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Bain Capital's Job Destruction

Bain Capital is a private equity and venture capital firm founded by Mitt Romney in 1984. It has holdings in Domino's Pizza, pharmaceutical group Warner Chilcott, Toys "R" Us, sportswear distributor Broder Bros., and SunGard Data Systems. Bain Capital, along with Thomas H. Lee Partners, made a nearly $20 billion offer for broadcasting giant Clear Channel, and with another group purchased for $33 billion HCA, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the U.S. [1] [2]


Stage Stores

In the late 1980s, Bain purchased hundreds of small clothing stores. In 1988, it put $5 million down to buy Stage Stores, combining the Main Street-style storefronts under one roof. It burdened Stage Stores with $300 million in new junk bonds, and purchased the 250-store clothing chain C.R. Anthony. Bain took it public in the mid-'90s, and collected over $100 million from stock offerings. With their partner Goldman Sachs, they raked in 18 times their investment.

The stock collapsed within three years, and Stage filed for bankruptcy in 2000.

331 stores closed, 5,794 jobs were lost.


“In September of 1997, Bain Capital, which then owned 13 percent, and Acadia, which owned 12 percent, sold more than six million shares of their Stage Stores stock—virtually all they owned—for $208 million in the secondary offering. … The sales were made at record high stock prices of as much as $52 per share.” “[The stock price] plunged 58 percent in one day in August of 1998, when the company reported large sales declines and slashed its expected earnings by 25 cents per share. The company’s stock has continued to decline, now trading in the $6 to $7 range for a total loss in value of more than 70 percent.”

-Houston Business Journal, 4/9/99

“Company officials blame the Chapter 11 filing two years ago on ‘an expensive and expansive growth binge.’”

-Houston Business Journal, 7/5/02


"Yet the moral of the Stage Stores saga is not simply that in this instance Bain Capital was a jobs destroyer, not a jobs creator. The larger point is that it is actually a tale of Wall Street speculators toying with Main Street properties in defiance of sound finance—an anti-Schumpeterian project that used state-subsidized debt to milk cash from stores that would not have otherwise survived on the free market."[3]


Ampad

Bain in 1992 bought American Pad & Paper (Ampad) from the Mead Corporation, investing $5 million. Ampad shelled out $35 million from the outset. Bain took Ampad public in 1996, Romney and co-investors receive between $45 million and $50 million, as well as $2 million billed to Ampad for Bain arranging the public offering.

Bain, before Ampad went bankrupt in 2000, ultimately collected $102 million from dividends, in debt-financed dividends, management fees, and proceeds from selling shares on public stock exchanges.

1,500 jobs were lost.

Workers went on strike in 1994, which became a campaign issue in the Romney-Ted Kennedy Senate race.


“A venture capital company run by US Senate Republican hopeful Mitt Romney is the primary investor in a firm involved in an ugly labor dispute in Indiana where worker salaries and benefits have been slashed and strike-breakers hired. Bain Capital, Romney's Boston-based firm, has the controlling interest in Ampad Corp. of Dallas, which last summer took over a Marion, Ind., paper plant and laid off one-fifth of its workers, cut wages, sharply reduced health benefits and eliminated the company retirement plan."[4]


“In 1995, several months after shuttering a plant in Indiana and firing roughly 200 workers, Bain Capital borrowed more money to have Ampad buy yet another company, and pay Bain and its investors more than $60 million—in addition to fees for arranging the deal.”[5]


“By 1999, Ampad’s debt reached nearly $400 million, up from $11 million in 1993, according to government filings. “The result: Ampad couldn’t pay its debts and plunged into bankruptcy. Workers lost jobs and stockholders were left with worthless shares. Bain Capital, however, made money—and lots of it.”[6]

"Ampad, too, became squeezed between onerous debt that had financed acquisitions and falling prices for its office-supply products. Its biggest customers - including Staples - used their buying power and access to Asian suppliers to demand lower prices from Ampad. Romney sat on Staples's board of directors at this time."[7]


GS Indusries

Bain in 1993 invested $8 million when buying an Armco steel mill in Kansas City, and renamed it GS Technologies. In 1995, it was merged with a mill in South Carolina, and renamed GS Industries. The company's debt balloons to $378 million.

By 2001, GS Industries was over $500 million in debt and filed for bankruptcy. The plant is padlocked, and the company is unable to provide severance pay, life or health insurance, and pension supplements. The following year, the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation recognizes GS Industries' had underfunded its pension plan by $44 million, and PBGC bails out former employees' basic pension payments in Bain's wake. Workers never receive their full pensions.[8]

750 workers were laid off in 2001, while Bain and other investors had received $65 million in dividends in the first years of their ownership.


Union officials say they tried to work with GSI management and Bain to assure workers and retirees that they would have some benefits even if the heavily indebted company went under. But they said their appeals fell on deaf ears during and after the time Romney was running the firm.

"Bain was demanding certain financial performance with no understanding of what the problems were on the ground," said David Foster, a former steelworkers union official who negotiated labor contracts with GSI management from 1994 until the bankruptcy. He said Bain "bled the company," withdrawing cash for dividends and management fees even as circumstances in the steel industry deteriorated. "If I were looking for effective management of a project, a company or a country, this is exactly the kind of management I would not want to have," Foster said of Bain. "Bain partners think the profits they made are a sign of their brilliance. It's not brilliance. It's lurking around the corner and mugging somebody."[9]


DDi Corporation

In 1997, Bain purchased a stake in DDi Corporation, a maker of electronic circuit boards. Bain invested $46.3 million, received $10 million in "management fees," and profited $85.5 million.

Over 2,100 workers were laid off when the company filed for bankruptcy in August, 2003.

In 2000, Bain Capital netted a $36-million profit after it took the company public. Romney sold his own shares for $4.1 million, according to federal securities records, although his profit margin is unclear. But DDi's stock soon collapsed, and the company filed for bankruptcy in August 2003, laying off more than 2,100 workers. Bain Capital and DDi executives jointly settled a federal class action lawsuit in March, agreeing to pay $4.4 million to shareholders who argued that DDi was poorly managed and "hemorrhaging cash" before the stock offering, court records show.[10]


KB Toys

KB Toys, formerly Kay-Bee Toys, was bought by Bain Capital in 2000. At its peak, it operated over 1,300 stores across the U.S. It was the second oldest toy retailer in North America, with three iterations: K·B Toys, K·B Toy Works, and K·B Toys Outlet (aka Toy Liquidators). The company was forced to take out huge loans while Bain reaped an $83 million dividend.[11] It was liquidated December, 2008 through February, 2009. 3,500 jobs were lost.


Dade International

In 1994, Bain and Goldman Sachs bought Dade International, a medical-diagnostics company in Deerfield, Illinois.

The firm immediately fired or relocated 900 workers and shut down two plants.[12]

$450 million Bain investment, with $421 million borrowed under Bain Capital. 2,000 workers were fired when they filed for bankruptcy in 2002.[13]


In 1997, after adding medical-testing divisions of DuPont and Behring to the company, brutal cost cutting began. Bain cut R&D spending to an average of 8 percent of sales, a little more than half what its competitors were doing. Cindy Hewitt, Dade’s human-resources manager, remembers how the firm closed a Puerto Rico plant in 1998, a year after harvesting $7.1 million in local tax breaks aimed at job creation, and relocated some staff to Miami, then the company’s most profitable plant. Based on re­assur­ances she had received from her superiors, she told those uprooting themselves from Puerto Rico that their jobs in Miami were safe for now—but then Bain closed the Miami plant. “Whether you want to call it misled, or lied, or manipulated, I do not believe they provided full information about what discussions were under way,” she says. “I would never want to be part of even unintentionally treating people so poorly.”

Bain engaged in startling penny-pinching with the laid-off employees. Their contracts stipulated that if they left early they would have to pay back the costs of relocating to Miami—but in spite of all that Dade had done to them, it refused to release the employees from this clause. “They said they would go after them for that money if they left before Bain was finished with them,” Hewitt recalls. Not only that, but the company declined to give workers their severance pay in lump sums to help them fund their return home. In 1999, generous pensions were converted into less generous benefits, wages were cut, and more staff members were laid off. The same month Bain converted pensions, it created new financial projections as a basis to borrow an extra $421 million—from which Bain, its co-investor Goldman Sachs, and top Dade management extracted $365 million in dividends. According to Kosman, “Bain and Goldman—after putting down only $85 million … made out like bandits—a $280 million profit.” Dade’s debt rose to more than $870 million. Romney had left operational management of Bain that year, though his disclosures show that he owned 16.5 percent of the Bain partnership responsible for the Dade investment until at least 2001.[14]


Damon Corp.

Damon Corp. was a medical testing company based in Needham, a Boston suburb. Romney had joined Damon's board of directors after Bain Capital purchased a stake in 1990. He remained there until Corning Inc. bought the company three years later. Bain tripled its investment.

Romney personally profited on the sale, claiming more than $100,000 in capital gains on sales of his own Damon stock, records showed. But in 1996, Damon pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to massive overbilling of the Medicare system and paid $119 million in criminal and civil fines.[15]

Then-U.S. Atty. Donald K. Stern called it "a case, pure and simple, of corporate greed run amok." No one at Bain was implicated in the fraud.

Asked about the case during his gubernatorial campaign, Romney told reporters that he "blew the whistle" on the overbilling scheme while still on the Damon board, and had taken "corrective action." In a recent telephone interview, Stern said he had no recollection of Romney alerting investigators or taking other action. Court records in the case showed the illegal scam continued unabated until Bain Capital sold Damon in 1993.[16]


Details

Bain in 1997 invested $46 million when buying Details, and made $93 million from stock offerings. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2003.


Holson Burnes Group, Inc.

At another Bain-owned South Carolina company, the Holson Burnes Group Inc. in Gaffney, about 150 workers lost their jobs as some plant operations were sent up north -- and later overseas. By 2004, a prospectus showed Bain saw a $33.8 million valuation on its initial investment.

Steel Dynamics quickly became a leader in the production of flat-rolled steel, expanding to other locations in the U.S. and Mexico, reaping $8 billion in sales in 2011. Bain's five-year investment paid off, and when the Bain cashed out in 1999, it left with an 82 percent rate of return on its $18 million investment.

But the steel mill received $37 million in state and local tax incentives to build in Indiana, and nearby residents were subject to a special income tax levy to support the project. That part of the story does not fit well with the Republican convention's "We built it" mantra that business, not government, grows jobs. Romney acknowledged in the speech that not all Bain investments were successful.[17]


Miscellaneous Information

Five Businesses Under Bain Made Huge Profits But Eventually Went Bankrupt.

"22 percent of the money Bain Capital raised from 1987 to 1995 was invested in five businesses - Stage Stores, American Pad & Paper, GS Industries, Dade, and Details. These five made Bain $578 million in profit, even as all five eventually went bankrupt."[18]


The Wall Street Journal, aiming for a comprehensive assessment, examined 77 businesses Bain invested in while Mr. Romney led the firm from its 1984 start until early 1999, to see how they fared during Bain's involvement and shortly afterward. Among the findings: 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed their doors by the end of the eighth year after Bain first invested, sometimes with substantial job losses. An additional 8% ran into so much trouble that all of the money Bain invested was lost. (. . . . .) Of the 10 businesses on which Bain investors scored their biggest gains, four later landed in bankruptcy court (. . . .) Some experts, while conceding that available studies don't provide a direct comparison, said the rate at which the firms Bain invested in ran into trouble appears to be higher than experienced by some rival buyout firms during the era.[19]


Assigning jobs numbers to private-equity firms has been a fairly rare exercise among researchers, though several academics have studied the topic in the past few years to gauge the economic impact of the industry. As a result, there is no widely accepted accounting measure. Some academic experts said the Romney campaign's 100,000-jobs count is flawed, because it gives Bain all the credit, even though other investors also played a role in the four key companies, and includes jobs added long after Mr. Romney left Bain in 1999. "I don't think that an investor should get credit for the jobs created beyond the ones where an investor has a position in the company," said John M. Abowd, a labor economist at Cornell University who donated to the Obama 2012 campaign. He suggests yet another way: Give Mr. Romney and Bain credit for a share of jobs created proportional to Bain's ownership stake in its investments at the time. Because Bain held minority stakes in all four firms, and sold out years ago, that method would produce a far lower total—less than 1,500.[20]


On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney often touts his role at the private equity firm Bain Capital in helping found Staples and Sports Authority and turning around other companies as evidence that he knows how to create jobs. But many of those jobs pay very low wages, Bloomberg News first reported on Tuesday.

Many workers at Staples, Sports Authority, and Domino's Pizza earn wages below the poverty line for a family of three. Sales associates at Staples make an average of $8.49 per hour, and sales associates at Sports Authority make an average of $8.96 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, a site which tracks wages at 150,000 companies. Altogether, that amounts to less than $19,000 per year. These wages are less than the average in those industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Meanwhile, Romney enriched himself while leading Bain Capital, amassing a fortune of more than $200 million, which translates to roughly $6,400 an hour.

Workers at Domino's and Bright Horizons, which Romney helped turn around at Bain, don't make much either. Delivery drivers at Domino's earn an average of $7.66 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, which adds up to less than $16,000 per year. Teachers at Bright Horizons make an average of $12.94 per hour, according to Glassdoor.com, amounting to about $27,000 per year. Romney's record does include middle-class jobs. At Steel Dynamics, a steel company in Indiana that Bain invested in during his tenure, the average wage for steel manufacturing programmers is $51,1441 per year, according to Glassdoor.com.

Romney claims that he created more than 100,000 jobs at Bain Capital. But that figure only highlights recent employment figures at three successful companies -- Staples, Sports Authority, and Domino's -- while leaving out the many jobs that Bain eliminated at other companies and giving Romney undue credit for jobs created after he left Bain in 1999. During Romney's tenure as chief executive, four out of the 10 top companies that Bain acquired went bankrupt within a few years, according to The Los Angeles Times. Though those firms lost thousands of jobs, Bain investors profited from three out of the four firms that went bankrupt.[21]

References

  1. Bain Capital Profile, Hoovers, accessed September 2007.
  2. Mitt Romney Biography, Washington Post, accessed September 2007.
  3. David Stockman, "Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer" Newsweek, October 15, 2012
  4. Frank Phillips, "Romney firm tied to labor fight," The Boston Globe, September 23, 1994
  5. Robert Gavin, Sacha Pfeiffer, "Study, sweat, and profit: Performance at Bain Capital burnished image, fueled critics," The Boston Globe, June 26, 2007
  6. Robert Gavin, Sacha Pfeiffer, "Study, sweat, and profit: Performance at Bain Capital burnished image, fueled critics," The Boston Globe, June 26, 2007
  7. Robert Gavin, "As Bain slashed jobs, Romney stayed to side" The Boston Globe, January 27, 2008
  8. Andy Sullivan and Greg Roumeliotis "Special report: Romney's steel skeleton in the Bain closet" Reuters, January 6, 2012
  9. Tom Hamburger, Melanie Mason and Matea Gold, "A closer look at Mitt Romney's job creation record" The Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2011
  10. Bob Drogin, "To assess Romney, look beyond the bottom line" The Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2007
  11. Adam Peck, "The Bain Job Losses Mitt Romney Doesn’t Want You To Know About" Think Progress, July 12, 2012
  12. Mark Maremont, "Romney at Bain: Big Gains, Some Busts" The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2012
  13. Justin Blum and Lisa Lerer, "Romney as Job Creator Clashes with Bain Record of Job Cuts" Bloomberg, July 19, 2011
  14. Nicholas Shaxson, "Where the Money Lives" Vanity Fair, August, 2012
  15. Angie Drobnic Holan, "Was Mitt Romney the director of a company charged with Medicare fraud? AFSCME ad says so" PolitiFact Florida, January 23, 2012
  16. Bob Drogin, "To assess Romney, look beyond the bottom line" The Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2007
  17. Calvin Woodward and Tom Raum, "Fact-checking Romney's convention speech" Associated Press / Silicon Valley Mercury News, August 31, 2012
  18. Pat Garofalo, "Romney’s Private Equity Firm Caused Several Corporate Bankruptcies, Thousands Of Layoffs" Think Progress, April 12, 2011
  19. Mark Maremont, "Romney at Bain: Big Gains, Some Busts" The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2012
  20. Mark Maremont, "Romney at Bain: Big Gains, Some Busts" The Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2012
  21. Bonnie Kavoussi, "Mitt Romney Made $6,400 An Hour At Bain Capital While Creating Mountain of Low-Paying Jobs: Report" The Huffington Post, February 28, 2012

NFIB’s Right Wing Ties

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a lobbying group that calls itself "the voice of small business."[1] However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses.[2][3] NFIB is best known for its legal attack on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and for spearheading the opposition to President Clinton's health care reform package in 1993.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has right wing ties. NFIB has a 14-member board of directors composed primarily of small- and medium-sized business executives,[4] but the heart of NFIB’s political operation is its DC office. NFIB's staff is headed by its president and CEO, Donald A. “Dan” Danner; Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President for Federal Public Policy; Stephen P. Woods, senior vice president for state operations; and Jean Card, vice president for media and communications.[5]

Click here for the SourceWatch main page on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Dan Danner

Dan Danner

A former steel industry lobbyist, Dan Danner is NFIB’s seventh president and its most visible spokesperson in the media. Danner recently trumpeted NFIB’s increasing media exposure, stating that NFIB’s chief economist, Bill Dunkelberg, is frequently on CNBC; that Karen Harned, director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center (SBLC), “is almost a regular on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren, which is always a big plug for NFIB”; and that Rush Limbaugh is a big fan of NFIB. NFIB’s internal newsletter, NFIB Inside Out, reported:[6]

"Danner also spoke of Rush Limbaugh’s take on our lawsuit regarding the unconstitutionality of Obamacare. 'Rush said, "It’s one thing when 26 states agree to challenge this piece of legislation, but it’s another when the nation’s largest small business advocacy group, NFIB, gets involved." That’s a great testimony to the recognition and the media attention that NFIB is starting to get. I promise you, there’s a lot more to come,' Danner added."

Danner runs NFIB’s public policy and political operations, in addition to overseeing the NFIB Research Foundation and SBLC. In 2011, he was paid $743,676 by NFIB and its related organizations.[7] Danner assumed the leadership of NFIB in February 2009, taking over from Todd Stottlemyer.[8]

Under former longtime president Jack Faris (1992-2005), NFIB’s executive leadership had experienced high turnover and charges of bureaucracy, lavish overspending, and declining membership.[9] Former Virginia Congressman Tom Davis reportedly turned down the job of heading NFIB in 2005 despite the million dollar plus salary he stood to earn.[10] Then under Todd Stottlemyer's leadership, NFIB’s influence was seen as on the wane because of a high-profile defeat in its attempt to create state health plans exempt from state coverage requirements..[11]

Danner first joined NFIB in 1993 as vice president of the NFIB Education Foundation (now the NFIB Young Entrepreneur Foundation). Two years later he was appointed NFIB’s chief lobbyist, and quickly gained influence on Capitol Hill under then-NFIB head Jack Faris, who made NFIB a powerful lobbying presence in DC in the 1990s. As top lobbyist at NFIB, Danner attended meetings with Republican leaders at least twice a month for 12 years, according to the Washington Post,[12] and was called “the go-to guy for the House Republican leadership” by a Congressional staffer in 2005.[13]

Before joining NFIB, Danner served as chief of staff to Commerce Secretary William C. Verity during the second Reagan administration. During the first Reagan term, Danner was deputy director in the White House Office of Public Liaison, which coordinated the Reagan administration’s ties with the New Right and Christian evangelical political movements that had grown up during the late 1970s and helped sweep Reagan into power.

After serving in the Reagan White House, Dan Danner went on to become George Mason University’s Executive Vice President for University Advancement. While at George Mason, Danner was caught up in a controversy over whether the university was funneling federal grant money to right-wing operative Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Research and Education Foundation by funding one of its publications.[14]

GMU and its associated institutes and centers, such as the Mercatus Center, have reportedly received more funding -– nearly $30 million in all -- from the Koch foundations than from any other organization.[15] The Mercatus Center was founded by Richard H. Fink, the vice president of Koch Industries and a top Koch lobbyist. Fink continues to sit on the Mercatus board. The founder of the Mercatus Center’s Regulatory Studies Program, Wendy Gramm, has served on the advisory board of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center.[16]

Lobbying and NFIB's PAC

Following NFIB’s successful campaign to defeat President Clinton’s proposed healthcare reform initiative in 1993, a Nashville journalist reported that “NFIB exploded as a lobbying powerhouse,” with its annual lobbying spending going from $295,287 in 1992 to $1,236,986 in 1998.[17]

According to James A. Thurber, director for the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, “The NFIB is among the top five lobbying groups in the capital,” in the same rank with the AARP and the NRA, for example, even though they have far fewer members.”[18]

Over the past two decades NFIB has become a recognized “farm team” for Republican staffers who went to work on K Street:[19]

"The association’s tentacles are deep into many of Washington’s venerable lobby shops and corporate offices. Former NFIB lobbyists include John Motley, who runs his own firm, Policy Solutions; Ralph Hellmann, now top lobbyist at the Information Technology Industry Council; Kent Knutson of Home Depot’s Washington operation; Mark Isakowitz, name partner of Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock; and Nelson Litterst, a partner at C2 Group. Other former NFIB lobbyists include Brian Reardon, now at Venn Strategies; and John Emling, senior vice president at the Retail Industry Leaders Association."

In 2010 and 2011, when it engaged in heavy activity over healthcare reform battles in Congress, NFIB spent $9,422,000 on lobbying.[20][21] This included payment of $240,000 for issues including healthcare to Ogilvy Government Relations.[22] Ogilvy’s lobbyists for NFIB included Elena Tompkins, a former labor department congressional liaison in the George W. Bush administration;[23][24][25][26] John O’Neill, a former policy director in the Senate Minority Whip’s Office under Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS); J. Michael Hogan, former chief of staff to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE); and Steve Tilton, a former vice president for government affairs at PhRMA and former lobbyist for Bayer and the National Retail Federation.

NFIB also recently retained Mark Warren, the former chief counsel of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, as a lobbyist.[27]

Susan Eckerly

Susan Eckerly

NFIB’s in-house lobbying operation is headed by Senior Vice President for Public Policy Susan Eckerly, who succeeded Dan Danner when he was elevated to president and CEO in February 2009 (Danner remains a registered NFIB lobbyist). Prior to that, Eckerly had headed up NFIB’s Senate side lobbying.

Eckerly, who has declared that paid sick days and family medical leave have the potential to become “multiyear fights,”[28] came to NFIB in 1996 from Citizens for a Sound Economy, which was co-founded by oil billionaire David Koch in 1984 and has since morphed into Dick Armey's FreedomWorks and the Koch-backed organization Americans for Prosperity. Americans for Prosperity’s vice president for public affairs, Ed Frank, was press secretary for NFIB from 1999-2003.[29]

Previously Eckerly served in the Labor Department in the George H.W. Bush administration, had been deputy director of economic policy studies at the Heritage Foundation,[30] and also was legislative director in 1995 of Project Relief, a coalition of anti-regulation businesses, PACs and trade organizations that operated out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with strong backing from Speaker Tom DeLay.[31][32]

While at Heritage, Eckerly endorsed the Cato Institute’s call for the repeal of the Community Reinvestment Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act, positions she said “aren’t considered far out at all.”[33] She also opposed the federal summer jobs program, saying “in some of these programs kids just sit around and gab. They have a reputation for being a waste.”[34]

Eckerly also opposed minimum wage legislation in 1994 and again in 1999, describing it as “a very blunt instrument to use to get at child poverty”.[35] She has worked to weaken regulations on reporting lead releases; opposed union card check legislation;[36] supported a balanced budget amendment; and supported the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act (an industry-backed 2011 bill to head off proposed rulemaking by the National Labor Relations Board to level the playing field in union elections).

Eckerly says NFIB’s members “philosophically oppose mandating what their wage and benefit structure should be.”[37]

Other staff members in NFIB’s lobbying operation include Brad Close (VP for Public Policy, focusing on House-side issues,) a former legislative aide to the late Rep. Henry Hyde; Amanda Austin, a former staffer for Sen. Judd Gregg who has headed NFIB’s healthcare task force; and Chris Walters, a former legislative aide to Sen. Rick Santorum.

NFIB lobbyist Kevin Kuhlman spoke at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2001 annual meeting in New Orleans on “Health Insurance Exchanges: States in Charge!”[38]

NFIB’s PAC

NFIB operates a political action committee called the SAFE Trust (Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust). The SAFE Trust is overseen by NFIB’s development director, Beverly Shea, a veteran Republican fundraiser who was finance director of the Republican National Committee from January 2001-March 2007. The PAC is backed up by NFIB’s development staff, which NFIB says “is charged with raising funds to support our political activities” and acquires donors for the PAC.[39] Its contact point for candidates and committees seeking support is NFIB’s DC-based national political director, Sharon Wolff Sussin, who has been with NFIB since November 1992.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, NFIB’s PAC raised $20,157,250 from 1998-2012 to support candidates in state and federal elections.[40] In 2010 nearly 94 percent of NFIB’s PAC contributions went to Republicans;[41] this election cycle, that number is closer to 98 percent.[42]

Media and Communications

Jean Card

NFIB recently experienced its highest profile media exposure in years because of its role as the principal private litigant suing in the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). As The Hill reported, “the case has attracted wall-to-wall media coverage and raised the potential for a history-making precedent — one that would be linked forever to NFIB.”[43]

NFIB’s National Media Office, based in Washington, DC, is headed by vice president of media and communications Jean Card. Card is a one-time Task Force Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), from September 1994 to June 1996, a position she left to work for NFIB for five years.[44]

Card left NFIB in 2001 to become a speechwriter for Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (2001-03) and then for the treasury and justice departments. After that she worked for the Chlopak, Leonard and Willow Creek PR firms. Willow Creek, run by her husband Noel Card, has represented NFIB and the National Restaurant Association.[45]

Jean Card returned to NFIB in September 2010 just as its healthcare reform repeal activities were gaining steam (NFIB filed its legal challenge in May 2010). She outlined her strategic priorities clearly when she returned: “We’ll be looking a lot at talk radio and outlets such as Fox News.”[46][47]

Other staffers in NFIB’s communications shop include senior media manager Jennifer Cooper, who was press secretary to former Sen. John Ensign, where she dealt with “crisis communications and reputation management” for the scandal-plagued Senator until joining NFIB in July 2011.

Essential Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

PRWatch Articles on NFIB

NFIB in the News

References

  1. NFIB, NFIB, organizational website, accessed September 20, 2012.
  2. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, A Quiet Revolution in Business Lobbying, The Washington Post, February 5, 2005.
  3. American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance, and Small Business Majority, Opinion Survey: Small Business Owners’ Opinions on Regulations and Job Creation, February 1, 2012.
  4. NFIB, Board Members, organizational website, March 14, 2012.
  5. NFIB, National Leadership, organizational website, March 14, 2012.
  6. NFIB, Media Exposure Is Ramping Up!, organizational publication, NFIB Inside Out, April 2011.
  7. NFIB, Form 990, organizational IRS filing, 2011
  8. Anna Palmer, Switch at Top of NFIB, Roll Call, January 15, 2009.
  9. Sarah Kelley, Size Matters: Just How Big Is The Nation’s Premier Small-Business Lobby, Really?, Nashville Scene, July 27, 2006.
  10. John McArdle, Davis May Opt for ‘08 Retirement, Roll Call, October 24, 2007.
  11. David Whitford, Is The NFIB Losing Its Voice? The Premier Small-Business Lobbying Group Faces A Tough New Climate, FSB Magazine, September 25 2006.
  12. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Democrats’ Victory Is Felt On K Street, Washington Post, November 23, 2006.
  13. Lobby League #37: Small Business, The Hill, May 25, 2005, archived by the Wayback Machine on March 25, 2006.
  14. Peter Baker, GMU Defends Journal against ‘Pork’ Label: Conservative Group Gets Most of U.S. Grant, Washington Post, March 6, 1993. Weyrich co-founded the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation in 1973.
  15. Koch and George Mason University, DeSmogBlog, March 3, 2011.
  16. Wendy Gramm: Executive Profile and Biography, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, March 16, 2012.
  17. Center for Responsive Politics, Heavy Hitters: National Federation of Independent Business: Totals, accessed March 12, 2012.
  18. Elizabeth Olson, Amassing the Troops for Political Battle, New York Times, May 4, 2006.
  19. Anna Palmer, New Leadership at NFIB Makes a Return to Roots, Roll Call, November 30, 2009.
  20. Center for Responsive Politics, NFIB lobbying profile for 2010 organizational website, accessed September 17, 2012.
  21. Center for Responsive Politics, NFIB lobbying profile for 2011 organizational website, accessed September 17, 2012.
  22. Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and Secretary of the U.S. Senate, Ogilvy Government Relations Lobbying Report, March 1, 2010.
  23. Ogilvy Government Relations Profile Elena Tompkins
  24. Ogilvy Government Relations Profile, John O’Neill
  25. Ogilvy Government Relations Profile, J. Michael Hogan
  26. Ogilvy Government Relations Profile, Steve Tilton
  27. Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and Secretary of the U.S. Senate, Congressional Lobbying Registration: Mark Warren, congressional record, January 26, 2012.
  28. Tory Newmyer, Labor Bill Battle Is First of Many, Roll Call, April 2, 2007.
  29. Americans for Prosperity, Ed Frank: Vice President, Public Affairs, organizational website, accessed March 20, 2012.
  30. Joyce Price, As Disability-Law Deadlines Loom, So Do Huge Costs Jurisdictions Struggle To Fund Changes Needed To Obey ADA, The Washington Times, October 15, 1993, accessible by subscription via Nexis.com. While at the Heritage Foundation, Eckerly said “it was because of ADA [the Americans With Disabilities Act] that today we’re mobilized to fight against unfunded federal mandates.”
  31. Jill Zuckman, Senators Battle Over Proposed Regulatory Changes, Boston Globe, July 12, 1995
  32. Jason DeParle, Rant, Listen, Exploit, Learn, Scare, Help, Manipulate, Lead, New York Times, January 28, 1996.
  33. Cindy Skrzycki, In Regulatory Assault, GOP Has a Lot to Be Tankful For, Washington Post, December 2nd, 1994.
  34. Bennett Roth, Teen Job Program Clouded/Politics May Shut Out Needy Kids, Houston Chronicle, May 30, 1993.
  35. James Dao, Bradley Challenges Nation To Eliminate Child Poverty, New York Times, October 22, 1999.
  36. NFIB and its Colorado and Wyoming chapters are members of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, the main industry coalition put together by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, “Member Organizations, organizational website, accessed September 18, 2012.
  37. Leigh Strope, Congress Fails To Join Battle Over Minimum Wage, Associated Press, October 22, 2002.
  38. Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC Trade Groups, ALEC Exposed, accessed March 10, 2012.
  39. NFIB, NFIB’s Development Department and Our Colleagues Who Make Up the Team, NFIB Inside Out, accessed September 18, 2012.
  40. Center for Responsive Politics, National Federation of Independent Business, PAC Reports, total of summary reports of receipts, 1998-2012.
  41. Center for Responsive Politics, National Federation of Independent Business: Contributions to Federal Candidates: 2010, organizational website, accessed September 18, 2012. NFIB’s PAC contributed $46,000 to Democrats and $720,744 to Republicans that year.
  42. Center for Responsive Politics, Heavy Hitters: National Federation of Independent Business, Open Secrets.org online campaign finance database, accessed September 24, 2012.
  43. Kevin Bogardus, Small-Business Lobby Grabs Share of Spotlight at the Supreme Court, The Hill, March 28, 2012.
  44. NFIB, Jean Card, NFIB Inside Out, accessed March 11, 2012.
  45. Willow Creek Communications, Clients, About Us, organizational website, accessed March 19, 2012. Jean Card left Willow Creek in September 2010.
  46. American Legislative Exchange Council, Sourcebook, annual organizational publication, 1995 (on file with CMD).
  47. Jean Hudson Card, LinkedIn, online career profile, accessed September 2012.

NFIB's Legal Arm

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a lobbying group that calls itself "the voice of small business."[1] However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses.[2][3] NFIB is best known for its legal attack on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and for spearheading the opposition to President Clinton's health care reform package in 1993.

SBLC.jpg

NFIB has a legal arm called the NFIB Small Business Legal Center (SBLC). The SBLC spearheads the NFIB's legal assault on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). It is one of its three 501(c)(3) foundation arms.[4] Formed in January 1994 as the NFIB Legal Foundation, the litigation arm took years to get off the ground, possibly because of funding and turf issues. (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a well-funded litigation arm, the Institute for Legal Reform, which had a budget of $42.5 million in 2010; and the Washington Legal Foundation, with a 2009 budget of $2.7 million, has played a leading role in antiregulatory strategic litigation for years).[5]

C. Boyden Gray

When it finally was launched in 2000 with an initial budget of $300,000, the NFIB Legal Foundation was able to attract two legal heavy-hitters to its advisory board: former Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Wendy Lee Gramm (who founded the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, funded by the Koch brothers); and C. Boyden Gray, the former White House Counselor for the George H.W. Bush administration and an important architect of the right wing's principal legal networking organization, the Federalist Society. [6]

NFIB Legal Foundation's first executive director was Thomas M. Sullivan, who had been NFIB's regulatory counsel since 1998. Three years later Sullivan was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as chief counsel for advocacy at the Small Business Administration.[7] After assuming his new post, he gave an NFIB gathering this description of the nations capital: "[I]n Washington, it's all about power brokers, lobbyists and trade associations and members of Congress."[8]

Click here for the SourceWatch main page on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

NFIB Battles Legal Protections for Workers, Women, and the Environment

The first president of the NFIB Legal Foundation, Jack Faris, laid out the group's key initial targets -- not concerns about anti-trust issues and big business concentration, NFIB's original focus, but "inequities in the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, Environmental Protection Agency clean air rules, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements."[9] Its first case in 2000 was an effort to block a Clean Water Act rule issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.[10]

Later in 2000 the NFIB Legal Foundation joined a lawsuit challenging a regulation issued by OSHA designed to reduce repetitive-motion stress injuries.[11] The case became moot in 2001 when Congress passed legislation repealing the OSHA ergonomics rule. The NFIB Legal Foundation claimed credit for having forced the repeal.[12]

  • Sexual Harassment: In 2006, the NFIB Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court challenging a federal appeals court's ruling on what constitutes actionable retaliation in a sexual harassment case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The brief claimed that the court's ruling upholding the retaliation claim jeopardized legitimate employer practices.[13]
    James Bopp Jr.
  • Lily Ledbetter: The following year the NFIB Legal Foundation applauded the Supreme Court's decision denying Lily Ledbetter the right to sue Goodyear for pay discrimination because her case was not filed within 180 days after the first discriminatory paycheck, even though she had no way of knowing then that she was paid less than her male counterparts.[14]
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: In 2007 the NFIB Legal Foundation's senior executive counsel, Elizabeth Gaudio denounced what she called "predatory plaintiffs using the [Americans with Disabilities Act] to extort small businesses in 'drive-by' lawsuits."[15] Gaudio and NFIB Legal Foundation executive director Karen Harned also wrote an article for the journal of the Federalist Society's practice group offering court-based strategies for restricting litigation under the ADA.[16]
  • Wal-Mart Law: Gaudio also praised a federal court's overturning of Maryland's so-called Wal-Mart Law, which sought to make large employers in the state pay a fair share of their low-wage workers' state-funded medical costs.[17]
  • Right to Work: That year the NFIB Legal Foundation also submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in a major Washington state case filed by the National Right to Work Foundation challenging the ability of unions to use non-member dues for political purposes without first obtaining their consent. The amicus brief was prepared for NFIBLF by James Bopp, Jr., who two months later filed a landmark case for Citizens United that overturned a century of precedent in election finance law.[18]

Leadership

Karen Harned

In 2007, the NFIB Legal Foundation changed its name to the NFIB Small Business Legal Center (SBLC). Its executive director since April 2002 has been Karen R. Harned, who previously was an attorney for Olsson Frank Weeda, where she lobbied on food and drug issues. Senior executive counsel is Beth Milito, a former Veterans Administration attorney. In 2009 Milito claimed that legislation overturning the Lily Ledbetter Supreme Court decision would place "more burdens on employers in terms of in-house costs, keeping more records and outside legal fees. It's going to be costly for businesses."[19]

Executive Director Harned also serves as advisor on small business issues to the Litigation Practice Group of the Federalist Society. The practice group's tort and liabilities subcommittee's co-chair, Mark A. Behrens of Shook, Hardy and Bacon, sits on the advisory board of NFIB Small Business Legal Center. The group's immediate past chair is Marsha Rabiteau, associate general counsel for legal reform at Koch Industries, Inc.[20]

Funding

Charles G. Koch

From 2003-2004, NFIB's Small Business Legal Center received $88,000 in funding from the Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation.[21] SBLC also received $100,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the leading foundation funder of the right-wing think tank infrastructure. The donation came in the run-up to the fall 2010 congressional elections and just as SBLC's healthcare litigation was ramping up.[22]

The budget for SBLC has grown from $200,000 in 2000[23] to over $2.2 million in 2010.[24] It more than doubled between 2009, when it was $967,803,[25] and 2010, when it surged to $2,202,992.[24] A major increase in the group's expenditures consisted of legal fees of $1,073,242 paid to Baker Hostetler in 2010;[26] that firm represented NFIB and 26 states in their federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

On its 2010 tax return, SBLC reported receiving $282,548 from a related organization (presumably NFIB Inc.) and $1,875,892 in contributions, gifts and grants.[27] The previous year's grants total was $559,573.[25] The additional amount in 2010 more than covers SBLC's legal fees that year to Baker Hostetler. It is not clear who provided the extra funding to support the group's legal expenses in its challenge to the healthcare law up through the Appeals court and Supreme Court, and to pay for the legal work being done by Jones Day attorneys Michael A. Carvin and Gregory Katsas as they prepared for and argued the case before the Supreme Court in March 2012.

President Dan Danner told the Wall Street Journal that the healthcare litigation cost NFIB $2.9 million in 2010 alone, with about $1.6 million coming from "'contributed services,' referring to an agreement with an outside law firm to handle the case."[28]

As a 501(c)(3), SBLC is not required to disclose the source of its funding. The group has so far refused to disclose the source(s) of the additional funding for the healthcare litigation.

Questions have also arisen about the propriety of SBLC's paying the lion's share for litigation involving 26 states. "My concern is if it's a lawsuit on behalf of the people of Florida, then I would believe it should be the people of Florida footing the bill," state Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, told the Palm Beach Post. "When you have an outside party paying, then every aspect of the AG's office might be up for sale. This type of thing raises all kind of red flags."

"I'm not sure most voters understand that a lawsuit by their states is being funded by an ideological organization with an issue ax to grind," Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, told the newspaper. "In this case there appears to a serious perversion of the process."[29]

The Advisory Board

SBLC has a 14-member advisory board[30] consisting of some of the nation's top corporate-side experts in workplace litigation and opponents of regulation. NFIB's chief lobbyist Susan Eckerly and Nelson Mullins attorney [[NFIB's Right Wing Ties|Thomas Sullivan] are also on the advisory board. Selected members include:

Melissa A. Bailey

Melissa A. Bailey: Bailey is the managing shareholder of the DC office of Ogletree Deakins, one of the most prominent anti-union law firms in the country. She boasts of her extensive success in turning back OSHA lawsuits for corporate clients.[31]

Her colleague, Harold Coxson, also based in DC, chairs Ogletree's government relations practice and is executive director of the Tuesday Group, an "informal organization" of 35 national trade associations "involved in workplace issues."[32] He has lobbied on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce on the Employee Free Choice Act and on NLRB confirmations.[33]

Ogletree advertises its ability to help companies in "maintaining union free status," and boasts of its "extensive experience representing management in union representation campaigns." Most of its clients "go year after year without experiencing a union election." Ogletree says that its services extend "from union card signing activity and traditional union campaigns involving NLRB elections, to campaigns involving various levels of neutrality, to multistate and even global attacks." Their experience, they say, "has familiarized us with the broad spectrum of union organizing tactics."[34]

Maurice Baskin: Baskin is the chair of Venable's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. He spearheaded a key 2002 Supreme Court case, BE&K v. NLRB, that reversed an NLRB ruling that a company had interfered with a union's organizing drive. Baskin has served on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's labor relations committee, and represented the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in employment-related matters.[35]

Mark A. Behrens: As noted above, Behrens, of Shook, Hardy and Bacon, co-chairs the tort and liabilities subcommittee of the Federalist Society's Litigation Practice Group, whose immediate past chair is Marsha Rabiteau, associate general counsel for legal reform at Koch Industries, Inc. Behrens is an advisor to the American Legislative Exchange Council's Civil Justice Task Force, and serves on the Washington Legal Foundation's Legal Policy Advisory Board.[36] Behrens authored an amicus brief on behalf of NFIB and other organizations in the Paz v. Brush Engineered Materials case, challenging medical monitoring for toxic substances in the workplace.[37]

Susan E. Dudley: A former head of the Regulatory Studies Program at George Mason University's Koch-funded Mercatus Center, Dudley now directs the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center. Before going to GWU, she was appointed head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs by President George W. Bush. According to the Los Angeles Times, Dudley was one of three people previously blocked by Congress from holding environment-related positions "because of their pro-industry views."[38]

Leonard Leo: Leo is head of the lawyers division and executive vice president of the Federalist Society, the right wing's principal legal networking organization. He played a key role in the George W. Bush administration in vetting nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tammy McCutchen: McCutchen, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, was administrator of the wage and hour division at the U.S. Department of Labor, where she radically expanded the number of occupations and positions that were exempt from wage and hour rules and weakened overtime pay rules. McCutchen is the former chair and now a special adviser to the Federalist Society's Labor & Employment Practice Group (now chaired by Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, member of the executive committee and chair of the labor employment group at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher).[39]

Edwin Meese III: Meese, the former attorney general under President Reagan, has spent the past two decades as chair of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies of the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation, which lined up with NFIB to fight the Clinton healthcare plan in the 1990's and is again fighting the Affordable Care Act,[40] has waged a sustained battle against guaranteed paid sick days, federal parental leave, federal employee pay levels and labor organizing rights.[41] Heritage's director of editorial services, James Weidman, is a former deputy director of regional media communications for NFIB.[42]

Howard M. Radzely: Radzely was Deputy Secretary of Labor from December 2007 to February 2009, and before that solicitor in the Labor Department, where he was supervised by Eugene Scalia. He is now at Morgan Lewis. The Government Accountability Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) opposed his nomination to be labor solicitor, citing his "hostility to whistleblowers" and "abdication of responsibility for labor law violations against state employees."[43]

Essential Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

PRWatch Articles on NFIB

NFIB in the News

References

  1. NFIB, NFIB, organizational website, accessed September 20, 2012.
  2. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, A Quiet Revolution in Business Lobbying, The Washington Post, February 5, 2005.
  3. American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance, and Small Business Majority, Opinion Survey: Small Business Owners’ Opinions on Regulations and Job Creation, February 1, 2012.
  4. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Form 990 (Part 1 and Part 2), organizational IRS filing, 2010.
  5. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, 2010 IRS Form 990, p. 1; Washington Legal Foundation, 2009 IRS Form 990, p. 1.
  6. Louis Jacobson, "Small Business Group to Bring Lawsuits Against Agencies," Government Executive, March 17, 2000. C. Boyden Gray remains on the board of directors of the Federalist Society.
  7. Sullivan's law firm still has NFIB as a client and he is on the NFIB Small Business Legal Center's advisory board. He also recently registered as a lobbyist for his law firm for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sullivan is now of counsel at Nelson Mullins and heads the Small Business Coalition for Regulatory Relief.
  8. David Milstead, "SBA Official Urges Contacts," Rocky Mountain News, June 4, 2003.
  9. Jack Faris, "Small Business Gets A Lawyer," Treasure Coast Business Journal, May 1, 2000.
  10. "Senator Bond Applauds NFIB Legal Foundation's First Lawsuit," U.S. Newswire, June 29, 2000.
  11. Jonathan Riskind, "Brown to Fight Mexican Truck Ruling," Crain's Cleveland Business, December 11, 2000.
  12. "NFIB v. OSHA-NFIB Forces Repeal of Costly Ergonomics Rule," NFIB website.
  13. "Proskauer Rose Files Amicus Brief in Major Employment Discrimination Case Now before the U.S. Supreme Court," Business Wire, February 14, 2006. NFIB Legal Foundation filed the amicus brief jointly with Proskauer Rose.
  14. Miles Moore, "High Court Favors Goodyear in Pay Discrimination Suit," Tire Business, June 4, 2007
  15. Elizabeth Gaudio, "ADA Tax Breaks Help Small Businesses Stay Accessible," Big Sky Business Journal, June 5, 2007
  16. Karen R. Harned and Elizabeth A. Gaudio, "The ADA Opening Doors for the Plaintiff's Bar: How Ambiguities in Title III Inhibit Access, Increase Litigation, and Hurt Business," Engage (Federalist Society), Volume 7, Issue 1, March 2006
  17. "Victory for Small Business: Court Rejects Maryland 'Wal-Mart' Law," NFIB website.
  18. See NFIBLF's amicus brief in Davenport v. Washington Education Association, November 8, 2006. The American Legislative Exchange Council [also submitted an amicus brief in the case]. On Bopp see Stephanie Mencimer, "The Man Behind Citizens United Is Just Getting Started: Meet The Lawyer Who Could Turn Our Elections Upside Down," Mother Jones, May/June 2011.
  19. Eliot Caroom, "Ledbetter Law Will Increase Suits," Inc. magazine, February 23, 2009.
  20. Federalist Society, "Litigation Practice Group Executive Committee," Accessed March 19, 2012.
  21. Claude R. Lambe Foundation, IRS Forms 990 for 2003 and 2004.
  22. Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, IRS Form 990, 2010, pp. 72-73.
  23. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Form 990, organizational IRS filing, 2000
  24. 24.0 24.1 NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Form 990, Part 1, organizational IRS filing, 2010, p 1
  25. 25.0 25.1 NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Form 990, organizational IRS filing, 2009
  26. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, 2010 IRS Form 990, part 2, p. 32.
  27. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, Form 990, Part 1, organizational IRS filing, 2010, p. 9.
  28. Sarah E. Needleman and Angus Loten, "A Small-Business Lobby's Million-Dollar Legal Assault," Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2012.
  29. Charles Elmore, "Lobbying Group Picks Up Costs Of Florida's Health-Care Legal Challenge," Palm Beach Post, February 19, 2011.
  30. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, "Small Business Advisory Board," accessed March 8, 2012.
  31. Ogletree Deakins, "Attorney Bio-Melissa A. Bailey," accessed March 13, 2012.
  32. Ogletree Deakins, "Attorney Bio--Harold P. Coxson, Jr.," accessed March 13, 2012.
  33. Congressional Lobbying Report, Ogletree Government Affairs, Inc., 2nd Quarter, 2010.
  34. Ogletree Deakins, Traditional Labor Relations Practice Group," brochure, accessed March 13, 2012.
  35. NFIB Small Business Legal Center, "Small Business Advisory Board," accessed March 8, 2012; Venable, "Maurice Baskin."
  36. Federalist Society, "Litigation Practice Group Executive Committee," Accessed March 19, 2012; Shook, Hardy and Bacon, "Mark A. Behrens," accessed March 13, 2012.
  37. Behrens discussed the case in an article in a Federalist Society publication: Mark A. Behrens, "Fifth Consecutive State High Court Rejects Medical Monitoring," Engage, Volume 8, Issue 1 (2007).
  38. Judy Pasternak, "Bush Backs Shunned Nominees: His Three Choices for Jobs Dealing with the Environment Were Previously Blocked as Pro-Industry," Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2007; see also Public Citizen and OMB Watch's extensive report, "The Cost Is Too High: How Susan Dudley Threatens Public Protections."
  39. Federalist Society, "Labor & Employment Practice Group Executive Committee," accessed March 19, 2012.
  40. Heritage is running a Facebook petition drive against the healthcare law, and hosted NFIB Legal Center executive director Karen Harned for an interview in its "Scribecast" podcast series.
  41. See, e.g., James Sherk, "Mandatory Paid Sick Leave: The Heritage Foundation 2010 Labor Boot Camp," January 14, 2010; James Sherk, "Congress Should Consider Alternatives to Mandatory Paid Sick Leave," May 15, 2007; and James Sherk, "Female Workers Will Pay Price for Federal Parental Leave Act," June 18, 2008.
  42. Heritage Foundation, "James Weidman: Director, Editorial Services," accessed March 19, 2012.
  43. "Joint Opposition Letter by the Government Accountability Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility," July 25, 2003.

NFIB Opposition to Earned Sick Days

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a lobbying group that calls itself "the voice of small business."[1] However, the group has been shown to lobby on issues that favor large corporate interests and run counter to the interests of small businesses.[2][3] NFIB is best known for its legal attack on the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and for spearheading the opposition to President Clinton's health care reform package in 1993.

Demonstrations in favor of Paid Sick Days in Massachusetts.

NFIB has spent an unknown, but significant, amount of money and institutional cache fighting legislative and ballot proposals to give workers the right to earn sick time. However, a recent NFIB survey of its small business members found that providing mandatory family and sick leave was not a critical concern for most NFIB members. Mandatory sick leave did not fall into the top 10, top 20 or even the top 60 “critical concerns” of NFIB members. In fact sick leave ranked 64th of 75 issues studied.[4]

Nevertheless, NFIB has fought paid sick days in multiple states and municipalities including Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where it supported a suit to overturn the law), Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Philadelphia, Vermont, Washington state, and West Virginia.[5]

In addition to direct lobbying of lawmakers, other NFIB anti-paid sick day campaign tactics include grassroots lobbying via email blasts to members encouraging them to contact lawmakers,[6] legislative updates,[7] economic reports -- in Colorado,[8] Illinois,[9] Massachusetts,[10] and other states, and earned media outreach.

The group’s state economic reports on the effects of implementing paid sick days have been criticized for poor methodology, flawed assumptions, and a lack of objectivity “that result in a highly inflated estimate of the cost of implementing such laws.”[11][12]

Click here for the SourceWatch main page on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Critiques of NFIB's reports on Paid Sick Days

Critiques of NFIB’s reports fall into three main categories: problematic cost assumptions, failure to include estimation of benefits, and inflated estimation of implementation costs:

Problematic Cost Assumptions

  • NFIB’s analysis assumes that workers will utilize 100 percent of the sick time they accrue. In the case of the NFIB Massachusetts study, it is assumed that all workers receiving new paid sick days would use all seven days they accrue per year. Data from multiple sources (the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a study of San Francisco employees, and the National Health Interview Survey) suggest that average use is closer to three days per year.
  • NFIB assumes that all employers whose employees do not currently receive paid sick days would need to provide entirely new leave, but converting an existing Paid Time Off (PTO) or vacation leave—which is more common than sick days—to paid sick days system would meet the requirements of the law without adding much (if any) additional cost.[11]

No Estimation of Benefits

The NFIB analysis makes no attempt to analyze economic benefits of paid sick days, which are likely to include:

  • More sustained earnings for workers, who will spend their wages in their local communities;
  • Reduced employee turnover (and its associated costs) due to a reduction in both involuntary departures and voluntary quits as workers experience greater job security;
  • Reduced spread of disease in businesses and schools as sick employees and the parents of sick children are able to stay home, thus improving productivity as fewer workers overall become ill; and
  • Better ability of workers and family members to receive prompt, appropriate treatment via primary care rather than emergency department care, resulting in significant health care cost savings ($1.1 billion annually if paid sick days were universal at the national level).

Researchers have repeatedly estimated that employers themselves will experience significant financial benefits from implementing paid sick days, including savings from reduced turnover and decreased productivity loss due to contagious illness. These benefits are estimated to be larger than costs for employers.[11]

Implementation Cost Estimates Much Too High

NFIB analyses garner a great deal of media attention with assertions that the costs of implementing a proposed law—which they do not attempt to balance with an analysis of economic benefits—will result in job losses. As noted above, their job loss calculations are problematic on a number of levels:

  • Estimated costs of implementation are much too high;
  • Most wages paid to employees will remain circulating in the local economy, which may provide an economic boost rather than an economic loss;
  • The impact of paid sick days laws is likely to be much smaller than the impact of minimum wage increases. Researchers estimate that the cost of implementing paid sick days—before benefits are considered—is equivalent to a wage increase of around 20 cents per hour for newly covered employees. Minimum wage increases tend to be much larger than that. Evidence from studies of the impact of higher minimum wages across state boundaries—where an urban area straddles a state border and a higher minimum wage exists on one side of the border—shows that there is no negative employment effect of higher wages, even when a higher minimum wage occurs in only part of an economic area.[13][11]

NFIB’s analyses also predict significant job losses. Yet, in studies of San Francisco, where a paid sick days law has been in effect for years, job losses have not occurred. Two studies both demonstrate stronger employment growth than in surrounding counties.[11][14]

Media Campaign on Earned Sick Days

Bill Vernon

NFIB works the media aggressively in an effort to define and give face to the opposition to paid sick days. For example in Massachusetts, NFIB released a report aimed at framing the debate before the newest version of the earned sick days bill under consideration there was introduced. According to their study, Effects of a Paid Sick Leave Mandate on Massachusetts Small Businesses, the economic impact of Massachusetts Paid Leave could cost nearly 16,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in lost output – assertions that were refuted by other researchers (see above).

NFIB staff have placed their views in both the business and mainstream media. In the following articles NFIB Massachusetts State Director Bill Vernon is featured; the job loss claims made in the NFIB study were circulated through a variety of media outlets.

In Boston Business Journal:

“A small-business group is raising the alarm about a new paid-sick-days bill it says could cost Massachusetts 12,000 jobs in coming years…Bill Vernon, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the measure — even after compromises — represents needless “meddling” in employer-employee relations and could end up costing businesses millions of dollars a year and the state’s economy thousands of jobs.”[15]

In State House News Service:

“Business groups, including Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, have strongly resisted mandating sick leave, warning the bill could cost the economy as many as 12,000 jobs and claiming such policies are best established by employers."
"The employers who can afford to offer this benefit are already doing it," said Bill Vernon, state director of NFIB, in a statement. "To believe that it should be mandated is to believe that some employers are acting against their own financial interest because they don't care about their workers. That's a terribly unfair caricature of small business owners."[16]

Media outreach includes orchestrated letters to the editor such as in this example:

"I own a small business in Holyoke; significantly smaller now than previously. The long-lasting economic downturn has hurt my business, as it did many others...In a state that has not created one net new job in a decade, where thousands of our neighbors are desperately seeking work, and where so many businesses are struggling to stay alive, the imposition of yet another costly mandate on employers, in my opinion, is foolish."
"The National Federation of Independent Business which represents thousands of small business owners in Massachusetts estimated recently that Coakley-Rivera’s bill would cost roughly 16,000 jobs over the next several years… NFIB members are overwhelmingly opposed to this legislation. While Coakley-Rivera may be well intentioned in sponsoring this bill I believe it is ill-timed and economically destructive."[17]

NFIB has been criticized for putting forward spokespeople without disclosing their ties to the lobbying group. The Columbia Journalism Review’s column “The Audit” highlighted NPR’s use of Joe Olivo, a New Jersey small business owner opposed to the Affordable Care Act, without mentioning his role as vice-chair of the NFIB New Jersey Leadership Council.[18] NPR was not the only news outlet to use Olivo without mentioning his NFIB role. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, NBC, Fox News, the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Financial Times had done the same. After NPR’s ombudsman criticized his station for making this mistake,[19] the Columbia Journalism Review ran a second article titled, “More on NPR and Manufactured News: Why lobbyist-provided rent-a-quotes subvert the news.” [20] “Nobody trusts what some paid-to-say-it lobbyist thinks,” the piece pointed out. “The press knows it and the lobbyists for sure know it, which is why they seek to cloak their messages in the authenticity of the man on the street.”

Essential Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles

PRWatch Articles on NFIB

NFIB in the News

References

  1. NFIB, NFIB, organizational website, accessed September 20, 2012.
  2. Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, A Quiet Revolution in Business Lobbying, The Washington Post, February 5, 2005.
  3. American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance, and Small Business Majority, Opinion Survey: Small Business Owners’ Opinions on Regulations and Job Creation, February 1, 2012.
  4. NFIB, "Small Business Problems and Priorities", organizational website, August 2012, accessed September 16, 2012.
  5. NFIB, "About NFIB", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012.
  6. NFIB, "Take Action! Tell Legislators to Oppose Sick Leave Mandate", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012
  7. NFIB, "Paid Sick Leave on September Agenda", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012
  8. NFIB, "Cost of a Paid Sick Time Mandate in Colorado", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012
  9. NFIB, "The Cost of Mandatory Sick Leave in Illinois", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012
  10. NFIB, "Effects of Mandatory Paid Leave Mandate on Massachusetts Small Businesses", organizational website, accessed September 16, 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Kevin Miller, "Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Responding to Business Lobby Research Produced to Discredit Paid Sick Days", March 2012.
  12. Bob Drago, "Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Bad Economics Meets Paid Sick Days in Philadelphia",, organizational website, May 24, 2011, accessed September 16, 2012.
  13. “Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties.” Review of Economics and Statistics, November 2010, Vol. 92, No. 4, Pages 945-964
  14. John Petro, "Paid Sick Leave Does Not Harm Employment", 2010
  15. Jay Fitzgerald, "Business leaders queasy over mandatory paid leave bill", Boston Business Journal, March 23, 2012.
  16. Matt Murphy, "Paid sick leave bill faces uphill battle", State House News Service, May 22, 2012.
  17. J. Guy Gaulin, "Paid sick-leave bill would kill jobs", Masslive.com, March 24, 2012.
  18. Ryan Chittum, "Manufactured quotes: News organizations fail to disclose ‘regular Joe’ businessmen’s lobbying ties", Columbia Journalism Review, July 10, 2012
  19. Edward Schumacher-Matos, "When a small business owner is more than the title suggests", NPR, July 13, 2012
  20. Ryan Chittum, "More on NPR and Manufactured News: Why lobbyist-provided rent-a-quotes subvert the news", Columbia Journalism Reivew, July 18, 2012.


Voter Suppression

True The Vote

State-by-State Suppression

Florida

Pennsylvania

Colorado

Wisconsin

South Carolina

Missouri

Voting Rights Vary for Felons A convicted felon in Maine can vote from prison while a felon in Florida may never vote again, illustrating dramatically different state rules.[1]


Florida First in Felony Disenfranchisement It is harder than ever in Florida for felons, especially African Americans, to regain their civil rights, including the right to vote.[2] http://vimeo.com/46780991 <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/46780991?title=0&byline=0&portrait


Voting Rights Vary for Felons A convicted felon in Maine can vote from prison while a felon in Florida may never vote again, illustrating dramatically different state rules.[3]


Florida First in Felony Disenfranchisement It is harder than ever in Florida for felons, especially African Americans, to regain their civil rights, including the right to vote.[4] http://vimeo.com/46780991

<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/46780991?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0&badge=0" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe>

<a href="http://vimeo.com/46780991">African-American Voters in the South</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/news21">News21</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.



Post this Vimeo video: Voting Rights Battles Re-emerge in the South[5]


“People died for the right to vote — friends of mine, colleagues of mine,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said in a May 9 House floor speech on an amendment to cut federal spending for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The amendment was withdrawn.

Lewis was a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. He was beaten severely on March 7, 1965, called Bloody Sunday for the attack by Alabama state troopers on about 600 voting rights marchers after they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on the way to Montgomery. The attack on the nonviolent protesters was so brutal that historians credit the day with swaying votes in favor of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The fight today is in federal court. The state of Texas and the Department of Justice clashed over that state’s photo voter ID in U.S. District Court and it could go to the Supreme Court. In another case, an Alabama county attorney said he would take his legal challenge of the Voting Rights Act to the highest court possible.

. . . . . . “I reckon it’s like back during the days when they were slaves and couldn’t do nothing unless their masters signed for it,” Rutherford said. “They didn’t have proof what their name was, they took whatever name their masters gave them. It seems to me they’re trying to send us years back where they can control who we vote for.”



Brendan Fischer, "Pennsylvania Voter ID Ruling May Lead to Confusion at Polls", PR Watch, October 3, 2012

A Pennsylvania court has found that the state's American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-inspired voter ID law would likely disenfranchise voters and partially blocked its enforcement for the November 2012 election. Ballots cast by voters who do not have ID will still be counted, but the state will still be able to ask for identification and run ads telling voters to obtain ID before election day, potentially leading to confusion at the polls.

The October 2 decision came from Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, who initially upheld the state's voter ID law in August. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that decision in September and returned the case to him with explicit instructions to block the law if he found the state had not provided sufficient access to the "free" voter identification cards. Evidence shows that between 100,000 and 700,000 Pennsylvanians lack ID, but only 8,000 had obtained the "free" voter identification cards offered by the state. The state had conceded that voter fraud is essentially nonexistent. . . . . . . The Pennsylvania law, like many of the ALEC-inspired voter ID laws introduced since 2011, contains a provision requiring voters who do not bring the required form of photo ID to cast a provisional ballot. But that ballot will only be counted if the voter returns within six days with the proper form of ID. Judge Simpson blocked this provision of the law, allowing voters who lack ID to have their votes counted, but still allowing poll workers to ask voters to show ID. The decision also appears to require those who don't have ID to cast a separate, provisional ballot, which will be counted but could lead to additional problems in election administration. . . . . . Witold J. Walczak, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that if the state doesn't change its advertising message, "We may be back in court." "You can't be telling people you need ID if you're not actually requiring ID," he said. "That advertising has to be modified to reflect reality." "Confusion is not a good thing on election day. Confusion is going to mean some voters stay home. Confusion is going to mean that some poll workers get it wrong," Walczak said. Political Motivations Laid Bare Like most of the 37 states that have introduced strict voter ID bills since 2011, Pennsylvania's law reflects elements of ALEC model legislation and was passed by a Republican-controlled legislature. Those who lack the specific forms of ID required under these laws are disproportionately people of color and students -- populations that tend for Democrats. The political motivations behind the law became particularly clear in June, when Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R), an ALEC member, declared that voter ID "is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania." In recent weeks, another Pennsylvania legislator and ALEC member, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, doubled down on the controversy by claiming that the law would only disenfranchise "lazy" people: "As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors' hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can't fix that." On the contrary, witnesses at the trial offered moving descriptions of the burdens they faced in getting the ID, difficulties particularly pronounced for elderly voters and those with disabilities.



Chisun Lee, "GOP offers scant proof of voter fraud" ProPublica, November 2, 2008 McCain Advisor Says Voter Fraud is a “Perception” that “Plants Seeds of Doubt” www.propublica.org/article/mccain-advisor-says-voter-fraud-is-a-perception-that-plants-seeds-of-doubt

For weeks, Republican leaders have warned that widely reported problems with fake voter registrations could result in a flood of phony votes in pivotal states.

But Ronald Michaelson, a veteran election administrator and member of the McCain-Palin Honest and Open Election Committee, said in an interview that he could not name a single instance in which this had occurred.

“Do we have a documented instance of voting fraud that resulted from a phony registration form? No, I can’t cite one, chapter and verse,” he said.

The claims and counterclaims about fraudulent voting have emerged as a prominent issue in the 2008 campaign. Sen. John McCain declared in the final presidential debate that ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the low-income advocacy group whose temporary staffers submitted thousands of faked applications — “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Republican elected officials and lawyers for state Republican parties have made similar claims in court and in statements to the press. So far, however, they have failed to provide significant supporting evidence.

A review of prosecutors’ statements and documents filed by Republicans in the most serious new cases alleging voter fraud shows that none offer an example in which a fraudulently registered person managed to cast a valid vote. While several cases argue that such frauds are possible, none sketched a scenario for how massive numbers of people could fake registrations and then vote. . . . . . . . Republicans have gone to court in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to obtain the names of new registrants. Their target often has been lists of names flagged when states compared their voter rolls to other data bases, such as motor vehicle registrations and Social Security. Those checks, required under a new federal law, have already been shown to be notoriously error-prone. Critics have said that disclosing the lists to a political party would enable mass eligibility challenges that could cause confusion at crowded polling sites.

The GOP sought a list of more than 20,000 new registrants in Wisconsin. Among those tagged as suspect were four of the six retired judges who make up the state’s bipartisan election board. The Wisconsin Republican Party’s brief warned that, if the presidential election is very close, “the deciding votes may well be cast by ineligible voters registered illegally.”



Editorial, "The Myth of Voter Fraud" The New York Times, May 13, 2008 Missouri and at least 19 other states are considering passing laws that would force people to prove their citizenship before they can vote. These bills are not a sincere effort to prevent noncitizens from voting; that is a made-up problem. The real aim is to reduce turnout by eligible voters. Republicans seem to think that laws of this kind will help them win elections, but burdensome rules like these — and others cropping up around the country — pose a serious threat to democracy and should be stopped. . . . . . There is, however, ample evidence that a requirement of proof of citizenship will keep many eligible voters from voting. Many people do not have birth certificates or other acceptable proof of citizenship, and for some people, that proof is not available. . . . . . Proof of citizenship is just one of an array of new barriers to voting that have been springing up across the country. Indiana adopted a tough new photo ID voting requirement, over objections from Democrats that it would prevent eligible voters from casting a ballot. The critics were right. In last week’s Indiana primary, a group of about 12 nuns in their 80s and 90s were prevented from voting because they lacked acceptable ID. As with Missouri’s proposed amendment, the driving force behind strict voter ID requirements in general is not a genuine effort to prevent fraud, since there is virtually no evidence that in-person voter fraud is occurring. It is, rather, the Republican Party’s electoral calculations. Barriers at the polls drive down voter turnout, especially among the poor, racial minorities and students — groups that are less likely than average to have driver’s licenses, and that are more likely than average to vote Democratic. The imposition of harsh new requirements to vote has become a partisan issue, but it should not be. These rules are an assault on democracy itself. The current conservative Supreme Court showed last month, in its ruling upholding the Indiana ID law, that it will not perform its historical role of protecting voters. That puts the burden on state legislators, governors, state courts and ordinary citizens to ensure that the right to vote is not taken away for partisan political gain.



Exhaustive Database of Voter Fraud Cases Turns Up Scant Evidence That It Happens[6]

What about the highly publicized list of voter fraud cases gathered by the Republican National Lawyers Association? News21 began its data-gathering effort in January 2012 by reviewing the more than 300 cases of alleged voter fraud collected by the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA). For years, the RNLA has been urging strict voter-identification laws on the grounds of massive amounts of voter fraud, and in 2011 the organization released a survey of voter fraud cases in America. However, the News21 analysis showed that the RNLA cases, now totaling about 375 cases, consisted mainly of newspaper articles about a range of election issues, with little supporting evidence of actual in-person voter fraud.




Secretaries of State Lead Charge for Strict Voter Requirements[7]

A number of activist secretaries of state are dramatically changing a once non-partisan job that involves supervising elections.

Some have supported partisan legislation. Some have endorsed or advised their party’s candidates. In 36 states, the secretary of state also holds the title of chief election official.

The most aggressive of this new group are Republicans Kris Kobach, 46, of Kansas and Scott Gessler, 47, of Colorado. . . . . Secretaries of State Brian Kemp of Georgia and Matt Schultz of Iowa, both Republicans, have supported voter ID legislation. All the states that have passed ID laws have Republican-majority legislatures except Rhode Island, which had a Democratic majority in 2011 when its law passed with bipartisan support.

Arizona’s Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett added to the birther debate, largely Tea Party-driven, when he threatened to remove President Barack Obama’s name from the general election ballot unless Hawaii sent him the president’s birth certificate.



[8]

One of the earliest, and most cited, estimates of the effect of voter-ID laws came from New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, which opposes what it considers "overly restrictive" ID requirements. In 2006, the center commissioned a survey of 987 Americans and found that "as many as" 11% of adult citizens lack government-issued photo ID. This, the center concluded, could mean that if every state required such ID at the polls, more than 21 million Americans could be disenfranchised. Robert A. Pastor, co-director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington, D.C., was lead author of a study summarizing surveys conducted in Indiana, Maryland, and Mississippi that found just 1.2% of registered voters lack photo IDs. Prof. Pastor said the Brennan Center study was "designed to frighten Democrats." Wendy Weiser, director of the demography program at the Brennan Center, calls the Pastor study, in turn, "such an outlier." . . . . . . Compounding the difficulty is a lack of data, as only two states, Georgia and Indiana, had the strictest forms of ID law—a photo requirement—for a presidential election before this year, said Justin Levitt, an associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. And the last election was no normal one for those states. "In both cases, a historical anomaly drove turnout through the roof, particularly for minority voters," he said. . . . . . {nice, WSJ:} Also, many of the people without photo ID are in groups that have low turnout rates to begin with. Researchers say this election will provide a wealth of data that will help clarify the effect of requiring photo ID. Some, though, say the burden of proof shouldn't be on critics, to show the laws are harmful, but on the states that have passed the laws, to demonstrate they won't be harmful. Ms. Weiser, from Brennan, said though her research center estimated 11% of Americans lack photo IDs, the impact on turnout likely would be lower, "but still it would be clearly a significant number." What matters, she said, isn't the effect on turnout but the number who would lose the ability to vote, even if they had never used it. "Just because someone hasn't voted before doesn't mean we should make it more difficult to vote," she said.



Brennan Center’s Voting Law Changes in 2012 http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/voting_law_changes_in_2012 October 3, 2012

In the first three quarters of 2011, state governments across the country have suddenly enacted an array of new laws and policies making it harder to vote. Some states require voters to show government-issued photo identification, often of a type that as many as one in ten voters do not have. Other states have cut back on early voting, a hugely popular innovation used by millions of Americans. Two states reversed earlier reforms and once again disenfranchised millions who have past criminal convictions but who are now taxpaying members of the community. Still others made it much more difficult for citizens to register to vote, a pre-requisite for voting. These new restrictions fall most heavily on young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities. This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election. Already 19 new laws and two new executive actions are in place. At least 42 bills are still pending, and at least 69 more were introduced but failed. Already, it is clear that:


These new laws could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.

The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 185 electoral votes in 2012 – more than two thirds of the 270 needed to win the presidency.

Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, six have either cut back on voting rights already or are currently considering new restrictions.


More Than 5 Million Voters impacted? We estimate more than 5 million voters could be affected by the new laws, based on six key numbers. 3.2 million voters affected by new photo ID laws. 1. New photo ID laws for voting will be in effect for the 2012 election in five states (Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin), which have a combined citizen voting age population of just under 29 million. 3.2 million (11 percent) of those potential voters do not have state-issued photo ID. Rhode Island voters are excluded from this count, because Rhode Island’s new law’s requirements are significantly less onerous than those in the other states.

240,000 additional citizens and potential voters affected by new proof of citizenship laws. New proof of citizenship laws will be in effect in three states (Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee), two of which will also have new photo ID laws. Assuming conservatively that those without proof of citizenship overlap substantially with those without state-issued photo ID, we excluded those two states. The citizen voting age population in the remaining state (Alabama) is 3.43 million; 240,000 (7 percent) of those potential voters do not have documentary proof of citizenship.

202,000 voters registered in 2008 through voter registration drives that have now been made extremely difficult or impossible under new laws. Two states (Florida and Texas) passed laws restricting voter registration drives, causing all or most of those drives to stop. In 2008, 2.13 million voters registered in Florida and, very conservatively, at least 8.24 percent or 176,000 of them did so through drives. At least 501,000 voters registered in Texas, and at least 5.13 percent or 26,000 of them did so via drives.

60,000 voters registered in 2008 through Election Day voter registration where it has now been repealed. Maine abolished Election Day registration. In 2008, 60,000 Maine citizens registered and voted on Election Day.

One to two million voters who voted in 2008 on days eliminated under new laws rolling back early voting. The early voting period was cut by half or more in three states (Florida, Georgia and Ohio). In 2008, nearly 8 million Americans voted early in these states. An estimated 1 to 2 million voted on days eliminated by these new laws.

At least 100,000 disenfranchised citizens who might have regained voting rights by 2012 Two states (Florida and Iowa) made it substantially more difficult or impossible for people with past felony convictions to get their voting rights restored. Up to one million people in Florida could have benefited from the prior practice; based on the rates of restoration in Florida under the prior policy, 100,000 citizens likely would have gotten their rights restored by 2012. Other voting restrictions passed this year that are not included in this estimate.



The Wave Of New Laws Photo ID laws.

At least thirty-four states introduced legislation that would require voters to show photo identification in order to vote. Photo ID bills were signed into law in seven states: Alabama, Kansas, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. By contrast, before the 2011 legislative session, only two states had ever imposed strict photo ID requirements. The number of states with laws requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification has quadrupled in 2011. To put this into context, 11 percent of American citizens do not possess a government-issued photo ID; that is over 21 million citizens. On November 8, 2011, Mississippi also passed a constitutional amendment by ballot initiative, requiring government-issued photo ID to vote.


Proof of citizenship laws

At least twelve states introduced legislation that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register or vote. Proof of citizenship laws passed in Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee. Previously, only two states had passed proof of citizenship laws, and only one had put such a requirement in effect. The number of states with such a requirement has more than doubled.


Making voter registration harder

At least thirteen states introduced bills to end highly popular Election Day and same-day voter registration, limit voter registration mobilization efforts, and reduce other registration opportunities. Maine passed a law eliminating Election Day registration, and Ohio ended its weeklong period of same-day voter registration. Florida, Illinois and Texas passed laws restricting voter registration drives, and Florida and Wisconsin passed laws making it more difficult for people who move to stay registered and vote. Fortunately, on November 8, 2011, Maine citizens approved a ballot initiative to reinstate Election Day registration.


Reducing early and absentee days At least nine states introduced bills to reduce their early voting periods, and four tried to reduce absentee voting opportunities. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia succeeded in enacting bills reducing early voting.


Making it harder to restore voting rights Two states—Florida and Iowa—reversed prior executive actions that made it easier for citizens with past felony convictions to restore their voting rights, affecting hundreds of thousands of voters. In effect, both states now permanently disenfran- chise most citizens with past felony convictions.





[9] “We’ve been seeing quite a lot of legislation to strengthen voter identification laws and create voter identification laws where they don’t exist,” said Jennie Bowser, senior analyst with the National Conference on State Legislatures. While voting reform isn’t always a partisan issue, the surge in election-related proposals has been attributed largely to the Republican Party’s success in gaining legislative majorities in 2010. “It’s like any issue — when you gain control of the legislature after being out of power for a long time, you usually have a list of things you want to see done,” said Ms. Bowser. “I think this is a change that’s been on the list for Republicans for quite a long time, and with their new majorities, they’re able to make changes.”





[10] “This ‘r’ is not like that ‘r,’ ” Judge Augustus D. Aikens Jr. said, suggesting that a ballot should be rejected. Ion Sancho, the elections supervisor here, disagreed. “This ‘k’ is like that ‘k,’ ” he replied, and he persuaded his colleagues to count the vote. Scenes like this will play out in many elections next month, because Florida and other states are swiftly moving from voting at a polling place toward voting by mail. In the last general election in Florida, in 2010, 23 percent of voters cast absentee ballots, up from 15 percent in the midterm election four years before. Nationwide, the use of absentee ballots and other forms of voting by mail has more than tripled since 1980 and now accounts for almost 20 percent of all votes. Yet votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth, statistics show. Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail, double the rate for in-person voting. “The more people you force to vote by mail,” Mr. Sancho said, “the more invalid ballots you will generate.” Election experts say the challenges created by mailed ballots could well affect outcomes this fall and beyond. If the contests next month are close enough to be within what election lawyers call the margin of litigation, the grounds on which they will be fought will not be hanging chads but ballots cast away from the voting booth. In 2008, 18 percent of the votes in the nine states likely to decide this year’s presidential election were cast by mail. That number will almost certainly rise this year, and voters in two-thirds of the states have already begun casting absentee ballots. In four Western states, voting by mail is the exclusive or dominant way to cast a ballot. The trend will probably result in more uncounted votes, and it increases the potential for fraud. While fraud in voting by mail is far less common than innocent errors, it is vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention, election administrators say. In Florida, absentee-ballot scandals seem to arrive like clockwork around election time. . . . . . The flaws of absentee voting raise questions about the most elementary promises of democracy. “The right to have one’s vote counted is as important as the act of voting itself,” Justice Paul H. Anderson of the Minnesota Supreme Court wrote while considering disputed absentee ballots in the close 2008 Senate election between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. . . . . . . . In the last presidential election, 35.5 million voters requested absentee ballots, but only 27.9 million absentee votes were counted, according to a study by Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He calculated that 3.9 million ballots requested by voters never reached them; that another 2.9 million ballots received by voters did not make it back to election officials; and that election officials rejected 800,000 ballots. That suggests an overall failure rate of as much as 21 percent. Some voters presumably decided not to vote after receiving ballots, but Mr. Stewart said many others most likely tried to vote and were thwarted. “If 20 percent, or even 10 percent, of voters who stood in line on Election Day were turned away,” he wrote in the study, published in The Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, “there would be national outrage.” . . . . . . . Fraud Easier Via Mail Election administrators have a shorthand name for a central weakness of voting by mail. They call it granny farming. “The problem,” said Murray A. Greenberg, a former county attorney in Miami, “is really with the collection of absentee ballots at the senior citizen centers.” In Florida, people affiliated with political campaigns “help people vote absentee,” he said. “And help is in quotation marks.” Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going. The problem is not limited to the elderly, of course. Absentee ballots also make it much easier to buy and sell votes. In recent years, courts have invalidated mayoral elections in Illinois and Indiana because of fraudulent absentee ballots. . . . . . . In 2008, Minnesota officials rejected 12,000 absentee ballots, about 4 percent of all such votes, for the myriad reasons that make voting by mail far less reliable than voting in person.




[11] In a report released this summer, the Brennan Center estimated that in just the 2008 and 2010 general elections, as many as 350,000 absentee ballots were discarded for technical errors like failing to properly complete the absentee ballot envelope. There are at least three things that states and counties can do to make sure more votes are counted:

• First, work with usability, design, and plain language experts to improve the design of the envelope to eliminate confusing design and language that can lead voters to make technical mistakes that invalidate otherwise legitimate votes. As noted in Better Design, Better Ballots, Minnesota did this in 2009 and 2011, and most likely saved thousands of votes with improved design. • Second, improve the design of the ballots themselves. One great source of suggestions for how to do that is here. As Professors Michael Alvarez, Charles Stewart and Dustin Beckett of the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project have noted, voters who vote by mail do not have the benefit of polling place machines, which can “tell” voters if they chose too many candidates or skipped a contest and give them an opportunity to correct mismarked ballots. Nor can such voters easily call on poll workers or election officials for help if they have a problem. The result seems to be that even voters who properly fill out the ballot envelope are far more likely to lose their votes because of mistakes on the ballots themselves. • Finally, adopt procedures to allow election officials to contact voters when their absentee ballot envelopes are technically insufficient so they can correct them and ensure their votes will be counted. Minnesota did that in 2009. Some, including then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, tried to get this same fix in place in Ohio in 2009. Unfortunately, they ultimately failed.

These solutions won’t solve all of the problems associated with vote by mail, but they will ameliorate one of the biggest downsides to the system — namely the rejection of otherwise legitimate votes.




[12] South Carolina became the fourth state to be blocked from requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot in the Nov. 6 election. A special panel of three federal judges in Washington yesterday ruled that given the time left before the election, requiring photo ID at polling stations puts a burden on minority voters that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Proper and smooth functioning” of a key protection in the South Carolina law can only be assured in elections after this year, the judges said. . . . . . Republican-backed voter-ID laws in Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have also been stopped in court this year. Supporters of the laws, passed since President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory, say they are needed to prevent voter fraud. Opponents contend they are aimed at suppressing the votes of lower-income people and the elderly who might be more inclined to vote for Democrats. South Carolina is one of 16 jurisdictions with a history of voting rights violations that need approval from either the Justice Department or a special panel of federal judges in Washington to change election procedures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. . . . . . . South Carolina’s law gives prospective voters two options for the ID they need. They can show one of four approved state- or federal-issued photo IDs or use a voter registration card bearing the individual’s picture that the state will issue for free. . . . . . The {Justice} department argued that South Carolina didn’t produce any evidence of in-person voter fraud in the state. Rather, legislators ignored information from election officials showing that 63,756 of the 178,175 voters who lack state photos, or about 36 percent, were non-white, the department said. A study by the department’s expert, Charles Stewart, found that black voters in South Carolina are more than twice as likely as white voters to lack one of the acceptable forms of identification. A lawyer for the state, H. Christopher Bartolomucci, argued in court that South Carolina’s ID law differed from Texas’s in that photo identification cards would be available free of charge in at least two places in every county.




Elijah Cummings vs. True The Vote Congressman opens voting rights probe of tea party group

www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-voting-rights-tea-party-20121004,0,3351653.story October 4, 2012?

http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/10/05/969971/tea-party-voter-suppression-group-under-investigation-for-possible-criminal-conspiracy : The most radical voter suppression efforts — including voter ID laws, voter purges, gerrymandered districts and restrictions on voter registration — have been killed in the courts or delayed til after the election. In many cases, judges concluded that minorities would be disproportionately affected by these efforts. Indeed, an analysis of the failed voter purge in Texas, True the Vote’s home state, found that African American and Latino names were much more likely to be flagged for removal, and African American districts received more letters questioning their eligibility to vote than any other districts. Rather than rely soley on these initiatives, True the Vote is also mobilizing a national network of volunteer poll watchers to challenge and intimidate voters on Election Day. In light of the misinformation and questionable tactics disseminated in these volunteer trainings, Rep. Cummings is seeking “the data you have been using to challenge voter registrations, the training you have been providing volunteers to conduct these activities, and the manner in which you have been determining where to deploy your resources in select jurisdictions.”


TRUE THE VOTE STATEMENT REGARDING THE OHIO VOTER INTEGRITY PROJECT’S ONGOING VOTER ROLL CHALLENGES

   www.truethevote.org/news/true-the-vote-statement-regarding-the-ohio-voter-integrity-project-s-ongoing-voter-roll-challenges



WANT TO BE A POLL WATCHER? www.truethevote.org/news/want-to-be-a-poll-watcher





[13] Clear Channel Outdoor said Monday that the ads should say who paid for them. "We reviewed the situation, and in light of the fact that these billboards violate our policy of not accepting anonymous political ads, we asked the client how they would prefer to work with us to bring the boards into conformance with our policy," said Jim Cullinan, a spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor. "The client thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them." Clear Channel declined to identify the client.



[14] {Colorado used Strategic Allied Consulting there} In Colorado, the state GOP has spent $466,643 — roughly half its total budget — with Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm in question. Already this year, the RNC has funneled more than $3.1 million to the company, just formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona voting consultant who has run other firms that have been accused of dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats and other improprieties aimed at helping Republican candidates. And FOX31 Denver has confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company. “I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party,” the girl tells a woman in the video, which has been viewed more than 417,000 times. Because we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.” Strategic Allied Consulting was hired to do voter registration drives in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, and had been planning get-out-the-vote drives in Ohio and Wisconsin, Sproul told the Los Angeles Times Thursday. Reports from the Federal Election Commission show that Sproul’s other company, Lincoln Strategy Group, has been paid more than $80,000 by the Romney campaign to help register voters between November 2011 and March 2012 during the GOP primary season. Sproul told the Times he formed Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the RNC for publicity’s sake, given past negative media coverage of Lincoln stemming from past allegations going back to 2004, when employees in Nevada and Oregon signed up Democrats but threw out their forms instead of turning them in. Sproul has also been linked to signature fraud this election cycle in his home state of Arizona where he was working on a ballot initiative that would allow the state to nullify any federal laws it finds to be unconstitutional. In Florida, the state GOP fired Strategic Allied Consulting on Tuesday after election workers in Palm Beach County discovered numerous registration forms that appeared to be filled out in the same handwriting, some including wrong addresses and birthdays. On Friday, the Times reported that at least 10 Florida counties have detected fraud in the forms turned in by Sproul’s firm.




RNC cuts ties to firm after voter fraud registration

  www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-republicans-voter-fraud-florida-20120927,0,5472858.story

Suspicious voter registration forms found in 10 Florida counties

 www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-voter-registration-florida-republicans-20120928,0,7654954.story



[15] In 2008, Wisconsin had one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country – nearly 70 percent. Nationally, the 2008 electorate was the most diverse ever. But in this election cycle, politicians in Wisconsin joined others across the country in passing restrictive voter ID laws and other efforts to discourage participation by students, people of color, and other targeted groups of voters. Wisconsin’s voter ID law was blocked by the courts, but other anti-voting efforts continue. Earlier this year, Wisconsin’s recall election was targeted by True the Vote and other conservative groups who organized “voting integrity” operations that critics say are meant to harass and intimidate voters in targeted communities. Thanks to intensive voter participation efforts by groups like the League of Young Voters, those efforts failed to deter young voters and African Americans, who turned out in high numbers during the recall election earlier this year. True the Vote is part of a larger campaign to flood swing states with conservative activists prepared to challenge individuals at polling places. The New York Times reported that True the Vote’s campaign in Wisconsin is grounded in mythical tales of buses full of foreigners or Native Americans or people from Chicago or Detroit pulling up to registration stations. The Leadership Conference Education Fund has worked closely with the League of Young Voters, One Wisconsin, the United Council, Voces de la Frontera – Youth Empowered in the Struggle, and Rebuild the Dream over the past year to challenge anti-voting laws and to help students mobilize to overcome new regulations that are designed to make it harder to vote. Those same allies are coming together this week for a training and strategy-sharing session on mobilizing voter participation in the November election.




[16] It might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists. The bus has been repeatedly cited by True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s leader, told a gathering in July about buses carrying dozens of voters showing up at polling places during the recent Wisconsin recall election. “Magically, all of them needed to register and vote at the same time,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. “Do you think maybe they registered falsely under false pretenses? Probably so.” Weeks later, another True the Vote representative told a meeting of conservative women about a bus seen at a San Diego polling place in 2010 offloading people “who did not appear to be from this country.” Officials in both San Diego and Wisconsin said they had no evidence that the buses were real. “It’s so stealthy that no one is ever able to get a picture and no one is able to get a license plate,” said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin agency that oversees elections. In some versions the bus is from an Indian reservation; in others it is full of voters from Chicago or Detroit. “Pick your minority group,” he said. . . . . . . . While she portrays True the Vote as nonpartisan, it grew out of a Tea Party group, King Street Patriots, that she founded in Texas. An examination shows that it has worked closely with a variety of well-financed organizations, many unabashed in their desire to defeat President Obama. A polished and provocative video, circulating among Tea Party activists, seeks to raise a “cavalry” to march on swing states and identifies True the Vote as a participant in the effort, called Code Red USA. In the past year, Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, and other Republican-leaning independent groups have sponsored meetings featuring Ms. Engelbrecht and other True the Vote speakers. A spokesman for Americans for Prosperity said that the group had hosted events including True the Vote speakers but that election integrity was not a focus of his group. Election integrity has become a focus for other activists, including James E. O’Keefe III, a video producer known for his undercover stings of the now defunct community organizing group Acorn. He recently aimed his camera on North Carolina voters in what turned out to be a botched attempt to show that foreigners had registered. . . . . . . . True the Vote is now using proprietary software to accelerate the process of challenging voter registrations. It says its databases will ultimately contain all voter rolls in the country. Using computers, volunteers can check those rolls against driver’s license records, property records and other databases, turning the process into an assembly line production. But when True the Vote vetted petition signatures in Wisconsin’s recall election, the state’s Government Accountability Board reported that the process was “at best flawed.” The group raised questions about thousands of signatures that the board deemed valid.


Ms. Engelbrecht, who at 42 is younger than most of the Tea Party members she addresses around the country, said that until four years ago she was apolitical, a churchgoing mother of two who ran a successful oil field machinery business with her husband in Fort Bend County, Tex. “Then in 2008, I don’t know, something clicked,” she said. “I saw our country headed in a direction that, for whatever reason — it didn’t hit me until 2008 — this really threatens the future of our children.” The epiphany prompted Ms. Engelbrecht to work as a poll watcher in the 2009 local elections along with others in the King Street Patriots, the Tea Party group she founded. . . . . . . . “They had one particular case I remember very well,” said Douglas Ray, the Harris County assistant attorney who represents the election registrar. “They had identified an address where eight or 10 people were registered to vote. There was no building there.” Mr. Ray found out that the building had been torn down and that the people simply moved. As a result of the organization’s work in 2010, 400 to 500 voters were put on “suspense,” forcing them to provide additional information verifying their addresses. By the fall 2010 election, volunteers again appeared to focus on minority neighborhoods, this time as election observers, Mr. Ray said. . . . . . The influx of white election observers in black neighborhoods caused friction with voters and poll workers, bringing back memories of a time when racial intimidation at the polls was commonplace in the South, said Gerald M. Birnberg, a lawyer and former chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party. True the Vote has strongly denied that it has engaged in voter suppression. . . . . . The boiling political caldron of Wisconsin was the next stop for True the Vote. It teamed up with two Tea Party organizations to review nearly one million signatures on petitions demanding the recall of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. The partnership called itself Verify the Recall. “We have been hearing reports of duplicate signatures, questionable practices and downright fraud in the gubernatorial recall effort,” Verify the Recall said in a pitch to volunteers. “The integrity of Wisconsin’s elections and associated processes are at stake; free and honest elections — the cornerstone of our political process — are being threatened.” True the Vote began working in Wisconsin in 2011, the same year it received a $35,000 grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which is based in Wisconsin and is a major backer of conservative causes, including Americans for Prosperity. The foundation’s president and chief executive, Michael Grebe, was Mr. Walker’s campaign chairman for his 2010 campaign and for the recall election, which he won. Mr. Grebe said in an interview that the grant was for activities unrelated to the recall. He said the donation was ultimately returned because it was given on the premise that True the Vote would be granted tax-exempt status by the I.R.S., which Ms. Engelbrecht said has not happened despite several attempts. Ms. Engelbrecht has said her goal was not to stop the recall election, which had been backed by labor unions, but to prove to those behind it “that unions cannot strong-arm America.” She said thousands of volunteers helped enter petition signatures into a database, which was then analyzed by the group’s software. Of the one million signatures, True the Vote said 63,038 were ineligible, 212,628 required further investigation and 584,489 were valid. The accountability board concluded that about 900,000 signatures were valid and, in a memorandum reviewing True the Vote’s work, criticized its methods. For example: Mary Lee Smith signed her name Mary L. Smith and was deemed ineligible by the group. Signatures deemed “out of state” included 13 from Milwaukee and three from Madison. The group’s software would not recognize abbreviations, so Wisconsin addresses like Stevens Point were flagged if “Pt.” was used on the petition. Signatures were struck for lack of a ZIP code. While the board commended the group for encouraging “a strong level of civic engagement,” it found that True the Vote’s results “were significantly less accurate, complete and reliable than the review and analysis completed by the G.A.B.” On Election Day, poll watchers appeared to have slowed voting to a crawl at Lawrence University in Appleton, where some students were attempting to register and vote on the same day.





http://coderedusa.com/index.php/latest-news/1-madison-project-announces-the-launch-of-code-red-usa Madison Project Announces the Launch of Code Red USA

Washington, DC, August 23, 2012: The Madison Project, a political action committee chaired by former Congressman Jim Ryun (KS), has launched a grassroots GOTV plan called Code Red USA. The launch was announced today by Madison Project President Drew Ryun and Code Red USA Co-Founders Matt Armstrong of Political Gravity and Fred Solomon of the Wetumpka TEA Party. Code Red USA is a ground game plan that will focus on specific objectives in key battleground states. The plan has four main components: The Adopt a State component allows tea party groups in blue states or safely red states to “adopt” a tea party group or to campaign in a critical state. The RV Patriots component will consist of RVs and mobile homes equipped with laptops and sophisticated GOTV technology called GravityTM, turning them into self-contained Mobile Command Centers, which will enable volunteers to make phone calls and canvass important neighborhoods within targeted counties in each battleground state. "You combine those first two elements of Code Red with the Vote Integrity component, it’s an unbeatable combination,” said Ryun. “We feel strongly that while there will be a lot of money spent on TV ads this fall, the smart money will go towards a robust ground game. Code Red USA is a unique plan to make a real difference where elections are actually won or lost, on the ground.” The final component is Cross Community Engagement, where activists will make a concerted effort to engage with minorities, women and independents for voter education, registration and mobilization.



Code Red USA Project Expands

  beforeitsnews.com/tea-party/2012/09/code-red-usa-project-expands-2457450.html

Madison Project announces the launch of Freedom 2 and Liberty 2 in Ohio Conservative political action committee, the Madison Project, announced today that it is launched two more mobile GOTV HQs in the battleground state of Ohio as part of its Code Red USA Project. Christened as Freedom 2 and Liberty 2, the mobile GOTV HQs are 40 foot RVs decked out with internet hotspots and mobile phone banks operating off the Gravity™ database system. “This is a perfect fusion of technology and innovation,” said Drew Ryun of the Madison Project. “No longer do volunteers have to come to a brick and mortars headquarters to make phone calls. We are going to them and I am convinced this is the next wave in how get out the vote work will be accomplished.” With 5 phone systems in each mobile GOTV HQ, volunteers have the opportunity to make phone calls from the RVs while other teams of volunteers launch from the RVs and block walk using Gravity’s smart phone app.




[17] “At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression,” wrote Cummings. “If these efforts are intentional, politically-motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.” Cummings’ letter details how numerous groups affiliated with True the Vote are engaging in a coordinated campaign to challenge legitimate voters across the country, including in Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland, although local and state election officials have repeatedly determined that these challenges are baseless. . . . . . . “Multiple reviews by state and local government officials have documented voter registration challenges submitted by your volunteers based on insufficient evidence, outdated or inaccurate data, and faulty software and database capabilities,” wrote Cummings. “Across multiple states, government officials of both political parties have criticized your methods and work product for their lack of accuracy and reliability.” In his letter, Cummings requests that Engelbrecht provide information about the data True the Vote uses to challenge voter registrations, the training provided to volunteers, and how True the Vote determines where to deploy resources in select jurisdictions. Today’s letter is the latest in Cummings’ broader effort to promote the integrity of our nation’s elections. On Monday, he sent a letter to Nathan Sproul, the head of Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm recently fired by the Republican National Committee for allegedly conducting voter registration fraud in four states. | | | Unfortunately, True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliated groups have a horrendous record of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges . . . At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression. If these efforts are intentional, politically-motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights. In order to investigate these serious allegations, I request that you provide information about the data you have been using to challenge voter registrations, the training you have been providing volunteers to conduct these activities, and the manner in which you have been determining where to deploy your resources in select jurisdictions. Given your multiple statements lauding transparency in our nation’s voting process, I trust you will provide the requested information as soon as possible.

Inaccurate Voter Challenges in Ohio There have been numerous reports of inaccurate voter registration challenges by volunteers at the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, a project “empowered” by True the Vote. For example, as the Los Angeles Times reported:

In Ohio, election records show, one of the project’s top priorities has been to remove college students from the voter rolls for failure to specify dorm room numbers. (As a group, college students are strongly in Obama’s camp.) Voters challenged include 284 students at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, 110 at Oberlin College, 88 at College of Wooster, 38 at Kent State—and dozens more from the University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Lake Erie College, Walsh University, Hiram College, John Carroll University and Telshe Yeshiva, a rabbinical college near Cleveland.[5] According to the Times report, “So far, every county election board that has reviewed the dorm challenges found them invalid.”[6] . . . . . . . . Inaccurate Voter Challenges in Wisconsin Problems with the tactics and methodologies employed by your organization were also identified in Wisconsin when a True the Vote affiliate known as Verify the Recall reviewed almost one million signatures on petitions demanding the recall of Governor Scott Walker. The New York Times reported that “thousands of volunteers helped enter petition signatures into a database, which was then analyzed by the group’s software.”[11] According to the Times, however, a non-partisan state regulatory agency consisting of six former state judge appointees known as the Government Accountability Board reviewed True the Vote’s work and “criticized its methods” for basic errors: For example: Mary Lee Smith signed her name Mary L. Smith and was deemed ineligible by the group. Signatures deemed “out of state” included 13 from Milwaukee and three from Madison. The group’s software would not recognize abbreviations, so Wisconsin addresses like Stevens Point were flagged if “Pt.” was used on the petition.[12] In a memorandum evaluating True the Vote’s poor record in Wisconsin, the Government Accountability Board concluded that your organization’s results “were significantly less accurate, complete and reliable than the review and analysis completed by the G.A.B.” and “would not have survived legal challenge.”[13] The Government Accountability Board also found that software developed by True the Vote was flawed, writing: It is staff’s conclusion that True the Vote’s results are at best flawed because of what must be described as a “strict compliance” standard coupled with a model that allows errors to be multiplied via the volunteer data entry. These errors led to many computer determined strikes as the software can only evaluate the information entered, so if it was flawed or incomplete there was no opportunity for determining validity under a substantial compliance standard.[14]




[18] Last week's mailer told voters in three Danbury Township precincts that Election Day is Nov. 8, instead of Nov. 6, and told them their precinct had been relocated to a building that's on the east side of Danbury High School, instead of the school's west side. . . . . . The problem occurred at a time when Ohio Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes by reducing early voting hours in the state. The U.S. Supreme Court last week refused to consider Husted's appeal of a lower court's decision that allowed early voting the weekend before the election.

Mailer: http://b.3cdn.net/ohio/202f9f30183b9852e4_cqm6bxz6r.jpg



[19] The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., noted that the billboards were placed in predominantly Hispanic and black neighborhoods in Cleveland, as well as in Cincinnati and Milwaukee. The group sent a letter to Clear Channel Outdoor requesting that the company take down the signs. Clear Channel had said it could not remove them because its client, a private, out-of-state family foundation, has a contract that keeps them in place through Nov. 6, Election Day. The contract also has a clause keeping the name of the family foundation anonymous. The company has said it has a policy against putting anonymous political messages on its billboard and that it erred in agreeing to that contract. On Saturday, Clear Channel still declined to reveal the name of its client, but said it wanted to correct the error. . . . . . . . Opponents had already negotiated with Clear Channel to have the company donate use of 10 billboards that will be visible Monday and carry the message "Voting Is a Right. Not a Crime!" Cleveland City Council will pay for five more to carry the same message. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law has also paid for about 36 billboards that went up Thursday in Cleveland and Milwaukee in predominantly Latino and black neighborhoods that read, "Stand up and have your say -- Vote. When we vote, we are all equal." Additional billboards with the same message will be posted next week in Columbus and Cincinnati, the group said. Cleveland said the decision to remove the billboards is "a great example of free speech in action." The original billboards were free speech she said, and so was the community's response.




[20] Eric Marshall, who manages legal mobilization for the Washington group, said Clear Channel should remove the signs from neighborhoods in Cleveland. "These billboards are placed in predominately African American or Latino neighborhoods only," Marshall said. "They send a pretty strong message, and a very dissuasive message that is not good for our democracy." For instance, in a census tract where a billboard was posted at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and East 79th Street, the voting age population was 96 percent black. In the area around a sign at Carnegie Avenue and East 36th Street, the population was 88 percent black. And black residents accounted for 76 percent of the voting age population in a census tract near a billboard at East 35th Street and Community College Avenue.






[21] New voter identification laws in a dozen states could negatively affect voter participation in Native American and Alaska Native communities, a tribal advocacy group says.

The National Congress of American Indians released a report Monday that highlights the states, including some where photo identification will be required at the polls on Election Day.

Two of the states - Alaska and Florida - do not list tribal ID cards as acceptable forms of identification at the polls.

Problems with other new voter ID laws include requirements that voters provide their home addresses, since some tribal communities have no street addresses, and the "barriers of cost, logistics and distance to obtaining required IDs," the study says. . . . . . The report identifies six "states of concern" for Native voter access: Alaska, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. And it says new ID laws also could disproportionately affect Native voters in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington.




[22] The report, titled Voter IDs and the Native Vote, identifies three areas where voter ID requirements pose significant challenges for Native voters and can be characterized as having a disproportionate effect on the American Indian and Alaska Native vote: First, states with voter ID laws compromise the rights of Native voters by not accepting tribal IDs as valid forms of identification; second, such laws create barriers of cost, logistics, and distance to obtaining required IDs; and finally, these laws risk disenfranchising large numbers of Native voters through provisional ballots. The report also states that of the 18 states that Native Vote has identified as focus states for protectin4g Native voter rights and increasing voter engagement, 11 have passed new voter ID laws that could disproportionately affect Native voters. A map and chart included in the report highlights the six states of greatest concern.




[23] It’s an extremely rare crime — 10 cases nationwide over a 12-year period during which hundreds of millions of votes were cast — and for good reason. The penalty is severe — up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine — and the perpetrator nets only one vote. If you’re going to steal an election, there are far better options. (Hire a 16-year-old to hack into the computer touch-screen voting system — the one without a paper trail — in use in about a third of American states.) These laws are a solution in search of a problem. Why not a law criminalizing child abduction by space aliens? Well, can you prove it isn’t happening? But even if these laws prevent only a tiny number of fraudulent votes, aren’t they worthwhile? No. There are a lot of people who don’t have current government-issued photo ID — for example, more than 5 percent of registered voters in Texas. (Until now a bank statement or utility bill has sufficed.) The federal court that last week invalidated the new Texas photo ID law pointed out that more than one-quarter of the state’s counties lack an operational D.M.V. office, meaning some Texans would need to take a 250-mile round trip to get ID. Many prospective voters would have to pay $22 for the cheapest set of documents needed to obtain one (and that’s with Texas waiving the charge for the ID itself). The law imposes, the court wrote, “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor.”



[24] The Sharp household had first been identified as suspicious by computer software that had been provided to the Ohio Voter Integrity Project by a national organization called True the Vote. The software, which has been distributed to similar groups around the country, is used to flag certain households, including those with six or more registered voters. This approach inevitably pinpoints many lower-income residents, students, and extended families. . . . . . . Engelbrecht has received especially valuable counsel from one member of the group: Hans von Spakovsky. A Republican lawyer who served in the Bush Administration, he is now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. “Hans is very, very helpful,” Engelbrecht said. “He’s one of the senior advisers on our advisory council.” Von Spakovsky, who frequently appears on Fox News, is the co-author, with the columnist John Fund, of the recent book “Who’s Counting?,” which argues that America is facing an electoral-security crisis. “Election fraud, whether it’s phony voter registrations, illegal absentee ballots, vote-buying, shady recounts, or old-fashioned ballot-box stuffing, can be found in every part of the United States,” they write. The book connects these modern threats with sordid episodes from the American past: crooked inner-city machines, corrupt black bosses in the Deep South. Von Spakovsky and Fund conclude that electoral fraud is a “spreading” danger, and declare that True the Vote serves “an obvious need.” . . . . . . In Hamilton County alone, the new citizens’ groups have challenged more than a thousand names since March. Some challenges, such as those aiming to disqualify college students who failed to include their dorm-room numbers on their registration forms, were tossed out immediately. But the board accepted nearly two hundred challenges, including those to twenty-six voters registered at a trailer park that no longer existed. . . . . . . . At the Heritage Foundation, von Spakovsky emphasized that his devotion to safeguarding voter integrity had nothing to do with racial discrimination or partisan gain: “I’m not in this because I’m on a team. I believe in having fair elections, and I would never be willing to do anything that would encourage or allow cheating in an election. My interest is in making sure that the person who people vote for the most wins.” Yet many Democrats see his cause as a voter-suppression effort in disguise. Thirty-three states have passed some form of voter-I.D. law, the most severe versions of which demand government-issued cards with photographs and expiration dates. A driver’s license typically qualifies, but many students, elderly people, and poor urban residents do not have one. According to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal nonprofit institute at N.Y.U. Law School, eleven per cent of the voting-age population lacks the kind of I.D. cards required by the strictest states. Eighteen per cent of Americans over the age of sixty-five do not have such documentation; among African-Americans the figure is twenty-five per cent. Von Spakovsky criticized the study for focussing not on registered voters but on all Americans who are eligible to vote. He cites rival studies indicating that the number of registered voters without I.D.s is negligible. The vast majority of the lawmakers who have pushed for voter I.D.s have been Republicans. As Bill Clinton has put it, “This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate”—when many young and minority voters stayed home—“than the 2008 electorate.” Clinton said that the “effort to limit the franchise” was the most determined “since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting.” Republicans who support tighter voter security say that they are not seeking political advantage. But last summer Pennsylvania’s Republican House Leader, Mike Turzai, was caught on tape boasting to colleagues that the state’s new I.D. law was “going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Earlier this month, a state judge suspended the controversial law’s implementation until after the 2012 election; a federal court has done the same with South Carolina’s new I.D. law. . . . . . . . . . . Lorraine Minnite, a public-policy professor at Rutgers, collated decades of electoral data for her 2010 book, “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” and came up with some striking statistics. In 2005, for example, the federal government charged many more Americans with violating migratory-bird statutes than with perpetrating election fraud, which has long been a felony. She told me, “It makes no sense for individual voters to impersonate someone. It’s like committing a felony at the police station, with virtually no chance of affecting the election outcome.” A report by the Times in 2007 also found election fraud to be rare. During the Bush Administration, the Justice Department initiated a five-year crackdown on voter fraud, but only eighty-six people were convicted of any kind of election crime. Hasen, who calls von Spakovsky a leading member of “the Fraudulent Fraud Squad,” told me that he respects many other conservative advocates in his area of expertise, but dismisses scholars who allege widespread voter-impersonation fraud. “I see them as foot soldiers in the Republican army,” he says. “It’s just a way to excite the base. They are hucksters. They’re providing fake scholarly support. They’re not playing fairly with the facts. And I think they know it.” . . . . . . . . After the recount trauma, the Bush Administration announced its crackdown on election fraud, and hired von Spakovsky as a lawyer in the Justice Department’s newly invigorated voting section, which enforces the Voting Rights Act. He was soon promoted, becoming counsel to the assistant attorney general in charge of the civil-rights division. The crackdown was infused with partisanship. In 2006, the Justice Department fired two U.S. Attorneys, in part because top Administration officials felt that they were too soft on potential Democratic voter fraud in New Mexico and Washington. In 2008, documents unearthed by an inspector general revealed that the push to prosecute had as much to do with political gain as with the pursuit of justice. Republican officials in New Mexico pressured David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney for the state, to prosecute Democrats before the 2004 election. A lawyer for the state Republican Party wrote that the voter-I.D. “issue should be used (now) at all levels,” adding, “You are not going to find a better wedge issue.” But an election-fraud task force that Iglesias formed with the F.B.I. found no crimes to prosecute. Because of his failure to find fraud, the inspector general concluded, Iglesias was fired. (He is now a prosecutor in Guantánamo Bay.) John McKay, the U.S. Attorney in Washington State, was also fired after failing to find prosecutable voter fraud. In 2006, President Bush appointed von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission while the Senate was in recess. When he came up for confirmation, six career lawyers in the voting section wrote a scathing letter of protest, saying that he had a “cavalier” disregard for legal precedent. They noted that a federal court had struck down Washington State’s attempt to implement his recommendation that eligible citizens be kept “off the rolls for typos and other mistakes by election officials.” They accused von Spakovsky of overruling their judgment that a strict voter-I.D. law in Georgia would result in substantially fewer black voters, and of using a pseudonym to publish an essay in support of voter-I.D. laws while the department was weighing the case. A judge in Georgia struck down the law, likening it to a poll tax. (After considerable modifications, the law was authorized.) . . . . . . . . After Obama took office, von Spakovsky expanded his campaign for voter-I.D. laws and other ballot-security measures. One receptive forum, where he spoke repeatedly, was the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC—a conservative, corporate-funded group that drafts legislative models for thousands of state lawmakers. In 2009, after the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter-I.D. law, ALEC drafted a sample voter-I.D. bill for other states to copy. An accompanying essay in the organization’s newsletter explained how to frame such restrictions so that they would pass muster with the courts. Copycat bills emerged in state legislatures across the country. In 2011 and 2012, Republicans proposed sixty-two such laws, in thirty-seven state legislatures. News21 has reported that more than half of these bills were sponsored by associates of ALEC. Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, which runs a Web site called ALEC Exposed, says, “Unlike a think tank, ALEC operationalizes the agenda, nationally.”





[25] Ouren and Americans for Prosperity gathered these recruits in Boca Raton in July to instruct them on how they could become “empowered” vessels for True the Vote’s poll watcher program. True the Vote is most widely known for its advocacy of restrictive photo voter ID laws. But while that might garner headlines, the group’s real focus is on policing the act of voting itself. As Ouren declared during the group’s national summit in April, and repeated again in Boca Raton, his recruits’ job is chiefly to make voters feel like they’re “driving and seeing the police following you.” He aims to recruit one million poll watchers around the country. . . . . . . . The 2008 ACORN “scandal,” where ACORN was found with thousands of falsified voter registration forms, is partially what inspired Engelbrecht to form the King Street Patriots. Even though no fraudulent votes were cast, Engelbrecht’s King Street Patriots lionized the ACORN tale and used it as a mobilizing tool to recruit hundreds of volunteers for 2009 Election Day poll watching, mostly in black and Latino districts. The Patriots came out of that experience convinced that election workers in Harris County were letting non-citizens vote and enabling fraud. “There were people being allowed to vote without showing any identification, people who’d say, ‘I don’t know who to vote for,’ at which point an election judge would jump up, escort them to the voting booth, dial in the vote, and tell the voter to ‘press here,’  ” Engelbrecht told The American Spectator. . . . . . . . The voter ID provision was recently blocked by the U.S. Department of Justice when the state failed to prove that it would not have discriminatory impacts on people of color, setting up a likely Supreme Court battle over the Voting Rights Act. That’s a critical example of the way in which the True the Vote/King Street Patriots network has moved the voting discussion over the past three years. As the Texas Democratic Party recently declared, “Many of the Republican policies being pushed around the country today which seek to make democracy less accessible were originated by Texas Republicans like the King Street Patriots.” . . . . . . . True the Vote often explains to recruits that they can’t dispatch them at polls in many states; they can only offer training. In Florida, for instance, the political parties and their candidates must select and place poll watchers. So if a volunteer wants to be considered by the parties for Election Day, “we can help facilitate those connections,” Engelbrecht told recruits at the Americans for Prosperity summit in Boca Raton. Such facilitation means relationships with people in government. That was apparent at True the Vote’s national summit this year, when Republican Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who helps manage elections, was asked to stand and given applause. He’s been a regular at True the Vote events since their inception. Also in attendance were True the Vote regulars U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, infamous for quoting a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard on the House floor in 2007, and state Rep. Jim Murphy, both Republicans. Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t present, but he wrote a letter of congratulations to Engelbrecht saying he looks “forward to working with you and True the Vote in the coming weeks and months ahead.” A year before the conference, Gov. Perry was the guest speaker when the King Street Patriots opened their new headquarters, an upgrade from their mall office. The King Street Patriots were working so closely with the Republican Party—hosting fundraisers and providing resources for their candidates—that a judge ruled this year that the group’s electioneering violated its 501c4 status and declared them a political action committee. But the relationship with the Republican Party goes beyond Texas. At a Heritage Foundation-sponsored panel in July, Engelbrecht shared the stage with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, both of whom are involved in a multi-state program Kobach created for purging voters using dubious methods. Under the Interstate Cross Check Project, 15 states (not including Texas) have been enlisted to share voter registration data under the premise that they will root out “non-citizen” voters. It’s an outgrowth of Kobach’s Secure and Fair Elections [SAFE] law, one of the strictest voter ID laws passed in 2011, particularly for its requirement that voters show proof of their citizenship when they first register. It was fueled by claims that felons, dead people and “illegal aliens” were voting and stealing elections. There is scant evidence for any of those claims. But Engelbrecht told the Heritage crowd that Kobach’s SAFE was “the model” the rest of the nation should follow. Englebrecht’s Heritage Foundation panel was actually a rogue’s gallery of election administrators.



[26] Just as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) tried to distance itself from its role pushing parts of the NRA's gun agenda and making it more difficult for American citizens to vote, a controversial right-wing operation has announced that it will step in to help carry forward the "voter ID" agenda. The "National Center for Public Policy Research" (NCPPR) announced Wednesday that it will form a "Voter Identification Task Force." This comes in response to ALEC's announcement Tuesday that it will dismantle its "Public Safety and Elections Task Force" through which corporate lobbyists and elected officials voted behind closed doors to approve "model" legislation that creates obstacles to American citizens voting through restrictive voter ID bills, as well as other damaging legislation, such as reckless gun laws that have been cited to protect violent vigilantes from being held accountable.




[27] Voting law opponents contend these laws disproportionately affect elderly, minority and low-income groups that tend to vote Democratic. Obtaining photo ID can be costly and burdensome, with even free state ID requiring documents like a birth certificate that can cost up to $25 in some places. According to a study from NYU's Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices. During closing arguments in a recent case over Texas's voter ID law, a lawyer for the state brushed aside these obstacles as the "reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas." Attorney General Eric Holder and others have compared the laws to a poll tax, in which Southern states during the Jim Crow era imposed voting fees, which discouraged blacks, and even some poor whites -- until the passage of grandfather clauses -- from voting. Given the sometimes costly steps required to obtain needed documents today, legal scholars argue that photo ID laws create a new "financial barrier to the ballot box." . . . . . . . In late September, an analysis by Reuters and research firm Ipsos of data culled from 20,000 voter interviews found that those lacking proper ID were less likely to vote anyway, “regardless of state law changes.” [28] Among those who said they were “certain to vote,” only 1 percent said they did not have proper ID while another 1 percent said they were uncertain whether they had the proper ID. The analysis also found that those who lack valid photo ID tended to be young people, those without college educations, Hispanics and the poor. . . . . . one analysis by Nate Silver at the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog estimates they could decrease voter turnout anywhere between 0.8 and 2.4 percent. It doesn't sound like a very wide margin, but it all depends on the electoral landscape. . . . . . . . . Why is the Justice Department getting involved in some cases? Because of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states with a history of discrimination receive preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Texas and South Carolina passed strict photo ID laws in 2011 but were refused preclearance by the DOJ, which argued that these laws could suppress turnout among minority voters. Texas went to court seeking judicial preclearance from a federal district court; in August, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the law. South Carolina has presented arguments before the same court. South Carolina also requested judicial preclearance. On Oct. 10, a separate three-judge panel cleared the law, stating that it satisfies Section 5 due largely to its "reasonable impediment provision," which permits voters with registration cards to cast a provisional ballot if they provide a reason for being unable to procure photo ID. However, the law cannot take effect until 2013, wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh, since there's uncertainty as to whether it can be "properly implemented in time for the 2012 elections." What about challenges to the laws? On Aug. 15, a Pennsylvania judge shot down an attempt to attempt to block the state’s voter ID law. The plaintiffs appealed. On Sept. 18, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by a 4-2 vote, vacated the judge’s order and returned the case for further review. The justices asked the trial judge to assess whether voters could obtain state-issued photo ID without difficulty in the short time remaining before the November general election. If the judge could not be convinced voters wouldn’t be disenfranchised, the justices wrote, the law should be temporarily blocked. In an Oct. 2 ruling, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson did just that. He wrote that he was “not still convinced” that voters yet to obtain photo ID wouldn’t be disenfranchised as a result of the new law. He blocked it from taking effect, but only for the upcoming November 6 election. Additionally, the judge’s ruling still permits Pennsylvania election officials to request photo ID from registered voters this election, just not prevent anyone from casting a regular ballot if they’re unable to produce one. As we’ve reported, other judges have also ruled in favor of other states’ voter ID laws. Here’s a rundown of the rulings. The DOJ is also investigating many of the states’ laws, including Pennsylvania's photo ID law. As first reported by Talking Points Memo, the DOJ's Civil Rights Division sent the state's chief election official a letter Monday afternoon requesting 16 separate items, including the state's complete voter registration list, any documents supporting the governor's prior assurance that "99 percent" of the state's eligible voters already have acceptable photo ID, any papers to prove the state is prepared to provide registered voters with ID cards free of charge upon oath or affirmation, and any studies that inform state officials of the "demographic characteristics" of residents who lack valid voter ID. The DOJ letter states it needs these documents within 30 days to evaluate the state's compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. Have any states attempted to enact strict voter ID laws but so far been unsuccessful? Yes. In Wisconsin, two judges have blocked enforcement of the state's photo ID law. The state attorney general has asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to intervene and reinstate the law before the November election. Meantime, Democratic governors in Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina have vetoed strict photo ID bills passed by their Republican-led legislatures last year. In New Hampshire, however, the state legislature overrode the governor's veto. In September, the Justice Department cleared the law, required since parts of the state are covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Voters in New Hampshire who cannot produce a valid photo ID in the upcoming November election will still be permitted to vote after signing a challenged voter affidavit. But that's not all: these voters will be sent verification letters from the Secretary of State to confirm they voted. If they don't respond in writing within 90 days, the state attorney general will pursue an investigation into voter fraud. Are there other voter ID laws in effect that ask for but don't necessarily require photo ID? Yes. In these so-called "non-strict photo ID states" — Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, South Dakota and Hawaii — individuals are requested to show photo ID but can still vote if they don't have one. Instead, they may be asked to sign affidavits affirming their identity or provide a signature that will be compared with those in registration records. Why has there been such a recent surge in voter ID legislation around the country? This report by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice cites primarily big Republican gains in the 2010 midterms which turned voter ID laws into a "major legislative priority." Aside from Rhode Island, all voter ID legislation has been introduced by Republican-majority legislatures. News21 also has this report on the close affiliation between the bills’ sponsors and the conservative nonprofit group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Republican figures have championed such laws. For instance, Mike Turzai, majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, recently praised the state's legislative accomplishments at a Republican State Committee meeting last month. "Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," he said. A spokesman for Turzai, Steve Miskin, told ProPublica that Turzai was "mischaracterized" by the press. "For the first time in many years, you're going to have a relatively level playing field in the presidential elections" as the result of these new laws," Miskin said. "With all things equal, a Republican presidential nominee in Pennsylvania has a chance."




[29] “We should have abandoned the idea of removing the U. S. attorneys once the Democrats took the Senate. Because at that point we could really not count on Republicans to cut off investigations or help us at all with investigations. We didn't see that at the Department of Justice. Nor did the White House see that. Karl didn't see it. If we could do something over again, that would be it.”


[30] there have been efforts at the highest level to artificially drive up voter fraud statistics and to illegally bring prosecutions in a manner to influence elections - clear indications of a propaganda effort intended to deceive. These efforts, under the Bush administration, were directly responsible for the most egregious examples of politically motivated firings in the US Attorneys scandal. Third, ID requirements in some states are clearly crafted to favour Republican demographics over Democratic ones. In Texas, for example, concealed handgun licenses can be used as voter ID, but student IDs cannot. Other states exclude or limit student IDs as well.



[31]

A Nov. 8, 2011, press release promoting the event calls Stand for Freedom a voting rights campaign bringing together the NAACP and other groups in "an aggressive nationwide effort to stop changes to state election laws that would suppress the rights of millions of Americans to vote."

At issue, the release says, are state efforts reducing early voting opportunities and voting on Sundays plus new mandates in some states that voters present photo IDs before being allowed to cast ballots. In the release, Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, says: ""We are in the midst of the greatest coordinated legislative attack on voting rights since the dawn of Jim Crow. Voter ID laws are nothing but reincarnated poll taxes and literacy tests, and ex-felon voting bans serve the same purpose today as when they were created in the wake of the 15th Amendment guaranteeing ex-slaves the vote—suppressing voting numbers among people of color."




Helpful map: Interactive Map of Shame: www.lawyerscommittee.org/page?id=0042



[32] All of this comes on the heels of the GOP Voter Registration Scandal widening to Virginia last week, when 23-year old Colin Small was arrested and charged with 8 felonies and 5 misdemeanors after being seen allegedly dumping voter registration forms into a dumpster near a shopping mall in Harrisonburg. Small (pictured above right), a Pennsylvania resident who claimed on his LinkedIn profile to be a “Grassroots Field Director” for the Republican National Committee, had been hired to do voter registration work by Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed this summer at the request of the RNC and headed by Nathan Sproul, a shady GOP operative and paid political consultant for Mitt Romney’s campaign. The firm was supposedly fired by the RNC late last month after hundreds of apparently fraudulent registration forms collected by the company on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida were discovered by election officials in some twelve counties in the Sunshine State. The RNC had reportedly paid Sproul’s firm at least $3 million since August to carry out voter registration efforts in five battleground states, including VA, despite many years of allegations that his companies had destroyed Democratic registration forms in a number of states. . . . . . . As we detailed in an investigative report some weeks ago, which included video taped and other evidence, Sproul had trained his workers to deceive prospective registrants by acting as if they were pollsters, rather than registration workers, until they could determine their political leanings. Sproul himself confirmed to The BRAD BLOG that he trained his workers to use that tactic, and confirmed as much once again in remarks he made to the Arizona Republic last week: Sproul said his company hires temporary workers at $12 to $17 an hour to register Republicans by asking people outside libraries and other public places who they support in the election. If the person supports Romney, the worker asks if the person is registered to vote, and registers them if they are not.If the person supports Obama, the worker moves on without offering to register the individual to vote, Sproul said. As we detailed, that same invidious tactic was seen being carried out by Sproul’s workers in a number of states including Colorado, Nevada, Florida and even in Virginia, where a late September report by CBS 6 cited Chesterfield County, VA General Registrar Larry Haake explaining that he had received complaints of Strategic employees doing the very same thing in a local library. . . . . . . . U.S. Congressmen James Moran, Gerry Connolly and Robert Scott, all from Virginia, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, urging the Department of Justice to “conduct a multi-state investigation to determine if a pattern of voting registration irregularities related to Strategic Allied Consulting are connected and constitute a broader conspiracy of voter registration fraud.” The Democratic members write that “The number of allegations in a multitude of locations would seem to suggest something more than the isolated acts of ‘a few bad apples.’”




[33] Republicans, by contrast, have tended to view voting in the context of the party’s looming demographic problems. Non-whites overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. But 20 years ago, minorities made up only 13 percent of the electorate. This year, they comprise at least twice that figure. In response, Republicans have pushed for voting restrictions that would have a disproportionate effect on minorities. As a justification, they’ve invoked the threat of voter fraud—a phenomenon that has repeatedly been shown by exhaustive studies to be virtually nonexistent. Nevertheless, the voter fraud myth has become a cause in nearly every Republican-led state capitol this year. “A lot of blood has been shed to preserve our freedoms—not for people to allow their votes to be diluted by people who should not be voting,” Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos told me. In South Carolina, a constituent e-mailed his Republican state representative to complain that black voters would be “like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon” if they were offered a monetary reward for obtaining photo identification. “Amen,” the state representative replied. In Florida, where Republicans have limited early voting this year, State Senator Mike Bennett said he didn’t “have any problem making [voting] harder.” He explained: “I want the people in the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who is willing to walk two hundred miles for that opportunity he’s never had before in his life. This should not be easy.” Since the start of 2011, governors have signed into law 23 bills that impose constraints on voting. Many require voters to produce government-issued photo identification, which can be burdensome to obtain for minorities, young people, and the elderly. A study by New York University’s Brennan Center found that 25 percent of blacks and 16 percent of Hispanics lack a government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of white Americans. The most stringent measures have been implemented in deep-red states such as Kansas: Unlike many other states, it won’t allow people without a valid ID to sign an affidavit in order to vote. But it is in battlegrounds like Ohio where these efforts could swing the outcome of the presidential race. In a game of inches, everything counts and anything goes. In 2004, that mindset led Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell to, among other things, reject piles of voter registrations, because they were printed on insufficiently thick paper stock. That November, a shortage of voting machines predictably caused huge lines in urban precincts, dissuading thousands from voting. In addition, around 30,000 ballots were thrown out due to minor flaws—such as being cast at the wrong table in the right polling location. When Democrats took power in 2006, they expanded early voting to prevent a repeat occurrence of these debacles. (Blackwell’s successor, Jennifer Brunner, also came under scrutiny for trying to reject some absentee ballots from Republicans on tenuous grounds.) In 2008, African Americans took particular advantage of early voting. In Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, 42 percent of in-person early voters were black, although African Americans make up less than a quarter of the county’s adult population. In Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, African Americans comprise 28 percent of the population but made up more than half of early voters. Turnout was especially high on the last weekend before Election Day—some 100,000 people voted throughout the state, which President Obama won by four percentage points. When Republicans reclaimed the state government in 2010, the pendulum swung back, hard. The GOP passed legislation cutting back the 35-day early voting period and eliminating a requirement that poll workers ensure voters were at the correct precinct. The implication was clear: In-person early voting benefited Democrats, whose minority and working-class supporters were more likely to have trouble getting to the polls on a weekday, especially in crowded urban precincts. (In fact, any effort to make voting easier helps Democrats, since they poll better than Republicans among people who don’t usually vote. When access to the polls is expanded, Democrats stand a greater chance of winning over the disaffected.) . . . . . . In 2008, nearly 200,000 people—roughly equivalent to Obama’s 2008 margin in Ohio—voted during the non-working hours that Husted has eliminated. A disproportionate share of those votes was in cities containing substantial populations of Democrats. Evening and weekend votes made up half of the early ballots in Franklin County (which includes Columbus) and more than a third in Montgomery County (which includes Dayton).



[34] The decision to push ahead with the controversial program just 41 days before Election Day in the nation’s biggest battleground state is already the subject of three separate federal lawsuits from a coalition of liberal-leaning groups as well as President Barack Obama’s Justice Department. . . . . . . . Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s office said the new list was produced by comparing Florida’s 12-million-person voter rolls with a federal immigration database called the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. “This is a new process based on the SAVE database,” said Detzner’s spokesman, Chris Cate. . . . . . . Of this list of 198 potential noncitizens, about 58 percent are minority — 41 percent Hispanic and 17 percent black. Democrats account for 44 percent of the potential noncitizens on this list and 41 percent of the overall active voter rolls, a Herald analysis found. More than a third of the list is made up of no-party-affiliation voters, who account for about a fifth of the rolls. Republicans make up 16 percent of the purge list and 36 percent of the overall voter rolls. . . . . . . Miami-Dade’s elections supervisor, Penelope Townsley, found so many errors in the original list that she halted the purge program until the state improved its processes. Miami-Dade still has the highest number under the new list: 82. The state says this new list is far better thanks to the SAVE database, maintained by the Department of Homeland Security But purge opponents warn that SAVE is no silver bullet. “Homeland Security recognizes the database is not perfect,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project. “Our position is that it’s not appropriate to remove anyone from the rolls like this 90 days before an election. Mistakes can be made and we are urging caution.” Last week, the Advancement Project and other groups settled part of a federal lawsuit with the state against the old purge program. The advocates, as well as the Justice Department, argue that, under a federal law nicknamed “motor voter,” the state can’t purge voters 90 days before an election. The state says supervisors can push ahead with the purge because noncitizens aren’t entitled to protections afforded to lawful voters.



[35] This same November, nearly 6 million Americans will be kept from the polls, disenfranchised under a number of ever more aggressive state laws barring felons and ex-felons from the voting booth. This is detrimental to our justice system and a vicious threat to our democracy. A report by The Sentencing Project estimates that these laws currently disenfranchise 5.85 million Americans. Of them, a whopping 75 percent are no longer inmates in prison or jail. Instead, they are serving parole, probation, or, in the case of 2.63 million individuals (nearly half of the entire population measured), are living in their communities freely, having already completed their sentences in full. Eleven states require a waiting period before voting after one’s sentence is complete; a lifetime ban awaits those with a felony record. The diagnosis is even grimmer when looked at by race. The report estimates that felony disenfranchisement laws in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia each disenfranchise over 20 percent of their respective adult black American populations. . . . . . . . Yet since the nation’s founding, a key concept prevailed and proved fundamental to democracy: the idea, explicitly stated in the Declaration of Independence, that government must derive its power from the consent of the governed. Despite having committed a crime, most felons and ex-felons are citizens, governed and affected by the decisions made in Washington. As an essential protection from government tyranny, corruption, and unjust laws, it is crucial that all citizens can (and do) contribute to the discussion of what type of society they would like to live in and what the laws dictating that society are. Laws against voting are not common sense measures promoting the public safety or welfare. For those worried that felons and ex-felons may unite into some powerful anti-criminal justice voting bloc, think again: there is no evidence to support such a unity amongst the group, such illicit views among felons in the criminal justice system, or such single-issue behavior. Like the rest of us, felons who choose to vote have a number of political ideas to balance in the booth.



[36] Obama’s Justice Department has rightly opposed new discriminatory voting laws, such as voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas, early voting cutbacks in Florida, and racially regressive redistricting maps in Texas, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The federal courts have sided with DOJ, refusing to preclear Texas’s voter ID law and redistricting maps, Florida’s early voting limits in five counties subject to Section 5, and South Carolina’s voter ID law for 2012. Overall, courts have blocked ten major voter suppression laws passed since 2010.



[37]





[38] on October 2, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson, a Republican, thwarted Turzai’s hopes by ruling that voters in Pennsylvania did not have to show a government-approved ID in order to cast a ballot in the November election. To paraphrase Mitt Romney, Judge Simpson’s ruling was an inelegant solution to an inelegant problem. He initially upheld the law on August 15—a decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacated nearly a month later. The higher court sent the case back to Simpson, telling him to issue a preliminary injunction against the law unless he could conclude there would be “no voter disenfranchisement” as a result of it. But Judge Simpson rightfully could not reach that conclusion; according to his estimates, 1 to 9 percent of registered voters in Pennsylvania did not have a valid ID—somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 500,000 people by conservative estimates—yet the state had issued only 13,000 voter IDs since the law went into effect in March. A significant number of eligible voters in Pennsylvania were going to be disenfranchised if the law remained in effect. Simpson didn’t strike the law, but he also chose not to require its enforcement, pending a full trial after the election. Poll workers can still ask for ID, but voters don’t have to show it—a temporary victory for voting rights advocates, albeit a confusing one. There’s no guarantee that the thousands of Pennsylvania poll workers will administer the law in a consistent manner. “Will there be a uniform way of asking people for identification so that we don’t see racial profiling in the voting booth?” asks Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, one of the lead attorneys challenging the law. Some eligible voters will be wrongly told they need ID to cast a ballot, while other voters will stay home because they mistakenly think they need a form of ID that they don’t have. “I think it’s still going to be pretty chaotic on election day,” says Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of 70, a good-government group in Philadelphia that organized the Pennsylvania Voter ID Coalition to help people get IDs. . . . . . . The Pennsylvania ruling had larger national significance. It was one of ten rulings in the past year by state or federal courts that have stalled Republican voter suppression efforts since the 2010 elections, including in crucial swing states like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. The courts have blocked voter ID laws (Missouri, Texas and Wisconsin), limits on voter registration drives (Florida), cutbacks to early voting (Ohio), partisan voter purges (Iowa), hurdles to student voting (New Hampshire) and the disqualification of provisional ballots (Ohio). If 2011 was the year when more than a dozen states passed new voter restrictions, 2012 was the year the courts struck back. Yet it’s too early for voting rights advocates to pop the champagne corks. “A lot of these laws are blocked for now,” says Debo Adegbile, acting president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. “The final verdict isn’t in.” New voter suppression laws are still on the books in thirteen states, and state supreme courts in places like Wisconsin have yet to decide whether voter ID laws violate the right-to-vote provisions of their state constitutions. (In 2008, the US Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law.) Nor has the Court weighed in recently on the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which hangs over any conversation about voting rights like a dark cloud. Attorney General Eric Holder has called Section 5, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government, the “keystone of our voting rights.” Today, attorneys general in six Republican states are supporting a constitutional challenge to Section 5 originating in Shelby County, Alabama, which the Supreme Court is expected to hear in the spring. Rick Hasen, an elections expert at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law and author of The Voting Wars, predicts the Court will invalidate Section 5, noting that Chief Justice John Roberts led the charge against the expansion of the Voting Rights Act as a young lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department. “This is his signature issue,” Hasen says. The disappearance of Section 5 would be a devastating setback for voting rights, akin to the way the Citizens United decision eviscerated campaign finance reform. . . . . . . . Unless or until Republicans get serious about courting an increasingly diverse and younger electorate, they’ll continue to pass laws to undermine the political power of this growing constituency. Voter suppression efforts have become the “new normal” in the GOP; Republicans may become more judicious in crafting such laws as a result of recent court decisions, but they won’t stop trying to pass them. As a result, the United States could become a country with a two-tiered electoral system, with Republicans in red states restricting the right to vote and Democrats in blue states expanding voter access, as California recently did by adopting online and election day voter registration.



[39] Virginia is one of thirteen states with a new restrictive voting law on the books. Earlier this year, the state tightened an existing voter ID law that requires identification to cast a ballot (but not necessarily photo ID), such as a voter registration card, utility bill or—this being the South—a handgun permit. The updated law expands the list of acceptable IDs but cracks down on Virginians who show up without one. In the past, a Virginia voter lacking ID could sign an affidavit attesting to his or her identity and cast a regular ballot. Now that voter must cast a provisional ballot, which will count only if the voter presents proof of ID to the board of elections by noon on the Friday after election day. This change could disenfranchise the 15,000 Virginians who cast a ballot without ID in 2008— which could affect the outcome in one of the nation’s most hotly contested swing states. . . . . . .

In addition to voter suppression laws, this year Election Protection organizers will face another threat: the Tea Party group True the Vote and its local affiliates, which claim to be recruiting a million “poll watchers” to challenge voters they believe are ineligible to vote. In practice, that’s going to mean a lot of conservative white activists stationed outside the polls in heavily Democratic minority neighborhoods, a sure-fire recipe for voter intimidation and harassment. That dynamic is especially troubling in a state like Virginia, where minorities make up 30 percent of the electorate and three out of four new residents are people of color. Challenger laws date back to the 1870s in states like Virginia, when segregationists challenged the right to cast a ballot of newly emancipated African-Americans. They are still on the books in at least eight battleground states. “Of the 39 states that allow polling place challenges, only 15 require poll challengers to provide some documentation to support their claim that the challenged voter is ineligible,” reports the Brennan Center for Justice. In Florida, for example, any challenged voter must cast a provisional ballot (in 2008, 2.1 million provisional ballots were cast nationally; 69 percent were counted). In Virginia, the challenge must be in writing, and challenged voters may cast a regular ballot if they sign an affidavit affirming their identity. Outside groups are not allowed in polling places, but representatives of the parties are, so True the Vote is urging its members to become GOP poll watchers, which could increase the likelihood of voter challenges. Often these challenges are based on little more than racial profiling. Videos have recently surfaced of True the Vote activists giving inaccurate training to prospective poll workers falsely claiming, in states like New Mexico, for example, that voters must show ID. “They’re enforcing the law of their gut rather than the law on the books,” says Levitt. “That’s what vigilante squads do, and their hit rates are pretty bad.” Earlier this year, the Virginia Voters Alliance, a True the Vote affiliate, held a “stop the voter fraud summit” in Fairfax for several hundred conservative activists. “There is a tsunami of voter fraud coming to your town,” said featured speaker Bob Cooley, a self-described “former ‘Mob’ insider, turned FED informant.” Despite the hyperbole, voter fraud is not much of a problem nationally or in Virginia. In 2008, the Virginia state police charged fewer than forty people with voter fraud—most of them felons who, mistakenly, registered to vote or cast ballots— out of nearly 4 million votes cast. The Election Protection coalition has been preparing for months to deal with voter suppression laws and vigilante groups. “We’ve had more calls to our hotline this year than ever before,” says Marshall.




[40] The Republican Party has made voter fraud the red herring of this election. Now it turns out the party has been forced to cut its ties to a well-paid consulting firm after cases of real voter registration abuse arose in several swing states. A thorough federal investigation of the consulting firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, is needed. Florida law enforcement officials said they were looking into “numerous” complaints against the company, which is run by Nathan Sproul, a well-known Republican campaign operative and former executive director of the Arizona Republican Party. Charges of registering dead people, altering and faking registrations and other abuses are being investigated in 10 Florida counties. Similar allegations of improprieties surfaced in recent months in Colorado and Nevada, while Virginia authorities last week charged a Republican registration supervisor and former Allied employee with destruction of voter registration forms by throwing them into a Dumpster. The evidence of election chicanery prompted the Republican Party in September to sever its ties to Mr. Sproul’s registration operations, which had been hired in five states, including North Carolina, with an estimated $3 million in contracts. The company has denied any improper practices, contending that a few complaints would inevitably arise in its voluminous registration efforts in hundreds of jurisdictions. But authorities should look closely into the operations of Mr. Sproul’s various companies, which campaign records show have collected more than $17.6 million since 2004 from Republican committees, candidates and super PACs. In a separate effort, Republican Party strategists have pushed many Republican-controlled statehouses to put in place constitutionally questionable voter ID laws to restrain Democratic-leaning voters. Studies show voter fraud is virtually nonexistent. Registration fraud, on the other hand, seems a growing area for abuse.


[41] Concerns about problems at the polls appear to be greater and coming earlier than usual this election year. Already, mysterious phone calls in Florida and Virginia have told voters they can vote by phone — which they cannot do. . . . . . They have already received complaints about calls telling people that they can vote by phone. Florida officials are warning voters about such calls, and also about bogus letters questioning their citizenship and eligibility to vote. The letters began showing up last week, and appear to be signed by local election supervisors — which they are not. Marshall says the best defense for voters is to know their rights. But that's more difficult than usual this year because there are many new election laws around the country. Those laws have prompted the AFL-CIO to make robo calls to 100,000 union households in Pennsylvania, to clarify that state's new voter ID law. The calls explain that voters don't need a photo ID to vote this year, even though they will be asked to show one at the polls. That's the result of a court ruling earlier this month.


[42] As of Monday night, five registered voters in Collier County and two in Lee had reported receiving letters questioning their citizenship and voter eligibility. At least 10 counties across Florida have reported similar letters, Chris Cate, communications director for the Florida Department of State, said. The letters impersonate official mailings sent out earlier this year to suspected noncitizen, registered voters. A key difference is legitimate mailings are sent via certified mail. The fraudulent letters were not. “If you receive one of these fraudulent letters,” Tim Durham, Collier County chief deputy election supervisor said, “it’s completely bogus and it has absolutely no impact on your eligibility to vote.” . . . . . . While the fraudulent letters sent to Collier County voters are a close imitation of the real thing, they are not signed by Supervisor of Elections Jennifer Edwards. The fraudulent letters also falsely claim the recipient has 15 days to respond before his or her name is removed from the voter registration rolls. The law really allows 30 days. The fraudulent letters threaten jail time if the recipient casts an unauthorized vote, something legitimate letters would not.



[43] The League of Women Voters of Florida says it has gotten more than 1,000 calls over the past month from voters who are confused and frustrated over the 11 proposed state constitutional amendments that the Legislature has placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.




[44]




[45]

Is True the Vote Shaking Down States With Nuisance Lawsuits?

Less than a month before Election Day, the “election integrity” group True The Vote is battered, bewildered and disappointed. The upcoming election landscape will hardly resemble the “ground war” they were hoping for. Voter fraud as a thing has been exposed by civil rights watchdogs and a wide range of journalists as pure conspiracy theory. And civil rights legal advocates have at least temporarily blocked all of the most strict voter ID laws for which they fought so hard. But while True the Vote is down, they’re certainly not out. The group still hopes to make an impact in November, though they’ve downgraded their self-descriptors from “armies” prepared for “ground wars” to “grannies with clipboards.” Besides their cheering for billboards warning that VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY targeted in poor, black neighborhoods in Ohio, their last operative hope is to shake down states, including Ohio, that don’t comply with their purging demands with frivolous lawsuits. A true army, encompassing journalists, lawyers, election protection volunteers, civil rights activists and the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will be watching the watchers throughout early voting periods and on Election Day. The real question now is, if things go awry with any of the clipboard grannies, will True the Vote have its volunteers’ backs? If recent news reports are any indication, it sounds like the volunteers True the Vote has recruited will be on their own. True the Vote attorney Brock Akers told The American Prospect’s Abby Rapaport that True the Vote has “no relationship with any other groups and [is] not aware of others describing themselves as ‘empowered.’” Akers was flat out lying. Colorlines created a map that points to no less than two dozen groups True the Vote is aware of. One of those groups, the Virginia Voters Alliance, has a YouTube video posted where one of its leaders clearly spells out the training relationship, and also spells out why True the Vote told them not to use their name—“because of all of the lawsuits they had been getting in Houston,” VVA’s Reagan George explains. This past weekend, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht presented in Arizona at FreePAC, a gathering of thousands organized by the conservative non-profit FreedomWorks for “grassroots training” on “best strategies” on topics like making “voter ID calls.” Engelbrecht encouraged the fired-up crowd to sign up for True the Vote’s poll training, for both poll worker and watcher positions. Two more FreePACs are scheduled this month in Florida and Illinois. These kinds of associations place True the Vote’s partisanship in further question—most recently, the non-partisan assertion was undermined when Facing South revealed a $5000 donation True the Vote made to the Republican State Leadership Committee. But the ties to FreedomWorks also show that True the Vote has continued access to the voluminous networks and resources of much larger conservative political action groups. In battleground states like Colorado and Florida, where they have sizable representation, that’s enough to make an impact on elections there. Whatever the size of True the Vote’s volunteer brigade in November, there also remain serious questions about the quality of their training. In that Arizona speech, Engelbrecht described their trainings as a “one hour training, quick in-and-out, online experience.” Such inadequate training appears to be yielding poor results. The Atlantic reported how Lou D’Abbraccio, a Wisconsin Republican poll watcher trainer, instructed volunteers with True the Vote, but then distanced himself from Engelbrecht’s group after numerous complaints were filed against those trainees during Walker’s recall elections. “It was clear that they didn’t have a full understanding of the law,” said D’Abbraccio. . . . . . . But the trainings appear to be lacking, as exemplified in Ohio where Secretary of State Jon Husted disowned and criticized True the Vote’s volunteers, which prompted the ballot bullies to sue him. In a Twitter exchange with True the Vote’s Election Integrity Project partner J. Christian Adams, I brought up Husted’s “crying wolf” statement about their shoddy work. Adams responded that Husted “was talking about someone other than @TruetheVote.” That’s true, sort of. Husted was referring to the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, a group that thinks it’s been “empowered” by True the Vote, but whom Adams had no problem publicly throwing under the bus. Engelbrecht did state in a letter that True the Vote “stands by the well-intentioned citizens” of OVIP when the Los Angeles Times uncovered those “citizens” had inaccurately challenged thousands of names on voter rolls. But would True the Vote stand by them if OVIP ever ended up in court? . . . . . . We do know that True the Vote is willing to go to court to capitalize off of OVIP’s work. In its lawsuit against Husted, True the Vote is claiming that the secretary injured them “by causing it to divert resources away from other programs in order to devote those same resources to its list verification program.” As a result, the group has “suffered irreparable injury” due to Husted’s failure to comply with its purging demands, and hence it wants a judge to order Husted to pay “reasonable attorney’s fees, including litigation expenses and cost.” In other words, True the Vote wants Ohio to use taxpayer money to pay it for the nuisance lawsuit it filed. OVIP is not once mentioned in the lawsuit, but one vital paragraph may allude to them: “True the Vote trains volunteers to review voter lists and to compare those lists to other publicly available data. When a volunteer identifies registrations that appear to be duplicates or registrations of persons who are deceased, have relocated, or otherwise are ineligible to vote in a particular jurisdiction, those registrations are flagged and complaints are filed with appropriate election officials.” This describes OVIP’s activities, which they’ve now suspended. True the Vote says in the filing that its volunteers’ work is hampered by Husted’s “poor list maintenance,” and so now taxpayers need to pay for the “injury.” True the Vote has created an industry out of charging state and county election officials with list maintenance neglect under the flimsiest of evidence. The group and its “empowered” allies cite findings that there are more people registered to vote in a county than the current voting age population, or people registered in two states. But this does not mean that there is potential voter fraud or poor list maintenance. All it means is that some people have moved and changed residencies since being registered and the files haven’t been updated yet.



[46] King Street Patriots—many of them aging white suburbanites—poured into polling places in heavily black and Hispanic neighborhoods around Houston, looking for signs of voter fraud. Reports of problems at the polls soon began surfacing in the Harris County attorney’s office and on the local news. The focus of these reports was not fraud, however, but alleged voter intimidation. Among other things, poll observers were accused of hovering over voters, blocking lines of people who were trying to cast ballots, and, in the words of Assistant County Attorney Terry O’Rourke, “getting into election workers’ faces.” . . . . . . . . Conservative anti–voter fraud fervor first arose around the same time as two turning points in American politics. The first was John F. Kennedy’s narrow presidential win in 1960, which many Republicans attributed to voter fraud in Illinois and Texas. The second was the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which, by banning discriminatory voting practices, stoked fear in some quarters about the rising power of black voters. During the run-up to the 1964 presidential election, the Republican National Committee launched Operation Eagle Eye, the nation’s first large-scale anti–voter fraud campaign. As part of the program, the RNC recruited tens of thousands of volunteers to show up at polling places, mostly in inner cites, and challenge voters’ eligibility using a host of tools and tactics, including cameras, two-way radios, and calls to Republican-friendly sheriffs. After this, anti-fraud campaigns became commonplace, but they could backfire, as the RNC learned in 1981. That year, the party hired a swashbuckling 29-year-old named John Kelly to organize “ballot security” for New Jersey’s gubernatorial election. Kelly, who turned up in the state wearing cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat, arranged to have hundreds of thousands of sample ballots mailed to voters in black and Latino neighborhoods. His team then compiled a list of people whose ballots were returned as undeliverable, and allegedly tried to have them struck from the rolls. This technique, known as caging, is controversial because it can purge eligible voters. In this case, an outdated address roster was used—meaning that an unusually large share of the people on Kelly’s list may have been wrongly targeted. Kelly and his associates also recruited squadrons of men—many of them off-duty police officers—to descend on black and Latino precincts around New Jersey on Election Day. Wearing National Ballot Security Task Force armbands, walkie-talkies, and in some cases guns, the men posted signs warning in large red letters that the areas were being patrolled. They then stationed themselves around polling places and allegedly tried to stop those whose names appeared on the caging list from voting. According to a Republican Party lawyer who was on the scene that day, before the polls closed, Kelly hightailed it out of the state in a Chevy Impala, armbands and signs stuffed in the trunk. When the Essex County prosecutor’s office launched a statewide criminal investigation the following week, he was nowhere to be found. . . . . . . . True the Vote–inspired organizations and volunteer networks have since sprung up in 35 states. While these local groups follow True the Vote’s blueprint—their members comb voter rolls and recruit activists to work as either volunteer poll observers or paid election workers—they do so under their own names and auspices. As with the broader Tea Party movement, these groups are united in purpose but are neither controlled by nor accountable to any larger organization. Imagine John Kelly, with his cowboy boots and his caging list, arriving in New Jersey not as a paid employee of the RNC, but as a free agent. True the Vote made its first major foray onto the national political stage this spring, in the lead-up to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s recall election. Working with local Tea Party organizations, the group rallied some 17,000 volunteers to scour the recall petition for problematic signatures. It then issued a string of missives claiming that more than half the signatures were of questionable validity and warning that “the integrity of Wisconsin elections” was “on the verge of implosion.” The state’s Government Accountability Board later found that the group had been overzealous in its screening, but the charges nonetheless sowed doubt in Tea Party circles about the recall’s legitimacy. True the Vote and its Wisconsin allies also recruited hundreds of activists to work as poll watchers and hosted training sessions for them around the state. A recording of a Racine County training—¬taken by a skeptical resident who brought along a hidden camera—reveals close collaboration between True the Vote trainers and a local Republican official. The session kicks off with a prayer led by Brad Zinn, a professional magician who co-founded True the Vote’s Arizona spin-off: “Heavenly Father … We ask you to bless our efforts to help us true up the polls and keep our elections fair and honest.” Zinn goes on to explain the role of poll observers, likening them to security guards patrolling casinos for subtle signs of cheating. He then touches briefly on polling-place rules and tosses out some practical Election Day tips (“Dress in layers!”). About halfway through the training, a balding, portly man named Lou D’Abbraccio, who sits on the board of the Racine County GOP and runs its poll-watcher program, enters the room and explains that he will be assigning trainees to polling places. “We are going to focus on those that have the most history of issues,” he says. “And that may be because of the people that work at that particular polling location. It may be just because it’s a heavily skewed Democratic ward.” . . . . . . . Zinn and his California colleague urge trainees to be hyper¬alert. If they see anything suspicious, D’Abbraccio tells them, they are to call “headquarters.” “We’ll come there, either with attorneys or surreptitiously,” he says. “Typically, I bring video and camera equipment … to include—I’ve gotten into trouble for saying this in the past—to include a video camera, which I will bring into the polling location, that’s concealed.” . . . . . . Carolyn Castore, the Wisconsin election coordinator for the League of Women Voters, told me that her organization received more than 50 reports from Racine-area voters complaining that True the Vote volunteers had hovered over registration tables and aggressively challenged voters’ eligibility. (In previous years, it had fielded only half a dozen or so complaints about observers.) Other reports had poll watchers tailing vans that were transporting voters to the polls, snapping photos of voters’ license plates, even directing voters to the wrong polling places. When a local journalist questioned D’Abbraccio about these allegations, he blamed out-of-state interlopers. “True the Vote came in and did their own training, and I was kind of upset about it,” he said. “I sat in [on] some of that training, and those people were out-of-state. It was clear that they didn’t have a full understanding of the law.” His disavowal was reminiscent of a politician’s distancing himself from a smear campaign waged on his behalf by a super PAC. And in fact, as True the Vote was gearing up for the recall, a Texas judge ruled that its sister organization, the King Street Patriots, was not a legitimate tax-exempt nonprofit but an unregistered political-action committee that had illegally aided the Republican Party by supplying it with poll watchers. (The Patriots have appealed the decision.) But the legal reproof didn’t dampen True the Vote’s fervor. After the recall, the group issued a triumphant statement applauding the citizen activists who “put on their waders, and jumped in to defend the integrity of their elections.” The group then began ramping up its nationwide efforts. Among other things, it partnered with a conservative legal organization to sue the state of Indiana for allegedly failing to clean up its voter rolls, and hosted summits in other battleground states. True the Vote’s trainers, meanwhile, fanned out around the country to rally troops for November, a mission they cast in apocalyptic terms. Speaking at one Texas Tea Party gathering, Alan Vera, the Army ranger turned volunteer-trainer, cautioned that “evil” forces were about to launch “the greatest attack ever on election integrity,” and implored the crowd to prepare for a “ground war”: “In 2012, we need a patriot army to stand shoulder to shoulder on the wall of freedom and shout defiantly to those dark powers and principalities, ‘If you want to steal this election, you have to get past us. We will not yield another inch to your demonic deception … If you won’t enforce our laws, we’ll do it ourselves, so help us God.’ ” Shaking his fist in the air, he cried, “Patriots, let’s roll!” The crowd cheered wildly.



http://www.thenation.com/blog/170287/courts-block-gop-voter-suppression-laws: Voter ID Laws. Courts have nullified voter ID laws in Wisconsin and Texas (and, for now, in Pennsylvania), and a voter ID ballot initiative in Missouri. South Carolina’s law is blocked pending federal approval under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Voter Registration. A federal court overturned Florida’s restrictions on voter registration drives for violating the First Amendment. Voters in Maine also repealed a ban on Election Day voter registration.

Early Voting. After public outcry, the Ohio legislature repealed its own legislation cutting back on early voting days, but kept a ban on three days of early voting before the election, which a state court subsequently overturned (Ohio is appealing). A federal court blocked early voting limits in Florida in five counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for discriminating against African-American voters.

Voter Purges. A district court in Iowa blocked an attempt by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz to purge so-called “non-citizen” voters from the rolls.

Student Voting. A New Hampshire court ruled that students do not have to register their car in the state in order to cast a ballot.

Provisional Ballots. An Ohio judge ruled that provisional ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct must be counted. It’s important to note, however, that voter suppression laws passed since 2010 have not been blocked unanimously. Kansas and Tennessee have new strict voter ID laws on the books for 2012, and Rhode Island and Virginia mandated looser voter ID laws (allowing some forms on non-photo ID). A strict voter ID initiative is on the ballot this November in Minnesota. Restrictions on voter registration drives are still in place in Texas (the law was blocked in district court, but reinstated on appeal). Early voting periods have been limited in Tennessee, West Virginia and most of Florida (excluding the five counties subject to Section 5). Ex-felons will be unable to cast a ballot upon release in Florida and Iowa. Florida has resumed its stalled voter purge, albeit on a smaller scale, and without the cooperation of local election officials.






Fourteen states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election, representing 185 electoral votes, or 68 percent of the total needed to win the presidency.

A breakdown of laws and executive actions in effect in 2012:

Florida • Early voting restriction • Executive action making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions • Voter registration drive restrictions are still in place, but the most onerous aspects of the law were blocked by a federal court


Georgia • Early voting restriction • Georgia also has a photo ID law, which passed in 2005


Illinois • Voter registration drive restriction


Iowa • Executive action making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions


Kansas • Photo ID required to vote


New Hampshire • Voter ID required — non-photo IDs allowed for 2012 election, but photo ID required starting September 1, 2013


Pennsylvania • Photo ID requested but NOT required to vote, per October 2, 2012 court decision


Rhode Island • Voter ID required — non-photo IDs allowed for 2012 election, but photo ID required starting January 1, 2014


South Dakota • Law making it harder to restore voting rights for those with past criminal convictions


Tennessee • Photo ID required to vote • Proof of citizenship required to register • Early voting restriction


Texas • Voter registration drive restriction • Texas passed a law requiring a photo ID to vote, but a federal court blocked that law in August — it will NOT be in effect for 2012


Virginia • Voter ID required, including non-photo ID


West Virginia • Early voting restriction


Wisconsin • Voter registration restriction • Wisconsin passed a law requiring photo ID to vote, but two state courts blocked that law — it will NOT be in effect for 2012


A breakdown of laws passed that will NOT be in effect in 2012:

Ohio • Early voting hours were restored for the three days before the election


South Carolina • A federal court did NOT approve South Carolina's photo ID law for the 2012 election — a voter can use their non-photo voter registration card after 2012, so long as they state the reason for not having obtained a photo ID


Please see this detailed compilation for a fuller listing of restrictive voting laws passed and pending. See below for further analysis.


Numbers Overview

At least 180 restrictive bills introduced since the beginning of 2011 in 41 states.

27 restrictive bills currently pending in 6 states.

25 laws and 2 executive actions passed since the beginning of 2011 in 19 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin).

14 states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). These states account for 185 electoral votes, or 68 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. Of these, restrictions from 18 laws and executive actions are currently in effect in 13 states (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).

In the past two years, vetoes, referendums, court decisions, or the Department of Justice have blocked or blunted restrictive measures in 14 states (Arizona, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin). Note: this list does not include successful legislative victories such as those in Nebraska and other states.


Analysis of Laws Passed

Identification laws

o Photo ID laws: At least 34 states introduced laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls, and four more introduced laws requesting such ID.[1] Photo ID bills were signed into law in eight states — Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin — and passed by referendum in Mississippi. New photo ID laws will be in effect in Kansas and Tennessee this November. Courts blocked laws in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Rhode Island’s law will not require photo ID for the 2012 election. South Carolina's will not be in effect for 2012. And Alabama’s and Mississippi’s are currently under review. In addition, Minnesotans will vote on an amendment to the state Constitution that would require government issued photo ID to vote in person.

o Voter ID laws: Virginia passed a law requiring an ID to vote, including various forms of photo ID. This law eliminated an option to sign an affidavit to confirm identity when voting at the polls or applying for an absentee ballot in person. New Hampshire’s ID law requires a voter to produce documentary ID or submit an affidavit of identity. After September 2013, a voter must produce a New Hampshire or U.S. government photo ID or execute an affidavit of identity, no other form of identification will be accepted. Rhode Island’s photo ID law allows for non-photo IDs until January 1, 2014.

Proof of citizenship laws: At least 17 states introduced legislation that would require proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register or vote.[2] Proof of citizenship laws passed in Alabama, Kansas, and Tennessee, but only Tennessee’s law will be in effect for 2012. The Tennessee law, however, applies only to individuals flagged by state officials as potential non-citizens based on a database check.

Making voter registration harder: At least 16 states introduced bills to end highly popular Election Day and same-day voter registration, limit voter registration mobilization efforts, and reduce other registration opportunities.[3] Florida, Illinois and Texas passed laws restricting voter registration drives, and Florida and Wisconsin passed laws making it more difficult for people who move to stay registered and vote. A federal judge blocked Florida’s registration drive restrictions in August. Ohio ended its weeklong period of same-day voter registration, and the Maine legislature passed a law eliminating Election Day registration. Luckily, Maine voters later repealed the law, and Ohio’s legislature repealed the voter registration restrictions. In addition, some opponents of the Minnesota constitutional amendment have argued that it has the possible effect of eliminating Election Day registration as it currently exists in that state. That amendment will be voted on by referendum in the 2012 general election.

Reducing early and absentee days: At least nine states introduced bills to reduce their early voting periods, and four tried to reduce absentee voting opportunities.[4] Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia succeeded in enacting bills reducing early voting. In Ohio, a court restored early voting to the weekend before the election.

Making it harder to restore voting rights: Two states — Florida and Iowa — reversed prior executive actions that made it easier for citizens with past felony convictions to restore their voting rights, affecting hundreds of thousands of voters. In effect, both states now permanently disenfran¬chise most citizens with past felony convictions. South Dakota passed a law imposing further restrictions on citizens with felony convictions by denying voting rights to persons on probation.


[1] 34 states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Additional 4 states: Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

[2] 17 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

[3] 16 states: California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.

[4] 11 total states: Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.




[47]



[48] Why it's Bruce Fleming, a Republican running for county commissioner in Sugar Land, Texas — which happens to be the home of True the Vote's founder, Catherine Engelbrecht. Fleming turns out to be a blatant, serial violator of our nation's laws to protect — you got it — voter integrity. In 2006, 2008, and 2010, he voted in person in Sugar Land, and also by mail in Yardley, Pennsylvania, where he and his wife Nancy own a home. In 2010, she also voted in both Texas and Pennsylvania — a gross double-dipping felony. So, while Englebrecht and her cadre of vote sniffers have been challenging the eligibility of voters all over America, she had a real fraud case right under her nose! And although Mr. and Mrs. Fleming are said to have no formal role with True the Vote, he is an advocate of its witch-hunt for illegal Democratic voters. "The less said the better," Fleming said about his own recidivist fraud. "Until we can determine the situation, I can't really comment." Did I mention that Fleming was named the county's Republican "precinct chairman of the year" in 2010? Now that's a powerful comment on the GOP's real concern about voter fraud.



[49] All told, since January 2011, at least 180 bills were introduced in 41 states. Ultimately, 25 new laws and two executive actions were adopted in 19 states. These states represented 231 electoral votes, or 85 percent of the total needed to win the presidency. This amounted to the biggest threat to voting rights in decades. Today, the reality is very different, and far better for voters. The dramatic national effort to restrict Americans’ voting rights was met with an equally dramatic pushback by courts, citizens, the Department of Justice, and farsighted public officials. What does a survey of the landscape one week before Election Day 2012 now show? Strikingly, nearly all the worst new laws to cut back on voting have been blocked, blunted, repealed, or postponed. Laws in 14 states were reversed or weakened. As a result, new restrictions will affect far fewer than the 5 million citizens we predicted last year. For the overwhelming majority of those whose rights were most at risk, the ability to vote will not be at issue on November 6th. At the same time, the fight will continue well past November. Courts will examine laws in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. Politicians will introduce more bills to limit voting rights. Most significantly, the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear two major cases that could substantially cut back on legal protections for voters. It has already agreed to hear a challenge, brought by Arizona, that could curb federal power to protect voting rights. The Court likely will also hear a challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which has proven to be a key protection against discriminatory laws, including many of the ones passed in 2011-12.

References

  1. Maryann Battle and Carl Straumsheim, "States Vary Widely on Restoring Voting Rights for Felons" News21, August 12, 2012
  2. Andrea Rumbaugh, "Few Felons Regain Right to Vote in Florida Under Gov. Scott’s Changes" News21, August 12, 2012
  3. Maryann Battle and Carl Straumsheim, "States Vary Widely on Restoring Voting Rights for Felons" News21, August 12, 2012
  4. Andrea Rumbaugh, "Few Felons Regain Right to Vote in Florida Under Gov. Scott’s Changes" News21, August 12, 2012
  5. Nick Andersen, Kassondra Cloos and Caitlin O’Donnell, "Voting Rights Battles Re-emerge in the South" News21, August 12, 2012
  6. Corbin Carson, "Exhaustive Database of Voter Fraud Cases Turns Up Scant Evidence That It Happens" News21, August 12, 2012
  7. Joe Henke and Emily Nohr, "Secretaries of State Lead Charge for Strict Voter Requirements" News21, August 12, 2012
  8. Carl Bialik, "Impact of States' Voter Laws Can Be Difficult to Identify" The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2012
  9. Valerie Richardson, "Voter ID, other initiatives follow GOP’s resurgence" The Washington Times, October 23, 2011
  10. Adam Liptak, "Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises" The New York Times, October 6, 2012
  11. Lawrence Norden, "What to Do About Vote by Mail" Brennan Center for Justice, October 8, 2012
  12. Tom Schoenberg, "South Carolina Voter ID Law Blocked Until After Election" Bloomberg, October 11, 2012
  13. Jeanine Poggi, "Clear Channel Outdoor to Pull Billboards Warning Voter Fraud Is a Felony" Ad Age, October 22, 2012
  14. Eli Stokols, “Colo. girl registering ‘only Romney’ voters tied to firm dumped by RNC over fraud” KDVR, September 28, 2012
  15. "Making Every Voter Count in Wisconsin" The Leadership Conference Education Fund, October 17, 2012
  16. Stephanie Saul, "Looking, Very Closely, for Voter Fraud" The New York Times, September 16, 2012
  17. Rep. Elijah Cummings, "Cummings Launches Investigation of “True the Vote”; Raises Questions about Conservative Group’s Campaign to Challenge Legitimate Voters" Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, October 5, 2012
  18. Sabrina Eaton, "Democrats blast Ottawa County elections board for giving voters the wrong election date and polling place" The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 22, 2012
  19. Patrick O'Donnell, "Voter fraud billboards that drew complaints of racism and intimidation will come down, Clear Channel says" The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, October 21, 2012
  20. Stan Donaldson, "Washington group asks for Clear Channel to remove voter fraud billboards" The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, October 10, 2012
  21. Associated Press, "National tribal group focuses on voter ID laws; Alaska a top concern" Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, October 22, 2012
  22. National Congress of American Indians, "Voter ID Laws & the Native Vote" October 22, 2012
  23. Mo Rocca, "Voter ID Wars" The New York Times, September 5, 2012
  24. Jane Mayer, "The Voter-Fraud Myth" New Yorker, October 29, 2012
  25. Brentin Mock, "How the Tea Party’s Building a ‘Poll Watcher’ Network for November" Color Lines, August 23, 2012
  26. Lisa Graves, "Right-Wing Operatives Take Up ALEC's Voter Suppression Agenda" PR Watch, April 19, 2012
  27. Suevon Lee, "Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws" ProPublica, July 23, 2012
  28. Patricia Zengerle "Young, Hispanics, poor hit most by US voter ID laws: study" Reuters, September 26, 2012
  29. John H. Richardson, "Alberto Gonzales: What I've Learned" Esquire, December 9, 2009
  30. Paul Rosenberg, "The two-fold voter fraud fraud" Al Jazeera, March 18, 2012
  31. W. Gardner Selby, "True the Vote says Eric Holder supports NAACP request for United Nations' involvement in U.S. elections" PolitiFact Texas, January 27, 2012
  32. Brad Friedman, "Wider fraud investigations sought in GOP vote scandal" Salon, October 24, 2012
  33. Alec MacGillis, "The Campaign to Steal Ohio" The New Republic, October 19, 2012
  34. Marc Caputo, "Florida sends election departments list of 198 potential noncitizens" The Miami Herald, September 26, 2012
  35. Brandi Lupo, "Standing Up for the 6 Million Americans Who Can’t Vote on November 6th" The Roosevelt Institute's Next New Deal, October 24, 2012
  36. Ari Berman, "Obama on Voter Suppression: 'It’s a Problem'" The Nation, October 25, 2012
  37. Ari Berman, "The GOP War on Voting" Rolling Stone, September 15, 2011
  38. Ari Berman, "Fightback on Voting Rights" The Nation, October 10, 2012
  39. Ari Berman, "The Election Protection Coalition Gears Up for Battle" The Nation, October 17, 2012
  40. Editorial, "Blocking the Vote" The New York Times, October 25, 2012
  41. Pam Fessler, "Watchdog Groups Prep For Voter Intimidation, Fraud" NPR's Morning Edition, October 25, 2012
  42. "Fake letters question citizenship, intimidate Florida voters" Gannett's News-Press, October 22, 2012
  43. Associated Press, "Voters finding Florida ballot issues confusing" Gannett News-Press, October 26, 2012
  44. Brendan Fischer, "Will Voter Suppression Tactics Threaten Free and Fair Elections?" PR Watch, October 26, 2012
  45. Brentin Mock and Voting Rights Watch 2012, "Is True the Vote Shaking Down States With Nuisance Lawsuits?" The Nation, October 17, 2012
  46. Mariah Blake, "The Ballot Cops" The Atlantic, October, 2012
  47. Barry M. Horstman, "Ohio's nightmare voting scenario" Cincinatti Enquirer, October 25, 2012
  48. Jim Hightower, "GOP Looks in Mirror, Spots Voter Fraud" The Institute for Policy Studies' Other words, October 24, 2012
  49. Wendy Weiser and Diana Kasdan, "Voting Law Changes: Election Update" Brennan Center for Justice, October 28, 2012