This past Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it was sending 400 federal observers and monitors to 30 potential “trouble spots” in 18 states on Election Day. One of those “trouble spots,” Maricopa County, is home to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio — whose name was attached to a troubling email which claimed that a “grassroots army” would be “stand[ing] vigilant across the nation” to make sure only legal citizens vote. Arpaio himself has since backed away from the message and claims he never authorized the group which sent it, Ban Amnesty Now, to sign his name on to it.
Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) blasted the DOJ’s decision, claiming that rather than protecting minorities from voter intimidation, the Obama administration is encouraging undocumented immigrants to vote. “They’re sending them out because the Obama administration
is doing everything it can to make sure as many illegal aliens vote in 2010 although that is a violation of federal law,” ALIPAC’s Executive Director told Fox News.
Fox & Friends hosts backed the claim this morning:
CARLSON: Just in time for the election, the Justice Department is sending election observers to the state. You ask why? Well, they say they are worried that there may be some sort of discrimination going on against Hispanic voters. But, William Gheen, the e said he knows exactly why they’re coming. Here’s what he says: [...] [Reads quote.] That’s quite an accusation coming from that particular group.
KILMEADE: So in his mind they’re sending out observers to turn their back, to allow people to vote in elections where they don’t belong in.
DOOCY: They’re looking for volunteers to do some patrolling, essentially recruiting them to block illegals from voting. See that’s the problem. They say “illegals should not be voting,” but it’s relatively easy in a number of states for illegals to vote. Particularly in Arizona. All you gotta do is show a water bill, a heat bill, you got a library card, a driver’s license, all stuff you can get if you are in this country illegally. So, that’s why they’re doing that and Hispanic groups are steamed.
However, Arizona has one of the toughest voter identification laws in the country. While an appeals court recently struck down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote, it upheld a separate provision in the law requiring voters to present government-issued identification at the polls. Since Arizona does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s licence, it’s actually not “relatively easy” for “illegals to vote.”
There is “no evidence that non-citizens vote in significant numbers anywhere in the country.” In fact, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett released a statement indicating that right-wing allegations that the SEIU-affiliated Mi Familia Vota had committed voter fraud in Arizona’s Yuma County “are without merit.”
Yet, Arizona does have a history of voter suppression. Laura Brown from the Arizona Advocacy Network explains, “Arizona has such a long history of voter suppression and dirty tricks…We’re very concerned that they’re going to go to the polls and harass voters and try to intimidate them.”
In 2008, the American Prospect reported that Arizona’s voter ID law “disenfranchised up to 60 percent of applicants in some counties.” Greg Palast, author of “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” has an interesting video up on Truthout on his investigation of Arizona’s voter ID which he describes as a “racist trap set by the Republican Party of Arizona.”
Today, ALIPAC issued the following statement:
“Democrats are trying to limit their losses on Election Day by cheating and encouraging illegal aliens to vote in the 2010 elections, which by the way is a felony! [...] The Obama administration’s Amnesty legislation would make millions of illegal aliens new voters who would permanently displace millions of conservative voters in American elections forevermore,” said William Gheen of ALIPAC. “It appears to me that Obama and the Democratic political machinery that roll vans through Hispanic neighborhoods on Election Day want those illegal immigrants voting in 2010.”