John Fund has a very informative column about voter fraud in New Jersey in the Wall Street Journal today. Fund raises doubts about the willingness of the Holder Justice Department to do anything about possible fraud, and he is right to be concerned. When I was at the Justice Department during the Bush administration, the Left constantly complained about the fact that John Ashcroft had made prosecuting voter-fraud cases a priority on par with prosecuting Voting Rights Act cases. The correct view is that the Justice Department has an equal responsibility to protect the ability of individuals to access the polls and to make sure their votes are not stolen through fraud.
In the Bush administration, we discovered that federal observers and Justice Department lawyers who were sent in to monitor local elections only reported civil-rights violations and ignored voter fraud. We were astonished. The ideologues that ran the Civil Rights Division (which enforces the Voting Rights Act and sends out observers) had erected a Chinese wall between Civil Rights and the Criminal Division, the latter of which is responsible for prosecuting election crimes like voter-registration fraud. The Civil Rights Division lawyers were only interested in reports of violations of the rights of minority voters to access the polls; they had no interest in any reports about possible fraud. The career lawyers were absolutely furious when we took down the wall and made it clear that Justice Department observers were obligated to report any violations of federal law they saw.
There is also a provision of federal law that mandates that voters can get assistance with voting if they request it. The career lawyers in the Civil Rights Division were always interested in making sure that voters were able to request assistance. But they were never interested in cases where minority voters had “assistance” forced on them in the voting booth — because such assistance was normally provided by local Democratic activists who were making sure that “their” voters cast ballots the way they were supposed to.
Why is all of this relevant in today’s elections? Because the Justice Department is going to have federal observers and Civil Rights Division staff in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere to monitor the voting. I have already heard from numerous sources that these observers will not be reporting instances of voter fraud, nor will they be reporting instances of unrequested “assistance” being provided. So we cannot count on the Justice Department or any of its observers to stop the kind of fraud or intimidation that may occur in New York or New Jersey. It will be up to ordinary voters and poll watchers to report wrongdoing to local authorities, who may or may not do anything about it.