Monday, August 18, 2008

"Voter fraud" = "we will suppress the vote"

I’ve done a bit of writing over the past couple of years about election integrity issues, election fraud, voter suppression and the “gaming the system from the inside” that has been the republican party’s modus operandi since 2000 when it comes to stealing elections in various forms.

And right on cue - even since the anti-voter voter ID laws that were recently passed in Indiana (and almost passed in Missouri), we are seeing, as my good buddy dday is referring to as the “new battleground” - that big bad boogyman of “voter fraud”.

Never mind the fact that this is (1) a false argument and (2) false in the small issue of fact, as I wrote a few months back:

So, now that this is out of the way, I’ll refer to a 2006 DOJ memo that I discussed over the weekend:
The US Department of Justice put out a release regarding the “massive” voter fraud that they have uncovered and investigated. And there was lots to be “proud” of:
As a result of the Initiative, nationwide enforcement of election crimes has increased dramatically. At present, 195 investigations are pending throughout the country. Moreover, since the start of the Initiative in 2002 over 300 investigations of possible election crime have been opened, and over 125 election crime matters have been closed after investigation; 119 individuals have been charged with ballot fraud offenses and 86 individuals have been convicted of these crimes; and 48 individuals have been charged with campaign financing fraud and 42 individuals have been convicted of these offenses.

In over four years, only 42 individuals have been convicted, and under 50 have been charged with campaign finance fraud - now if we think of those who have been heavily lined to campaign finance fraud, one party comes to mind in a big way - and that isn’t the one who keeps pushing “voter fraud” laws. Only 86 people were convicted of “ballot fraud” (of course, Ann Coulter was cleared after calling in a favor from her well connected boyfriend), out of 300 investigations.

The issue of the voter going to the polling place in order to personally cast a vote that is fraudulent is, based on the DOJ’s own numbers - basically nonexistent. And the one high profile case was that of Ann Coulter, someone who conveniently wasn’t charged.

But the issue of voters without proper ID is one that is potential gold for the party that (1) wouldn’t likely get these votes anyway and (2) can eliminate a possible 10 million plus registered voter (or vote) advantage.

Still don’t believe me? OK, fine. Let’s just look at the tens of thousands of Floridians who were disenfranchised in 2000, or the hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters in 2004 who were disenfranchised for a contrast to the 150 or so individuals who the DOJ is touting.

The first and larger issue here is the way that this issue is being presented and argued - whether it be “voter ID” laws, whether it be voter roll purges, whether it be voter registrations or whatever else. The issue should be to make sure that people that have the right to vote can actually vote, not that people that are not eligible to vote should not be voting.

Yes, both are true, but the 2nd part - about people voting who shouldn’t vote, or people registering to vote illegally is a very minor issue - as noted by the DOJ report linked above. The flip side of these 50 people, or even 150 people who committed so called “voter fraud” or “registration fraud” is that hundreds of thousands of people in Florida were illegally disenfranchised, tens of thousands in Ohio and countless others in states that have enacted voter roll purges or ID laws.

And we are already seeing it again - as dday states in his post linked above:

With an uninspiring candidate, an enthusiasm gap and a host of fundamentals against them, obstruction and suppression is really all the Republicans have left. You can see exactly where they're worried from this story:
As Barack Obama tries to draw hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls, Republicans are beginning to scrutinize registrants' eligibility as both sides draw a major battle line over voting rights.

Republicans are moving to examine surges in voter registrations in some states. A Republican lawyers group held a national training session on election law over the weekend that included campaign attorneys for Sen. John McCain and other Republican leaders. One session discussed how party operatives can identify and respond to instances of voter fraud.

Republicans said they are particularly worried about prospects for fraud in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and are beginning to comb thousands of new registrations in those states for ineligible applicants. In some cases the huge numbers threaten to swamp their efforts -- and those of state and local governments to verify and process applications.

Read: we're going to lose Virginia and Pennsylvania unless we invalidate hundreds of thousands of legal votes through bogus voter fraud claims. Both of the Secretaries of State in these commonwealths are Democrats, but of course the county boards of elections have more local control, as we've seen. And be prepared for this meme that the stress of all these new voters may break the system.

We have already seen three instances recently where this fear mongering has reared its ugly head.

The WaPo recently shot down the Virginia State republican Party Chair’s baseless allegations of “coordinated and widespread voter fraud....throughout Virginia, since there was no fact to back up these assertions. In Connecticut, the republican state party Chair made unsubstantiated allegations and calls for investigation into non-existent voter registration fraud, based on a video made by Election Journal, which is run by Mike Roman, a man who happens to be McCain’s Director of Election Day Operations and was the RNC’s Director of Election Day Registration in 2006.

Of course, the Connecticut allegations and hysteria has nothing to do with this:

Democratic voter registration is up sharply in southwestern Connecticut's 4th Congressional District, and political analysts said Friday that

In fact, if city Democrats in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford show up on Election Day in a tide of anticipated statewide urban support for Sen. Barack Obama, Shays' narrow 5,747-vote margin of 2006 could evaporate into a forced political retirement.


Since Jan. 1, 11,329 new Democrats have registered in the 17-town district. Only 3,462 Republicans have signed up so far this year and only 8,299 unaffiliated voters.

And from the hysterical to the ridiculous, there are unsupported allegations (with “a report forthcoming”) in Alabama with respect to votes being sold for crack. This is very similar to the same story that was put out in 2004 in Ohio, and even if true, requires prosecution of the offending individual - not sweeping law changes that will suppress thousands of other voters rights.

It is happening again - actually, it has been happening all along. And as more and more new voters are registered, there will be more challenges and hurdles thrown up by the republican party to make sure that less people can vote, not more people.

If a few hundred thousand likely Democratic voters get caught in the crossfire and don’t get to vote, then the republicans will consider it “Mission Accomplished”.


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