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April 03, 2012 5:53 PM Election Fraud! Voter Fraud! Voter ID!

By Ed Kilgore

An obscure Indiana indictment is getting major play on Fox News and across the conservative chattering classes. The Fox lede makes it sound pretty lurid: “Felony charges related to election fraud have touched the 2008 race for the highest office in the land.” And the headline, below which are arranged mugshot-style photos of the malefactors, reads: “4 Indiana Dems charged with election fraud in 2008 presidential race.”

Elsewhere are bloggy headlines and shouts about “voter fraud” and, inevitably, “voter ID,” viz: “The Real Reason Why Liberals Hate Voter ID: Four Indiana Democrats Charged with 2008 Election Fraud.”

Republicans promoting franchise-shrinking Voter ID laws, you see, are hard-pressed to supply evidence of any actual voter fraud, so anything that sounds remotely like it will get a lot of attention.

So what’s the big deal in Indiana? It is alleged that local Democratic officials in St. Joseph’s County (South Bend) forged an unknown number of signatures on petitions to place all three major Democratic presidential candidates (Clinton, Edwards and Obama) on the state’s 2008 primary ballot.

It is unclear why county party officials, not the campaigns involved, were responsible for this task. Only 500 signatures were required from each of the state’s congressional districts. It shouldn’t have been a very heavy lift: when the primary occurred, Obama received over 33,000 votes in St, Joseph County, and Clinton more than 30,000 (the third candidate, John Edwards, had dropped out by then); the two candidates appear to have collected over 50,000 votes each in the congressional district as a whole, or 100 times the number of petition signatures required.

So I don’t know if this was a matter of sheer incompetence (my guess), poor campaign oversight, or what, particularly since we don’t know how many forgeries actually occurred. But no one could seriously argue there wasn’t enough popular support for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to justify their appearance on the primary ballot, or that it had any effect on the primary results, or any vaguely remote effect on the general election. So maybe this was “election fraud” in the broadest sense of the term, but hardly “voter fraud.” And the connection to “voter ID” is non-existent.

But hey, as the saying goes, when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So you can continue to expect conservative media to hammer away at this scandal and use it to justify all sorts of efforts to keep citizens from casting ballots—which really could “touch on the race for the highest office in the land.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • suekzoo on April 03, 2012 6:22 PM:

    But then just this year, the Secretary of State was charged and convicted of voter fraud. Things that make you go hmmmmmm.....

  • AndThenThere'sThat on April 03, 2012 8:43 PM:

    Suekzoo makes a great point.

  • Steve on April 03, 2012 10:31 PM:

    The real lesson is that voter fraud is vastly more likely to be perpetrated by political insiders than by random individuals deciding to vote twice.

  • Califlander on April 04, 2012 1:36 AM:

    @suekzoo: But the convicted Secretary of State was a Republican, so it doesn't count.

  • Crissa on April 04, 2012 5:20 AM:

    Ahh, voter ID. The solution that doesn't actually solve any problems. I'm not even sure how they think it would solve this one.

    If someone has enough information to fake or usurp a registration, they have enough information to fake an ID. So how would checking IDs - but not verifying them in any way - solve anything?

    I'm not even sure how voter ID would solve someone submitting false signatures on a petition. Reducing pay-per-sign helps, but not much; and removing paid signature gatherers totally really hurts campaigns both astroturf and non.

  • MuddyLee on April 04, 2012 8:47 AM:

    When a repub mentions "voter fraud" to me, I just respond "Sarah Palin". It was fraud for the McCain campaign to suggest that she could/should become Vice President of the United States. And let's not forget the people she endorses: like Nikki Haley.

  • SB on April 07, 2012 8:48 AM:

    The below comment was recently posted on another story. However, I've reposted it here after discovering Mr. Kilgore's article. The shenanigans, as we all know, are not restricted to Indiana. Unfortunately they plague the entire country and are pushing concerned citizens to a boiling point. Stay vigilant.

    ---------------------------

    From someone who has an interesting connection to the Bush-Gore debacle I can tell you that the country needs to keep a watchful eye on Florida. Multiple things are amiss in the supposed "Sunshine State" and the sun isn't shining so brightly on malfeasance that is being committed in the dark of secrecy. In at least one Florida jurisdiction (and I suspect possibly others), in a move that has somewhat of a Katherine Harrisesque feel, a proven criminally-corrupt public official has been appointed involvement in the 2012 election process. This is 100% true and it is supported by two irrefutable and evidence-laden reports that span more than 100 pages that are in the possession of various entities, including those within Florida's judicial branch (and Chief Judge Martha Lott and State Attorney's Office Chief Investigator Spencer Mann). At the heart of the issue is a proven criminal/judge by the name of David P. Kreider. It is a fact-supported assertion that Chief Judge Martha Lott, Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter, and others have some serious explaining to do. At the "end of the day", unless this wrongful appointment is promptly corrected, this issue is most certainly going to rightfully be the source of yet another dark and ugly "black eye" for the state of Florida. Take a look at

    http://www.complaints.com/2012/march/14/Corrupt_Judge_David_P._Kreider_now_taints_the_ele_264712.htm

    for more information. I'm no gambler, but I'm willing to bet another round of election-related frustrations are headed our way largely due to various Florida authorities.

  • SB on April 11, 2012 3:01 AM:

    This is an important update to all that have knowledge of the “Gibson Case” and criminally-corrupt Judge (and former prosecutor) David P. Kreider. During recent months concerned parties who desire to see corruption stamped out and to see justice served have been the source of intense pressure upon various "insiders". One of those key “insiders” involved in the aforementioned matter is Martha Lott who, until last Thursday (04/05/2012), served as the Chief Judge of Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit.

    This message has been shared in order to announce that the scandal related to the "Gibson Case" has taken yet another big step towards it's complete unraveling. Yesterday (04/09/2012) at 05:34 p.m. EST it was officially announced that Martha Lott had resigned from her post as Chief Judge on 04/05/2012. Were it not for her resignation Martha Lott's current term as Chief Judge would have expired on 06/30/2013. To review the official resignation announcement, which ran in Alachua County's largest newspaper ("The Gainesville Sun"), visit the following url:

    http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120409/ARTICLES/120409606

    Robert E. Roundtree Jr. is now the Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Judge Roundtree has now inherited the problems related to criminal/judge David P. Kreider and Judge Kreider's various co-conspirators; and it is now Judge Roundtree's responsibility to promptly carry-out the duties passed on to him regarding resolving those problems. For more information visit the url:

    http://www.complaints.com/2012/march/14/Corrupt_Judge_David_P._Kreider_now_taints_the_ele_264712.htm

    This is a testament to the positive impact that determined people can have in the fight against public corruption.

    For the record, everything stated here is 100% true and corroborated by two reports and extensive irrefutable evidence that is in the possession of various agencies. Some of those agencies are within Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit (within the circuit, included in those entities that are in possession of the aforementioned reports and evidence are the Chief Judge’s office and the State Attorney’s Office Chief Investigator Spencer Mann).