Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

ZOMG!!!....VOTER FRAUD!!!....A nonprofit organization that employs people to register voters in Virginia noticed that three of its workers in Hampton Roads appeared to be faking names in order to make their daily quota, so they turned them in to authorities. And what was the response of the chairman of Virginia's Republican Party? He warned people not to register to vote:

"Identity theft is widespread problem in Virginia," [Jeff] Frederick said. "Today, I am encouraging voters who have filed out any of these voter registration forms to immediately contact their registrars, and Virginians should exercise caution when approached by a stranger who asks them for their information."

And why should a minor incident like this make Virginians afraid of widespread identity theft? Say it along with me: It's because this is, of course, not an isolated incident:

"We don't know who's doing all of this, but I'm sure that it's more than one group," Frederick said in a telephone news conference. "There's certainly — definitely, I think — a more widespread problem than just an isolated incident."

Definitely a widespread problem. Of course it is. And the name of this widespread problem is.....Barack Obama.

Via Swampland.

Kevin Drum 2:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

Well, I certainly hope Virginia Republicans will heed the advice of their party chair and not register.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 29, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Oh shut up. Obama has opened a flurry of new offices in Virginia which threatens to turn the red state blue. Apparently Republicans have decided to mount a fear campaign before resorting to purging their voting rolls. Less messy.

Karl Rove's minions are working overtime on strategy.

Posted by: Everyman on July 29, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK


Shorter Republican: Don't bother to register. Don't bother to vote. We're just going to purge you from the rolls. We're just going to chase you away from the polls. We're just going to program our voting machines to ignore your ballots.

Rise Up!

Posted by: Che on July 29, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of defending a Republican the quote here doesn't encourage people not to register only to check with their registrars and to exercise caution with folks asking for personal information. In the era of identity theft that's not such bad advice. Someone unscrupulous enough to invent voters to meet some quota is probably unscrupulous enough to market personal information.

Posted by: on July 29, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Being careful is always a good idea. But it's a funny coincidence that the chairman of Virginia's GOP never seemed to think this was a big problem until Barack Obama started up a voter registration drive, no?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on July 29, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I tried out for the group (parent org: The Fund for the Public Interest) but only lasted two days. I guess I'm not the type (too bookish to reel in the urban crowd, whatever.) They quoted me in a local Newport News Daily Press article, where I gave good props to the organization a anyway since they deserved it and I believe in what they're doing:

"The organization managers are very professional, honest and polite. They made it clear that we should not make up names or even fiddle on the applications. They warned us that if we did things wrong on purpose, they would not be on our side and would even report it to the registrar."

http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/dp-local_vagop_0729jul29,0,2827365.story

The kids that were caught absolutely made up names to keep working and just didn't have the personal scruples.

I and another fellow even got hassled one day in front of a Post Office by a fellow who showed an ID, he worked for a Republican Virginia Delegate. When my colleague argued with him, he called the police for "disorderly conduct". He was belligerent, like the "jerk" in a bar etc. A black bystander was arrested for basically giving lip to the "Official" and the cops who came later.

More on Mr. Frederick and the thinness of his charges:
http://www.examiner.com/a-1509626~GOP_Chief_decries_voter_fraud_thin_on_specifics.html

The statement "coordinated and widespread effort to commit voter fraud" by GOP Chair Jeffrey M. Frederick is slanderous. The organization did not make an effort to commit voter fraud, indeed they found out the employees were lying and turned them in! (More than can be said for how the Bush Misadmin treats miscreants: rewards them with praise and promotions!)

The Republican Party is absolutely using this to suppress voting, not because they really care about fraud (but I do have misgivings about quota systems for sensitive work.)

There's a good discussion link on the DP article, at http://www.topix.net/forum/source/hampton-roads-daily-press/T645BJ5GRN8KOHAOJ
Here's a comment I agree with:

If anyone should be arrested, it should be Frederick. Libel, false accusations, discrimination, etc, etc, etc. His thinly veiled comments about avoiding identity fraud by NOT registering to vote are a clear attempt at keeping those who do not support his MO out of the electoral process. He needs to think his rants through more thoroughly in the future in order to be taken seriously. This is a joke. No one's identity has been stolen. What he is attempting is similar to the color code of terror that Bush's admin. uses to scare people into agreement with a non-functional regime.

The one point I can give to registration skeptics is that the forms ask for both SSN and birth date, hence an unscrupulous person going around with the forms could abuse that information. But that's no reason to blame the well-intentioned organizations doing voter drives.

Below are some good general links about that issue, and especially how Republicans are gaming the voting system against Democrats (like suppressing black votes) much more than the other way around:

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:
http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

Posted by: Neil Bee ☼ on July 29, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Growing up in the 70's, my parents forced me to eat my breakfast cereal with a fork. I blame Barack Obama.

Posted by: Stroszek on July 29, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

[Since my post was held for having too many URLs, I will try again using only one, moderator can repost original later if worth it]

I tried out for the group (parent org: The Fund for the Public Interest) but only lasted two days. I guess I'm not the type (too bookish to reel in the urban crowd, whatever.) They quoted me in a local Newport News Daily Press article, where I gave good props to the organization a anyway since they deserved it and I believe in what they're doing:

"The organization managers are very professional, honest and polite. They made it clear that we should not make up names or even fiddle on the applications. They warned us that if we did things wrong on purpose, they would not be on our side and would even report it to the registrar."

http://www.dailypress.com/news/local/dp-local_vagop_0729jul29,0,2827365.story

The kids that were caught absolutely made up names to keep working and just didn't have the personal scruples.

I and another fellow even got hassled one day in front of a Post Office by a fellow who showed an ID, he worked for a Republican Virginia Delegate. When my colleague argued with him, he called the police for "disorderly conduct". He was belligerent, like the "jerk" in a bar etc. A black bystander was arrested for basically giving lip to the "Official" and the cops who came later.

The statement "coordinated and widespread effort to commit voter fraud" by GOP Chair Jeffrey M. Frederick is slanderous. The organization did not make an effort to commit voter fraud, indeed they found out the employees were lying and turned them in! (More than can be said for how the Bush Misadmin treats miscreants: rewards them with praise and promotions!)

The Republican Party is absolutely using this to suppress voting, not because they really care about fraud (but I do have misgivings about quota systems for sensitive work.)

There's a good discussion link on the DP article.
Here's a comment I sympathize with:

If anyone should be arrested, it should be Frederick. Libel, false accusations, discrimination, etc, etc, etc. His thinly veiled comments about avoiding identity fraud by NOT registering to vote are a clear attempt at keeping those who do not support his MO out of the electoral process. He needs to think his rants through more thoroughly in the future in order to be taken seriously. This is a joke. No one's identity has been stolen. What he is attempting is similar to the color code of terror that Bush's admin. uses to scare people into agreement with a non-functional regime.

The one point I can give to registration skeptics is that the forms ask for both SSN and birth date, hence an unscrupulous person going around with the forms could abuse that information. But that's no reason to blame the well-intentioned organizations doing voter drives.

Posted by: Neil B ☼ on July 29, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

OK, maybe I should just wait next time - and I'd do better with the same Name text if it would remember, I swear it doesn't even though I allow that in my FF 3 settings.

BTW, note what

Posted by: on July 29, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Print what Mr. Frederick said on Virginia Republican Party letterhead and send it to all Virginia registered Republicans.

Robocall all Virginia registered Republicans with a recording of what Mr. Frederick said.

Use the voting suppression rhetoric of the Virginia Republicans on Virginia Republicans.

Posted by: Brojo on July 29, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo, actually that's not a bad idea. Republicans in my state are convinced that voter suppression is not an issue -- that we Dems are making it up.

.

Posted by: pol on July 29, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

What does faking names have to do with identity theft? Were they stealing the identities of the people they made up?

Posted by: sullijan on July 29, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

One can certainly be suspicious of the motive behind Frederick's advice, but the quote itself doesn't even support your assertion, Kevin, and Frederick is also good advice anyway. Only a fool would give a complete stranger the kind of information required for a voter registration. I would encourage everyone to do it at the registrar's office, like Frederick implicitly suggested.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey, Frederick's big problem is his slanderous assertion that "There appears to be a coordinated and widespread effort in Virginia to commit voter fraud." That isn't just asking for caution, it is an intimation that an organization/s are deliberately trying to break the law rather than themselves being victimized by dishonest employees (who hasn't been?) He should be prosecuted for that.

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 29, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, the problem identified by Frederick is a very small one. And, you don't have to be either that cynical or smart to figure out that this is an effort at voter surpression. Frederick himself is an odious creep and right wing tool, and those are his good points. The registration form does require a SSN, so, I suppose, the prudent thing for a person who wants to register to vote is to keep the form and mail it in themselves after filling it out. In other words, you don't have to go to the registrar's office to avoid letting anybody other than a government employee see your SSN. But, the reality is, the problems of identity theft and fraud have been very limited and Frederick's claim that they are widespread is a lie. He could care less about protecting anybody's identity, this is all about keeping minorities and young people from registering to vote.

Posted by: RP on July 29, 2008 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

shorter Frederick: Voter fraud is horrible, voter disenfranchisement is much better.

Posted by: ckelly on July 29, 2008 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

I would encourage everyone to do it at the registrar's office, like Frederick implicitly suggested.

That doesn't sound safe Yancey. I might get run over on the way to the registrar's office.

Posted by: ckelly on July 29, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

I would encourage everyone to do it at the registrar's office, like Frederick implicitly suggested.

Sure you would, Yancey. Of course, being the rugged individualist you are, you wouldn't worry about age, infirmity, lack of transportation, juggling job and family obligations and the rest of the factors that make some Democratic-leaning constituencies underrepresented at the polls.

Posted by: Gregory on July 29, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

As you go through the voting lists, just remember.

"D" stands for Delete.
"R" stands for Retain.

Is it that hard, folks? Come on!

Posted by: thersites on July 29, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another good couple of sites:

http://www.verifiedvotingfoundation.org/
http://www.uncountedthemovie.com/

Posted by: Neil B. ☼ on July 29, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Frederick represents my district. Like most Prince William County Republicans, he's pretty loathsome.

Posted by: Vincent on July 29, 2008 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

You are SO right, Vincent. I'm a PWC Dem, as well.

Posted by: pol on July 29, 2008 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Registering is the gateway to fraud....

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