Hans von Spakovsky

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National: Conservative Veterans of Voting Wars Cite Ballot Integrity to Justify Fight | Roll Call

Call them the voter fraud brain trust. A cadre of influential Washington, D.C., election lawyers has mobilized a sophisticated anti-fraud campaign built around lawsuits, white papers, Congressional testimony, speeches and even best-selling books. Less well-known than Indiana election lawyer James Bopp Jr., who’s made a national name for himself challenging the political money laws, conservative veterans of voting wars such as Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams nonetheless play a role similar to Bopp’s in their behind-the-scenes fight to protect ballot integrity. Both former Justice Department officials, von Spakovsky and Adams have worked alongside such anti-fraud activists as Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the tea party group True the Vote. 

Full Article: Conservative Veterans of Voting Wars Cite Ballot Integrity to Justify Fight : Roll Call Lobbying & Influence.

Florida: Hans von Spakovsky Helped Rick Scott’s Office With Voter Purge Media Push | TPM

Hans von Spakovsky, the controversial Bush administration official who writes in support of restrictive voting laws, worked with the office of Gov. Rick Scott on the rollout of Florida’s voting list purge, according to documents shared with TPM. Emails show that Scott’s communications staff planned to offer von Spakovsky up to local radio station as an expert on Florida’s effort to purge their voting lists back in June. While the purge targeted non-citizens, the state was using faulty data that included numerous legitimate voters. 

Full Article: Hans von Spakovsky Helped Rick Scott’s Office With Voter Purge Media Push | TPMMuckraker.

Editorials: Repeat After Me: In-Person, In-Person, In-Person | Mother Jones

The court case against Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is wrapping up, and supporters of the law say it’s necessary in order to reduce voter fraud. However, when you hear the words “voter fraud,” there are three things you need to keep clearly in mind: In-person, In-person, In-person. Got that? There’s only one kind of fraud that voter ID stops: in-person voter fraud. That is, the kind of fraud where someone walks into a polling place and tries to vote under someone else’s name. That’s it. There are plenty of other types of voter fraud, of course. There’s registration fraud, where you send in forms for Mary Poppins and James Bond. There’s insider fraud, where election officials report incorrect tallies. There’s absentee ballot fraud, where you fill in someone else’s absentee ballot and mail it in. But a voter ID law does nothing to stop those kinds of fraud. Even in theory, the only kind of fraud it stops is in-person voter fraud.

Full Article: Repeat After Me: In-Person, In-Person, In-Person | Mother Jones.

Pennsylvania: Voter ID on Trial: The Hans von Spakovsky Wars | Slate

Here’s one of the least-understood aspects of the voter ID trial: The missing subject of “voter fraud.” Before hearings began in Applewhite v. Pennsylvania, both parties stipulated that “there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.” And yet, and yet… you can’t keep a good voter fraud story down. The petitioners’ final witness of the hearings was Lorriane Minnite, a professor at City College in New York and author of The Myth of Voter Fraud. The states’ attorneys objected as she started to talk about specific fraud prosecutions and indictments. The objection was overuled. “They cited the legislation in their opening brief,” explained Michael Rubin, one of the D.C.-based attorneys who’s helping out the petitioners here. “Voter fraud’s been coming up in testimony.” The petitioners interrogated Minnite for more than 90 minutes, walking through many op-eds worth of fraud myths, fraud facts, fraud definitions, and the real problems with ballot-counting. When they were done, Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Crawley promised a “few questions” and started trying to undermine Minnite’s credibility.

Full Article: Voter ID on Trial: The Hans von Spakovsky Wars.

Editorials: Montana case gives campaign reformers best shot at undermining Citizens United | NationalJournal.com

The way conservatives tell it, President Obama’s White House tenure has resulted in a near-death experience for federalism. A tidal wave of Obama-inspired federal regulation has turned autonomous states into captives of the national bureaucracy, a perversion, they say, of the Constitution and the Founders’ vision of the “laboratories of democracy.” States’ rights, then, are of paramount concern for conservatives—except, it turns out, when the discussion turns to campaign finance and another principle near and dear to their hearts: free speech. As a case before the Supreme Court this month demonstrates, some on the Right might profess to love the 10th Amendment, but they’re willing to push it aside to embrace the First—at least in this context. The case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, centers on a century-old Montana law that prohibits corporations from spending money on political campaigns. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have rendered the state law unconstitutional in 2010 in its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections; but the Montana Supreme Court unexpectedly upheld the ban last year. 

Full Article: The Final Frontier - Alex Roarty - NationalJournal.com.

Rhode Island: Who passed Rhode Island's voter ID law? | Providence Phoenix

Two months ago Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation, de facto apologist for a new wave of conservative-inspired voter ID laws, appeared on PBSNewsHour to defend the cause. The laws, passed in eight states last year, are widely viewed as a Republican ploy to disenfranchise minorities and older voters who are less likely to have the photo identification the measures require at the polls. But von Spakovsky, flashing a blue tie and tight smile, brushed aside criticism with what has become a standard talking point on the right. “While many Republican legislatures have passed these kind of requirements,” he said, “we know that in Rhode Island, Democrats passed it.”  Rhode Island is, indeed, the curious exception to the rule: the only state with a Democratic legislature and left-leaning governor to approve a voter ID law last year. And with the measure set to face its first big test in this fall’s elections, civil rights activists and Democratic operatives — local and national — are still scratching their heads: how is it that one of the bluest states in the nation enacted a law so red? 

Full Article: Who passed voter ID? - News Features.

Rhode Island: Who passed Rhode Island’s voter ID law? | Providence Phoenix

Two months ago Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation, de facto apologist for a new wave of conservative-inspired voter ID laws, appeared on PBSNewsHour to defend the cause. The laws, passed in eight states last year, are widely viewed as a Republican ploy to disenfranchise minorities and older voters who are less likely to have the photo identification the measures require at the polls. But von Spakovsky, flashing a blue tie and tight smile, brushed aside criticism with what has become a standard talking point on the right. “While many Republican legislatures have passed these kind of requirements,” he said, “we know that in Rhode Island, Democrats passed it.”  Rhode Island is, indeed, the curious exception to the rule: the only state with a Democratic legislature and left-leaning governor to approve a voter ID law last year. And with the measure set to face its first big test in this fall’s elections, civil rights activists and Democratic operatives — local and national — are still scratching their heads: how is it that one of the bluest states in the nation enacted a law so red? 

Full Article: Who passed voter ID? - News Features.

Editorials: Is Black and Latino Voter Registration Threatened or Not? | The Nation

On May 4 the Washington Post published what Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo called an “alarming—and darkly ironic” story stating voter registrations have dropped for African-Americans and Latino Americans. WaPo reporter Krissah Thompson wrote in her lead:

The number of black and Hispanic registered voters has fallen sharply since 2008, posing a serious challenge to the Obama campaign in an election that could turn on the participation of minority voters.

By some accounts, it was true. Census numbers, which measured between the 2008 presidential and the 2010 midterm elections, showed that the number of African-American registered voters had fallen from about 17.3 million to about 16.1 million nationally. But the Obama campaign and a number of academics disputed the Post’s conclusion that Obama might be in trouble, instead saying the Census’s methodology is flawed and that voter registration among African-Americans and Latino Americans is actually up.

Full Article: Is Black and Latino Voter Registration Threatened or Not? | The Nation.

Voting Blogs: Hans Von Spakovsky’s False Conclusions About Georgia’s Voter ID Impacts | Colorlines

In my last blog I said that Georgia has a unique situation in terms of its voter ID law, which was put into effect in 2007. As is often cited by photo voter ID law proponents, voter turnout did in fact increase between the 2004 presidential elections, which did not feature a photo voter ID mandate, and the 2008 presidential elections, which did. The numbers on this can not be refuted, and Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spakovsky often excitedly refers to the Georgia case when making his pro-voter ID arguments and did so in a recent blog. Citing recent voter turnout data released by Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp in a presentation he made before the Conservative Leadership Conference of the Civitas Institute on March 2 to rally North Carolina up for passing a voter ID bill:

Full Article: Hans Von Spakovsky’s False Conclusions About Georgia’s Voter ID Impacts - COLORLINES.

Rhode Island: Why Did Liberal African-Americans In Rhode Island Help Pass A Voter ID Law? | The New Republic

At a Senate hearing on voting rights last fall, Democrat Dick Durbin pointed out that voter ID laws were nothing more than a coordinated Republican effort to block poor and minority voters from the ballot. It’s a familiar charge, and Hans Von Spakovsky—Heritage Foundation fellow and leading voter ID proponent—squirmed briefly, before finding an out: “I don’t believe that the Democrats in Rhode Island who control…the state legislature would agree with that.” There’s a reason voter ID supporters have turned Rhode Island into a talking point: Of the eight states to pass photo ID laws in 2011, only Rhode Island had a fully Democratic legislature and a liberal governor. What’s more, black and Latino lawmakers were among the most vocal supporters of the July bill. Since then, Republicans have been happily invoking the law to rebut liberal accusations that voter ID laws are reviving Jim Crow-era tactics to disenfranchise minorities. If voter fraud is indeed taking place in Rhode Island, it would lend some credence to GOP talking points. But does the Rhode Island law actually represent good faith electoral reform?

Full Article: Simon Van Zuylen-Wood: Why Did Liberal African-Americans In Rhode Island Help Pass A Voter ID Law? | The New Republic.

National: GOP Nonprofit Backs Electoral College | Roll Call

An obscure but well-funded campaign to reinvent the Electoral College and elect the president via a national popular vote has alarmed GOP leaders, who have mounted a counterattack with the help of a newly revived nonprofit. The fight over the Electoral College is “the most important issue in America nobody’s talking about,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a Wednesday forum co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and the State Government Leadership Foundation, a GOP-friendly nonprofit that has recently unveiled a new website and ramped up its operations.

The National Popular Vote campaign would replace the Electoral College system, which assigns electors to states based on the size of their Congressional delegations and requires a candidate to win at least 270 of 538 electoral votes to become president. Eight states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that would instead deliver their Electoral College slates to the candidate who won the most popular votes nationwide. The laws will go into effect when enough states pass similar legislation to break the 270-vote threshold.

Full Article: GOP Nonprofit Backs Electoral College : Roll Call Lobbying & Influence.

National: Voter ID Law Proponent Spakovsky Acknowledges There’s No “Massive Fraud In American Elections” | Media Matters for America

Among his other specialties, right-wing commentator Hans von Spakovsky is a strong proponent of laws requiring citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. Conservatives often justify their call for photo ID laws by raising the specter of voter fraud even though instances of voter impersonation are rare and voter identification laws can disenfranchise poor people and racial minorities.

Now, even Spakovsky has acknowledged that nobody is claiming that there is “massive fraud in American elections.”

New York Times article reports that a new study by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice found that voter identification and other laws “could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.”

Full Article: Voter ID Law Proponent Spakovsky Acknowledges There's No "Massive Fraud In American Elections" | Media Matters for America.

National: Congress Investigates GOP War on Voting | Rolling Stone

In the current issue of Rolling Stone, I examine how Republican officials in a dozen states have passed new laws this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process. It’s a widespread, deliberate effort that could prevent millions of mostly Democratic voters, including students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly, from casting ballots in 2012. Congress is, belatedly, starting to pay attention, and yesterday afternoon Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, held a hearing on “New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot?”

“I am deeply concerned by this coordinated, well-funded effort to pass laws that could have the impact of suppressing votes in some states,” said Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate.

“Rather than protecting right to vote,” said Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a witness at the hearing, “we’re seeing a brazen attempt around the country to undermine it.” He pointed to legislation that would make it more difficult for citizens to register to vote or for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters, cut back on early voting, require government-issued IDs that specifically target young and minority voters, and disenfranchise ex-felons.

Full Article: Congress Investigates GOP War on Voting | Rolling Stone Politics | RS Politics Daily | Rolling Stone Writers and Editors on Political News.

National: Voter ID Supporters Need Statistics 101 | Brennan Center for Justice

Any good student of Statistics 101 will tell you that correlation does not imply causation. Apparently, many voter ID supporters never got the memo.

Two and a half years ago, Justin Levitt wrote on this  blog about how some proponents of voter ID requirements were asserting that stringent ID laws in Georgia and Indiana did not depress turnout in 2008. Those proponents thought they had found their magic bullet: turnout in Georgia and Indiana was higher in 2008 than in 2004, despite the implementation of strict ID laws in the interim.

Mr. Levitt gave them a simple statistics lesson. Even if turnout increases at the same time as the adoption of a new voter ID law, there may be something other than the voter ID law – Mr. Levitt identified campaign mobilization, in particular – that caused the turnout increase. In other words, correlation does not imply causation.

Full Article: Voter ID Supporters Need Statistics 101 | Brennan Center for Justice.

Editorials: Von Spakovsky Spreads Falsehoods To Push For Voter ID Laws | Media Matters

In USA Today op-ed, Pajamas Media blogger and former DOJ Civil Rights Division official Hans von Spakovsky employed numerous falsehoods to defend statutes requiring all voters to show identification before casting ballots. In fact, contrary to von Spakovsky’s argument, legal voters have been turned away from the voting booth because they lacked proper identification, the effects of voter ID laws may fall disproportionately on the poor and members of racial minorities, and instances of fraudulent voting are very rare.

Von Spakovsky Falsely Suggests Voter ID Laws Did Not Prevent People From Voting

Von Spakovksy: Plaintiffs Challenging Voter ID Law “Couldn’t Produce Anyone Who Would Be Unable To Vote Because Of The Voter ID Requirements.”

Full Article: Von Spakovsky Spreads Falsehoods To Push For Voter ID Laws | Media Matters for America.