Tea Party groups, the Republican National Lawyers Association
, conservative organizations
and websites like Pajamas Media
have at least one major advantage over the Republican National Committee when it comes to anti-voter fraud programs. Unlike the RNC, such groups aren't subject to a consent decree
that requires the RNC to inform both the Democratic National Committee and a federal judge when they are operating "ballot security" programs.
First reached nearly three decades ago, a federal judge in New Jersey rejected a request by the RNC to vacate the consent decree last December. Instead, he modified the decree by setting up an eight year sunset clause -- which would no longer be valid if the DNC can prove a violation before the decree expired -- and said that only the DNC could bring violations to the court's attention.
The consent decree does not apply to programs designed to smooth functioning of the electoral process, but instead just "ballot security" efforts aimed at preventing unqualified voters from casting ballots.
Any group other than the RNC -- even if, like the RNLA ,they are closely aligned with the national committee and have featured Chairman Michael Steele at their events -- are not subject to the restrictions.
The RNC had argued that the decree should be vacated for several reasons -- but specifically cited the fact that Steele is an African-American as part of their case. But a judge ruled that voter intimidation presented an ongoing threat to the participation of minorities in the political process.