The national media has taken note of the saga of Leslie Rutledge, pointing out the irony of Republicans crying foul over cancelling a voter’s registration by following the letter of the law in a confusing process (well, candidates for the top attorney in the state may have a less sympathetic case on the “confusing” front, but you get the point).

Here’s Salon, which notes the particularly grotesque hypocrisy of the Republican National Lawyers Association, which specializes in giving legal cover to attempts at last-minute, wholesale voter purges to large groups of ordinary citizens, but is now furious that Rutledge has now been removed from the voting rolls because Larry Crane followed the law.


The RNLA is the right-wing group which has, for years, been at the forefront of pretending there is massive voter fraud going on, and pushing for disenfranchising polling-place photo ID restrictions and supporting mass voter registration roll purges by Republican officials, even if the purges take place inside the 90 days before a federal election when systematic purges are supposed to be in violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). …

While the RNLA has gone to court defending mass pre-election purges in years past, now they are flipping that script to pretend that the removal of Rutledge from the rolls by Pulaski’s Democratic County Clerk Larry Crane amounts to a “systematic” purge, “almost certainly in violation of federal law.”

Lindsey Millar explained last week why the RNLA’s claim on federal law here is, legally, “apples and oranges,” but the chutzpah is a sight to behold: Republicans who have been A-OK enacting barriers to voting and using legal nitpicking to disenfranchise or confuse large groups of voters — sometimes based on erroneous or unverified information — are finally moved to defend voting rights when an individual, verified, legally mandated and easily correctable cancellation happens. The RNLA is willing to defend the voting rights, at least, of Republicans running for attorney general. 

ThinkProgress piles on


Voters around the country can sympathize with Rutledge on this point. Reports of confusion and misdirection by poll workers and elections officials emerged in several states during the 2012 election. In Ohio, for example, some voters have even been criminally prosecuted for fraud because they followed flawed instructions. During voter purges in Florida and Colorado, many eligible voters were removed for similar reasons Rutledge was; an outdated address or a typo was enough to flag voters as fraudulent.

The Republican National Lawyers Association has also come to Rutledge’s defense, expressing outrage that she was “systematically removed from voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election.” RNLA Chairman J. Randy Evans went on, “The fact is that it is a clear and unmistakable attempt at the most harmful kind of voter suppression in violation of federal law – removing a qualified female voter from the rolls notwithstanding her valid registration and actual votes in the last 4 elections in violation of her civil rights. Democrats should be embarrassed.”

Ironically, the RNLA has been instrumental in pushing mass voter purges across the country, specifically defending the right to purge voters within 90 days of the election.

As I’ve noted, as a matter of principle, I find enacting barriers to ballot access to any citizen — whether based on minor voter registration mistakes, legal technicalities, confusing bureaucracy, burdensome requirements, etc. — an ugly business.

Apparently the Leslie Rutledge and RNLA only think it’s ugly if it happens to Leslie Rutledge.