American Center for Voting Rights

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The American Center for Voting Rights or ACVR was a non-profit organization founded by Mark F. "Thor" Hearne that operated from March 2005 to May 2007 and pushed for laws to reduce voter intimidation and voter fraud, and supported requiring photo ID for voters. Its lobbying arm was called the American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund. Critics noted that it was "the only prominent non-governmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem," and called the Center a Republican Party front organization|front group whose support of a photo ID requirement was intended to suppress the minority vote.[1]

ACVR was founded in Midlothian, Virginia as "a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) legal and education organization committed to defending the rights of voters and working to increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections"[2] and declared that it did not "support or endorse any political party or candidate."[3] Its lobbying arm, the American Center for Voting Rights Legislative Fund was chartered as a 501(c)(4) non-stock corporation.[4]

Leadership

ACVR's officers included:

  • Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, founder and general counsel. Former vice president and director of election operations for the Republican National Lawyers Association.[5] Served as national election counsel to George W. Bush's George W. Bush presidential campaign, 2004|2004 campaign and Missouri counsel to his George W. Bush presidential campaign, 2000|2000 campaign. Founded ACVR with encouragement from Karl Rove and the White House.[6] Helped Missouri Senator Delbert Lee Scott draft Missouri's voter ID law,[7] which was later ruled unconstitutional.[8]
  • Robin DeJarnette, executive director. Founder and executive director of the Virginia Conservative Action PAC.[9]
  • Jim Dyke, publicist. Communications Director of the Republican National Committee (RNC) during the 2004 campaign.[10]
  • Brian Lunde, Chairman. A former Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee who ran Democrats for Bush in 2004.[11]
  • Alex Vogel, a former Republican National Committee lawyer whose consulting firm was paid $75,000 for several months' service by Vogel as the center's Executive

Director.[5]

  • Pat Rogers, board member. An attorney from New Mexico who had handled Federal civil rights cases,[12] he pushed Justice Department officials to fire U.S. Attorney David Iglesias for inattention to voter fraud.[13] This dismissal fell under scrutiny as part of a Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy|larger, allegedly improper pattern of political influence.

Activities

ACVR endorsed the September 2005 recommendations of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, which was co-chaired by former president Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker.[14][15] Among its publications on the topic of voter fraud were "Democrat operatives far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression in 2004 than Republicans,"[16] "Vote Fraud, Intimidation & Suppression - The 2004 Presidential Election,"[17] and "Ohio Election Activities and Observations."[18]

On March 22, 2005, a few days after the organization was formed, ACVR officials were called to testify by Republican members of Congress before a House Administration Committee hearing held by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) ranking member McDonald. (Ney served from 1995 until November 3, 2006, when he resigned. Ney's resignation followed his October 13, 2006 guilty plea to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in relation to the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal.) Hearne was called as a witness to discuss election reform issues and the implementation of the federal Help America Vote Act during the 2004 Presidential election.[19] In testimony, he described himself as a "a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experience in election law" and did not mention his service as a top GOP operative.[20] U.S. Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri), who described the group as a nonpartisan, voting rights advocacy group, testified and submitted the ACVR's report on 2004 election irregularities in Ohio,[18] which documented, among other incidents, the registration of voters named "Mary Poppins," "Dick Tracy," and "Jive F. Turkey." According to court records in the criminal prosecution of Chad Staton in Defiance County, Ohio, individuals registering these fictional voters were paid money and in at least one instance, crack cocaine. The organization involved in this effort was called "Project Vote,"[21] and the fraud was perpetrated by a registrations volunteer.[22][23]

Dissolution and controversies

The ACVR was dissolved in May 2007, and the web pages ac4vr.com and AmericanCenterForVotingRights.com were taken down.[1]

The dissolution of ACVR came several weeks after the Election Assistance Commission issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.[24] "The DoJ devoted unprecedented resources to ferreting out polling-place fraud over five years and appears to have found not a single prosecutable case across the country," Slate reported.[1]

Moreover, evidence was accumulating that the issue of voter fraud had been pushed by the GOP in an effort to mask voter suppression.[25] Much of the evidence has emerged in media reports and congressional hearings into the firings of U.S. attorneys in at least eight cities in 2006, which "led to allegations that Republican officials pressed some of the fired prosecutors to bring voter fraud cases in hard-fought races."[26]

For example, Bradley Schlozman, the interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, brought a controversial set of indictments for voter-registration fraud several days before the 2006 election in Missouri. The cases appeared to flout DoJ policy, which discouraged election-related indictments too close to Election Day. Schlozman told the Senate judiciary committee that he acted at the "direction" of the DoJ's Public Integrity Section,[27] testimony he later recanted. [26]

The indictments involved operatives paid by the not-for-profit organization ACORN, who allegedly submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. Five of these operatives have since been indicted and plead guilty or convicted in federal court to charges of vote fraud and identity theft.[28][29][30]

Several states have adopted laws requiring voters to provide some form of government-issued identification before casting a ballot. The strictest of these requirements is the Indiana photo-ID requirement which was challenged by the Indiana Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union. This law was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.[31] The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Arizona voter ID law against a similar challenge. Similar laws have been upheld by state courts in Pennsylvania, but struck down in Missouri and Georgia.[32][33]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Richard L. Hasen (2007-05-18). "The Fraudulent Fraud Squad: The incredible, disappearing American Center for Voting Rights.", Slate. 
  2. "ACVR Refers Voter Fraud Investigation To Department of Justice, Congressional Oversight Panel". 2005-03-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20050324134344/www.ac4vr.com/news/acvrnews032105.html. 
  3. "ACVR Legal Statement". http://web.archive.org/web/20051026094759/www.ac4vr.com/legal/statement.html. 
  4. "United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Crawford v. Rokita". http://brennancenter.org/dynamic/subpages/download_file_48888.pdf. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Greg Gordon, "Was campaigning against voter fraud a Republican ploy?", McClatchy Newspapers, July 1, 2007
  6. Waas, Murray (2007-05-31). "The Scales Of Justice", National Journal, National Journal Group. Retrieved on 2007-05-31. 
  7. Scott Lauck (2006-10-23). "Voter ID decision denounced as "activist"", Lawyers Weekly. 
  8. Natalie Hrubos (2006-09-14). "Missouri judge rules voter ID law unconstitutional", Jurist. 
  9. "VCAP: "Our People"". http://vcap.org/OurPeople.php. 
  10. "Bio at Jim Dyke & Associates" (2007-06-14). 
  11. "Brian Lunde's bio from ac4vr.org as cached by ZoomInfo". http://www.zoominfo.com/people/lunde_brian_818736676.aspx. 
  12. Committee on House Administration: Testimony By Mr. Patrick Rogers (2006-06-22).
  13. Amy Goldstein (2007-03-19). "Justice Dept. Recognized Prosecutor's Work on Election Fraud Before His Firing", Washington Post. 
  14. "Commission on Federal Election Reform". http://www.american.edu/ia/cfer/. 
  15. "American Center for Voting Rights". http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=21014. 
  16. Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and Brian A. Lunde (2005-08-02). "Democrat operatives far more involved in voter intimidation and suppression in 2004 than Republicans". American Center for Voting Rights. http://web.archive.org/web/20050806013650/www.ac4vr.com/reports/072005/default.html. 
  17. Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and Brian A. Lunde (2005-07-21). "Vote Fraud, Intimidation & Suppression - The 2004 Presidential Election"". American Center for Voting Rights. http://www.foxnews.com/projects/pdf/Vote_Fraud_Intimidation_Suppression_2004_Pres_Election_v2.pdf. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 Mark F. "Thor" Hearne et al (2005-03-21). "Ohio Election Activities and Observations". American Center for Voting Rights. http://web.archive.org/web/20050425104337/www.ac4vr.com/news/OhioElectionReport.pdf. 
  19. "ACVR: Committee On Administration (Mark F. "Thor" Hearne testimony)". http://web.archive.org/web/20050324134715/www.ac4vr.com/news/testimony.html. 
  20. "New 'Non-Partisan' 'Voting Rights' Org Appears Little More than Republican Front Group!". http://www.bradblog.com/?p=1282. 
  21. "ACVR Refers Voter Fraud Investigation To Dept. of Justice, Congressional Oversight Panel". http://web.archive.org/web/20050324102250/http://www.ac4vr.com/. 
  22. Joe Mahr (2004-10-19). "Voter fraud case traced to Defiance County registrations volunteer", Toledo Blade. 
  23. Joyce Howard Price (2004-10-19). "Ohio aids probe of bogus voter registry forms", Washington Times. 
  24. Ian Urbina (2007-04-11). "Panel Said to Alter Finding on Voter Fraud", The New York Times. 
  25. Greg Gordon (2007-05-0). "2006 Missouri's election was ground zero for GOP", McClatchy Newspapers. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 Terry Frieden (2007-06-13). "Justice official revises testimony in voter-fraud case", CNN. 
  27. Richard L. Hasen (2007-06-13). "Implausible deniability", Slate.com. 
  28. http://www.kansascity.com/115/story/112415.html
  29. American Chronicle | ACORN Suspected of Voter Fraud
  30. FAIR: : Non-Citizen Voting in Federal Elections
  31. JURIST - Paper Chase: Indiana voter photo ID law upheld on appeal
  32. Lake v Perdue, September 19, 2006
  33. Darryl Fears; Jonathan Weisman (2006-09-20). "Georgia Law Requiring Voters to Show Photo ID Is Thrown Out: Judge Says Some Would Be Disenfranchised; State Plans Appeal", Washington Post, p. A06. 

External links


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