Georgia: ACLU asks for DOJ for relief against "Publius's" participation in preclearance of voter I.D. law
Rick Hasen recently revealed that FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky was the anonymous "Publius" who wrote Securing the Integrity of American Elections: The Need for Change, 9 Texas Review of Law and Politics 277 (2005). Rick points out that the official bio for von Spakovsky states, "Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President George W. Bush on December 15, 2005 and was appointed on January 4, 2006. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner von Spakovsky served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he provided expertise and advice on voting and election issues, including of the Help America Vote Act of 2002."
One of the issues discussed in the Publius article was the question of the effect of voter I.D. requirements on turnout in, of all places, Georgia. (As my Georgia relatives would have said, "Well, don't that beat all?")
That means that Spakovsky was "counseling" about election issues at DOJ when it was considering the Georgia voter I.D. law for preclearance. (It was precleared on 26 August 2005.) And, at the same time, he was doing his own research and publishing it under the name "Publius."
You may remember that the Washington Post reported on that the career staff in the DOJ Voting Section had recommended against preclearance but were overruled by John Tanner, chief of the Voting Section. (Later Bradley Schlotzman, who had been acting assistant attorney general for civil rights when the preclearance occurred, wrote a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, claiming the leaked memo "was merely a draft.")
The folks at the ACLU Southern Regional Office apparently read the post and have now written this letter to the Justice Department asking that it undertake several actions to undo the damage caused by von Spakovsky's secret bias in favor of the voter I.D. law. My summary would be but a pale shadow of the richly nuanced argument of the ACLU. So, read it yourself.