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Brennan Center & Lawyers’ Committee Applaud Senate for Blocking Von Spakovsky Nomination

The defeat of von Spakovsky, the man behind the Justice Department’s voter suppression program, marks a victory for voters.

December 21, 2007

For Immediate Release:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jonathan Rosen, BerlinRosen Public Affairs (646) 452–5637

Defeat of Architect of Department of Justice Voter Suppression Program a Victory for Voters

New York – The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law applauded the U.S. Senate today for blocking the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to a full term on the board of the Federal Election Commission. Von Spakovsky had been a recess appointment to the Commission.

“Last night’s action by the U.S. Senate to block the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to the board of the Federal Election Commission is a victory for all Americans who care about protecting the right to vote. We commend Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid as well as Senators John Kerry, Barack Obama, Sherrod Brown and Russ Feingold for their leadership – not only to block this nomination – but for sending a message that Congress will hold accountable public officials who stand between American citizens and the ballot box,” said Wendy Weiser, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Project.

“Under Hans von Spakovsky’s tenure at the Justice Department, the key federal agency charged with protecting the right to vote was used to promote voter suppression and influence the rules of the game on Election Day. Von Spakovsky was at the center of a concerted effort to create the perception of widespread voter fraud to justify new policies that would disenfranchise low-income and minority citizens as well as students and seniors,” said Barbara Arnwine, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee.

“At the Department of Justice, Hans von Spakovsky pushed policies that led to the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of American citizens. He pressured federal agencies to withhold research from Congress and the public that flatly rejected the notion of a voter fraud epidemic. Under von Spakovsky, the Department went to great lengths to pursue fraud investigations, timed with competitive elections that career prosecutors – prosecutors appointed by President Bush – found to be wholly without merit. This groundless pursuit of supposed voter fraud was used to justify stringent voter identification laws, crackdowns on voter registration drives and pre-election purges of eligible voters from the rolls that, all told, caused countless eligible citizens to be disenfranchised in the last election,” said Justin Levitt, Counsel at the Brennan Center.

“The withdrawal of Mr. von Spakvosky’s nomination will hopefully spur Congress to not only insist that President Bush nominate a new commissioner to the Federal Election Commission who respects the right to vote, but to also make progress on sorely needed legislation to protects the right of every eligible citizen to vote while protecting the integrity of the electoral process,” said Jonah Goldman Director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s National Campaign for Fair Elections.

“Today’s action should spur Congress to move on legislation to ban inaccurate and partisan pre-election purges of the voter rolls, ban discriminatory voter ID laws that stand to disenfranchise millions of Americans and enact robust protections for voter registration that ensure that every eligible citizen can register to vote,” continued Weiser.

“We urge the Senate to remain vigilant so that President Bush cannot grant Hans von Spakovsky another recess appointment,” concluded Levitt.