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!

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Tequila Party Makes Four

Munoz_Carlos

New Orleans Discussion of an independent party or a party caucus focusing on Latinos and modeled on the success of the Tea Party has now lept into public view. A story on debates within the community about a possible “Tequila Party” was reported in a piece by Delen Goldberg in the Las Vegas Sun over the weekend. [“No Label” Party, “Tequila Party,” who is coming up with these names, but that’s a question for another day.]

The trigger point in this discussion is not surprisingly the disappointment over the likely failure of any real effort at immigration reform. It is also not surprising to see this story start to breakout in Nevada in the wake of the critical importance of the role played by Latino voters in Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s re-election.

“I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but there’s talk,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Hispanics in Politics, Nevada’s oldest Hispanic political group. “There’s discussion about empowerment of the Latino vote.”

Add the fact that Latinos accounted for 15% of the total electorate in 2008 and despite the decreased participation in general in the 2010 midterms, have now seen their percentage of the vote edge up to 16%, and this would be a serious political movement if it developed.

Latinos in Nevada are watching the schizophrenic politics of a Latino running for governor as a Republican, yet embracing the anti-immigrant Arizona measure. Latino Dems are just disillusioned and weighing the coming legislative moves in Congress.

“There’s a feeling that Democrats aren’t listening,” said Louis DeSipio, a Chicano studies and political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Congress’ actions over the next month could decide the fate of the burgeoning Tequila Party. If comprehensive immigration reform is shelved again, some Hispanics will likely decide to strike out on their own.

“It would definitely induce us,” Romero said. “We would have to do something at that point to get ready for 2012.”

Interestingly many voices in the debate are calling attention to a piece that Carlos Munoz, the emeritus University of California professor, wrote commemorating what would have been the 40th anniversary of the Raza Unida Party in Texas and its heyday in Cristal City. Munoz ended his piece with an important, and perhaps controversial, call to create a broader, independent and progressive party in the United States.

“The story of the La Raza Unida Party teaches us that independent political parties based on racial or ethnic identity will not work. An independent mass political party that can represent the needs of our more complex diverse society must emerge to challenge the two-party dictatorship. Such a party could lead to an authentic multiracial, multiethnic and multicultural democracy for the twenty-first century.”

With all of the discussion and the various individual initiatives been shown, Munoz’s call for a broader party resonates, but still seems to be falling on deaf ears.

If these discussions continue to build, that may not last, and then we will really have something serious on our hands offering real alternatives for progressive politics.

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