Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 11, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

YOUR NEWSPEAK WORD OF THE DAY: "EDITING"....A few months ago I posted about a study on election fraud commissioned by the nonpartisan Election Assistance Commission. The nickel summary is that the study's authors (one Republican and one Democrat) concluded that there really wasn't much. This was a crushing blow to Republicans, who thrive on invented fairy tales about hordes of illegal voters turning American into a banana republic, so naturally the commission decided not to release the report.

This being the Bush administration, though, they didn't stop there. In December they finally released the study, but not before doing a bit of editing first:

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.

....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."

Ah, the old "great deal of debate" dodge. This is, of course, also a favorite among global warming skeptics, who know that all they have to do is manufacture enough uncertainty to keep the average joe slightly confused about what's really going on. Meanwhile, the usual parade of transparent lies about massive voting fraud can continue unabated, serving the GOP's purpose of passing voter ID laws that suppress Democratic Party turnout. It's pretty sweet.

Kevin Drum 11:47 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Ahh yes. Truthiness marches on . . .

Posted by: Randy Paul on April 11, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

You wonder how long it's going to take for the national media to understand what a dishonest, ruthless thug Karl Rove is. Of course, as long as he keeps returning phone calls to the likes of Matt Cooper in the interest of "helping" them with their stories, it's probably going to be a long time.

Posted by: Boots Day on April 11, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget the raging debate over the validity of evolution. You know that sizable percentages of the scientific community think Earth was culled from dust and formed in seven days, all happening 6000 years ago. Of course many, many reputable scientists also think humans have always been exactly as they are today. I know I'm keenly listening to both sides, how about you?

Posted by: steve duncan on April 11, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

In December they finally released the study, but not before doing a bit of editing first:

Nonsense Kevin. First there wasn't enough supporting data to support the claim election fraud is not pervasive. Second, the final report was UNANIMOUSLY approved by both Democrats and Republicans on the panel. So the editing could not have been due to partisan reasons.

Link

"Although Democrats accused the board of caving to political pressure, Donetta L. Davidson, the chairwoman of the commission, said that when the original report was submitted, the boards legal and research staff decided there was not enough supporting data behind some of the claims. So, she said, the staff members revised the report and presented a final version in December for a vote by the commissioners."
"the final report was unanimously approved by the other commissioners."

Posted by: Al on April 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

In public relations, this strategy is called FUD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear%2C_uncertainty_and_doubt

It's great! Conservatives apply it to:

Global warming
Evolution
Terrorism
Dark skinned people trying to vote
Gay people

...and on and on...

Posted by: Old Hat on April 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

"..a great deal of debate..."

We can lump this one in with all the other phrases will have become inextricably linked to this administration:

"Who could have known..."

"[Person X] has my full support..."

"We know for a fact..."

"Nobody reports the good news..."

Posted by: Derelict on April 11, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Commit election fraud in order to prevent election fraud. Excellent.

Orwell warned us about you, Karl.

Posted by: skeg on April 11, 2007 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently there seems to be some debate about the "nonpartisan" behaviour Election Assistance Commission. We're discussing it today.

It's incredible how the commission can be called the "government" when editing a report in a partisan manner, but then be called the commission again when releasing the now edited report (in a nonpartisan manner?). How does this work again?

Posted by: royalblue_tom on April 11, 2007 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

And we are neither surprised nor shocked anymore. One becomes numb to the continuous abuse of power.

Posted by: anandine on April 11, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

I live in a state that passed one of those insanely restrictive laws. It was slapped down by one judge, whose finding was upheld on appeal.

I posted about this last night, if anyone is interested and not put off by my blogwhoring.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

First there wasn't enough supporting data to support the claim election fraud is not pervasive.

Ah, Al...

That's one of my favorite wingnut rhetorical blind alleys: demanding that we prove a negative.

Posted by: skeg on April 11, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Since you love numbers, I have an interesting one for you. Recently, voter registration cards were sent out to everyone on the voter registration rolls in the state of New Mexico. (Their use was optional at the polls.) Twenty percent of the cards were returned as underliverable! What does that tell you about voter fraud in New Mexico?

And what does that tell you about the effectiveness of David Iglesias in investigating voter fraud? Maybe Bush was right to let him go?

Here's a modest proposal: Send a postcard to everyone on voter registration rolls 2 months before an election. If they are returned as undeliverable, consider taking some action, such as making the individual re-register.

What say you?

Everett

Posted by: Everett on April 11, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the researchers are pissed that their findings were edited.

The researchers whose work was altered are speaking out about it.
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.”
Both Ms. Wang and Mr. Serebrov are under contract and are therefore not at liberty to comment in detail on the discrepancies between the report they produced and the edited, doctored version that was released to the public.

It's in the NY Times article I linked in my post. (.pdf alert. I linked to the images of the actual draf

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

skeg on April 11, 2007 at 12:24 PM:

Commit election fraud in order to prevent election fraud.

"It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

You'd think that, confronted with multiple scandals and examples of abuse of power, they'd lay low for a little while. Then again, with all the bad shit generated by this administration, the only way the Republicans are gonna win in '08 is to sabotage the vote.

Posted by: grape_crush on April 11, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

And there are those who have said..............

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 11, 2007 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Meanwhile, the usual parade of transparent lies about massive voting fraud can continue unabated, serving the GOP's purpose of passing voter ID laws that suppress Democratic Party turnout. It's pretty sweet."

So is this an admission on Kevin's part that the Democratic Party knows that it is getting votes from non-voters and that any attempt to exclude illegal voters somehow constitutes "suppression" of the party's turnout? Otherwise, why would your turnout be effected by voter ID laws that seeks to insure that only legal voters vote?

Posted by: Chicounsel on April 11, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The areas of election fraud that the Republicans have been bitching about were found to be much ado about nothing...Yet the report vaguely asserted that the problem was possibly pervasive and open to debate.

And the concerns that Democrats have been pointing out - intimidation and disenfranchisement - were found to be pervasive, but were discounted and played down, because after all, who can really define intimidation...Such a slippery, nebulous concept.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

A simple question: If voting fraud was pervasive, how would we know? Since voters are not carded, the same person could be going to ten different polling places with ten different names and never get caught. IT would be completely untraceable. The simple deal: Voters are carded. In exchange, people who can demonstrate a below poverty line income get free IDs (the feds can pick up the tab for that one). There's no possible reason to object to free ID and ID-required voting, unless you support fraud.

Posted by: Al on April 11, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

So is this an admission

Not at all.

It is evidence that Republicans tried to suppress Democratic votes, tho. Follow the links.

Smarter trolls, please.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Voters do verify their residence. But acceptable proof of residence and the right to cast a ballot can be a utility bill, a bank statement, etc.

Voter ID laws are suppression devices. We've been saying it, and a Republican researcher produced a report that proved it. Deal.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Everett: Here's a modest proposal: Send a postcard to everyone on voter registration rolls 2 months before an election. If they are returned as undeliverable, consider taking some action, such as making the individual re-register.

What say you?

I say you obviously don't live in Chicago, where postal carriers routinely dump bags of mail in underpasses so they don't have to deliver it, stamp "addressee unknown" on correctly addressed letters to people who've lived in the same place for 50 years, and so forth. If, after having not a single piece of mail forwarded in my last move despite filling out the forms six times, personally chatting with my former carrier (who is responsible for forwarding) and literally begging the USPS regional director for help, I'd been disenfranchised to boot, you guys would hear me squalling from wherever you're sitting.

Postal ineptitude is rarely that bad outside Chicago, but it's still widespread. What measures do you suggest putting in place to deal with that factor?

Posted by: shortstop on April 11, 2007 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Otherwise, why would your turnout be effected by voter ID laws that seeks to insure that only legal voters vote?

Wow. It's almost like Chicounsel is honestly asking this question in good faith. It's almost like he hasn't asked it, had it properly answered, and ignored the answer at least a dozen times now.

Posted by: shortstop on April 11, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop,

If you couldn't trust the USPS to deliver the mail, it could be sent out by two or three services. Admittedly this would eventually get expensive, but what would you be willing to pay for a fair election?

Everett

Posted by: Everett on April 11, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Recently, voter registration cards were sent out to everyone on the voter registration rolls in the state of New Mexico. (Their use was optional at the polls.) Twenty percent of the cards were returned as underliverable! What does that tell you about voter fraud in New Mexico?

Not much, even if it's true, which I doubt given the lack of a link. What does it tell you, exactly? Certainly not that 20% of the registered voters in New Mexico are committing voter fraud.

Please explain why the return of these cards, if that actually happened, shows that someone committed voter fraud. And explain just what the fraud was. Thank you.

Posted by: David in NY on April 11, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

but what would you be willing to pay for a fair election?

(Sound of me, banging my head on the desk here)

Everett, if you follow the links, there is no evidence that the kind of fraud that the Republicans have flogged, and offered as reasons why the restrictive Voter ID laws were necessary, occurs with any regularity at all.

Yet the disenfranchisement and suppression that Democrats have been complaining about are prevalent.

If you are too lazy to follow the links and inform yourself, perhaps you should refrain from posting and looking foolish.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

OT to GC:

You've earned your chops and paid your dues - no need to call it blogwhoring (nasty term best saved for certain annoying wanna-bes)

I already have WTWC bookmarked.

Kudos :)

Posted by: skeg on April 11, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Even if there was substantive debate about the pervasiveness of voter fraud, it would miss the larger point. Proposed "enforcement" measures to prevent fraud always have had the effect of disenfranchising innocent citizens, so the trade-off is to take away one group's rights in order to prevent another group from committing a crime. That is not the way my country should solve its REAL problems, let alone imaginary bullshit partisan ones.

Posted by: Dan-o on April 11, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Globe! Love letter from Somerset!

Posted by: shortstop on April 11, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes. The old "Shape of Earth: Views Differ" argument conservatives are so fond of these days. And this from an administration that defines "bi-partisan" as 48 republican senators plus Joe Lieberman.

Posted by: DH Walker on April 11, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Fuzzy logic Everett. How does the fact of 20% of voter registration cards being marked undeliverable lead you to the conclusion of voter fraud? Wow could it be that some of those people moved.Wrong addresses,shoddy usps practices. In other words quite a bi of reasonable doubt as to teh reasons why they couldn't be delivered.

Posted by: Gandalf on April 11, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop - I don't get it...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK
Otherwise, why would your turnout be effected by voter ID laws that seeks to insure that only legal voters vote?

Because whatever voter ID laws seek to do, they all, tend to make it more difficult, even if only marginally so, for legal voters to vote, and create situations where legal voters might be prevented from voting by something other than lacking the requisites (age, citizenship, lack of disability from conviction of crime).

That increasing barriers to voting decreases turnout in general, and decreases turnout disproportionately on the left side of the political spectrum is fairly widely observed.

Now, were we presented with a proposed voter ID law that did not merely only seek to stop illegal voting without preventing or discouraging legal voting, but which could be reasonably expected to do that, perhaps we would have something to discuss.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 11, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK
If you couldn't trust the USPS to deliver the mail, it could be sent out by two or three services. Admittedly this would eventually get expensive, but what would you be willing to pay for a fair election?

Nothing, if I had no rational reason to believe that without the payment, the election would be less fair than with the payment.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 11, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Read a little of Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse and you will understand where the real election fraud is taking place in this country, and guess what?? It ain't happenin' from the left side of the aisle!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on April 11, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Everett on April 11, 2007 at 12:34 PM:

..Twenty percent of the cards were returned as underliverable! What does that tell you about voter fraud in New Mexico?

Nothing. It does tell me that sending out voter registration cards to residents that may no longer be at that address has problems...Or that the voter registration database has problems keeping up to date...Or any number of other reasons that have nothing to do with voter fraud.

And what does that tell you about the effectiveness of David Iglesias in investigating voter fraud?

IIRC, it's not that Iglesias wasn't effective, it was that he wouldn't rush indictments in order to benefit Republican campaign efforts.

Here's a modest proposal:

Only less worse that Swift's Modest Proposal.

Send a postcard to everyone on voter registration rolls 2 months before an election. If they are returned as undeliverable, consider taking some action, such as making the individual re-register.

Well, gee...If that individual isn't at the address to send the postcard to, how are you going to notify them that they need to re-register before the election?

Just in case anyone needs a reminder: Certain sections (4, 5, 6, and 8) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 expire on August 8, 2007. Either that or the DoJ doesn't keep its website up-to-date.

Why is the Voting Rights Act important? Just read.

Voter suppression is a bigger problem than voter fraud...Wonder why the right-whingers aren't talking about that?

Posted by: grape_crush on April 11, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Put the pieces together, people.

Between the firings of the US Attorneys and the manipulation of this study into a Republican propaganda piece it's clear our election system has been under attack by the GOP for months, if not years.

The GOP is attacking our election system in the federal courts with invented lawsuits by "loyal Bushies." They are attacking it in the state election commissions with computerized voter roll purgings. They are attacking it in our communities by requiring extensive, new voter identification (Georgia) and with dirty election tricks like robo calls (Ohio), false flyers (Maryland) and election-day phone jamming (New Hampshire).

This is a fundamental, anti-democratic attack on one of America's essential freedoms -- free elections. This assault needs to be recognized and confronted aggressively, with the utmost seriousness.

Karl Rove and the rest of his acolytes in the dishonest, authoritarian and incompetent GOP need to know we are onto their malicious schemes and not only will we confront them at every turn, we will drive every last one of them into political exile.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 11, 2007 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

I moved from Oregon to Minnesota 18 months ago and am now registered to vote in Minnesota. I never unregistered in Oregon, so I might be registered in two states now. That has no significance unless I voted in both states.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 11, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should have mentioned by now that in Florida 2000 a lot of legal voters were refused the right to vote based on a (probably-deliberately) defective purge of felons.

Posted by: John Emerson on April 11, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Well, John Emerson, Oregon votes by mail. Are you receiving ballots in your forwarded mail? If not, you are probably off the Oregon voter rolls.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 11, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

When the GOP opposes commonly accepted answers to issues like Intelligent Design, Global Warming, Election Fraud, WMD's, Kerry's war service . . . they don't directly attempt to refute their opponents' claim. Rather, they introduce the possibility of incorrect reasoning with a hint of liberal conspiracy to suppress alternative points of view phrases like:

"There's a great deal of debate over . . ." (when the debate is really over, as with ID)
"Nonetheless, it raises the question of . . ." (as with election fraud)
"We can't dismiss the possibility that . . ." (as with WMDs & al Qaeda in Iraq)
"Liberals would have you believe . . ." (as in the Global Warming debate)
"We know from previous reports that . . ." (as with Hillary's business dealings in Arkansas)

Then the GOP tries to claim the mantle of being "open-minded" because they, and only they, are willing to consider the "other side" of issues that people recognize as already being resolved.

Always ask Republicans for evidence to back up their assertions. Always.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 11, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Always ask Republicans for evidence to back up their assertions. Always.

What is this "evidence" thingie of which you speak? It sounds kinda gay.

Posted by: Republican on April 11, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

what would you be willing to pay for a fair election?

Twenty-five percent more than Diebold is getting.

Next question.

Posted by: ThresherK on April 11, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, these results show that Republican-backed efforts to combat voter fraud are working. Just a few more id laws and we should be able to eliminate all fraud.

Posted by: Ghost of Rove's Gall on April 11, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Republican,

You mean gay, as in Mark Foley?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 11, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Gracia Hillman, the Democratic commissioner who voted in favor of releasing the final report, said she did not believe that the editing of the report was politically motivated or overly extensive.

“As a federal agency, our responsibility is to ensure that the research we produce is fully verified,” Ms. Hillman said. “Some of the points made in the draft report made by the consultants went beyond what we felt comfortable with.” (New York Times)

What a disgracia!

Posted by: Ross Best on April 11, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK
…you support fraud… Al …… only legal voters vote? Chicounsel… What say you? Everett at 12:34 PM
All this tremendous Republican concern for what even their own report says is not a problem, yet not one mention of what is a problem, Republican voter suppression efforts Funded by their RNC which perhaps funds them. Posted by: Mike on April 11, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

2004 was a crushing blow to Democrats, who thrive on invented fairy tales about hordes of illegal voters turning American into a banana republic

2006 was a crushing blow to Republicans, who thrive on invented fairy tales about hordes of illegal voters turning American into a banana republic

2008 was a crushing blow to [insert party here], who thrive on invented fairy tales about hordes of illegal voters turning American into a banana republic

This is a cow patty that been tossed back and forth across the aisle the past few years. It struck me how well Kevin's words worked whatever the flight path.

I want to believe that voter fraud is extremely difficult to pull off, requires too many persons, too much state-wide coordination, and is beyond difficult to keep all participants quiet.

Unless the voters are required to use computers with a special program.

There are some instances where the use of computers should be outright banned and voting is one of them. To me it is just too easy and too tempting by those who have gone beyond proving that when it comes to centalizing power all options are on the table.

Zit

Posted by: average joe slightly confused on April 11, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove and the rest of his acolytes in the dishonest, authoritarian and incompetent GOP...
Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 11, 2007 at 1:40 PM

Would someone besides Al address this question for me?

PJ hit on something that seems more pressing than voter suppression. Men like Rove have proved that they feel they are somehow allowed to mess with free elections and democratic processes and sharing of power.

I don't understand how America has grown such dishonest authoritarian persons and how these persons are getting into positions of power where they can plot to disrupt the Democratic system.

That we, America, has to fight to keep elections free FROM OUR OWN CITIZENS, doesn't that make anyone's gut twist.

My question is what has happened in the top superpower of the world that we are producing stock like Karl Rove who seems to have no qualms about disrupting or destroying a working government from within?

I really don't get it and NY Times hasn't done a poll on it yet.

Posted by: Zit on April 11, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

DRUM THE HYPOCRITE:

And, er uh, check card ballots do not "supress" non-union creation votes? Or "supress" votes by workers against an organizations whose chief purpose is not to raise average worker pay, but rather the funnel money from business to the Democratic Party?

Republicans have the RIGHT to confirm that voters are legal voters regardless of voter fraud statistics - one fraudulent voter is one too many; if that supresses Democratic Party votes, get to work making sure voters have proper identification.

Regressive-Democrats are absurd; there is no law that ought not be enforced to the hilt against Republicans (witness this Gonzalez fiasco which is not even the breaking of law), but laws against immigration, voter fraud, etc. should be ignored.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on April 11, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Passing voter ID laws suppresses Democrat turnout? ...blah, blah, blah.

Georgia Voter ID Law Blocked by Federal Court
By Matt Caruso Posted on Thu Jul 13, 2006 at 09:45:17 AM EST

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy ruled on Wednesday that Georgia's photo voter ID law looked to violate the U.S. Constitution's First and Fourteenth Amendments. The state Supreme Court decision was unanimous, upholding a decision by a lower court in Fulton County. The plaintiffs, who included Common Cause Georgia, asserted that the law was a burden on those who did not have transportation to get a free voter ID card, namely the elderly, the poor, and minorities.
In remarks from the bench, Murphy said it was "sad" that after more than 200 years of trying to extend the right to vote to women and minorities that "now we pass legislation tightening up access to the ballot."
As a result of both court decisions, Georgia voters will be required to show any of 17 forms of identification that include some non-photo documents like a bank statement. Any voter who cannot produce an ID has the option of signing a sworn statement verifying identity.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 11, 2007 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Obvious Hysteric: Republicans have the RIGHT to confirm that voters are legal voters regardless of voter fraud statistics...

There are already measures in place for protect against voter fraud. Repubs want to change the rules to make it very difficult for elderly, low-income, (some who can't afford a car), infirmed, and minority voters (who traditionally vote Democratic) to vote. That's Repub voter suppression operating under the masquerade of stopping voter fraud. That's the Repub shell game and it's disgraceful. Don't play stupid. Well, maybe you aren't pretending.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 11, 2007 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

...protection...

Posted by: Apollo 13 on April 11, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Zit,

You raise the issue, "I don't understand how America has grown such dishonest authoritarian persons and how these persons are getting into positions of power where they can plot to disrupt the Democratic system."

Short answer: It's the logic of absolute power.

Longer answer: scratch the surface of today's GOP and you find a bunch of good ole' boys nostalgic for states rights and a laissez faire economy led by rich white men. Everywhere you look in today's GOP leadership you find close ties to the Old South. The GOP's political philosophy is the corrupted logic of 19th century Southern exceptionalism, extended beyond the Confederacy and enhanced by 21st century technology.

Authoritarians like Rove seep into cracks in the political system like water, where they freeze and thaw these cracks into fissures, which weaken foundations that then lead to collapse. It starts in local elections, where prejudices run rampant and understanding of federal laws are weak. Here, people are easily exploited by cynical operatives like Rove and DeLay.

A string of local election victories creates the appearance of a movement that leads to state victories, then regional on up to national elections. As the GOP has assumed the levers of power at each level of government, their cynicism recognizes no boundaries between their political ambitions and the law. Their corrupted logic of exercising political authority dictates they project their power into every corner of our lives until the rest of us push back.

Their record of triumph causes a tag along effect -- the Giulianis, Romneys, Schwarzeneggers and others enjoy riding on Rove's coattails, but Republicans from the industrialized states emerge out of more moderate political traditions and don't fit the exceptionalist model very well.

By this point the GOP has acquired so many ways to keep pushing their policies down our throats they give the impression their control is inevitable and our only alternative is to tire and submit.

That's where Karl Rove and his acolytes have grossly underestimated the intelligence and character of America's voters. The 2006 election was just the start. Bet on it.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on April 12, 2007 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Recently, voter registration cards were sent out to everyone on the voter registration rolls in the state of New Mexico. (Their use was optional at the polls.) Twenty percent of the cards were returned as underliverable! What does that tell you about voter fraud in New Mexico?

About voter fraud, nothing. It tells me that the registration rolls need updating. If it's been more than a few years, that could simply be the people who've moved/died/whatever.

Or, as noted above, it could be an inefficient/incompetent post office. I know, that's hard to conceive, but bear with me...

Here's a modest proposal: Send a postcard to everyone on voter registration rolls 2 months before an election. If they are returned as undeliverable, consider taking some action, such as making the individual re-register.

You know, I'd say that that is a reasonable method of checking the voter rolls for accuracy. It certainly beats the "methods" used in Florida in 2000. I'd have one caveat though: it MUST come with on-site registration (not just provisional ballots), which is something we really ought to have anyway precisely for those who already get inadvertently de-registered.

Without on-site registration, your modest proposal will have the effect of disenfranchising about 20% of the voters whose cards are undeliverable. And it wouldn't surprise me one bit to find that certain districts are, shall we say, less deliverable than others?

So, your proposal would offer an opportunity for massive voter suppression, which exists already, to address a problem with voter fraud, which is so rare that it's not an issue. Unless, as I said, you also pass an on-site registration law.

Look, voter fraud is a phony issue; voter suppression is real; both pale in comparison to the problem of election fraud, that is, fraudulent counting of votes using non-transparent, unaccountable, unsecure digital systems sold by partisan vendors to unwitting/clueless/corrupt county purchasers.

One missing memory card, the size of a credit card, and that's the equivalent of a dozen missing ballot boxes. A few minutes' access to the machines is all that's needed for someone to install hidden software that changes counts in any number of ways AND covers any sign of the changes.

Vendors' technicians frequently have had such access, even during elections.

Educate yourself about the technical aspects of the security nightmare that is the electronic voting systems. You'll be horrified, IF you actually care about free and fair elections.

blackboxvoting.org has all the hard info on all the technical, legal, accounting aspects of e-voting. It's not a pretty picture- the site is thoroughly non-partisan, but when you see the ACTUAL reality of election fraud here and now, you'll see it's a GOP problem. If you're a GOP'er, and honest, you're not going to like that.

If you're not honest, you'll probably be worried; they're on to you.

If you couldn't trust the USPS to deliver the mail, it could be sent out by two or three services. Admittedly this would eventually get expensive, but what would you be willing to pay for a fair election?

This is rich. Those e-voting systems were/are sold entirely on the premise that they are cheaper than paper ballots. Which is true- but you end up with a system so flawed that it can't be trusted. So it's money completely wasted. (They were also sold as more secure and accurate, which was a lie.)

I'm not paying a dime for yet another subsidy to Fedex or UPS or whoever for delivery of official documents. What, you think they're going to pull correct addresses out of their ass when the USPS returns it?

However, I'm certainly willing to pay ANY amount necessary to have hand-counted voter-verified paper ballots. So it costs more to do the counting- how much is a free and fair election worth, one in which all sides can accept the results because of its verifiability?

Whatever it costs, that's what we pay and be damned grateful. Democracy is worth it. And whatever it costs to do full audits (not partial, which any accountant can tell you isn't really an audit at all) and recounts whenever ANY side has any doubts.

Tell you what, since you seem to be in a negotiating mood: toss the black boxes in the dumpster, give me a transparently accountable system with VVPB AND reformed/modernized election laws AND make them uniform nationwide, and you can require any ID/anti-fraud rule you want. Deal?

I can guarantee you that the current GOP leadership would never take that deal. Not a chance.

Posted by: RobW on April 13, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

pj in jesusland: that was the best summary of the last 20 years of American politics I've seen. Nice work.

Posted by: RobW on April 13, 2007 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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