Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 9:05 pm

The Republican Party has a big problem: voters

Filed under: Evil,I want my country back. — Lex @ 9:05 pm
Tags: ,

What do you do when your policies are insane, your candidates are a clown car full of geeks and waterheads off of which all the corporate money in the world can’t wipe the makeup, and your base is dying off rapidly?

At that point, you’re pretty much down to one option: You illegally and unconstitutionally conspire to deny people their right to vote. And that, under the guise of complaints about “vote fraud,” is how the GOP is rolling right now.

“Vote fraud” actually is a misleadingly broad term, a fact that works to the GOP’s advantage. It breaks down into two major subcategories — well, one minor and one major.

The one that GOP wants you to think is the major problem is “voter fraud,” or, to be technical, voter-impersonation fraud. This takes place when someone votes who is not legally registered to vote, or who votes while claiming to be someone he or she is not (typically because whoever he or she actually is is not legally registered to vote, or not registered in that jurisdiction).

The GOP has argued that this fraud is a problem so prevalent that people should be required to produce government-issued identification when casting ballots.

Two major points to recall about this type of fraud: First, fraudulently registering to vote, while properly a crime, has no affect on the outcome of an election. One must actually cast a fraudulent ballot to have even a chance of affecting the outcome. And, second, the actual incidence of fraudulently cast ballots in the computer age is, insofar as anyone has been able to document, vanishingly rare. It’s just simply not a big problem. As Kay at Balloon Juice summarizes:

Conservatives in Ohio (like Florida) instituted a strict voter ID regimen based on conservative and media claims of voter fraud. A lot of us said at the time that voter ID laws wouldn’t solve the voter impersonation fraud problem because there was no voter impersonation fraud problem. As predicted, the voter ID laws in Ohio and Florida have had no effect at all, the unsupported claims continue, and are now being used to justify still more draconian measures. This is not at all surprising, because it was never about fraud.

What it is about is election fraud — perpetrated by Republicans. The GOP is trying to prevent from voting those people — young, poor, elderly, minority, convicted felons who have paid their debts to society — who are statistically more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. The fact that doing so is a federal crime matters not a bit to them. If they can keep these people off the voter rolls, or prevent them from casting votes as they are legally entitled to do, then they have a shot at winning some elections they otherwise would have no chance to win. And because they lack a coherent philosophy, sane candidates, governing skill or anything else except an overwhelming desire to keep their faces firmly in the crotch of big business, that’s now their business plan.

Election fraud is very big and, unlike voter fraud, very real. George Bush “carried” Florida and thus was awarded the 2000 presidential election because a contractor retained by his brother Jeb, then the state’s governor, and Secretary of State Katherine Harris illegally struck from the voter registration rolls thousands of people who were legally eligible to vote and who, if even a small number had voted, likely would have swung the state and the election to Al Gore. This crime was documented in the first chapter of Greg Palast’s book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. But that’s only the best-known example.

It’s easy to say that anyone who opposes voter ID opposes honest elections, and there’s a certain intuitive appeal to that argument. If you’re going to vote, shouldn’t you be who you claim to be? But it’s already a crime to vote when you’re not legally registered, and it’s already a crime to misrepresent yourself as eligible to register when you’re not. The fact of the matter is that Republicans aren’t pushing voter ID because they’re interested in honest elections. They’re pushing it because they are trying to keep anti-GOP voters from voting so that they can steal elections they can’t honestly win. Conspiring to deny people their constitutional rights is a felony, of course, but that’s never stopped them before.

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