- Front group for the (now defunct) radical cult ACORN
- Spearheads the Voting Rights Movement
- Played a decisive role in pushing the 1993 Motor-Voter Bill through Congress
Project Vote (PV) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group that was founded in 1982 as the voter-mobilization arm of the (now defunct) community organization ACORN. Its overarching objective is to “build an electorate that accurately represents the diversity of America’s citizenry” by working to increase voter participation among “low-income and minority citizens” who have been historically “disenfranchised” and “alienated from the electoral process.” Toward that end, PV uses paid canvassers as well as volunteers to carry out conventional “non-partisan” voter-registration and -mobilization drives “in high-traffic sites in neighborhoods of color.” In 1992, the Chicago-based community organizer Barack Obama headed PV’s operations in that city, with a focus on registering black voters on the South Side. The motto of PV’s Illinois initiative that year was: “It’s a Power Thing.”
All of PV’s policy prescriptions are designed to maximize voter turnout among demographics that traditionally support Democrats in overwhelming numbers. Moreover, several of the group’s preferred policies—such as loosened standards for voter-registration and -identification—invariably make it easier for election-related fraud to take place. Pursuing the so-called “crisis strategy” or Cloward-Piven Strategy pioneered during the 1960s by political scientists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven (who has been a member of Project Vote’s board of directors for a number of years), PV’s objective is to overwhelm, paralyze, and discredit the American voting system through an abundance of fraudulent registrations, fraud at the ballot box, protests, propaganda, and vexatious litigation. Each time such variables give rise to higher levels of chaos and public distrust of the existing electoral system, PV cites the system’s flaws as proof that still more reforms are needed.
PV’s effort to undermine America’s voting system realized its grandest ambition on May 20, 1993, when President Bill Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)—commonly called the “Motor-Voter Act”—which Project Vote strongly supported. This federal law ordered every U.S. state to provide resources enabling people to register to vote at state agencies while they applied for drivers’ licenses, welfare assistance, Medicaid, or disability benefits. Author and journalist John Fund writes that “perhaps no piece of legislation in the last generation better captures the ‘incentivizing’ of fraud” than NVRA, which bars examiners from asking voters for identification or proof of citizenship; permits mail-in voter registrations (where the person’s identity is harder to verify); and limits the removal of ineligible names from active voter rolls. These, among others, are precisely the policy objectives of Project Vote.
One of PV’s major ongoing initiatives is its Government Agency Registration Program, which assists states, social service agencies, motor vehicle offices, and election officials with the implementation of NVRA’s requirements. This program also works to ensure that people enrolling for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare]) are offered “a meaningful opportunity to register to vote,” and that new U.S. citizens receive voter-registration application forms at their administrative naturalization ceremonies.
PV’s Election Administration Program (EAP), meanwhile, advocates for laws, policies, and procedures that “remove barriers to registration and voting.” For example:
- PV condemns Voter ID requirements as thinly veiled efforts to promote an “exaggerated fear” of voter fraud in order to justify the enactment of “more restrictive registration and voting laws” that “disenfranchise” the “groups traditionally marginalized in our election process: African Americans, Spanish speakers, low-income individuals, disabled voters, and youth.”
- PV objects to proof-of-citizenship requirements that “essentially quash community-based voter registration drives” targeting “large numbers of potential voters at markets, churches, and other public places where one is unlikely to carry birth certificates and passports.”
- PV favors early-voting periods that permit people to cast their ballots prior to Election Day, “in the hope of increasing turnout by making voting more convenient.”
- By PV’s calculus, “an estimated 5.8 million Americans”—“disproportionately Americans of color” from “the very disenfranchised communities that most need to have a voice in the democratic process”—are “prohibited from voting, either permanently or temporarily, in all but two states” because of past felony convictions. To address this matter, PV characterizes the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons as an urgent social-justice concern. But in fact, nearly every U.S. state already has provisions to restore voting rights to former felons who have served out their prison sentences.
- Noting that “a voter’s eligibility is based on their legal residence,” PV calls for permanent portable registration that permits voters who relocate within a state where they are already registered, to update their addresses at the polls on Election Day, rather than requiring them to meet some earlier deadline (which would allow time for their information to be checked and verified). By PV’s telling, this matter has economic-justice implications because “low-income people move more frequently than wealthier individuals.”
- Through its in-house legal team, PV occasionally brings lawsuits against what it calls “illegal and discriminatory voter purge activity” where ineligible names—e.g., the names of people who have died, relocated, or been convicted of felonies—are removed from voter rolls, a practice that allegedly has a “disproportionate impact on minority populations.”
- PV has likewise denounced other methods of verifying voter identity and eligibility. For instance, it says that: (a) interstate matching agreements, in which states compare one another’s voter databases in an effort to identify individuals who may be illegally registered in more than one state, sometimes “disenfranchise eligible voters”; (b) people can likewise be disenfranchised by “no-match, no-vote” laws that deny a voter’s registration application if the information it contains cannot be matched to an existing government database; and (c) “partisan forces” commonly seek to “disenfranchise large numbers of minority voters” by means of “voter-caging”—the practice of sending mass direct mailings to registered voters by non-forwardable mail and then using any returned parcels to create lists of “ineligible” names.
A persistent pattern of lawlessness and voter-registration fraud has followed PV (and its former sister organization, ACORN) for many years. Meanwhile, protesters, press agents, and attorneys for these groups have kept up a relentless clamor over Republican “voter intimidation,” “minority disenfranchisement,” and various other issues which tend to muddy the waters and distract attention from the very serious transgressions of Project Vote and ACORN.
For additional information on Project Vote, click here.