Thursday, January 10, 2008
Will José Crow Voter ID Laws Pick Our President?
by Greg Palast
Thursday, January 10, 2008
State Representative Russell Pearce of Mesa Arizona has warned us:
"There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country."
How many? According to the Congressman's office, there are five million: Democrats, he says, who are not good Americans - they're Mexicans!
Really?! Holy Cow! The Senator has uncovered a conspiracy to flood the voter rolls with Brown Hordes who've swum the Rio Grande just for a chance to vote for Hillary Clinton?!
Thank the Lord for vigilant citizens like Senator Pearce. His efforts, along with the work of other patriotic (Republican) politicians, successfully stopped 300,000 voters from obtaining ballots in 2004 - because these voters had brought the wrong ID to the polls. New ID laws in Arizona and half a dozen states blocked these voters at the polling-house door. Others with "wrong" ID's were handed what are called 'provisional' ballots - which were then not counted.
On Wednesday, the Republican majority on the US Supreme Court indicated it would vote to uphold these new voter ID requirements.
And just in time. If not for these new ID laws, warns Senator Pearce and other Republicans across the nation, a dark wave of illegal aliens would vote again in our upcoming Presidential election.
Or maybe not. Maybe there aren't five million illegal voters for Hillary or Obama or Edwards. Maybe there are just five hundred. Maybe there are none.
I called Senator Pearce's office to get a couple of the names of these illegal voters. After all, it should be easy as pie to catch them: they have to give their names and addresses to register and vote. Odd thing, out of five million illegal registrants, the Senator, after a week of looking, couldn't provide me the name of one. Not one.
Another Republican politician, this one in New Mexico, the sponsor of the voter ID law there, said on the floor of the State Legislature that she had the names of two illegal voters. Well, that's a start.
I called her, Representative Justine Fox-Young (yes, that's her name, and she has the ID to prove it).
Q. Justine, you've uncovered felony criminals [illegal voting is a jail-time crime in every state]. Do you have the names?
A. Oh, yes!
Q. Really? Wow! Did you turn these names over to the US Attorney?
A. Well, no ….
Q. You had evidence of a crime and you didn't have the bad guys arrested?
A. Not exactly ….
Fox-Young promised to send me the names of the illegal voters. The names never arrived. But shortly thereafter, based on her claim, the Legislature passed, and Governor Bill Richardson signed, a voter ID law certain to knock out Hispanic citizens. (In fairness to Richardson, I should note that he forced the Republicans to drastically alter their bill.)
Our investigations team talked to some of New Mexico's allegedly illegal voters.
In 2004, the Catholic Church organized a bus and caravan to take newly registered Chicano "low-riders" to a Roswell, New Mexico polling station. The white officials turned away several of the young Hispanics for presenting the wrong ID. Maybe the middle initial on the voter form was missing from the driver's license, or "Jr." was added. No perfect match, no vote: a gotcha! set of rules that seemed to apply only to voters of a darker hue.
One of the rejected young Chicanas said she wouldn't return to try again to vote; one round of humiliation was enough. "They don't want me to vote there anyway," she said. And they don't.
But hey, what's wrong with requiring voter ID? I'll give you a million reasons. Since 2004, when 300,000 citizens lost their right to vote because of ID challenges, the number of states that have passed voter ID laws has quadrupled. Expect the challenges to quadruple as well, to over a million in the upcoming 2008 presidential election. Does ID challenges make a difference? In New Mexico, George Bush's victory over John Kerry by 5,900 votes can be completely accounted for by minority provisional ballots rejected. ID was the key.
In Louisiana, the law says voters may be asked to produce a photo ID. A study conducted by the US Department of Justice discovered that Black voters are only one-fifth as likely to have photo ID's as white voters. (That figure may be optimistic - as Justice took the survey before Black voters' ID washed away with Hurricane Katrina.)
In New Mexico, in Louisiana, in Georgia, in Alabama and in Florida, it's the same story. It's not a random set of voters who lose out on ID challenges; it's voters of color.
Four years ago, the Jim Crow era ended when biased impediments to voting were struck down by the courts and Congress: poll taxes, "literacy" tests, citizenship tests that blocked Blacks more than whites. From that time until now, almost every state has accepted your signature matched to prior records as proof you're a legal voter. Now we're going to change this system to prevent the crime of folks voting more than once and the crime of aliens voting. The odd thing about these crimes: they virtually don't exist. Yet to prevent crimes that aren't committed, we are allowing elections officials to commit a greater crime: stopping legal voters - especially new, young, Hispanic voters - from having their piece of our democracy.
Who was behind these viciously undemocratic, racist José Crow attack on brown-skinned voters? His initials are Karl Rove. In 2006, I smelled out the link to Rove, then White House political chief, when I reached out to the US Attorney for New Mexico.
That US Attorney, David Iglesias, had indeed investigated the "illegal" voters identified by Fox-Young, working from a list of 150 sent to him by Republican officials. After marching all over the mesas with the FBI, Iglesias found exactly zero cases to prosecute.
So, finding folks innocent, Iglesias did not arrest them. That was a mistake - at least for his career. Karl Rove, visiting New Mexico, heard from the state's Republican Party chiefs that Iglesias was not bringing prosecutions and would not continue the witchhunt for "illegal" voters. Iglesias contends that Rove took the Republican complaint to the Oval Office. There, a man who goes by the alias, "The Decider," decided to fire Iglesias and other US Attorneys who wouldn’t agree to phony prosecutions of innocent voters.
Iglesias told me, "This voter fraud thing is the bogeyman. It was designed to scare up, rile the [Republican] base. I looked into [the fraud allegations] ...We didn't find the evidence."
I met with Iglesias at the park overlooking the Statue of Liberty in New York. The wistful ex-prosecutor, who has returned to his former post with the Navy as a JAG lawyer, said, "Looking back, I mean I feel like I was set up; that they really felt that I would go forward with some half-baked prosecutions and hope for a guilty plea. That's not what a legitimate federal prosecutor does."
(Rove won't respond to BBC's requests for his views - nor respond to a subpoena from Congress to explain his involvement in the firings.)
Whatever Rove's political motives, I did have to ask if there's a legitimate reason for these new ID laws. I challenged the leader of the New Mexico Catholic Charities voter drive, Santiago Juarez, to answer Ms. Fox-Young's charge that, without voter ID, his new citizens could steal elections by voting more than once using someone else's name.
Santiago replied, "How do you organize thousands of people to vote twice? Hell, it's hard enough organizing them to vote once!"
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Obtain the film on DVD of Palast's investigations of US elections, including exclusive interviews with fired US Attorney David Iglesias, at www.GregPalast.com Watch the trailer for The Election Files here.
And sign up for Palast's reports at www.GregPalast.com.
Funding for these investigations was provided by BBC Television, The Nation Institute and the Palast Investigative Fund, a not-for-profit foundation, www.PalastInvestigativeFund.org
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