Four separate experts on voting rights have confirmed to TPMmuckraker that the behavior of a private investigator apparently hired by a New Mexico Republican party lawyer, that we reported this morning, potentially violates federal voting laws.
Gerry Hebert, a former acting head of the voting rights section of the Department of Justice, told TPMmuckraker that the P.I.’s actions appear to violate the criminal section of the federal Voting Rights Act, which makes it a crime to willfully injure, intimidate, or interfere with a person attempting to vote. Hebert added that a separate statute makes it a crime to conspire to intimidate someone in exercising their right to vote — a provision that could apply to GOP lawyer Pat Rogers or others in the state party who may have been involved in the scheme.
“A matter like that ought to be reported to the DOJ immediately,” said Hebert, adding that he planned to do so.
Jon Greenbaum of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights agreed, and added that the activities detailed in TPMmuckraker’s report could violate both criminal and civil voting rights statutes. Greenbaum pointed to a civil provision of the Voting Rights Act which says that it violates the law to intimidate, threaten or coerce someone from voting or not voting.
Greenbaum too said he planned to pass on to the Department of Justice the claims made in our report.
Rick Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and a noted expert on election law, also said that the behavior potentially violated the Voting Rights Act or other federal civil-rights statutes.
And Wendy Weiser, a voting-rights expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, further confirmed that take.
An Albuquerque woman told TPMmuckraker yesterday that a man identifying himself as a private investigator hired by Rogers came to her mother’s house Wednesday asking her mother for personal information and warning her not to vote if she wasn’t properly registered. A second woman in the same city provided a simlar report to TPMmuckraker. The voters’ names had been publicly released last week by Rogers and others affiliated with the state party, who claimed that 28 mostly Hispanic people had voted fraudulently in June. It was later determined that many of the people whose names had been released were valid voters.
The New Mexico Independent first reported the news of the intimidating visits last night.