Mssrs. Adams and Coates resigned their posts in the Voting Section of the Justice Department in 2010. They testified to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission that the Obama Administration was blatantly biased, as exemplified by its dismissing voter intimidation charges against New Black Panther Party members at a Philadelphia polling station in 2008. On April 16, Mr. Adams testified before the House Judiciary Committee as to how the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez has overlooked criminal behavior within its ranks while refusing to enforce Section 8. The Mississippi lawsuits are a way of doing the job that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s staff won’t do.
Looking over the electoral landscape, it’s clear that a more robust effort to force officials to ensure electoral integrity is long overdue. Every fraudulent vote cancels out a legitimately cast ballot and undermines confidence in our electoral system.
In 2007, citing clear evidence of vote fraud, a court in Southwest Mississippi overturned a Democratic primary election for Circuit Clerk – in Jefferson Davis County. Circuit Judge Forrest Johnson found at least 26 instances of voting irregularities.
“In that election dead people voted as did a person who was in a hospital the entire day two counties over from Jefferson Davis County,” wrote Sen. Joey Fillingane, a chief sponsor of the state’s photo ID law, which has been halted by the U.S. Justice Department for nearly a year. “The problem is real and a strong voter ID law is part of the solution.”
The other part of the solution is compelling election officials to follow the law, clean up voter rolls and make the process transparent.
No stranger to Mississippi, where he investigated voting practices while working for the Justice Department, Mr. Adams, under the auspices of the ACRU, sent letters in January to election officials seeking data that must be made available under Section 8. He never got an answer.
The two counties are demographically and politically the flip side of each other. Waltham County has a majority white population of 15,400 and voted 54 percent for Mitt Romney to 45 percent for Barack Obama in 2012. Jefferson Davis County, with a majority black population of 12,500, voted 62 percent for Mr. Obama and 37 percent for Mr. Romney.
In 2011, Mississippians approved by 62 percent a constitutional amendment requiring voter photo IDs. The legislature then passed an implementation law, which Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed on May 17, 2012. But before you could say “ID, please?” the Justice Department stopped enforcement before the November presidential election.
As with South Carolina and Texas, whose photo ID laws were promptly suspended, Mr. Holder invoked Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires the Justice Department or a three-judge federal panel in the District of Columbia to approve any changes in election laws and redistricting in the Southern states plus dozens of other jurisdictions around the nation. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments challenging Section 5 in Shelby County v. Holder, with a ruling expected in June.
This November, Mississippi has statewide municipal elections. It would be nice if the voter rolls were cleaned up by then. It would also be nice if the U.S. Justice Department quit dragging its feet and allowed the photo ID law to take effect, although it’s doubtful whether it could be implemented in time.
The Secretary of State first must conduct a voter education campaign and devise ways to make photo IDs available at no charge, an election official told me last Wednesday.
In the meantime, a positive judgment in the ACRU’s court case could unleash a tsunami of legal action against uncooperative election officials around the nation.
Honest, up-to-date voter registration rolls are the last thing that vote fraudsters want to see.