Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, who announced a congressional probe this week of a national tea party-affiliated group that is pushing for tighter enforcement of voter laws, said Saturday thousands of traditionally Democratic student and minority votes are at stake in Ohio.
Mr. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said True the Vote, a national tea party group, and its Ohio spin-off, the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, are attempting to intimidate voters.
“They target people in trailer parks, minorities, people who would normally vote for Democrats — and students,” Mr. Cummings said in an appearance Saturday on MSNBC. “Students are a big target for them.”
True the Vote, which traces its roots the Texas tea party movement in 2008, calls itself nonpartisan, but the group helped coordinate tea party efforts in Wisconsin on behalf of Scott Walker, the Republican governor who turned back a union-led recall election earlier this year.
True the Vote and the Ohio Voter Integrity Project have filed challenges to more than 2,000 voter registrations with the Ohio Board of Elections ahead of the Nov. 6 election. The latest polls in Ohio have Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in a virtual dead heat in the state.
Mr. Cummings, a former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he wants to “put True the Vote on notice that we are watching them.”
True the Vote founder Catherine Englebrecht, in a statement posted last week on the group’s website, defended efforts to clean up voter rolls and in particular the Ohio Voter Integrity Project’s legal challenge of more 2,100 “irregular” voter registrations.
True the Vote “stands by the well-intentioned efforts of these citizens and is disgusted by the attempts of some within government and media to warp what should have been a simple, legal process into a calculated partisan charade,” Ms. Englebrecht wrote.
Ms. Englebrecht called Mr. Cummings’ comments “unfortunate,” and offered the congressman a briefing in Washington on the group’s work.
In a letter to Ms. Englebrecht, Mr. Cummings raises concerns about the group’s activities in Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Maryland.