President Biden and the Democrats in Congress continue their effort to pass legislation to federalize our elections. Most recently, they’ve taken a no holds barred approach in their attempt to pass The John Lewis Voting Rights and the Freedom to Vote Act, including an attempt to eliminate the filibuster. This legislation would entail a permanent federal takeover of elections and allow partisan bureaucrats tremendous power to approve or disapprove state voting procedures by resurrecting a Section of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The return of this authority to the Department of Justice Voting Section should frighten everyone. I worked as an attorney in the Voting Rights Section for almost two decades. I witnessed the selective enforcement of the Voting Rights Act including the targeting of States and politicians that do not share their partisan ideological beliefs.
For example, during the 2000 Florida recount, I personally observed Voting Section staff discussing strategies to assist the Democrat Party while receiving and sending faxes to Democratic National Committee and campaign operatives.
Don’t just take my word for the Department of Justice’s misbehavior and abuses of Section 5. The Department has even been sanctioned by federal courts. Between 1993 and 2000, the Voting Section was sanctioned over $2 million.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Bill will require all States and local jurisdictions to submit certain changes in voting procedures to the Voting Section for approval before these changes can be implemented, regardless of how insignificant the change may actually be. Such changes would include a change in polling locations from the high school gym to the high school cafeteria. A change in voter registration office location from the old town hall to the new town hall across the street. Annexations to towns and cities will also need to be submitted for approval. Congressional, statewide and all local redistricting plans will be required to get approval. This allows the partisan attorneys in the Voting Section to determine whether these plans become effective.
In Johnson v Miller, the DOJ’s bad behavior in reviewing a redistricting plan was on full display. The State of Georgia had sought review of its Congressional redistricting plan. The partisan bureaucrats at the Department denied approval not once but twice. During this time the DOJ made demands for racial quotas far beyond what the law requires. In its third attempt for approval, the State of Georgia caved and adopted a plan favored by the DOJ and prepared by attorneys from the ACLU.
But no good deed goes un-punished. The plan that the DOJ along with the ACLU forced upon the State of Georgia was struck down as unconstitutional. Why? Because the plan was strictly focused on race and violated the 14th Amendment. The United States District Court sanctioned the Voting Section $594,000 for its collusive misconduct with attorneys from the ACLU during its review of the Georgia Congressional Plan.
This legislation would also ban photo identification laws, mandate same day registration, on-line voter registration, mail in voting, ballot trafficking (permitting campaign operatives to collect and control ballots) and felon voting. It also provides our tax dollars to fund political campaigns.
It essentially removes any authority from the States to set election procedures. It destroys the integrity of our elections.
The bottom line is we do not want the federal government and the bureaucrats at the Department of Justice running our elections.
This is a power that belongs to the states. This type of federal overreach into our elections is unconstitutional.
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Maureen Riordan is Litigation Counsel at the Public Interest Legal Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked at the Department of Justice for over two decades.