Between the shenanigans uncovered by GOP operative Nathan Sproul and Strategic Allied Consulting with falsified voter registration forms, and the ongoing voter challenges waged by tea party groups “empowered” by True the Vote, Representative Elijah Cummings had seen enough to believe voter suppression might be in the queue for Election Day. Last week he sent a letter to True the Vote’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht requesting documents that would explain the ballot security organization’s operations.
The letter in many ways was also a categorical rundown of recent True the Vote (or True the Vote–inspired) actions that suggest suppression if not intimidation are their modus operandi. The letter lists Engelbrecht stating at a Conservative Political Action Conference meeting that she “absolutely” was working to have the Obama administration replaced, hundreds of Ohio college students whose voter status were challenged incorrectly by True the Vote affiliate Ohio Voter Integrity Project, a black Ohio family incorrectly challenged by the same group, and more of the same false reporting in North Carolina and Cummings’ state of Maryland.
Cummings wrote, “If these efforts are intentional, politically motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.”
True the Vote has responded saying they would avail themselves “to any official House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform inquiry,” and has invited Representative Cummings to a briefing meeting and to participate in their poll watcher trainings. But they have not agreed to hand over the documents he has requested.
Engelbrecht wrote in a response letter, “It was of great concern to me that you had suddenly requested a considerable amount of documentation on the basis of news reports which offered limited balance and an over-simplification of the facts,” and that Cummings’ letter “demonstrate a second-hand knowledge or poor staff- researched understanding of our organization’s activities.”
J. Christian Adams, a former US Department of Justice attorney and True the Vote partner, was much harsher, writing on his blog that “Cummings needs to get himself a lawyer who knows more about election law and less about playing the race card. First of all, there is no federal statute which mentions ‘voter suppression.’”