Paper: White House has used Justice Department to restrict voting and help Republicans
The Bush administration has used the Justice Department to manipulate voter turnout in "battleground states" in ways that favor Republicans over the past six years, writes Greg Gordon for the McClatchy Newspapers.
"The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won," writes Gordon.
In the face of strong voter registration drives from left-leaning organizations, Gordon says, the Bush administration "alleged widespread election fraud" and pushed proposals at the state and federal level that would make it tougher for people, especially minorities, to vote.
The Justice Department disagrees with allegations that minority voting rights have been marginalized, calling such assertions "fundamentally flawed."
"The administration, however," continues the McClatchy article, "has repeatedly invoked allegations of widespread voter fraud to justify tougher voter ID measures and other steps to restrict access to the ballot, even though research suggests that voter fraud is rare."
Excerpts from the report follow:
Questions about the administration's campaign against alleged voter fraud have helped fuel the political tempest over the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys, several of whom were ousted in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales could shed more light on the reasons for those firings when he appears Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Since President Bush's first attorney general, John Ashcroft, a former Republican senator from Missouri, launched a "Ballot Access and Voter Integrity Initiative" in 2001, Justice Department political appointees have exhorted U.S. attorneys to prosecute voter fraud cases, and the department's Civil Rights Division has sought to roll back policies to protect minority voting rights.
On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.
READ THE FULL MCCLATCHY PIECE HERE