Posted by R. Neal
The Washington Post reports that a DOJ Civil Rights Division investigation into Georgia's controversial voter ID legislation concluded that the law discriminated against blacks and recommended that it not be approved. Apparently, their boss did not agree:
Republican proponents in Georgia have cited federal approval of the program as evidence that it would not discriminate against African Americans and other minorities.
But an Aug. 25 staff memo obtained by The Washington Post recommended blocking the program because Georgia failed to show that the measure would not dilute the votes of minority residents, as required under the Voting Rights Act.
A day later, on Aug. 26, the chief of the department's voting rights section, John Tanner, told Georgia officials that the program could go forward. "The Attorney General does not interpose any objection to the specified changes," he said in a letter to them.
The Attorney General should have consulted with the U.S. District Court. They ruled the new law unconstitutional and reminiscent of "Jim Crow", a ruling that was upheld by appellate courts.
Of course the GOP lawmaker's intentions were good. They were only interested in reducing voter fraud, right?
The memo, endorsed by four of the team's five members, also said the state had provided flawed and incomplete data. The team found significant evidence that the plan would be "retrogressive," meaning that it would reduce blacks' access to the polls.
I'm sure this was just an honest mistake. I'm certain the GOP lawmakers in Georgia had no intention of misleading the U.S. Department of Justice or suppressing the minority vote.
It's interesting to note that, for some unfathomable reason, Georgia and several other Southern states are singled out by the 1965 Voter Rights Act for DOJ scrutiny of any changes to voting regulations. And of course, the Bush appointed U.S. Attorney General is on the job:
The Justice Department's decision to approve the Georgia measure was the latest in a series of disputes within the Civil Rights Division, which lost nearly 20 percent of its lawyers in 2005 and has assigned dozens of those who remain to handle immigration cases instead of civil rights litigation. In the voting rights section, which handles election-related issues such as the Georgia plan, political appointees also overruled career lawyers in approving GOP-backed redistricting maps in Mississippi and Texas in recent years, current and former employees have said.
Not surprisingly, this is all consistent with the findings of an Institute for Southern Studies investigative report entitled "DOJ Election Actions Benefit Republicans" (PDF format). The report, published just before the 2004 elections, detailed similar shenanigans, and also correctly predicted the problems (and the outcome) in Ohio.