DOJ wants more money for welfare agency voter registration

The Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice has shown its hand to Congress. It wants more money and federal employees in the Voting Section.   What is the new litigation priority?  Dead people on the voter rolls?  Minority vote dilution?  Helping Spanish speaking voters?  Nope.  As reported last week in the Washington Examiner, those issues are genuinely "closed for business" at the Holder DOJ.

Instead, the DOJ has told Congress in this document 
that they want more money and staff, get this, to ensure that welfare and other public assistance agencies are registering as many voters as possible.  Section 7 of the Motor Voter law enacted in 1993 requires welfare agencies and DMV's to offer voter registration opportunities.  It also requires military recruitment facilities to do the same, but don't expect much attention there. 

Section 8 of Motor Voter is the counterpart to Section 7, and it requires that the rolls be kept clean and free from ineligible, dead and felon voters.  Sections 7 and 8 represented a compromise in Congress.  Without 8, there wouldn't have been a Section 7.  The Bush Administration enforced both provisions, but change has come to Washington.  Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes
announced that the Obama DOJ would not be enforcing Section 8 because it doesn't "have anything to do with increasing minority turnout."

The budget request notes there are active investigations of states taking place.  That means that undercover DOJ employees are trolling around welfare agencies, hanging out in the lobby, and grabbing welfare applicants and chatting them up to see if they were offered a voter registration card. They will interview individuals who have just been inside welfare agencies.  It is a labor intensive investigation. 

You don't suppose an aggressive welfare agency voter registration crackdown by DOJ would have anything to do with the 2012 Presidential election would you?  It's not like the DOJ has shown a lack of interest in enforcing the voting rights of, say, military members, have they?  I wonder who voters who are registering at public assistance agencies might vote for.  There's just no way tell.

The DOJ budget document quoted below describes the Voting Section priorities, and nary a word about enforcing Section 8 in addition to welfare agency registration enforcement:

"Instituting and maintaining an aggressive affirmative litigation program: The Voting  Section also enforces the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The NVRA requires that individuals be given the opportunity to register to vote when applying for services at public assistance or disability offices under Section 7 of the NVRA or State driver license agencies under Section 5 of the NVRA. These provisions of Federal law must be vigorously enforced if groups who have been chronic nonparticipants in the American democratic process in the past are to be become active voters in the future. In the recent past, the Voting Section has entered into two out-of-court settlements with Arizona and Illinois regarding the failure of those States to comply with the public assistance agency voter registration requirements of the NVRA. Importantly, the Voting Section has a number of active statewide investigations in other states regarding possible failures to comply with Section 7 of the NVRA, and these investigations will be informed by the biannual nationwide NVRA report issued by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in July 2009. The Administration has already informed the Voting Section that it expects it to mount a vigorous Section 7 initiative in the coming months and years, and the Voting Section intends to carry out this mission with an eye toward investigatory reviews and, if appropriate, enforcement actions against those States that are not complying with Section 7. The requested additional resources will be used in part to fund this Section 7 enforcement work, which is very resource intensive."

 
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