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LA rightly fights partisan voter registration power play

With an assist from their party leaders in positions of power in Washington, Louisiana Democrats fired their first salvo at trying to reverse their miserable standing in statewide offices by the launching of a frivolous suit being paid for by federal and state taxpayers.

Pres. Barack Obama’s politicized U.S. Department of Justice filed suit against some Louisiana state agencies, trying to strongarm the state into following its dictates, by asking federal District Judge James Brady, the former party chairman of state Democrats, to have the state admit it deprived people of the right to register to vote. Correctly, the state has challenged that and thus goes to court.

It does so because of Justice’s assertion that too small of a proportion of applicants for various public assistance programs end up registering to vote.
The National Voter Registration Act passed by Democrats in 1993 compels the state through any office that “primarily” deals with public assistance to provide forms for voter registration and inform applicants for many state services of their availability. The claim rests upon anecdotal evidence that agencies sometimes run out of forms and showing that the proportion of applicants has dipped slightly in recent years.

This follows the classic playbook of the left when it tries to find support for its policy preferences where it confuses, if not promotes, outcome and effect instead of intent and cause. For example, the left asserts that growing inequality among household incomes comes from structural imperfections in markets that only government intervention can redress (and also, without any compelling reason or justification, assumes that such greater inequality creates an inferior environment in which a society should operate), when in fact its variation is due to concerns that have nothing to do with free market structures.

Statistical assertion without evidence supporting a theoretical relationship means nothing. So by claiming a small drop in proportion inevitably means intentional failure to follow the law without any hard evidence – say depositions by a strikingly large number of applicants that swear they never were asked whether they wanted to vote without a number of other depositions by others saying they were – this demonstrates the invalid and politicized nature of Justice’s action.

The only grounds on which Justice might have a case is if Louisiana’s forms used do not make it clear enough that an applicant has declined (although the law states lack of clear indication of declining on a completed form assumes declining was intended). For what then might be a simple paperwork problem, the politicized intent of the action gets reinforced by Justice’s insistence on a ridiculously overbroad and expensive solution, that the court order the agencies to offer voter registration opportunities "to all clients who applied for public assistance or disability benefits or services" in the past four years and were not offered a chance to register to vote at the time.

But this is more than just pursuit of an ideological agenda. It also has political ramifications on two levels. This also represents an attempt to try to get on voters rolls more of a constituency Democrats believe is more likely to vote for them, and to try to create an issue that can be used by Democrat challengers this fall to unseat to incumbent Republican Secretary of State Tom Schedler, the object of the suit.

Not only do Schedler and another Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal (some of the agencies under his authority also are part of the suit) protect the integrity of government by resisting the use of political power to try to force an illegitimate agenda on the state, they protect the integrity of elections by fighting that power in its attempt to affect electoral outcomes biased in its favor. They deserve the public’s commendation as a result.

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