New evidence: Voter Suppression in Five States


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Exclusive | Emails Detail RNC Voter Suppression in Five States
     By Jason Leopold and Matt Renner
     t r u t h o u t | Report
     Thursday 26 July 2007

   Previously undisclosed documents detail how Republican operatives, 
with the knowledge of several White House officials, engaged in an 
illegal, racially-motivated effort to suppress tens of thousands of 
votes during the 2004 presidential campaign in a state where George 
W. Bush was trailing his Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry.

     The documents also contain details describing how Bush-Cheney 
2004 campaign officials, and at least one individual who worked for 
White House political adviser Karl Rove, planned to stop minorities 
residing in Cuyahoga County from voting on election day.

     The efforts to purge voters from registration rolls was 
spearheaded by Tim Griffin, a former Republican National Committee 
opposition researcher. Griffin recently resigned from his post as 
interim US attorney for Little Rock Arkansas. His predecessor, Bud 
Cummins, was forced out to make way for Griffin.

     Another set of documents, 43 pages of emails, provided to 
Truthout by the PBS news program "NOW," contains blueprints for a 
massive effort undertaken by RNC operatives in 2004, to challenge the 
eligibility of voters expected to support Democratic presidential 
candidate John Kerry in states such as Nevada, New Mexico, Florida 
and Pennsylvania.

     One email, dated September 30, 2004, and sent to a dozen or so 
staffers on the Bush-Cheney campaign and the RNC, under the subject 
line "voter fraud strategy conference call," describes how campaign 
staffers planned to challenge the veracity of votes in a handful of 
battleground states in the event of a Democratic victory.

     Furthermore, the emails show the Bush-Cheney campaign and RNC 
staffers compiled voter-challenge lists that targeted probable 
Democratic voters in at least five states: New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, 
Nevada and Pennsylvania. Voting rights lawyers have made allegations 
of so called "vote caging," against Republicans previously. These 
emails provide more evidence. One Republican operative involved in 
the planning wrote "we can do this in NV, FL, PA and NM because we 
have a list to run against the Absentee Ballot requests, and should."

     Vote caging is an illegal tactic to suppress minorities from 
voting by having their names purged from voter rolls when they fail 
to respond to registered mail sent to their homes. The Republican 
National Committee signed a consent decree in 1986 stating they would 
not engage in the practice after they were caught suppressing votes 
in 1981 and 1986.

     In a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senators 
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Edward Kennedy 
(D-Massachusetts) said "[c]aging is a reprehensible voter suppression 
tactic, and it may also violate federal law and the terms of 
applicable judicially enforceable consent decrees." Senators 
Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Whitehouse have called for a 
Justice Department probe into the practice.

     One of the individuals connected to the White House who was the 
recipient of dozens of emails discussing the strategy to suppress 
votes was Coddy Johnson, the national field director of Bush's 2004 
campaign and former associate director of political affairs, working 
under Karl Rove. Johnson's father was Bush's college roommate at 
Yale. Another person who was asked to participate in the so-called 
"voter fraud strategy" conference call was Jennifer Millerwise, a 
former deputy communications director for the Bush-Cheney 2004 
re-election campaign and a former spokesperson for Vice President 
Cheney. Millerwise was interviewed by Patrick Fitzgerald during the 
federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie 
Plame Wilson.

     Other participants for the conference call included Mark "Thor" 
Hearne. Hearne is closely aligned with Karl Rove and the RNC and has 
been accused of pushing for the firings of some US attorneys by at 
least one of the fired attorneys. Some of the attorneys believe they 
were fired based on their refusal to prosecute alleged cases of voter 

     Emails among Ohio Republican Party official Michael Magan, Coddy 
Johnson, then national field director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 
campaign, and Timothy Griffin, reveal the men were given documents 
that could be used as evidence to justify widespread voter challenges 
if the Bush campaign needed to contest the election results. Johnson 
referred to the documents as a "goldmine".

     The valuable documents were lists of registered voters who did 
not return address confirmation forms to the Ohio Board of Elections. 
The Republican operatives compared this list with lists of voters who 
requested absentee ballots. In the opinion of one of the strategists, 
the fact that many names appeared on both lists was evidence of voter 
fraud. "A bad registration card can be an accident or fraud. A bad 
card AND an Absentee Ballot request is a clear case of fraud," 
according to former Bush-Cheney campaign staffer Robert Paduchik.

     Another Republican operative saw the value of the Ohio list from 
a media strategy perspective. According to the emails, Christopher 
McInerney, a RNC researcher said "... I have already tasked our IT 
[information technology] person with creating a match list between 
the Board of Elections return mail list and the Absentee Ballot 
request list. Jack [Christopher] thought this would be a good idea to 
have - to reference as part of the larger DenHerder press strategy." 
It is not known what the "DenHerder press strategy" refers to, but 
Dave DenHerder served as regional political director for the 2004 
Bush campaign.

     McInerney's email continues, "I can't speak to other states, but 
if they don't have flagged voter rolls, we run the risk of having GOP 

     Strategist Christopher Guith responded by saying "I would think 
we are less worried about "fingerprints" if we have decent evidence 
that fraudulent ballots are being cast. I think the intent is to take 
the Board of Elections' list and challenge absentee ballots? At that 
point, isn't it more important to stop absentee ballots that we have 
a high certainty of fraud than avoid the hit?"

     McInerney's and Guith's emails have been previously disclosed.

     Griffin responded, "I guess we have to make sure we have bodies. 
It seems like it always comes down to bodies. Why don't you ask your 
peeps in each state at issue if they have the resources to do this. 
Then, I might/can put some resources in the states that are lacking."

     The emails seem to show the Republican operatives were preparing 
for a confrontation reminiscent of the Florida recount affair that 
followed the 2000 Presidential election. This exchange took place 
less than one month prior to the November 2004 election.

     The list of questionable voters that was compiled by the Ohio 
Board of Elections was quite similar to the vote caging lists used by 
the Republican campaigners. The Board of Elections sent out voter 
confirmation letters to targeted registered voters. The letters 
required the voter to return a confirmation request or have their 
name removed from the voter rolls. Because the confirmation letter 
gave the voter 60 days to respond, a voter who failed to respond to 
the confirmation request would still be on the voter rolls for the 
primary election, but would be purged prior to the general election.

     The list was apparently checked by two people identified only as 
"Ted" and "Evan who" made handwritten notes in one of the columns. 
According to their notes, they described certain parts of Cleveland 
where low-income and minority voters were targeted as containing 
"mixed use buildings" and "single family apartments." Another section 
said, "looks like a parking lot ... doesn't look residential."

     In an interview with Truthout in May, David Iglesias, the former 
US attorney for New Mexico, said Pat Rogers, one of Hearne's 
colleagues, alleged there was widespread voter fraud in New Mexico 
and pressured Iglesias to bring criminal charges against some 
individuals. Iglesias said he had investigated those allegations 
tirelessly and found zero evidence to back it up. He added that, 
based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's 
obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now 
believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded 
organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to 

     Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones 
Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy 
crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 
2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored 
award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall 
and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron 
president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in 
December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio 
as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker 
at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.

     Matt Renner is a reporter for Truthout.

Posting archives:
Escaping the Matrix website:
cyberjournal website:

Community Democracy Framework:

Moderator: •••@••.•••  (comments welcome)