Color of Change has started a petition to pressure Congress not to confirm the nomination of career minority vote suppression operative Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission.

I have blogged extensively about this issue, here, here, here, and here. The decision rests with you representatives in the Senate as to whether or not this man, who has devoted his career to resurrecting voting restrictions in the mold of Jim Crow at every opportunity.

Here is COC’s pitch, which is far more focused and concise than my various rants.

During his first term, Bush installed von Spakovsky in the Justice Department’s (DOJ) voting rights section, which enforces the Voting Rights Act. There, von Spakovsky undermined the DOJ’s historic mission of protecting minority voting rights, and actually transformed the department into a tool to suppress the vote.

When long-term, career employees at the Justice Department unanimously recommended rejecting Tom Delay’s infamous Texas redistricting plan because it discriminated against minority voters, von Spakovsky led the charge to overrule these voting rights experts, and approved the plan.1 The Supreme Court later ruled that the plan violated the Voting Rights Act.

Similarly, when career attorneys recommended rejecting a discriminatory Georgia voter ID law — a law that even the Republican Governor said would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Georgians — von Spakovsky overruled them to approve the law.2 Again, the law was later struck down by the courts, with the ruling judge likening it to a Jim Crow-era poll tax.3

Last week, seven of von Spakovsky’s former colleagues at the DOJ said that he blocked career attorneys from filing at least three lawsuits against local governments that had violated the voting rights of Black people and other minorities, and that he derailed at least two DOJ investigations into discriminatory election laws.4

Von Spakovsky’s career in suppression didn’t start at the DOJ. In 1997, he set the stage for Florida’s 2000 voter purge when he wrote an article that called for purging felons from voter rolls. Serving on the board of the “Voter Integrity Project” (VIP) he quickly put his ideas into action — VIP met with the company that designed Florida’s purge to disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters, most of whom were Black.5,6 During the recount, von Spakovsky was in Florida as a volunteer for the Bush/Cheney campaign.

A key part of what has allowed von Spakovsky to push his suppression agenda is the myth that “voter fraud” – individuals voting illegally, or voting twice – is a major problem. Republican politicians invoke these concerns to justify stronger restrictions on voting and voter registration (like voter ID laws), as well as voter roll purges. But the problem simply doesn’t exist. When the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) researched voter fraud, they found that it wasn’t a problem.
7 But before the EAC went public with its report, von Spakovsky pressured them to change it.8 The final report said that there was “a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of [voter] fraud.”9

Does the Senate support voter suppression?

As shocking as these examples are, they only scratch the surface. Hans von Spakovsky has built a career solidifying Republican control by disenfranchising untold thousands and subverting our most fundamental democratic right.

Bush gave von Spakovsky a recess appointment to the FEC in 2005 (which doesn’t require Senate confirmation) – now Bush has nominated him for a six-year term. It’s been clear since his arrival at the FEC that von Spakovsky is playing the same role there as he did at the DOJ—”scoffing at the spirit of campaign finance laws, thumbing his nose at the law as he seeks to help create routes of circumvention.”10

A vote for von Spakovsky is a vote for voter suppression. Anything less than the strongest condemnation of his nomination will send a message to President Bush that the Senate will turn a blind eye to Republican attacks on our voting rights. Let’s demand that our senators send the opposite message — that they will fight tooth and nail to defend the right to vote, and that their rejection of von Spakovsky’s nomination is only the beginning of a much needed reckoning for the assault on voting rights over the last six and a half years.

The petition is here. Please sign it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails