NYT: Fire Tanner, Reject von Spakovsky

5 11 2007

Today’s New York Times editorial calls for the firing of John Tanner, the current chief of the Justice Department’s voting section, and for the Senate to reject Hans von Spakosvky’s nomination to the Federal Elections Commission.  The editorial points out that this two officials while at the Justice Department joined forces to approve many of the nations stringent and burdensome voter ID laws.

There have been calls for Mr. Tanner to be removed, and he should be, but that is not enough. The Senate must refuse to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky, an anti-voting-rights advocate cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tanner, to the F.E.C. Based on his record, Mr. von Spakovsky would use the job to undermine the right to vote.

John Tanner publicly said at a gathering in Los Angeles that elderly blacks are not hurt by voter ID laws as much as elderly whites because they “die first.”  The most egregious example of this was the Georgia voter ID law, which a federal judge likened to a modern day poll tax. Since then, many officials, including Sen. Barack Obama and Rep. Artur Davis have called for Tanner’s removal. 

But the big fish to fry is Hans von Spakovsky, cheif architect of the voter ID movement and Bush’s pending nominee to the Federal Elections Commission. While at Justice, von Spakosvky amassed a controversial record, including pushing through pro-Republican redistricting plans that diluted minority voting strength and urging states to purge eligible voters from its voting rolls. But despite his record on voting rights, von Spakovsky still might get through as a part of a package deal if certain Republicans and Democrats have their way in the Senate.

The NYT editorial also calls for a legislative fix that’s been recently proposed by Sen Obama.

Congress should also pass the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator Barack Obama, which would criminalize misleading and intimidating actions used to prevent voters, particularly minority voters, from casting ballots.

I have no idea what’s in the bill but will do some reading up on it soon and report back soon.  

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