Cummings Ramps Up Investigation of Voter Suppression Allegations
Washington, DC —Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a new letter to Catherine Engelbrecht, President and Founder of True the Vote, requesting documents relating to the group’s plan to deploy hundreds of thousands of personnel across the country on Election Day to challenge access to the polls for people they believe should not be allowed to vote.
“There have been reports from multiple states during the past two years that your organization is targeting predominantly minority communities and coordinating with the Republican Party in an attempt to intimidate legitimate voters,” wrote Cummings.
Cummings’ letter follows a previous letter on October 4, 2012, requesting documents relating to allegations that True the Vote and its affiliated organizations have been challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters across the country based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence. Cummings’ letter notes that True the Vote has declined to produce a single document.
“If you are truly committed to transparency in our nation’s voting process—and if you continue to deny that your organization is challenging thousands of legitimate voters across the country for partisan political purposes—then you should have no reason to withhold documents from Congress about your activities,” wrote Cummings.
Cummings’ letter details new information raising questions about whether True the Vote is hiding its true agenda. For example, after a report was issued last week documenting how the group is deploying personnel in predominantly African American and Hispanic communities in North Carolina, True the Vote appears to have shut down access to its internal website about where its personnel will be deployed on Election Day.
Cummings’ letter also provides new information about voter suppression allegations in Texas in 2010. Contrary to claims by True the Vote that there were no instances of voter intimidation, Harris County Senior Assistant County Attorney Doug Ray reported to Cummings’ staff that “King Street Patriots and True the Vote volunteers were not fully exonerated for acts of intimidation while serving as poll watchers in 2010.”
Ray said “there were in fact several incidents in which voters complained that True the Vote volunteers were ‘hovering,’ and standing too close to voters to allow them to cast a confidential ballot.” When Ray visited True the Vote’s offices in Harris County, he found maps on the wall with push pins indicating that the polling places True the Vote was targeting were primarily in minority precincts.
Cummings’ letter also raises new questions about “mounting evidence” that True the Vote is coordinating closely with Republicans. It cites financial contributions to the Republican State Leadership Committee, admissions by Engelbrecht that she is working to supply the Republican Party with volunteers, and reports that True the Vote officials in New Mexico are conducting secret voter training programs that exclude Democratic volunteers.
Cummings asked Engelbrecht to provide documents by October 31, 2012, relating to where True the Vote is targeting its personnel, voter roll lists that it plans to use to challenge voter eligibility, and materials the organization uses to train its volunteers.