Voter Fraud Tactic is Just Another Voter Suppression Tactic

mapofshame2015New Orleans  Score setting is boring. It’s almost Trumpian. Who cares about all of this inside baseball back and forth? No one but the players in all likelihood. But, vindication, now that’s different. Recognition of a reality where someone has being crying to be heard in the wilderness, oh, yes, that’s worth taking note, I think.

And, so we will!

Finally, there’s starting to be a drumbeat of deeper understanding starting to rise among the cognoscenti in the media and political class that might eventually be heard over the din of the spin machines down to the grassroots that recognizes that these claims of voter fraud are nothing more than election tactics designed to confuse voters, rile up the hater-base, inspire racists, and suppress minority votes. Trump’s total lack of any credibility whatsoever has finally forced some mainstream reporters out of their deep slumber because the antipathy to Trump is so great by so many that they see his claims of a “rigged” election as a threat to democracy, rather than the standard operating procedure for election cycles at least throughout the 21st century in the United States.

I don’t want to suffer from “premature certainty,” but first the Washington Post pointed out that this rigged election malarkey was also a feature of the 2008 election thanks to John McCain’s fallacious accusations that ACORN was about to carry out the biggest voter fraud in history. The story was run nationally on the Tribune wire. Now the Huffington Post has jumped in and, more weightily, the New York Times finally got off the duff and realized that this “crying wolf” about so-called “voter fraud” has been going on cycle to cycle since at least 2000. Hello, welcome aboard the reality train! They of course cite the fact that ACORN was targeted, wrongly, in 2008, though they could as easily with a little more work and research have also made the same case back several cycles before 2008 as well.

The facts rarely disrupt tactics that are working even if they are essentially little more than media-manipulation and campaign dirty tricks. They do throw some fuel into the fire of truth though, and we can hope the sparks spread. Here are some:

…a study by Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles…uncovered only 31 credible claims of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014, out of one billion ballots that were cast. An Arizona State University journalism project reviewed 2068 allegations of election fraud between 2000 and 2012 and concluded that only 10 had involved misrepresentation.

Many of the allegations have been directed at efforts to register minority voters, so it’s hard to avoid the race mongering inherent in these claims and the intentional voter suppression, tragically backed up by targeted legislation largely in red-Republican states. Efforts to charge immigrants with illegal registration and voting, especially in 2012, but certainly in 2008, as well have all been pretty clearly unsubstantiated and at worse attributed to errors and confusion.

The Times concluded with an assessment from Lorraine Minnite from Rutgers, a voting expert, that,

“The frame is being controlled by those who are promoting the idea that fraud is a problem. If we shifted the framework to people who are trying to vote but don’t get their vote counted, we’d be having a different discussion.”

Been there, done that, said it often, so big whoop and amen to that!


Many Republican Ghostbusters Still Believe ACORN Stole this Election, Too!

current ad for the Ghostbusters

Quito      First there was a Facebook posting to me that I thought was a joke, complete with a picture of James O’Keefe in his racist pimp-master fur suit.  But, then the emails started coming in, and it was increasingly clear, that, yes, Virginia, there may not be a Santa Claus, but according to the weird and whacky Republican Party base, there is still an ACORN and it’s alive and dangerous.

A poll by the reputable and respected North Carolina-based outfit, Public Policy Polling, threw in a ringer question on a poll of 700 or so, not a huge sample, but not trivial either, about whether or not respondents believed that ACORN had stolen the election for President Obama in the recent 2012 election.  Aliens from another planet might wonder, “why did they ask?,” but many will remember that in a similar set of polls after Obama won in 2008, more than 52% of Republicans surveyed believed that ACORN had just done that.  Polls conducted throughout the first Obama term that included the question on election theft by ACORN continued to persistently record a hardcore number that refused to believe anything else.

Well, it’s back!  The rightwing obsession with ACORN continues unabated.  This time 49% of the Republicans who responded thought that ACORN had stolen the election.  Many of the bloggers and ha-ha-ha folks in the political cognoscenti of course point out that the ACORN corporation went out of business in the United States two years and one month ago, by which they mean, ha-ha-ha, “how could this have been possible?”  Perhaps in this case the Republicans have this righter than the Democrats and understand that despite how preposterous it is to believe that ACORN stole the election, the ACORN spirit and enterprise is still very much alive and well, which it surely is, and I can guaran-damn-tee that!

In fairness to the Republicans, who god knows have their own problems in addition to their obsession with being Ghostbusters, Alexander  Abad-Santos points out in the that there is almost as much mischief in this particular poll question as there is in the ACORN attack:

Alexander Abad-Santos  Dec 4, 2012

The funniest poll of the afternoon comes from the folks over at Public Policy Polling, who have results that are new and legitimate results (if a bit heavy on the forced fantasy questions) finding that 49 percent of Republicans and six percent of Democrats believe ACORN stole the 2012 election for Barack Obama — despite the pesky fact that ACORN folded in 2010. How … wait … huh?

We get it: This is supposed to be one of those what-if polls that indicates how voters will believe anything. “We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore,” writes the team at PPP.

But that isn’t 100-percent fair. We don’t dispute the results from what we now know to be one of the most accurate pollsters in the game, but throwing a silly fact out there like that isn’t exactly fair considering the questioning. What’s important to remember is that 100 percent of the 700 people who were asked the ACORN question were prompted the ACORN theory by PPP itself:

So, yeah, regardless of political rancor and in the spirit of American intellect, we’re shooting for a 100-0-0 here. But by putting that question out there and those three options, you’re skewing results. And we don’t know if Republicans are coming up with this conspiracy theory organically:

All that laid out, yes, 100-0-0 should be what we’re looking for across the board. And, yes, that 49% is disheartening, but let’s not forget this question: Who are the 6 percent of Democrats and 2 percent of people who voted for Obama who think ACORN stole the whole thing?

Ok, Ok, so it’s a little bit of a hoot using the still formidable ACORN brand and it’s deep base of support not only in lower income communities throughout the USA, but increasingly around the world, where ACORN International continues to toil in the vineyards of many cities, communities, and mega-slums, but all I’ll say is that the Republicans, and perhaps the Democrats, are right to worry.  Not about election stealing since that never happened, but about the fact that the heart and spirit of ACORN is still very much alive, and, you just don’t know, but it could be coming again to a town near you someday soon!



Voting Wars: Masking Voter Suppression Under the Fog of War

Little Rock  Back in the old days of the Cold War, one of the things we were frequently taught from classroom to scout den had to do with the nefarious tricks of the propaganda trade involving the so-called “Big Lie.”  If one repeated a lie often enough, then people would start believing the lie and not the truth.  This was a pre-internet insight, which seems to continue to have currency, especially if one reads the continuing conservative uproar, and, yes, “big lies” claiming that their real concerns have to do with voter fraud rather than voter suppression.

Bretin Mock in The Nation’s “Voting Rights Blog,” interviewed Richard Hasen, election law expert, professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of the much reviewed and discussed book, Voting Wars:  From Florida 2000 to the Next Election.  One of the questions he asked point blank had to do with what he correctly called the “prevailing myth” involving “ACORN perpetuated voter fraud:”

The Voting Wars is just the latest dismantling of a prevailing myth around ACORN-perpetuated voter fraud, which has been the right’s main weapon against voting rights.  How does the right keep this myth alive?

They are a very convenient target, even though they don’t exist [any longer]. ACORN is a name that has resonance and tying current groups to ACORN is a way to try to sully their reputation. It’s important to realize that the main problem with ACORN is that [they] hired employees who falsified voter registration documents in order to get paid. I have yet to see a single case of a proven fraudulent ballot registration submitted by an ACORN employee leading to a fraudulently cast ballot. So Tony Romo, the quarterback, may have registered many times through false registrations submitted by ACORN employees, but you don’t see the false Tony Romos showing up on Election Day to vote.

Couldn’t be much clearer than that:  there’s no there, there!

Libby Spencer, an 8-year veteran blogger for the Detroit News makes the case as dramatically when it comes to whether or not there is any substance behind the sound and fury:

The fact is, fraudulently cast ballots are almost non-existent:

A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was virtually nonexistent.

The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.

Let that sink in for a moment. In twelve years only ten people have successfully cast a fraudulent ballot. This is the only instance in which voter ID laws prevent actual fraud. These voter ID laws do however serve a secondary purpose. They prevent legitimate voters who don’t have a photo ID and do have difficulty in obtaining one, from voting. This would include the disabled and elderly, including elderly military veterans, who no longer drive. Furthermore, the draconian requirements to obtain a photo ID if one doesn’t drive are almost impossible to satsify for millions of Americans.  (emphasis added)

Just saying:  the truth shall set us free.  At least if we aren’t denied the vote!


Kansas’s Kris Kobach: Rightwing Voter Manipulator, Suppressor, and Demagogue

Kris Kobach

New Orleans  I’ve been watching Kris Kobach closely for the last four years, ever since he claimed in the Topeka newspapers that he was running to become Secretary of State in Kansas in 2008 to stop ACORN from committing “voter fraud,” even though ACORN did not have an operating office, organizer, or registration program in the state at that time, and he knew it.  At the least Kobach has stood prominently in my mind as a shorthand definition for pure and simple demagoguery.  Reminiscent of the classic Clint Eastwood line in great movie, The Outlaw Josie Wales, that is exactly what Kobach teaches young girls – and boys – in Kansas and, tragically, throughout the United States.

Kobach is also a case study for how something can go so horribly wrong when one is given exceptional tools but has no idea about how to responsibly use them.  An education at Harvard, then a scholarship at Oxford in political science, and a tour of Yale Law School, with time as a judge’s clerk and a mischief maker in the post-9/11 Bush Justice Department has sent him on a crooked path, complicated by the fact that he clearly has no moral compass.  Kobach has become ALEC and the right’s go-to-guy for hater legal theories.  He was responsible for much of the Arizona’s anti-immigrant 1070 legislation.  In his Kansas campaign he had coupled the “menace” of ACORN with his hate of immigrants who would to his lights be voting fraudulently with ACORN’s “help.”  He has also been a key legal figure in the push for voter IDs across the country.  For Kobach now all he has is his rightwing hammer and everything is simply a nail.

Ryan J. Reilly in a short piece for TPM shared remarks by Kobach at a panel at the far right Heritage Foundation in Washington that was co-sponsored by an arm of the Tea Party.  In a classic piece of McCarthy-esque demagoguery of “blaming the victim,” he tried to make ACORN the “goat” for the right’s success in pushing voter IDs to suppress the vote now:

This issue really didn’t reach the public consciousness … until after the 2008 election cycle, when there was so much focus on ACORN,” Kobach said. “That one group was just all over the news media and people started hearing about it.

Well, yeah, people like Kobach made up fabulous fantasies founded on baseless exaggerations and untruths to sully ACORN’s longstanding and successful voter registration programs to make ACORN the hammer to hit their nail, which in 2008, and even more so now in 2012, is solely meant to depress the vote.  Any means justifies the ends, which is also a classic definition of having no moral core.

Reilly reports that Kobach further gave some props to Republican candidate John McCain, but what he was really doing was patting his own back for his tactical success at putting McCain in a corner where he infamously claimed in a debate with Obama that ACORN was on the verge of stealing the election.   You have to give Kobach and his buddies some grudging credit for their guiding principle:  if you are going to tell a lie, then tell a big one!

Kobach credited heavy coverage of ACORN, which also took some shots from then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain, with inspiring legislators in various states to implement new laws.

The TPM headline refers, accurately, to “ACORN Hysteria” and Reilly notes, correctly, that ACORN got a bum rap since it had no choice but to turn in ALL registration forms by law:

ACORN, like all voter registration groups, was required under many state laws to turn over all applications it received even if it believed they were illegitimate, though the organization said it flagged suspected fraudulent cards to election officials.

Kobach knows all of that, not that it matters.  He was on an evil mission and used ACORN to stir his pot and ACORN was unable at the time to have the true story told.  It’s no surprise that Kobach is from Wisconsin and spent many years of his youth there or that his father had put them there selling cars.  Wisconsin’s Senator Joe McCarthy obviously became a model for Kobach and he learned something as well about selling clunkers.  They may not drive far, just as he moans and groans about the unfairness and stupidity of the courts in ruling much of his anti-immigrant legislation unconstitutional along with the current reverses in the courts for some of his voter ID suppression, but the dealer doesn’t care as long as he gets the case and gets them off the lot.

This is a dangerous man on an evil mission with the motto that everything is fair in war that lacks any notion of love for democracy and is principles.  He is obviously good at what he does and can get his hater-bills off the lot, but we simply must do everything to prevent them from gaining any speed or any more distance in the direction he is trying to steer people – and parties – along this bad road.


Registration Down, Lower Income Votes Out

Phoenix Registration Down, Lower Income Votes Out

Phoenix Registration Down, Lower Income Votes Out

Phoenix We did the first direct action with Arizona Advocates & Actions yesterday as 20 Bank of America mortgage holders demanded that their modifications finally be fast tracked at the BofA Service Center in Phoenix yesterday.  That’s the good news!

The rest sucks, as we look around the country heading into the midterm elections.

A front page New York Times poll notes amazingly that lower income voters, families making less than $50,000 per year in an unheard of expression of alienation from the party in power, which happens to be the Democrats, has now moved to leaning towards the Republicans by a 5% positive from what was a 25% positive to the Democrats only 2 years ago.  Yes, it is the “economy stupid” in

James Carville’s inimitable words, and the Obama Administration’s continued footsie with Wall Street, inability to move the needle on jobs, and mishandling of everything with foreclosures has pushed lower income working families to desperation and abandonment of the Democrats.  The White House cynics will say, “well, they don’t vote that much anyway,” but low-and-moderate income votes, had there been a real GOTV effort, could also have made the difference in many close contests.

The day before, Ian Urbina, in a Times article seems at this late date (by a decade at least) realized that in the run-up to elections the Republicans always play the “voter fraud card” to dampen down the voting strength of newly registered and infrequent voters.  Even without ACORN, and surprisingly ACORN still is a robust target for the right even in Halloween ghost costumes since it’s dead a doornail, there is a desperate claim of fraud in the land.   Read this tragic couple of paragraphs about “democracy lost:”

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