John Pacenti breaks down the opposition to Acosta’s appointment, based on his inadequate supervision of Bradley Scholzman, and his intervention in Ohio election law right before the 2004 election.
I previously reviewed the Scholzman matter here.
Regardless of your views on this, you gotta love being a member of the press and going to Marva Wiley, President of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, for comment. She never disappoints:
Acosta sent the letter without prompting four days before the 2004 election to a federal judge in Ohio who was deciding whether to allow Republicans to challenge the registrations of about 23,000 mostly African-American voters. Acosta argued it would “undermine” the enforcement of state and federal election laws if citizens could not challenge voters’ credentials.
Acosta later said the letter was intended to make clear that anyone whose eligibility was questioned had a right to file a provisional ballot.
“He got into that unsolicited. Nobody asked him,” Wiley said. “He felt it important enough to involve the authority of the government on what many would consider a fundamental issue of equity.”
Wait a minute — the point of the letter was to ensure that these minority Ohio voters could cast a provisional ballot? Oy.
You can read excerpts of Acosta’s letter here:
Al Gerhardstein, the lawyer representing two civil rights activists who want the poll watchers banned, said Saturday that the Bush administration may have breached legal rules by contacting the judge by letter.
“It is totally unusual, it is unprecedented for the Justice Department to offer its opinions on the merits of a case like that,” Gerhardstein said. “This is the civil rights division saying it is OK for voters to be ambushed when they reach for a ballot. That’s how the letter reads to me.”
The Justice Department’s letter was faxed to Dlott in Cincinnati on Friday and made public Saturday. She could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Copies were sent to Gerhardstein and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, whose office is defending the state law that allows poll watchers.
While expressing the civil rights division’s views, the letter did not ask the judge to let the Bush administration formally intervene in the case.
Instead, Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta wrote to the judge to advise her that “nothing in the Voting Rights Act facially condemns challenge statutes.”
The Justice Department said poll watchers can aid election officials in eliminating fraud by spotting and weeding out people who should not have their ballots counted.
“Restricting the ability of citizens to make challenges when they have such information would undermine the ability of election officials to enforce their own state laws that govern the eligibility for voting,” the letter said.
The government’s civil rights lawyers also assured Dlott that no Ohioans will be blocked from casting a ballot Tuesday, even if they are challenged when they show up to vote.
The Justice Department said all voters will be eligible to receive a provisional ballot “even if they are unable to answer specific questions posed by election judges.”
Provisional ballots, unlike regular ballots, are set aside and tallied later. However, the votes are counted only if the voter is determined to have met Ohio’s requirements for residency in the precinct, for age and U.S. citizenship.
You know, we all did things during the war we’re maybe not so proud of. Those were weird times. Hey, some folks did much worse.Why look backwards?
This is Miami, after all.