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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The myth of "voter fraud"
Posted by Jill | 6:46 AM
It's starting to look increasingly like the primary purpose of the U.S. Attorney purge was to use the United States Department of Justice to disenfranchise perhaps millions of Americans whom the Administration felt were likely to vote Democratic in the 2008 election:

A federal panel responsible for conducting election research played down the findings of experts who concluded last year that there was little voter fraud around the nation, according to a review of the original report obtained by The New York Times.
Instead, the panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report that said the pervasiveness of fraud was open to debate.

The revised version echoes complaints made by Republican politicians, who have long suggested that voter fraud is widespread and justifies the voter identification laws that have been passed in at least two dozen states.

Democrats say the threat is overstated and have opposed voter identification laws, which they say disenfranchise the poor, members of minority groups and the elderly, who are less likely to have photo IDs and are more likely to be Democrats.

Though the original report said that among experts “there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud,” the final version of the report released to the public concluded in its executive summary that “there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud.”

The topic of voter fraud, usually defined as people misrepresenting themselves at the polls or improperly attempting to register voters, remains a lively division between the two parties. It has played a significant role in the current Congressional investigation into the Bush administration’s firing of eight United States attorneys, several of whom, documents now indicate, were dismissed for being insufficiently aggressive in pursuing voter fraud cases.

The report also addressed intimidation, which Democrats see as a more pervasive problem.

And two weeks ago, the panel faced criticism for refusing to release another report it commissioned concerning voter identification laws. That report, which was released after intense pressure from Congress, found that voter identification laws designed to fight fraud can reduce turnout, particularly among members of minorities. In releasing that report, which was conducted by a different set of scholars, the commission declined to endorse its findings, citing methodological concerns.

A number of election law experts, based on their own research, have concluded that the accusations regarding widespread fraud are unjustified. And in this case, one of the two experts hired to do the report was Job Serebrov, a Republican elections lawyers from Arkansas, who defended his research in an e-mail message obtained by The Times that was sent last October to Margaret Sims, a commission staff member.

“Tova and I worked hard to produce a correct, accurate and truthful report,” Mr. Serebrov wrote, referring to Tova Wang, a voting expert with liberal leanings from the Century Foundation and co-author of the report. “I could care less that the results are not what the more conservative members of my party wanted.”

He added: “Neither one of us was willing to conform results for political expediency.”

Vote suppression has worked extremely well for Republicans and the Bush family up to this point. From the Florida voter purge of 2000 to the various tactics used to suppress minority votes in Ohio in 2004, Republicans have been busily at work gaming the system to ensure the perpetuation of their party's power. And until Josh Marshall started examining the firings of these U.S. Attorneys, it looked like intimidation of voters and wholesale purging of the voter rolls through bogus investigations of "voter fraud" was going to rig the system in Republican favor in 2008 as well.

The outcry about voting in the aftermath of the 2000 election was used by Republicans to attempt to force touch-screen voting machines down the throats of voters in every state in the country. Through the efforts of people like Bev Harris, Avi Rubin, David Dill and others, legislators have been made aware of the problems with these voting systems and they have now been scrapped in many states. This created a problem for Republicans, who could no longer rely on black boxes built by Republican campaign contributors to rig the vote. So they had to find another way, and the best way to do so would be to place obstacles in the paths of the poor, the elderly, and voters with limited English skills to keep them from voting. U.S. attorneys who refused to go along with the scheme, and refused to pursue bogus prosecutions were fired. What that says about those who have NOT been fired remains to be seen.

It can no longer be denied: Republicans will rig the system to ensure Republican power by any means necessary. The question now is this: What are we going to do about it?


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