Democracy Defense League working to prevent voter fraud

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 24, 2008


A group that advocates stronger voter identification laws in the state will hold a rally soon to raise awareness of their program.

The Democracy Defense League plans a rally with registration beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday, at Mound State Park in Moundville. The purpose of the rally is to garner support for stronger laws against voter fraud, organizers say, and to educate voters about the need for stronger laws against voter fraud.

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The organization developed about three years ago out of Greensboro in Hale County after a hotly contested mayor’s race. A Hale County Circuit Court judge set aside the election, ruling that 162 votes in the 2004 city election were cast illegally. Incumbent Mayor J.B. Washington lost as a result, and challenger Vanessa Hill was declared the winner.

The judge, William Shashy, tossed those 162 ballots for several reasons, including forgery, lack of voter identification and absence of postmarks. Of the excluded ballots, 18 Washington votes were declared forgeries, and Hill ballots were ruled as having improper voter ID.

Pattie Dismukes of Greensboro talked about seeing people come in with absentee ballots and claiming addresses she knew were false. One address was revealed in court as a location of a city fire hydrant, Dismukes added.

A group of voters in Greensboro believed numbers would provide more ammunition with a challenge to current voting laws. They formed the Democracy Defense League.

“Individuals can’t fight voter fraud,” said Dismukes, who now serves as co-chair of the organization. “We are proposing certain legislation to make Alabama election laws stronger.”

The group wants to see laws passed that would require picture identification for actively voting or for casting absentee ballots, among other things.

Currently, Alabama has laws regarding voter identification, which requires utility bills or some other kind of information. State Rep. Yusuf Salaam, D-Selma, says generally photo ID’s have a chilling effect on voters, and he would oppose legislation that would keep voters from the polls.

Salaam didn’t specifically address the League’s proposals, saying he hadn’t seen them.

Salaam pointed out that in this nation’s history, even before universal suffrage, no rigid identification requirements, such as presenting a photograph, existed on the books. He said he doesn’t understand why all of a sudden people want these laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case over photo identification and could issue a ruling sometime this summer. If it upholds Indiana’s photo ID law, then regulations could affect voting in the presidential race.

Lyle Denniston, a reporter for SCOTUSblog, reports that Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens have hinted that this case is more than just about voter fraud; it’s about Republican concerns over election fraud by Democrats and Democrats worried about voter suppression by Republicans to cut down opposition.