Political Animal


June 19, 2012 12:13 PM Young People, Minorities, Unmarried Women and Dead Dogs

By Ed Kilgore

Speaking of dumb stories: I groaned aloud when I saw this headline from the site of a local TV station in Virginia: “Bedford County dead dog receives voters registration forms.” You can guess the rest:

When Tim Morris got his mail last week he found a pretty big surprise, a document asking his dog Mozart to register to vote.
Not only is Mozart a dog but he’s been dead for two years.
“I opened it up and looked at it and I just laughed,” Morris said. “I thought it was a joke at first and it turns out it’s real.”
The form is addressed to Mo, the family’s nickname for the dog.
What amazed Morris is that if Mozart was human he would have been eligible to vote for the first time in 2012.
“He would have been 19 years old this year and he passed away two years ago,” he said. “I still have no earthly idea how they got his information.”

Here’s where the investigative journalism comes in, thickening the plot:

10 On Your Side looked deeper and found that the voter registration forms were sent by the non-profit Voter Participation Center, not the State Board of Elections.
So we contacted the Voter Participation Center and found that they purchase mailing lists from vendors and while they do try and check every name the organization admits that some do fall through the cracks.
The voter registration efforts are focused on groups like young people, minorities, and unmarried women.

Aha! Those people. Obama voters. What are law-abiding Virginians supposed to do?

The Board of Elections said they’ve received similar complaints but since the Voter Participation Center is a private organization they can’t stop them from sending voter registration forms.

Voter fraud! Voter fraud!

And sure enough, the Daily Caller picked up the “story” right away.

It’s a big part of the myth of voter fraud that sinister “outside agitators” are signing up ineligible voters left and right; that’s the rationale for new laws—notably in Florida—aimed at exposing non-party “independent” voter registration groups to large fines if they make any mistakes, as Ben Adler explained at The Nation in March:

These same laws that require voters to present state issued photo identification at the polling both—nominally aimed at preventing voter fraud—also sometimes contain provisions that are placing onerous requirements and stringent limitations on third party voter registration efforts.
The targets are national and statewide organizations that use volunteers or paid staffers to canvass underrepresented communities to register new voters. Often these voters are young, poor or non-white and thus lean Democratic. A study by the Brennan Center for Justice found, “54 million eligible Americans are not registered to vote. More than 25% of the voting-age citizen population is not registered to vote. Among minority groups, this percentage is even higher— more than 30% for African Americans and more than 40% for Hispanics.” Registration drives typically focuse their efforts on these historically disenfranchised populations, as well as elderly and disabled voters who may have trouble reaching a government office to register. Perversely, as the Brennan Center notes, “Instead of praising civic groups who register voters for their contribution to democracy, many states have cracked down on those groups.”

The crackdown can be directly traced to claims that ACORN—the very heart of the Obama conspiracy, you know—swept the dregs of society onto the voting rolls in 2008, stealing the election, based on a scattered cases where the group submitted registration forms that turned out to be from non-eligible voters.

What always seems to be lost in these scandalized accounts is that possessing or even submitting a registration form is not the same as voting. The famous ACORN cases were in fact detected before a single person voted, and were probably sent in in accordance with state laws requiring non-selective submission of forms collected as part of voter registration drives (to avoid the ancient practice of partisan groups “registering” voters and then discarding the forms of those suspected to be on the wrong “side”).

There was never any real danger that Mozart was going to vote; nor is there any real danger that voter registration drives by third-party groups are sneaking non-eligibles by the registrars. Aside from the standard review of registration forms, people actually voting have to provide information and swear oaths related to eligibility. And the irreducible fact remains that repeated GOP efforts, including the famous U.S. Attorney drive during the Bush administration that caused that administration so much trouble, to document actual voter fraud have repeatedly failed to deliver the goods.

But I’m sure next time Republicans justify their efforts to restrict the franchise, Mozart the dead dog will be a data point.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on June 19, 2012 12:24 PM:

    Don't we read this story EVERY election?

    The guy did what he should have done, and not filled-out the form.

    Ergo - NO voter fraud.
    Just a mistake.

    On the plus side, the dog's name was Mozart, after a dead white guy - and not Blackie, or Pancho.
    THAT might have gotten ugly!

  • DJ on June 19, 2012 12:35 PM:

    I realize that The Daily Caller is too stupid to realize this, but the problem isn't so much that, say, Bugs Bunny is on the voter rolls; it's when someone claiming to be Bugs Bunny shows up at the polls and demands a ballot.

  • Mudge on June 19, 2012 12:38 PM:

    You state .."and swear oaths related to eligibility." I guess oaths of American citizens are now useless and disbelieved. The Republican liars assume all people lie, aside from doing everything they can think of to prevent potential Democratic voters from voting.

  • jim filyaw on June 19, 2012 12:39 PM:

    you're missing the point. i remember actual stories from my youth (in the early 60s) of how 'literacy tests' were used to disqualify black voters in the south. phd holders were kept from voting by questions like, 'how many bubbles are in a bar of soap?' or 'how many gravel are in a mile of road?'. the point is that to these people, anyone holding different opinion is, by definition, unqualified to vote.

  • Charles on June 19, 2012 12:45 PM:

    Yes, but encouraging "those people" to vote is equivalent to voter fraud, since it dilutes the power of my Real American vote, which is a violation of my constitutional right to oppress those people.

    Registering minorities to vote is exactly like white slavery!

  • exlibra on June 19, 2012 12:47 PM:

    Gulag, the dog may have been named after a white guy, but the white guy in question was a *foreigner*. Allowing a true-blue *American* dog to register to vote would be one thing, allowing an Austrian one quite another.

    I was going to suggest that a Gershwin might have been more palatable than Mozart but, on second thoughts... Between his Rhapsody IN BLUE and his Porgy and Bess (about "those people"), I guess we know how he would have voted; can't have it, either. Sousa, maybe?

  • Perspecticus on June 19, 2012 12:53 PM:

    Worse yet, i'll bet the dog couldn't even compose a sentence, let alone an entire symphony.

  • DRF on June 19, 2012 12:56 PM:

    And if an organization delivered two blank forms to every household in the district, with a cover letter urging eligible individuals to register to vote, would Republicans claim that this was inducing voter fraud?

  • boatboy_srq on June 19, 2012 12:59 PM:

    The Republican liars assume all people lie...

    It's a common perception of the criminal that the crime is ordinary and all people do it: God's Own Party assumes dishonesty is pervasive because it's pervasive within the party. Same goes for the investment bankers: everyone cheated the customers and misrepresented the products and trades, so it's Business As Usual and Nothing To See Here.

    It's the nature of the offender to presume banality and universality in the offense.

    Of course possessing a preprinted document, to God's Own Party, is proof of the intent to submit it and swear (falsely) to it's veracity. It's just a short step from there to declaring that picking up Das Capital or the Koran is proof of intent to overthrow the state (FSM help the poor sod who's caught picking up both at the same time). We're a lot closer to book burnings and thoughtcrime than anyone wants to admit.

  • DAY on June 19, 2012 1:06 PM:

    Some of us ancient folks can recall the "Ratfuckers" of the Nixon era. I would not be surprised if some of their descendants are still at work in the backwaters of America.

    "Turn that camera on, honey, I got a news story for you! Yesterday this here Negro fella from the Democrat Party come a knockin' on my door, and offered me five dollars if I would vote for his boy! Y'all are gettin' this, right? Hey, Mabel! I'm gonna be on the TeeVee!"

  • c u n d gulag on June 19, 2012 1:10 PM:

    Nixon's "ratfuckers" are still alive and well - or, too many of them, anyway.

    They were integral in Reagan's, "Papa Doc's" and "Baby Doc's" campaigns and administrations.
    They're still in the MSM - or, talk radio, and newspapers.

    And they're still around to serve Romney - whose father they despised!

    The next 5+ months is gonna be REAL ugly!!!!!!!!!

  • hells littlest angel on June 19, 2012 1:20 PM:

    The Daily Caller should send Neil Munro to interview the dead dog. You know he won't let Mozart stonewall.

  • Kathryn on June 19, 2012 1:31 PM:

    Currently working with Obama campaign in N. Virginia actively registering voters every Saturday at many locations in our district. That Daily Caller is pouncing on this is sadly no surprise, Tucker Carlson and his arrogant Irish buddy are a blight on society. As usual, too many Americans (especially anyone who follows the daily caller) aren't smart enough to figure out that Mozart or Bugs Bunny aren't going to vote. The GOP, masters at roiling up the ignorant, unfortunately it works quite well. Actually glad another group is actively registering or trying to in Virginia. From what I hear Virginia is the "Florida" for 2012.

  • Skip on June 19, 2012 1:41 PM:

    Would Mr. Morris be quite so tickled to find he'd been purged from the voter registration lists?

    Has Daily Caller shown inclination to follow up on any of the stories of purged Floridian voters? Or are humans not as important as dogs when it comes to making that all important political pointless point. Enquiring minds want to know...

  • JM917 on June 19, 2012 1:56 PM:

    I smell the elephant dung of right-wing provocation in this grotesque attempt to get "Mo" Morris registered, then hullabaloo it to the Bedford TV station.

    Bedford is in south-central Virginia (prime Tea Party country), the heart of the appropriately named Republican congressman Robert Hurt's district.

  • ckelly on June 19, 2012 2:03 PM:

    Wake me when the dead dog reanimates and casts a ballot. Or, someone masquarading as Mozart the Dog casts a ballot.
    But really, I'd trust the dog's vote over most of my idiot neighbors.

    Meanwhile, Republicans are systematically and very efficiently purging voter rolls and implementing voter ID laws to suppress minority voting rights.
    LOOK over there! A dead dog received voter reg forms!!1!!

  • Steve P on June 19, 2012 4:53 PM:

    Heh. My sister used to quadruple the number of free samples she'd get through the mail by signing up the family pets for coupon offers.
    Wonder if this is anything like that.

  • HokieAnnie on June 19, 2012 10:16 PM:

    @Steve P

    To save the costs of having an unlisted phone number, my listing in the white pages is under my oldest's pet's name. I gotta laugh at the mortgage refi offers my dog gets. I bet this guy did the same thing and now wonders why his dog is getting mail.

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