Political Animal


April 05, 2012 10:49 AM War On War On Voting

By Ed Kilgore

This does seem to be the week for a serious pushback against ongoing conservative voter suppression efforts. The pressure on corporations (already successful with beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Co) to abandon support for ALEC is one sign. There’s a large new study from the Center for American Progress on how, where and why the Right is pushing anti-voting-rights laws and practices. And one of the premier jounalists working on voting rights issues, The Nation’s Ari Berman, has torn into the Fox News effort to turn a kerfuffle involving primary ballot petitions in Indiana into a sort of retroactive excuse for that state’s (and others’) voter ID law.

As some of you may recall, I wrote about this last matter a couple of days ago, having noticed that right-wing blogs were heavily promoting the “Indiana Election Fraud” story originated by Fox. But as Ari notes, Fox itself made sure the “scandal” got attention, treating it as “breaking news” of sufficient importance to interrupt coverage of the president’s critique of the Ryan budget.

That’s how badly conservatives lust for “proof” of voting fraud to justify their restrictions on voting rights—so badly, in fact, that they ignore the inconvenient detail that the Indiana case had nothing to do with actual voting, and would in no way have been prevented by Indiana’s (or anyone else’s) voter ID law.

As Ari Berman sums it up:

The real story in 2012 is how the myth of voter fraud has been advanced by Republicans to justify new voting restrictions in more than a dozen states, which could disenfranchise up to 5 million voters on Election Day, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. That’s a whole lot of casualties in response to a few bad actors.

But it does look like this will no longer be an issue of immense importance to conservatives, but of little interest to progressives. Sometimes just paying attention can do a world of good.

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.


  • DAY on April 05, 2012 11:13 AM:

    That "lust for proof" sometimes resorts to fiction- Japan in Manchuria, Germany in Poland, and a certain incident in the Tonkin Gulf.

  • T2 on April 05, 2012 11:21 AM:

    "could disenfranchise up to 5 million voters on Election Day" says Berman. This sounds like a huge WIN for the GOP to me. 5 million voters that would probably vote Dem means a lot more Paul Ryan's and Jim DeMint's in Washington or statehouses.
    I've heard several "journalists" point out that the voter fraud is a totally fake argument intended to surpress votes.....but then they, to be FAIR, let the GOPers spew out their fake arguments and the viewer is left with a deaf ear to it all.

  • bleh on April 05, 2012 11:45 AM:

    I suppose it's useful in some sense to debunk the myths, distortions, and outright lies, but I don't know how much effect it's really going to have.

    The issue really isn't "voter fraud," any more than it's ACORN, the New Black Panthers, La Raza, or any of a hundred other wingnut bugaboos. The issue is that the Wrong Sort Of People (We Know Who They Are) have the temerity -- the uppity-ness -- to actually vote, and we know perfectly well that they just shouldn't be doing that, for all sorts of perfectly obvious reasons that we're not allowed to say by the Fascist Political Correctness Police who control our media and our universities.

    And this means the efforts -- legal and otherwise -- to stop them from voting will continue apace, whatever the excuse, and if no excuse presents itself then one will be manufactured.

    It's like Whack-A-Mole. But IMHO the way to take it on is not whacking the moles, it's blowing up the game. Confront it head-on as unconstitutional and racist. Win another couple of federal civil-rights cases using quantitative evidence of impact. That's what's effective, I think.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on April 05, 2012 12:03 PM:

    There is proof of real voter fraud during the last election cycle!

    In Indiana!

    And just because it was the Republican Secretary of State who was convicted of multiple felonies including voter fraud does not invalidate the fact that voter fraud is real.

  • berttheclock on April 05, 2012 12:34 PM:

    Horrors of horrors. ALEC just claimed the Cubans sunk our USS Maine.

  • kevo on April 05, 2012 1:03 PM:

    Someone needs to quote a little John Lennon to our relentless authoritarians who insist on knocking down the door of small "d" democracy:

    I told you before (voting rights act 1965)
    stay away from my door
    don't give me that
    brother brother brother

    The freaks on the phone (robo calls)
    won't leave me alone
    so don't give me that
    brother brother brother

    Dare I say more! -Kevo