ANYONE who doubts the existence of a vast right-wing conspiracy in American politics probably doesn t know much about Hans von Spakovsky.
Mr. von Spakovsky, a member of the Federalist Society of conservative activist lawyers, is a Republican appointee to the Federal Election Commission. Before that, he was the Bush Administration s point man in the Justice Department for four years, orchestrating an aggressive tactic of using allegations of voting fraud as an excuse for suppressing the minority vote.
And before that, he was a GOP operative in Georgia, where he helped put voter suppression into practice through enactment of that state s restrictive voter identification law, which was struck down by a federal judge as unconstitutional in 2005.
Mr. von Spakovsky s resume is just one more chapter in the sorry saga of how the administration has politicized the Justice Department, with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales under justifiable attack for firing U.S. attorneys because they failed to prosecute enough alleged voter fraud to help GOP candidates win elections.
We say alleged because genuine voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States and could be wiped out entirely through adoption of rigorous but fair election standards and procedures not meant to favor one political party over another.
Instead, conservatives nationwide have advanced unnecessary tactics like photo ID laws, which tend to discourage poor and minority voters, many of whom lean Democratic, from casting ballots. In closely divided elections, such voter suppression can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Indeed, the federal judge who ruled Georgia s ID law unconstitutional said it functioned more like a poll tax an old racist ploy and went beyond what was necessary to discourage fraud. Ohio has a similar law, rammed through the Republican-dominated General Assembly amid similarly flimsy claims of fraud.
Congress can help call a halt to such incipient racism and unfairness on June 13, when Mr. von Spakovsky has his confirmation hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
He first got onto the Elections Commission through a backdoor recess appointment by President Bush in late 2005. Now he has been tapped for an FEC term that runs through April, 2011.
But just because Mr. von Spakovsky has been nominated doesn t mean the Senate should confirm him, and in the interest of unbiased election policies for everyone, it should not.-43.38333 170.1833