The Left’s obsession with voter fraud and training organization True the Vote reached new heights this month when Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) demanded that the organization turn over a number of documents related to its activities to uncover voter fraud ahead of the 2012 election.
In a letter to True the Vote (TTV) Founder and President Catherine Englebrecht on Oct. 5, Cummings suggested that TTV was engaging in “a criminal conspiracy to deny legitimate voters their constitutional rights.”
Liberal organizations and publications, such as “The Nation” were quick to jump on Cummings’ letter as proof that True the Vote is engaging in illegal behavior by identifying possible instances of voter fraud across the country.
Although attacks by liberal organizations like the Brennan Center date back to 2011, it was not until after Color of Change President and former Obama administration green energy czar Van Jones snuffed out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) grassroots efforts, which included work to pass Voter I.D. laws at the state level, that the Left truly began targeting True the Vote.
At a conference for progressive students I attended in June, The Nation’s Ari Berman specifically called out True the Vote by name as the “new ALEC” in response to a question from a an attendee about which organization he would identify as the latest greatest threat to voting rights now that ALEC is out of the picture on that front.
Ironically, most Americans – including those who are political active – had never heard of True the Vote until this summer despite the fact that Englebrect founded it in 2009. I had not personally heard of the Houston-based organization until this spring.
By attacking True the Vote, the Left did more to raise the organization’s profile than it could have ever done by itself. TTV would have never reached its goal of training 1 million election volunteers had it not been for the Left’s obsession with their quest to decrease voter fraud.
Likewise, in its attempts to discredit the conservative-leaning training organization, the Left has made several key mistakes.
First, True the Vote could never have the impact on voter protection laws like ALEC because it is not a lobbying organization. It is simply a poll-watcher training organization.
“That also just shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what True the Vote does. We’re not in a position where we can lobby for legislation,” TTV spokesman Logan Churchwell told me in a phone interview.
Second, the majority of Americans do not believe that Voter ID laws are discriminatory. They understand the need for basic protections, including some states’ requirement to show a government issued photo ID, to prevent identity theft at the ballot box.
“Your vote is completely at risk of being stolen,” Englrebecht told me over the phone. “People when they’re allowed to cheat, cheat. Not everybody, but enough to make a difference. Enough to make you lock your door. Enough for DOJ to have a whole wing to investigate identity theft.”
Faced with the reality that Americans are not going to change their minds about Voter ID laws and their attacks on True the Vote weren’t working, the Left and “voter fraud deniers” (as Englebrecht refers to them) began claiming that TTV’s volunteers could go rogue and wrongfully target citizens at the ballot box based on their race.
That is also untrue.
As I explained in a previous piece, True the Vote is not legally authorized to place any of its trainees inside polling places. Instead, state approved candidates and their campaigns must approach TTV requesting poll watchers, at which time TTV can give them a list of names of people whom have taken their training and TTV believes are qualified to poll watch. That’s it.
“It makes no sense,” Englebrecht said. “It begs the question, what must the Left have to hide that they are so willing to divide our country along racial lines just because they think we shouldn’t know whose voting?”
At base the threat from Rep. Cummings is just a threat. Cummings has no legal authority to subpoena documents from True the Vote as long as Republicans continue to control the House, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) chairs the House Judiciary committee, not Cummings, and only he has the power to “investigate” people or organizations on behalf of Congress.
“But that didn’t stop him from leaking his letter to the same Los Angeles Times reporter who wrote the original story slandering us,” Englebrech told Breitbart News’ “Big Government.” “Then Rep. Cummings went on Soledad O’Brien’s show on CNN and, just as Sen. Boxer had done the previous week all over MSNBC, he used his power of office to assault private citizens.”
Even anti-True the Vote progressive writer Brentin Mock of The Nation and Colorines has admitted the Brennan Center told him,“it is difficult to identify the hard legal line on True the Vote’s activities.” Meaning, it’s hard for the Left to prove that True the Vote has broken the law because it hasn’t.
Regardless of whether Cummings’ letter holds teeth or not, progressives’ repeated attempts to discredit TTV do matter. TTV fills a necessary gap in the electoral system by training poll watchers to spot and prevent voter fraud. Despite what ‘voter fraud deniers’ may claim, voter fraud can and does occur on Election Day in a number of forms.
“Who among them doesn’t lock their door,” Englebrecht said of voter fraud deniers. “It’s the same principle.”
Full Disclosure: TTV communications director Logan Churchwell previously contributed to Red Alert Politics while serving as the communications director of DC-based Accuracy in Media. He has not contributed to or been affiliated with Red Alert in any way since moving to Houston and accepting his current position at True the Vote. It is simply coincidental that he is now the communications director of the organization that is the subject of this article.