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Despite just reaching a settlement with voter rights groups on Wednesday, Colorado's Secretary of State Mike Coffman has continued to purge voters from the roll, causing a judge to issue a cease and desist order.

Earlier today, Coffman told the Rocky Mountain News that the settlement "still allowed him to remove voters from the state rolls when he found duplicate names, people who moved or deceased voters." An interpretation voter rights groups have roundly dismissed.

"The Court unambiguously stated that Colorado's voter cancellation practices violated federal law," Myrna Perez counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice -- a party in the suit -- told TPMmuckraker. "The Secretary of State and Colorado counties must provide the agreed upon safeguards to protect the voters adversely affected by the illegal practices."

The suit against Coffman alleged that more than 35,000 voters were purged from the rolls based on a faulty system for identifying illegitimate voters, and within 90 days of the election -- both of which violate the federal Voting Rights Act. The settlement allowed for 20,000 purged voters to be put back on the rolls and cast provisional ballots in Tuesday's election.

Five ex-DOJ officials have written to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, urging him to keep investigating whether ACORN committed voter fraud in its registration efforts, Roll Call reports.

The group, led by leading voting-rights foe Hans Von Spakovsky, wrote:

"We hope that you will assure the American people that your Department intends to investigate and prosecute any and all instances of voter registration and other fraud occurring in the days leading up to the election, and that you will enforce all of the federal voting rights laws that are important to preserving the fairness and security of the election process..."


The other members of the group, according to Roll Call, are Former Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds and former Deputy Assistant Attorneys General Roger Clegg, Michael Carvin and Robert Driscoll.

Earlier this month, sources leaked to the Associated Press that the FBI had launched a naitonwide investigation into ACORN. Since then, few details about the probe have emerged. DOJ has declined to confirm its existence on the record, and ACORN recently said it had not been contacted in connection to the investigation.

Von Spakovsky was nominated for a seat on the Federal Elections Commission last year, but the Democratic Senate refused to confirm him. TPMmuckraker reported in August that he had been given a temporary appointment at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

House Judiciary Chair John Conyers has released a statement in response to Republican leader John Boehner's various recent efforts to get the Justice Department to pay more attention to voter fraud, despite scant evidence of such fraud.

Writes Conyers:

This endless campaign to press the Department into pursuing phantom claims of 'voter fraud' must end. So-called "voter fraud" is vanishingly rare and every time this subject is given a careful look it is found to have essentially no concrete impact in our elections. Indeed, according to Justice Department data, out of almost 200 million votes cast in federal elections since October 2002, only 102 individuals have been convicted of federal voter fraud offenses. Thus, Republican agitation on this issue is both unnecessary and costly, as Department resources are needed to combat serious matters of voter suppression. Fliers distributed in Virginia this week using state letterhead to mislead Democrats and Independents about the date of the election and recent reports of violence and intimidation against citizens working to register and turnout voters are real-world problems that directly impact citizens' right to vote. It is also disconcerting to see Members of Congress criticizing career personnel of the Department for their private political activity, which intrudes deeply upon their privacy and appears to have no bearing on their job performance.

Wisconin's junior senator, Russ Feingold, joined the fray over Attorney Gen. J.B. Van Hollen's announcement this week that he would be sending 50 state prosecutors and agents to polls to protect against voter fraud.

"[T]he announcement and execution of your plans may have the effect of discouraging legitimate voters from attempting to cast their votes, and I urge you to reconsider your decision," Feingold wrote in a letter to Van Hollen published by the Capital Times. "I also encourage you to ensure that criminal law enforcement personnel are not deployed at polling stations."

Calling it "widely acknowledged" that law enforcement personnel can lead to intimidated and discouraged voters, Feingold asked for Van Hollen to provide detailed information about how DOJ employees will be deployed.

Yesterday, Gov. Jim Doyle called Van Hollen's poll watchers an "obvious Republican strategy." Last week, a court threw out a suit by Van Hollen that would have called for additional checks of voter registrations.

But Van Hollen doesn't seem to be fazed by these setbacks and detractors. The GOP AG sent a letter Wednesday asking chief district court judges across the state to alert him on Election Day in case he has to "initiate emergency election-related proceedings."

As we noted earlier, the Department of Justice yesterday released a list of counties across the country to which it will send teams of federal observers to monitor polling places, as it does every election year.

Given DOJ's mixed record in recent years in protecting voting rights, and its efforts to push voter fraud cases despite a lack of evidence, we asked some experts whether the list of sites selected seemed appropriate.

Both Gerry Hebert, a former acting head of DOJ's voting-rights section, and Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a leading authority on voting law, said that it did.

Hebert, however, questioned the decision to send monitors to Noxubee and Wilkinson counties in Mississippi.

Hebert noted in an email to TPMmuckraker that in Noxubee, DOJ brought a controversial, though ultimately successful, suit on behalf of white voters in 2006, representing the first time that the Voting Rights Act had been used on behalf of whites.

"What interest would they have in sending federal observers now,?" Hebert asked.

As for Wilkinson county, Hebert wrote: "It's hard to see why DOJ would send poll watchers to a county where the issues seem to be among two factions of black voters and not alleged discrimination by whites."

Still, these concerns aside, it sounds like there's little reason to believe that DOJ's list skews inappropriately toward making hay out of swing-state voter-fraud claims at the expense of a focus on voter intimidation.

The complete list follows after the jump...

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The Indiana Republican Party just lost what looks like its last chance to shut down early voting centers in three heavily Democratic cities in Lake County.

A state appeals court judge has ruled, as expected, that the centers can stay open -- backing an earlier ruling by a county court.

County Republicans had sued to shut down the centers, arguing that a unanimous vote - rather than a simple majority -- of the county election board was required to open them.

The centers at issue are located in the cities of East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond, all of which are heavily Democratic, and crucial to Barack Obama's hopes of victory in the state.

Early voting has been proceeding at the centers for the last few weeks.

At last, a high-ranking Republican has admitted what many Democrats and independent observers have maintained since the scandal over the US Attorney firings -- that, under President Bush, the Department of Justice has been inappropriately politicized.

But according to John Boehner, the House GOP leader, that politicization was actually carried out ... by Democrats.

Boehner today released a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in which he complained about the department's decision no longer to include federal prosecutors in its teams of election observers, as it has done in previous years.

He also cited recent reports that some top officials in the department's voting-rights section had contributed to Barack Obama's campaign.

Writes Boehner:

Frankly, the real motive behind the Department's decision is undeniably suspect given that Obama partisans in key positions at the Department of Justice may well have played a pivotal role in making it.


Earlier this week, DOJ announced that it would decline a request by Boehner -- forwarded by the White House -- to intervene in a voting dispute in Ohio, on behalf of state Republicans.

Yesterday, the department released a list of the polling places to which it will send its team of observers. We'll have more on that shortly.

Boehner's full letter follows after the jump...

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Sen. Ted Stevens: Convicted or not convicted? That is the question.

And apparently one whose answer changes depending on who you ask.

In most people's minds, there's little to argue. On Monday, a jury returned a verdict of guilty on all seven counts of false statements. The charges against Stevens were felonies, making the senator -- by most counts -- a convicted felon.

But Stevens, back in Alaska campaigning for his eighth term in the Senate, met his opponent, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, in a debate last night and denied that he had been convicted at all.

"I'm not gonna step down. I have not been convicted," the 84 year-old senator stammered. "I have got a case pending against me. And probably the worst case of prosecutorial. . . misconduct by the prosecutors."



It might be worth noting that Stevens has a history of denial.

A lawsuit was filed Thursday by a Texas businessman who claims he was forced to funnel $75,000 in secret payments to Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN) wife, Laurie Coleman. The businessman, Paul McKim, filed suit against ardent Coleman supporter Nasser Kazeminy, who owns nearly half of McKim's oil-rig company. Sen. Coleman is in a tight race for re-election with Al Franken. (Politico)

It was all trick and no treat for embattled Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R), who issued an official statement yesterday that he would be hosting Sarah Palins' parents at the governor's mansion for Halloween. The scandal ridden Gibbons has thus far been snubbed by the McCain campain -- a trend that looks to be continuing. Unfortunately for Gibbons, the McCain campaign denied that Palins' parents would be attending. (Las Vegas Sun)

Newly filed court documents give details of former VECO CEO Bill Allen's first interview with the FBI in August, 2006. The documents show that Allen gave favors to two former state reps. and a state sen. who may or may not be under investigation. Allen, who was the linchpin in Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-AK) conviction, however, said that Rep. Don Young (R-AK) could not be bought. (Anchorage Daily News)

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Add Pennsylvania to the list of states where GOP voter suppression efforts are going down in flames.

A state judge yesterday declined to support a grab-bag of a lawsuit filed by the party, which had sought to require ACORN both to turn over a list of the 140,000 voters it says it has registered, which could have made it easier for the GOP to challenge voters at the polls.

The suit also sought, among other things, to force ACORN air public-service announcements reminding first-time voters that they must bring identification to the polls, and to compel the state to provide more provisional ballots.

According to the Associated Press, the judge, Robert Simpson Jr., said "he was not convinced that the party and its fellow individual plaintiffs can ultimately prove their allegations that ACORN is fostering voter-registration fraud and that the state's election system lacks the safeguards to stop it."

Another one, apparently, bites the dust.

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