While NAACP President Benjamin Jealous lashed out at new state
laws requiring photo ID for voting, an NAACP executive sits in
prison, sentenced for carrying out a massive voter fraud scheme.
In a story ignored by the national media, in April a Tunica
County, Miss., jury convicted NAACP official Lessadolla Sowers
on 10 counts of fraudulently casting absentee ballots. Sowers is
identified on an NAACP website as a member of the Tunica County
NAACP Executive Committee.
Sowers received a five-year prison term for each of the 10
counts, but Circuit Court Judge Charles Webster permitted Sowers
to serve those terms concurrently, according to the Tunica
Times, the only media outlet to cover the sentencing.
“This crime cuts against the fabric of our free society,” Judge
Sowers was found guilty of voting in the names of Carrie
Collins, Walter Howard, Sheena Shelton, Alberta Pickett, Draper
Cotton and Eddie Davis. She was also convicted of voting in the
names of four dead persons: James L. Young, Dora Price, Dorothy
Harris, and David Ross.
In the trial, forensic scientist Bo Scales testified that
Sowers’s DNA was found on the inner seals of five envelopes
containing absentee ballots.
This wasn’t Sowers’s first run-in with the law. Sowers
previously had her probation revoked for disturbing the peace at
a junior high school library, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis
reported in 1990. During a hearing at that time, Sowers played
the race card. She claimed to be the victim of “an attempt by
powerful whites to silence” her, the newspaper reported. It
didn’t work. She was ordered back to prison to complete the
remaining two years of a three-year sentence she received for
The NAACP has had other problems with voter fraud. The NAACP
National Voter Fund registered a dead man to vote in Lake
County, Ohio, in 2004. That same year, out of 325 voter
registration cards filed by the NAACP in Cleveland, 48 were
flagged as fraudulent.
But the NAACP’s voter fraud record doesn’t approach that of
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform
Now. At least 54 individuals employed by or associated with
ACORN have been convicted of voter fraud.
Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term
used by lawyers that encompasses a host of election-related
improprieties including fraudulent voting, voter registration
fraud, perjury, forgery, counterfeiting, impersonation,
intimidation, and identity fraud.
And ACORN, which filed for bankruptcy last November, was itself
convicted of voter fraud in Nevada in April. Sentencing is
scheduled for Aug. 10 in Las Vegas. ACORN was also banished from
Ohio in 2010 when it settled a state racketeering filed against
it by the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, a project of the
Buckeye Institute. Under the settlement ACORN, which is now
reorganizing its state chapters under different names, agreed
never to return to the state.
Election experts say voter fraud is fairly common, but
progressive activists typically insist that the crime is
virtually nonexistent. Republicans, they say, routinely
exaggerate claims of voter fraud in order to whip their
political base into a frenzy and push for voter ID laws.
Liberals say such laws are unfair, and claim that they
discourage minorities and the poor from voting.
The NAACP’s Jealous said Monday at the group’s 102nd annual
convention in Los Angeles that photo ID laws are part of an
attempt to disenfranchise minorities through some “of the last
existing legal pillars of Jim Crow.” Such laws stem from “the
worst and most racist elements” in conservative Tea Party
groups, he said.
Stephen Colbert, the liberal comedian who portrays an
overbearing conservative Republican on his cable TV show “The
Colbert Report,” broadcast a segment this week ridiculing
Republicans for treating voter fraud as a serious problem.
Some Democrats, however, aren’t laughing. The office of District
Attorney Brenda F. Mitchell, a registered Democrat who serves
Mississippi’s 11th Circuit Court District, successfully
prosecuted Sowers. Mitchell was appointed to the post by
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour in January 2010 after the previous
DA resigned. She’s now seeking the Democratic nomination for the
office in a primary election scheduled for Aug. 2.
Mitchell doesn’t appear to be a conservative. She served as a
legal consultant to the far-left, New York-based public interest
law firm the Center for Constitutional Rights. That firm
represented ACORN in an ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit
challenging the constitutionality of a federal law defunding the
activist group. Mitchell didn’t return calls seeking comment for
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, is also no
conservative. But she won a conviction against Joshua Reed for
voter registration fraud in 2004 when she was the Hennepin
County, Minn. Prosecutor.
“It was very important for the public integrity of our electoral
system that somebody, if they do something like this, gets
charged, gets convicted and gets consequences,” Klobuchar said
at the time.
Democrats, including Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez
Masto, Pittsburgh District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., and
Miami, Fla., State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, have all
vigorously prosecuted voter fraud cases.
Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a
Washington, D.C. think tank. Vadum’s book, Subversion Inc., was
published in 2011.