The SanityPrompt

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Friday, October 29, 2004

The GOP Voter Fraud Campaign

I am pretty much kicking myself tonight for trying to be magnanimous in seeing the GOP side of the voter suppression/voter fraud debate. How could I have been so naive?

I noticed that both TPM and NewDonkey were beating this drum pretty hard today as well as the American Prospect and NewDemocrats Online blog. I have had a tendency to try to look past this but I have to confess to some concern several weeks ago when I noticed an emerging drum beat of punditry from the Right warning about voter fraud just when Democrats were starting to get in gear about their fears of seeing Florida repeated in this election. A local Right-wing columnist started off by criticizing Democrats as hysterical about voter suppression that didn't exist, even arguing that the Civil Rights Commission found no effort to suppress minority votes in Florida when I think it's pretty clear that this is exactly what they did find in 2000.

Then William Safire jumped in to scream about voter fraud and was quickly joined by George Will. The echo chamber got lit up again pretty quick at this point. In fact, our local paper began a steady stream of articles about potential voter fraud in this state and was quickly joined by local TV outlets. The concerns were of felons on parole who were registering to vote and thousands of double or triple registrations of some voters -- who it turns out were simply moving around over a 4 year period and re-registering in their new locale while the Secretary of State wasn't updating voter roles on a regular basis. Hardly a widespread campaign of fraud.

Still, I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt in recognition that each side has legitimate grievances over the past. Until tonight's local news that is and also hearing the news out of Ohio. There, a local judge threw out a Republican effort to challenge the legitimacy of thousands (I mean 30,000!) of new registrants. The GOP's reaction? 'Well, since this activist judge wouldn't help us settle these concerns before the election, we will just have to do this at the polls on election day with our poll watchers.' Here in Colorado some GOP big-wigs held a press conference charging Democrats with widespread systematic intent to commit voter fraud and warned that they will be on watch on election day.

So the groundwork has been laid for thousands of GOP pollwatchers to hold up lines in Democratic precincts across the country but particularly in battleground states. The legitimacy of their effort already established through the media, any effort by Democrats to get the lines moving again will be labeled 'intimidation,' a word already trotted out here in Colorado. Ed Kilgore over at NewDonkey does a great job of breaking this down and pointing out the similarities to Florida --act like the Gestapo with regard to intimidation and suppressing democracy and then accuse your opponents of this crime when they get upset. I am willing to concede the what is beginning to emerge appears to be a widespread effort to slow down the vote on Election Day and create chaos and frustration on the part of high performance Democratic voters. The ground work has been laid. The media alerted. All that remains to see is how efficiently election officials and judges deal with this looming crisis, because you know we can't count on the media to get this story out now. It reeks too much of a 'conspiracy theory,' the Left having been outflanked by the master conspirators.

NewDonkey has some more heartening late breaking news out of Ohio.

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