Thursday, October 23, 2008

Beware the GOP Voter Fraud Machine

With Obama leading in the polls, it seems almost counterintuitive to worry about GOP voter tampering, but after the Florida debaucle in the Bush vs. Gore race in 2000, not to mention similar incidents in Ohio in the Bush vs. Kerry race in 2004, and with lots of meddling already in the works - or out of the works, as the case may be - we really need to be sure that every vote is counted.

Remember, polls are not votes. There's been calculated to be a 6-point vulnerability spread for Obama due to closet racists, those people who won't vote for a black man no matter what, and who won't admit it in the open or in the polls. That means he has to be 6 points ahead in the polls to be sure of just breaking even. Sounds like the same old racist thing repeated again - an African-American has to have superpowers to be considered among the ranks of the "normal", and even then racists will be racists.

Bearing that in mind, no one should be complacent. The McCain/Palin ticket still have hope, albeit waning, and their supporters will still come out and vote for them. But the GOP has another strategy, and that is denying votes to those most likely to vote Democratic: the poor, non-white, urban, even certain sectors of the elderly... in other words, all the folks who might have "identification" problems, such as lack of drivers' licenses or other similar issues. These are precisely the people the GOP is targeting in their numerous requests for "verification" in swing states.

This is still the GOP which literally harassed and intimidated voters in the last 2 elections in order to "elect" the current President, the "beloved" W, to office. That selection actually was made by Supreme Court order in 2000, an historical year in denying an entire state, Florida, its right to have all its votes counted properly. And they are endlessly seeking ways to intimidate voters this year, now by various schemes touted as "anti-fraud" investigations - but in fact, little more than schemes to deny votes by identification confusion, a confusion far more likely to happen to Democratic-leaning voters.

According to this report,

You know it’s going to be a heated election when a state attorney general sues his own state agency for not cracking down on voter fraud. But that’s just what’s happened in Wisconsin. It’s indicative of the kinds of legal challenges now being brought in hotly contested states around the country. The outcomes of those challenges will decide whose votes get counted and whose don’t — and in a race as close as this one, that could make all the difference.

In each case, Republicans claim voter fraud is rampant and the government has to crack down on it. Democrats, meanwhile, argue it’s rare – and far less of a problem than intimidation and harassment of voters at the polls.

Fortunately, their attempt in Ohio was struck down, but more attempts are in the works:

In Wisconsin, Atty. Gen. J.B. Van Hollen – a Republican and the state co-chair of Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign — has sued the state’s Government Accountability Board, a non-partisan group of former state judges responsible for implementing the election laws. Van Hollen insists that the board’s failure to require that the identifying information which voters used to register matches the information contained in a new statewide voter database is a violation of the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

This Act has served as a pretext for the GOP's latest attempt at vote manipulation, guised as "fraud prevention". That veneer won't hold, though.

The federal law requires states to create a computerized statewide voter registration list that contains the name and identifying information of every legally registered voter. It does not, however, require that information on already-registered voters match the information in the new database.

For good reason. Personal data often doesn’t match — not due to any voter fraud, but because voters used a married or hyphenated name or nickname; or because of typographical errors by state workers entering the information into the database.

As a result, the handful of states that have mandated matching have found themselves facing a logistical nightmare. In Washington state, between 16 percent and 30 percent of registered voters in each county did not match the state database. In Florida, some 20,000 voters were denied or delayed in voting on that basis in 2006. Both ended up getting sued for making the match mandatory and so disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters.

Yet the GOP pushes on. Even though this is just "legalized" harassment, or shall we say, white-collar harassment. Oh, those elite Republicans.

“To immediately require that every voter registered since January 2006 be matched against the state database,” Kevin Kennedy, the board’s director and general counsel wrote to Van Hollen in August, “could lead to mass confusion at the polls.”

Require the impossible, then enforce it - to hell with the consequences. But this time, hopefully, it won't work. As for their bogus claims that fraud could occur,

“It is more likely that an individual will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls,” the Brennan Center for Justice concluded, after conducting a comprehensive study last year.

Meanwhile, the Brennan Center’s studies show that rules like the one Wisconsin’s attorney general is advocating disenfranchise thousands of people – most often the poor, elderly and minorities.

In Florida, for example, where the Brennan Center sued the state on behalf of the state’s NAACP, studies showed that black voters made up 13 percent of all registration applicants, but were 26 percent of all matching problems. Similarly, Latinos were 15 percent of the total voting population, and 39 percent of those blocked; while white voters were 66 percent of the voter applicant pool, but only 17 percent of those whose applications didn’t match.

“The law inevitably leads to higher and heavier burdens being placed on less affluent voters and voters of color,” said Adam Skaggs, counsel for the Brennan Center. “So more of those voters will have their votes not counted in November. And as we saw in 2000, it can take only a couple hundred voters to make the difference in the election.”

So in fact these tactics amount to fraud disguised as anti-fraud. Just as "compassionate Conservatism" was expedience disguised as compassion, and the war in Iraq was aggression-occupation disguised as rescue-liberation. And supply-side economics was spend-n-borrow disguised as thrift-n-save; get-rich-schemes for the rich disguised as job-creation for the rest-of-us.

“Voter fraud is a huge canard,” said Robert Atkins, a partner at Paul Weiss Rifkind & Garrison who is working with the Brennan Center on the case against Florida. “There’s a long history of systemic attempts to rip off elections. There’s no evidence to support individual efforts of voter fraud. It’s a sham.”

Indeed, until 2007, the Justice Dept. policy was not even to investigate claims of individual voter fraud, on the grounds that it has “only a minimal impact on the integrity of the voting process.”

That policy was changed by the Bush administration to allow prosecution of individuals at the prosecutor’s discretion. Congressional hearings later revealed that some of the U.S. attorneys fired under Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales were targeted due to their failure to prosecute claims of voter fraud urged by Republicans in their districts.

Oh, so it's the same Bush lie machine that's behind all this, and some idiots are still believing in it. And we all have to watch out.
Democrats are concerned. “Based on what we saw in Florida in 2000, and Ohio in 2004, we expect Republicans to spend a lot of time in highly Democratic precincts and use the HAVA test to challenge voters,” said Wineke. “Every time there’s a challenge, it slows the train down. All the people standing in line behind this individual are going to stand in line even longer. And not everybody can stand in line three or four hours to vote.”

“It’s not that we want to have people vote that shouldn’t be voting,” Wineke continued. “We just don’t want people who are eligible to vote unable to vote because of partisan mischief.”

So it's only fitting that the GOP's tactic to bring back the lies and fraud that have brought down America to its lowest point should be - their typical M.O. - fraud crusading as its own enemy.

And if that fails, watch for roadblocks in a neighborhood near you. And be ready to fight for that right to vote - it's our duty to protect that right for each other.

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