GOP's 2008 Legal Strategy: Target Every Battleground State
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During the last presidential debate, John McCain accused ACORN, a low-income group that registered hundreds of thousands of voters in 2008, of "maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
Yet an analysis of legal actions by Republicans this fall shows the party has not focused nationwide -- as might be the case if "the fabric of democracy" were at risk. Instead, the GOP's actions, which range from filing lawsuits to partisan orders by Republicans who oversee their state elections, are concentrated in 14 swing states.
Only Iowa and New Hampshire are immune from this trend, according to an analysis of the recent litigation concerning voter registration, early voting, voter challenges and directives from top state election officials. Instead, virtually all the GOP's actions have all occurred in 2008's battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Only two states are exceptions -- Montana and Hawaii -- where litigation was also filed. In contrast, 32 other states have not seen similar litigation in the 2008 general election.
The analysis reveals a coordinated legal strategy by the GOP -- just as the party coordinates its daily messaging and advertising.
(Editor's note: What follows is a state-by-state breakdown of the GOP's actions this fall, prepared with the help of voting rights attorneys. In most of these cases, the party has lost in court or it is not likely a judge will hear the case and rule before Tuesdayâ€™s Election Day.)
MISMATCHES, DATABASE ERRORS, REGISTRATION
In Wisconsin, the state GOP pushed McCain co-chair and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to sue the state's nonpartisan elections board over voter registration database errors. The board had voted not to use the list to force voters with "mismatches" to vote provisional or have their registration canceled. The McCain campaign has also echoed claims in Virginia that people registering to vote were in danger of identity theft, but admitted they have no evidence.
In Florida, where the Governor appoints the Secretary of State, "no match, no vote" is being implemented wherever a registrant's ID does not match exactly with government databases. Appointed Secretary of State Kurt Browning has been sued by nonpartisan voting rights groups over his implementation of the "no match, no vote" law. He has threatened to sue a local board of elections over plans to allow voters with incorrect information to make corrections when they vote.
In Georgia, nonpartisan voting rights groups sued Republican Secretary of State Karen Handel to halt a state law verifying U.S. citizenship of voters. The new law requires verification of U.S. citizenship for all voters. The Secretary of State is elected.
In Colorado, a nonpartisan voting rights group sued Republican Secretary of State Mike Coffman over voter purges due to database errors. The Secretary of State is elected.
In Minnesota, former Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer has questioned the integrity of the state's voter registration database. She has launched a media campaign on the issue, using her new position as Executive Director of Minnesota Majority. The Secretary of State is elected.
In Missouri, Republican Governor Matt Blunt and Republican House Minority Whip Roy Blunt called on the federal government to investigate alleged voter registration fraud by ACORN in Missouri, bypassing the Secretary of State and local elections boards. Governor Blunt has also called on the Secretary of State to "clean up" mismatches in the statewide voter registration database. While the Secretary of State is elected, local election boards are appointed by the Governor and administer elections in the state.