Legislators, Civil Rights Groups Concerned about Conservative Group Challenging Voters

Voting Rights 10.5,12

A month before Election Day, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, launched an investigation of conservative group True the Vote’s campaign to challenge voters’ registration status in several states across the country.

True the Vote says that its mission is to ensure voter integrity by training its affiliates and volunteers to purge voter rolls of fraudulent names, but in almost every instance of supposed voter fraud, the challenge was either based on an error or a complete lack of valid evidence, according to Cummings.

“While these reports appear to be fantasy, their effect upon voters is real,” wrote Judith Browne Dianis and Penda D. Hair, co-directors of the Advancement Project, in a Sept. 17 letter to the New York Times. “When a legitimate voter is compelled to attend a hearing to prove her eligibility because of an allegation from a group like True the Vote, then we are witnesses to voter harassment and intimidation.”

Rep. Cummings, D. Md., sent a letter to True the Vote President and Founder Catherine Engelbrecht, requesting documents relating to the group’s “horrendous record” of filing thousands of inaccurate voter registration challenges in Ohio, Wisconsin, Maryland and North Carolina. He points out that election officials on accountability boards in each state refuted almost every claim as invalid.

“When you cry wolf, and there’s no wolf, you undermine your credibility, and you have unjustly inconvenienced a legally registered voter, and that can border on voter intimidation,” Cummings wrote.