Today, Rep. Elijah Cummings announced that he was launching an investigation into the group True the Vote, a tea party network that has trumped up charges of voter fraud in order to have restrictive voting laws passed while stacking up complaints of voter intimidation.
Rep. Cummings sent a letter to True the Vote's president Catherine Engelbrecht asking for documents related to their work of scouring through voter registration databases and then demanding that thousands of voters be purged from the rolls. They've done this throughout 2012 under the belief that dead people, imprisoned people and "illegal aliens" have been voting and stealing elections. All of their voter fraud accusations and allegations have fallen flat and Rep. Cummings said he based his investigation on their "horrendous record" of filing false voter challenges.
"At some point, an effort to challenge voter registrations by the thousands without any legitimate basis may be evidence of illegal voter suppression," wrote Cummings. "If these efforts are intentional, politically-motivated, and widespread across multiple states, they could amount to a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights."
He's demanding that Englebrecht turn records related to the software and databases they use to challenge voters, training materials for poll watchers and how they select which polling districts to deploy volunteers to.
Here at Voting Rights Watch 2012 we have been following and reporting the activities of True the Vote since April. It was at their national summit that month that we collected the widely cited quote from their national elections coordinator Bill Ouren who said True the Vote poll watchers should make voters feel like they're "driving with the police following you." In a story we posted this week about former Congressman Artur Davis' involvement with them, we published True the Vote's explanation of that quote, which was to say that True the Vote was really like "a parent" and that "kids [voters] will act up more" if they're not around.
In August, we published the investigative report "How the Tea Party's Building a 'Poll Watcher' Network for November," which revealed the extent of their outreach around the nation in their efforts to have one million trainees at polling places in November.
Read Rep. Elijah Cummings letter about the investigation here.
Read the full suite of Voting Rights Watch 2012's True the Vote coverage here.
Watch Brentin Mock discuss True the Vote with Adam Serwer of Mother Jones on Bloggingheads here: