    Does he really think everyone has forgotten his history?