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Election ’02 Flash Keeping Out Republicans in N.J.


Democrats like to talk about level playing fields and equal access to the political process, but they appear to be aggressively using a consent decree issued by the federal district court in New Jersey that dates from the early ’80s to prevent equal access by poll watchers. The Democrats boast of deploying 10,000 election attorneys to prevent (or maybe exacerbate? we’ll see) Election Day polling problems. The Republicans have told their volunteer attorneys, however, that they shouldn’t participate in New Jersey. The Democrats have gone to court there claiming participation violates this consent decree, and the volunteer attorney’s group can’t afford the litigation. Moreover, I’ve read that a suit has been filed by Democrats in Florida, seemingly invoking the consent decree there to prevent GOP lawyers from participating.

The consent decree requires that the RNC not pursue ballot security or anti-fraud activities in precincts “where the racial or ethnic composition of such districts is a factor in the decision to conduct such activities and where a purpose or significant effect of such activities is to deter qualified voters from voting.” (In 1987 a further decree required the RNC to petition the court before engaging in ballot security programs, and tell the DNC in advance, too.)

I don’t expect that many readers will rush to embrace the interests of lawyers, but this is obviously about more than that. Fraud-prevention activities are necessary, especially when one’s worthy opponents are hell-bent on maximizing turnout (in certain areas of course) with all tools at their disposal. The Democrats appear to be exploiting this decree to operate unchallenged in some areas. How can that be tolerated?


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