In this clip from Alberto Gonzales’s testimony in front of the judiciary committee on Tuesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein questions him on recent changes in US Department of Justice regulation regarding the investigation of voting crimes.
Why is this important?
Back in late April and early May i did some research into the US attorney firing scandal only to discover that the central issue had been ignored by much of the mass media. Essentially, the Bush administration has been employing the US Justice Department to step up and institutionalize as many new voter suppression laws as they can. As more draconian voting laws are instituted, the less minority voters, who typically vote democrat, end up at the polls, leading to an increased likelihood of the next US federal election tipping in favour of the Republicans.
The government-appointed republican attorneys who refused to pursue trumped-up voter fraud prosecutions or other partisan campaigns were fired or pressured into resigning. After the Justice Department announced that the firings were done due to performance-related issues, the scandal began.
Below I have highlighted key quotes from several articles on the subject which help illustrate the way this administration has employed the Justice Department for partisan goals.
May 14th Washington Post Article:
“Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations.Through legislation and litigation, Republicans have pressed for voter-identification requirements and other rules to clamp down on what they assert is widespread fraud by ineligible voters. Starting early in the Bush administration, the Justice Department has emphasized increasing prosecutions of fraudulent voting.
Democrats counter that such fraud is rare and that GOP efforts are designed to suppress legitimate votes by minorities, the elderly and recent immigrants, who are likely to support Democratic candidates.
Ever since the contested 2000 presidential election, which ended in a Florida recount and intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, both political parties have attempted to use election law to tip close contests to their advantage.”
April 11th New York Times Article:
“Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.”
May 18th Slate Article:
“With no notice and little comment, The American Centre for Voting Rights—the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem, a problem warranting strict rules such as voter-ID laws—simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences. Its Web domain name has suddenly expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark “Thor” Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. The group was founded just days before its representatives testified before a congressional committee hearing on election-administration issues. The group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the line that ‘election integrity’ required making it harder for people to vote.”
May 17th Houston Chronicle Article:
“Among Republicans it is an ‘article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,’ Masset said. He doesn’t agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.”