By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
FREDERICKSBURG — The National Voting Rights Act is hampering efforts to crack down on election fraud, says a Virginia state senator who wrote vote-reform legislation last session.
“The state’s voter ID law is so broad it allows people to vote with a pinkie swear or a letter from your mother,” said state Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Louisa.
“(Virginia) bends over backwards. We spent $2.5 million to send everyone new voter cards, but the (voter) registration issue remains unresolved,”he said.
Garrett’s concerns were highlighted this week by allegations that a left-wing voter-registration group mailed registration forms to under-age Virginians, dead people and even pets.
Voter Participation Center founder and president Page Gardner said the group mailed nearly 200,000 third-party registration forms to Virginia addresses in June, resulting in 15,026 new registered voters as of July 18.
The VPC, which reportedly used magazine subscription lists to augment its mailing list, is a partner organization with the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress and received support from the liberal Tides Foundation.
“Our process is legal and working,” Gardner said in a statement.
“It is a matter for the board members to decide. No official board action regarding the matter can be taken until a board meeting is called and held,” Justin Riemer, deputy secretary of the SBE, said today.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli‘s spokesman Brian Gottstein added, “Our job right now is to advise our client, the state board, as they work to ensure the law is complied with and that the voter registration process is not compromised.
“Any type of investigation from our office would have to be initiated by a request from SBE. The SBE has not made such a request.”
Garrett says Virginia — under the yoke of the National Voting Rights Act requiring Southern states to obtain U.S. Department of Justice approval of their electoral laws— has been slow to tighten registration rules.
“States under NVRA have a tougher time passing muster with the feds. Drafters (of the current election law) sought a safer system without raising federal dander,” he said.
The freshman lawmaker, who also serves as commonwealth attorney in Louisa County, was able to insert a provision into the 2012 election law — House Bill 57 — requiring local registrars to double-check newly registered voters 20 days before the fall election.
“We had been doing this after the election, which blew my mind,” he said.
Garrett said the pre-election “scrubbing” should catch unqualified voters in a more timely fashion.
At the same time, HB 57 expands types of identification permissible for voting purposes. The law needs pre-clearance under Section 5 of the National Voting Rights Act before taking effect, says the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Others say Virginia shouldn’t let the NVRA or Attorney General Eric Holder‘s DOJ get in the way.
Reagan George, head of the Virginia Voters Alliance, points to Florida, which went to federal court to obtain access to the Department of Homeland Security‘s “SAVE” file to cleanse that state’s voter rolls.
The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement database lists resident aliens living and working in the United States. Virginia has yet to request a copy.
George said Virginia should demand photo ID and proof of citizenship before people can register to vote.
Several states, including Kansas last year, have passed tough laws, but those states do not have to clear NVRA hurdles set up in Washington, D.C. Northern states do not carry the historical burden of imposing racially based poll taxes and literacy tests common in the post-Reconstruction South.
Riemer cited one successful prosecution of voter fraud dating back to 2008.
Garrett himself prosecuted two felony cases of voter fraud and forging a public document in Louisa County, charges stemming from the latest presidential election.
Though other commonwealth attorneys have been slow to follow his lead, Garrett is unapologetic when confronted with the left’s knee-jerk howls about “voter suppression.”
“I admit to disenfranchising illegal voters,” he says.
Garrett hopes his pre-election registration “scrubbing” requirement will catch more poll violators before Election Day.
“This will stop thousands of illegal registrations and hundreds of illegal votes,” he predicts.
House Speaker William Howell, R-Falmouth, was not immediately available for comment on Garrett’s remarks or the NVRA.
Meantime, several Republican officials tell Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau they are ready to play hardball.
“We take voter fraud very seriously. We’re gathering attorneys and training poll workers to ensure the integrity of the election,” Loudoun County GOP Chairman Mark Sell said.