African-American former Congressman supports voter ID, concerned about fraud


Artur Davis (D) - US Representative

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So the left would have you believe that the voter fraud debate is really about racist Republicans trying to prevent African-Americans and other minorities from voting. The New York Times ran this argument earlier this month, conveniently ignoring that the right-wing bastion Rhode Island passed a voter ID sponsored by leading African-Americans and Latinos, all Democrats.


Well, today we are greeted by an op-ed by former Congressman Artur Davis, who was one of the shining lights of African-American Southern Democrats. Davis says that he made a mistake in opposing voter ID and that the real thing that needs immediate action is “manufactured” ballots in Alabama’s Black Belt, which refers to the color of the dirt.

Let’s check out Davis’s own words, which are pretty striking:

I’ve changed my mind on voter ID laws — I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one — and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office.

When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.

The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.

Now, it is worth pointing out the record that we are talking about here. He is addressing a real problem. After all, Alabama has an extraordinary record of convictions for election fraud. Let’s give some examples:

  • Heritage noted in 2008 a long record of the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference working hard to stop investigations of election fraud that resulted in the convictions of 11 people involved in long-term vote “manufacturing.”
  • In 2010, a Pike County Commissioner plead guilty to absentee voter fraud. She knowingly submitted improperly witnessed and/or fabricated ballots in an election she won by 6 votes. The election was eventually overturned by a judge.
  • In 2009, two women plead guilty to absentee ballot fraud. In grand jury testimony related to an event in 2004, they testified that they witnessed a bunch of absentee ballots in room, misspelling the names of the people that they were voting for.
  • In 2010, the former Hale County Court Clerk plead guilty to a number of charges relating to the 2004 and 2005 elections. The indictment found that she was committing fraud for a number of candidates including her brother and her husband.
  • In 2008, even NPR had a report about the problems in Alabama.
Now that former Congressman Davis is not dependent on the votes and support of this corrupt machine, he can tell the truth about it that anyone with access to Google News or any decent news archive sees plainly.

Rhode Island and Voter ID

Today, the New York Times has an editorial attacking so-called voter ID bills. According to Democratic and New York Times (but I repeat myself) mythmaking, voter ID is a racist Republican scheme to stop minorities and Democrats from voting:

Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters.

When I read this piece, I thought I might have missed a discussion of Rhode Island, which might be called an inconvenient truth for the Democratic conspiracy theorists. Let me remind you what happened in Rhode Island. As the Providence Journal noted when the bill passed:

This year, voter-ID legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including two prominent black lawmakers: House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts. Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country, also supported it. Fox, Metts and Pichardo are Providence Democrats.

So the Democrat, African-American Speaker of the Rhode Island House, the leading African-American state Senator, and the first Dominican elected state Senator in the country all supported the bill. They are all Democrats.

I wonder what the New York Times explanation of why these Democrats and minority leaders supported a voter ID bill. And I wonder why the Grey Lady didn’t mention this dreaded provision passing in a deep, deep blue state like Rhode Island… Maybe it is just an inconvenient truth?

Questions for Mitt Romney on RomneyCare

Later today, Mitt Romney will be giving a speech about ObamaCare. My first thought when I heard this was that it was a great way to change the subject from his own record in Massachusetts. After all, the question is really about what Mitt Romney did and what he learned about it.

Therefore, I submit some questions to his campaign and I urge the press to ask them:

  1. If you were to run for and be elected Governor of Massachusetts would your first act be a repeal of Romneycare?
  2. Which parts of Romneycare do you still like?
  3. For which states do you think Romneycare would be a good model? What is different about those states?
  4. When did you change your mind and begin opposing federal individual mandates, considering that you like mandates and believe they work?
  5. Why did you change your mind on a federal mandate?
  6. Why did you sign a bill that covers abortions?
  7. Why did you sign a bill that would explode government costs without doing a single thing to offset them?
  8. Why did you completely eliminate competition in the health care marketplace by limiting the number of insurance plans?
  9. Why did you think that government was best positioned to negotiate rates with insurance companies instead of letting the market work?
  10. What would you say to small business owners who now have 6 more pages of rules and regulations on their tax forms thanks to Romneycare?
  11. Do you still think that Romneycare is a model for the nation?
  12. When did you change your mind about any of the above questions? Was it about the same time that it became politically convenient for you to do so?

A conservative transformation in Canada

On Monday, the Conservative Party of Canada took its first majority in its history. This was a victory on several levels. First, after a disastrous 1993 election in which the Progressive Conservative party was reduced to two seats after its base split off in the west into the Reform Party and rise of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. Now a reconstituted Conservative Party (note the absence of the word “progressive”) with a different geographic base and electoral logic is dominant. Second, the regionalism that marked that 1993, has been replaced by what could come to be a two party system. The “natural governing”, center-left Liberal Party has been reduced to little more than 10% of Parliament. The Bloc Quebecois Quebec nationalist party has been reduced to 4 seats, the minimum necessary to be recognized as a party. And now, for the first time in Canadian history, the New Democratic Party, a leftist social democratic party will be the Opposition party.

There are several lessons for American conservatives.

The first is something that I have been banging away at for a while. The left has lost the political debate throughout the industrial world. Austerity has won in Europe. Economic stability has won in Canada. In this election, the NDP called for raising the corporate tax rate to 19% from 15%, while the “centrist” Liberals only wanted to raise it to 18%. (recall that it is 35% in the US) The gains on the left in this election were about consolidating the vote of the left into more radical positions. The gains on the right were about winning an ideological and polarizing argument in the eyes of mainstream voters. Once again, in another industrial country, in a political battle of ideas, the right won decisively.

Second, polarization and ideological clarity can be a good thing, and we should welcome it. As it became clear that the NDP was going to be the Opposition party in Canada, things became simpler for the Conservatives, and their numbers started to grow. Prime Minister Stephen Harper could argue that there was a clear ideological choice. The NDP wanted to raise taxes and increase spending. And the Conservatives wanted smaller government and restraint. The voters of Canada went with smaller government and restraint. People on the right of the Liberal party fled to Conservatives fled to stop the possibility of a left-wing government.

Third, and this will be harder for many American conservatives: immigrants. The conservatives made an unprecedented effort to reach out to “ethnic” voters. Go watch the ads. Each one ends with “finally vote your values.” And they worked. The Conservatives won 60% of the Chinese vote. They won 7 of the 10 targeted “ethnic” ridings. This message of “finally vote your values” was a critical message in getting Indo-Canadian voters, Chinese voters, Italian voters, etc. It was also an important message for driving turnout among more religious voters in places like rural Ontario, where my family is from. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is getting a tremendous amount of credit for this success as a critical component to the overall victory.

At this point, the key question will be how and when the Bloc and the Liberals disappear and how the Conservatives will benefit from that. One of the things that Harper campaigned on was ending public funding for elections. It is likely that both the Liberal Party and the Bloc disappear into bankruptcy: political, ideological, and, indeed, financial. In this election, the Conservatives got approximately 40% of the vote, the NDP got approximately 30%, the Liberals 20%, with minor parties getting the rest. Strategically, Conservatives have four years to turn that 40% to 50% by a variety of mechanisms.

Harper himself is acutely aware of that. Among his election night statements, was one that jumped out at me, “”And we accept that we have a lot more work to do to gain the true confidence of Quebecers. And we’re dedicated to doing that.” This is a plodding but ultimately effective strategy to building a national coalition on ideological terms.

Here, Canadians may be learning a lesson from the United States. On April 18th, the Sun News Network launched. Sun News Network claims to be a populist, small-c conservative media outlet, owned by the Quebec-based media company Quebecor which has a populist separatist/nationalist stance in Quebec. It has been compared to Fox, the New York Post, etc. Sun News can give some cultural coherence to Canadian little-c conservatism, helping to overcome significant regional and ethnic differences. This can help bring Conservatives, so-called Blue Liberals (Liberals on the right end of their party), and Quebec nationalists into a more coherent cultural and narrative alignment. We should never forget that culture, narratives, and ideology are strongly related.

I urge American conservatives to watch Canada over the next four years. Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada have much to teach us about building conservative majorities and consensus in a country that seems and sees itself as much more progressive than it really is.

Scott Walker is fighting for municipal budgets too

One of the things that has been missed in the debate over public employee unions in Wisconsin is the impact on city and county budgets. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal doesn’t just impact the state’s fiscal situation, but it attempts to help the cities and counties. And, as the former Counter Executive of 2-1 Democratic Milwaukee County, Walker has a real familiarity with how the fiscal crisis is impacting city and county budgets. Aaron Rodriguez from the Hispanic Conservative has done us all a great service by reviewing the budget fights with the unions that Walker won in his county. Rodriguez, a leading Wisconsin school choice activist, has great examples of how the teachers unions have put their own interests ahead of the children.

LaborUnionReport had a nice review of the corruption involved in one of the more corrupt practices that impact county finances. Union collective bargaining agreements require  school districts, for example, to purchase health care through the Wisconsin Education Association Trust. Simply put, it is not enough for the unions to require that the union members get good health care. They also want to force the school districts to purchase health care from a union-owned health insurance company. The state-enforced monopoly provider of education services is using their monopoly position to force the school districts to purchase.

Obviously, these additional costs hurt. But how much? Green Bay’s ABC affiliate WBAY-2, has a summary of the issues. The numbers are pretty remarkable.

Currently many school districts participate in WEA trust because WEAC collectively bargains to get as many school districts across the state to participate in this union run health insurance plan as possible.  Union leadership benefits from members participating in this plan.  If school districts enrolled in the state employee health plan, it would save school districts up to $68 million per year.  Beyond that if school districts had the flexibility to look for health insurance coverage outside of WEA trust or the state plan, additional savings would likely be realized.

I note the figure $68 million. This is not state budget costs. These costs are faced by cities and counties which have even less flexibility than state budgets. The left tries to focus the problem as narrowly as possible on the state fiscal situation. But the number of impacted governments are much larger.

Public employee unions: The big money in politics

A lot of people focus on the federal level when they think about politics. On the day after the 2010 election, I urged people to continue the fights at the state level. The unions — and especially the public employee unions — know that. Recall that in October of last year, the Wall Street Journal broke a very important story that found that AFSCME, the main non-teacher public employee union in the country, was the largest spender of the 2010 election. Their political director said, “we’re the big dog.”

I urge you to turn your eyes to the state level. The National Institute on Money in State Politics has an excellent site on money in state politics. Who are the #1 spenders in state politics? The public employee unions. #2 the gambling industry. In Wisconsin? The teachers unions are first and third, with the trial lawyers in fourth. Oh, and the Democrats themselves are in second.

And ultimately, that’s why the Democrats in the state legislature are AWOL. They are worried about their money getting cut off. You can see what the unions get for their money. They get state legislators who won’t even allow for a vote to ask public employees contribute to their health care and pension, even at levels below the national or Wisconsin average.

However, one of the Democrats has realized the flaw in their plans. A budget requires 20 votes to pass in the state senate. But simply removing the collecting bargaining rights only requires a simple majority. Let’s hope that the Republicans take the opportunity of Democratic absence to deal with the situation appropriately.

The green movement of no

The Washington Post has a great story about the meltdown of the green movement. It is about the need of the movement to refocus because, at a critical point, voters — you — rejected their ideas and the people who carried their water in Washington and in the state capitals. What really struck me was that the Sierra Club is shifting focus from raising the cost of energy in Washington to raising it in the states and making less of it:

The Sierra Club, meanwhile, is bolstering its long-standing campaign to block the construction of power plants across the country, assembling a team of 100 full-time employees to focus on the issue in 45 states.

After all, with a growing population, why would the American people need more energy? What is so astonishing about the left is that it refuses to learn from the practical experiences of others. For example, the UK energy crisis.

The fight didn’t stop yesterday. Take it to the state capitals

Last night was an epic victory for conservatives and Republicans. We pushed back against the arrogant, over-spending Congressional Democrats and, by proxy, President Barack Obama. Much of the commentary has talked about the coming gridlock in Washington. For example, The Economist has described “two years of nothing.” But that’s not true. Even if there is little agreement on jobs and other policies, Congress and state governments will have to pass budgets and spending bills.  That provides us an opening to continue to channel our activism, especially at the state level to have profound impact in actually reducing the size of government.

But first, let’s talk about the scope of the victory last night in the state capitals. This afternoon I spoke with GOPAC Chairman Frank Donatelli about the scope of our victories. Republicans picked up 23 chambers of state legislatures and the most Republican state legislators since 1928. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Republicans now control both houses of the state legislature in 25 states. Many of these states are in fiscal crisis. Obama and Congressional Democrats bailed out the states — and their public employee unions — twice. And much of that money was turned around and spent attacking Republicans. Recall that the Wall Street Journal found that AFSCME — the largest public employee union — was the largest spender of the cycle.

But bailouts from Washington should not happen again. House Republicans can stop it from even coming to the floor. We have to continue pressure to make that happen, but we can and will win that fight. The next step is the states. With Republican control of so many state legislatures, we can now force states to reform and their services while cutting government employees. Mitch Daniels did it in Indiana, and with both chambers of the state legislature, they are likely to do more. If our new conservative leaders do this, we can get better service, smaller government, and less union money fighting for more spending in the future. That’s a virtuous circle.

So here’s what we have to do. We have to continue to be involved at the local level. We have to find out what is happening in our state legislatures. And we have to find out who is spending the money and who wants to raise taxes. And we have to fight back and stop them. The next nine months will be critical in wounding Leviathan. If we do, the unions will have less money to spend in 2012 when we defeat Barack Obama.

It has begun in Chicago

Chicago, where I grew up and lived for 26 years, has been the butt of jokes about corruption and election fraud. This behavior has seeped across the border at times into Indiana. For example 31 people were convicted for voter fraud in the 2003 East Chicago (Indiana) Democratic mayoral primary. At the very least, this year the Illinois Democratic Party and election apparatus has become the butt of jokes. Thirty-five counties sent absentee ballots late to military voters, including the county with the largest military vote. (incidentally, Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for Senate is a Navy Reserves vet) The Illinois Democratic Campaign Committee, chaired by Senator Dick Durbin, sent out nearly 1,000,000 absentee ballot applications late, with return addresses to the state party. A similar operation in Bucks County, PA has resulted in all the absentee ballots to be impounded.

As Hans von Spakovsky noted in a 2008 Heritage Foundation research paper, this has sometimes been a good reason. In this paper, von Spakovsky reviewed media reports and court records from the 1982 election and recount. That year incumbent Republican Governor James Thompson was polling at a 15-point lead, but won by only 6,000 votes. Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic candidate alleged voter fraud downstate and filed suit. The FBI investigated those and charges that it occurred in Chicago.

What particularly struck FBI agent Ernest Locker was how routine vote fraud was for the pre cinct captains, election judges, poll watchers, and political party workers he interviewed. They had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors. Based on his investigation, Locker came to believe the claims, hotly debated among historians, that Mayor Daley threw the 1960 presidential election for John Kennedy with massive ballot stuffing in Chicago. This type of voter fraud, stated Locker, “was an accepted way of life in Chicago.”

Von Spakovsky’s quote of the FBI agent is important. If ballot stuffing in Chicago is an “accepted way of life”, it may be happening today. So why do I raise this? Because it could happen again. Like 1982, the Dems started with legal challenges. This time, they have filed FOIA requests with all the county Boards of Elections

Precinct Registered Ballots Cast Gov_D Gov_R Gov_G Dem % TO %
14 280 348 329 5 5 97.05% 124%
33 230 275 251 9 7 94.01% 120%
36 236 282 268 1 4 98.17% 119%
16 316 336 329 2 1 99.10% 106%
21 234 245 229 6 4 95.82% 105%
26 295 308 288 5 5 96.64% 104%

Working with some friends back home in Chicago, I got results from the 2006 election. The table at the right contains some results from Ward 29. Six precincts recorded vote totals with more votes than registered voters. Now, Rod Blagojevich, the incumbent Democratic governor won re-election by 10 points, with another 10 points going to a Green Party candidate, Rich Whitney. (note that Mr. Whitney is a candidate this year also. His case has become somewhat famous for ballots being printed in predominantly African-American precincts with the name “Rich Whitey”)

With 24% more ballots cast than registered voters in the 14th precinct, it is hard to come up with an explanation other than stuffed ballots. At the time of this election, the Alderman was Isaac Carothers. He has since resigned and plead guilty to federal corruption charges. Von Spakovsky summarized the FBI agent as saying, “[t]hey had been taught how to steal votes (and elections) by their predecessors, who had in turn been taught by their predecessors.” In the case of Carothers, he was told to win by his father William Carothers who lost re-election in 1983 and was convicted of federal corruption charges like his son. The senior Mr. Carothers was Alderman of the 28th ward at the time of the 1982 election discussed above.

Hopefully, it will be a short night in Illinois with a clear result. If it doesn’t we may learn things about Chicago that a number of people in Chicago, Springfield, and the White House find uncomfortable.

Did Jan Schakowsky just break the law?

You might recall that in Illinois, it is illegal to “electioneer” inside a polling place. You might recall that this issue came up recently when Michelle Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate and the daughter of a Chicago Democratic Machine precinct captain, discussed with voters inside a polling place why it was important to support Democrats this cycle. Naturally, the Robert Gibbs and the White House didn’t take that seriously.

Well, at an early voting rally in Chicago, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, whose husband is a felon, did the same thing. Watch the video:

Joel Pollak, a friend of mine, is running against her. He schooled Barney Frank in 2009.