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Monday, May 21, 2007

Voter fraud? Eh, not so much

Via Think Progress comes this Slate article headlined "The Fraudulent Fraud Squad."
Imagine the National Rifle Association's Web site suddenly disappeared, along with all the data and reports the group had ever posted on gun issues. Imagine Planned Parenthood inexplicably closed its doors one day, without comment from its former leaders. The scenarios are unthinkable, given how established these organizations have become. But even if something did happen to the NRA or Planned Parenthood, no doubt other gun or abortion groups would quickly fill the vacuum and push the ideas they'd pushed for years.

Not so for the American Center for Voting Rights, a group that has literally just disappeared as an organization, and for which it seems no replacement group will rise up. With no notice and little comment, ACVR—the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem, a problem warranting strict rules such as voter-ID laws—simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences. Its Web domain name has suddenly expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark "Thor" Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of affiliation with the group. Hearne won't speak to the press about ACVR's demise. No other group has taken up the "voter fraud" mantra.
You know, sometimes you have to step back and look at the big picture. The only way the GOP could get away with voter suppression is to make it appear that "Democrats do it too." Thus the constant effort to claim things happened that didn't happen, and the assaults upon U.S. attorneys who wouldn't play ball.

Whether the 2004 election in Washington was just kind of lucky for Republicans in that regard, or whether there was more of an organized effort to be prepared for a close election, it seems pretty clear the same basic strategy and tactics were used here. The internet tubes just made it easier to push the baloney to all parts of the state, where the hardcore wingnuts gladly seized upon orange balloons and spreadsheet columns as "evidence" of something that didn't happen.

And the traditional media was largely happy to present this burgeoning "controversy," because after all, they were just telling "both sides."

If people want to talk about "improving election systems," great. If the intent is actually to construct a voting system that makes it harder for certain types of people to vote, not great. There's no legitimate reason to raise hurdles for lower-income (read: minority) citizens who might tend to move around more.

If the intent is to carry the Lost Cause into battle again in 2008, it's more baloney. I'd suggest buying a lot of brown mustard.

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