- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 1, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Justice Department is failing to ensure that voters are legally registered in at least two states, five former high-ranking government attorneys during Republican administrations said Friday in seeking tougher enforcement.

The five attorneys once held top jobs in the Justice Department’s civil rights division. They asked Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to “vigorously” investigate the community activist group ACORN, some of whose employees are accused of submitting voter registration forms signed by Mickey Mouse or other fictitious characters.

“We write to ask you to assure the public that the department is taking all steps necessary to protect the integrity of our election process by vigorously investigating and prosecuting fraudulent voter registration activities,” they said.

The lawyers pointed to Ohio and Wisconsin, where the Justice Department has decided against requiring state officials to confirm voters’ identities by releasing their names to local election authorities as “difficult to fathom.” At issue in both states are thousands of voters whose names did not match listed Social Security and driver’s license numbers in other government databases, or otherwise did not pass identity verification standards.

“This appears to be a dereliction of the department’s obligations to enforce federal law,” the attorneys wrote.

Justice Department spokeswoman Jamie Hais said the letter was being reviewed. Earlier this week, the department said it was satisfied with Ohio authorities’ efforts to process problematic voter registration cards but would continue to monitor the issue.

The letter followed an earlier request from a group of civil rights attorneys who held top Justice Department jobs during Democratic administrations. The earlier letter asked Mr. Mukasey to make sure voter registration investigations don’t keep eligible minority voters away from the polls Tuesday.

The FBI recently began investigating whether the community activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation in the run-up to Nov. 4.

The group, which has denied any wrongdoing, says it has registered 1.3 million young people, minorities, poor and working-class voters. More than 13,000 ACORN workers in 21 states recruited low-income voters, who tend to be Democrats.

In a fact sheet issued Friday, the Justice Department said its highest priorities include “protecting voting rights and combating voter fraud.”

“The department remains committed to vigorous enforcement of the federal laws passed by Congress that protect the right to vote, the worth of votes honestly cast and the integrity of this country’s elections,” the fact sheet said.

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