Friday, June 17, 2011

Must Be All Acorn's Fault

Maine Republicans are apparently channeling the late Paul Weyrich. Co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation, Weyrich told a Christian audience in 1980

I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They have never been from the beginning of our country and as a matter of fact they are not now. Quite frankly, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Maine Republicans are putting into practice Weyrich's dictum:

Tempers flared in the state Senate on Friday after the chairman of the Maine Republican Party suggested Democrats “steal elections” by taking advantage of Maine’s policy allowing voters to register at the polls on Election Day.

A proposal to end Maine’s 38-year-old policy of same-day voter registration was already one of the most contentious of the legislative session.

Lawmakers have spent hours debating whether the bill would improve the integrity of Maine’s election system — as Republicans insist — or disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters — as Democrats suggest.

On Friday, the partisan tensions boiled over in the Senate thanks to comments from Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster.

“If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people,” Webster told a columnist for the Portland Press Herald in a piece published Friday. “Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections.”

Webster also accused Democrats of busing people to the polls to register.

The bill now heads to Governor Paul LePage, a Republican elected as a tea party favorite, who is enthusiastic about the measure's effort to suppress Democratic votes.

As GOP voter suppression efforts (noted by Ernest F. Canning in and here) proceed in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia (already accomplished in Florida), the media seem unaware that as the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU found, "by any measure, voter fraud is extremely rare." In its 2007 study (here, in PDF) of fraud alleged in several states, the Center found "only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated- and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked."

Of course, there have been examples of apparent fraud committed by prominent citizens. There is conservative lawyer and activist Ann Coulter, who likely has committed voter fraud in Florida and in Connecticut. Charlie White, Indiana's recently elected Secretary of State, has been indicted on seven counts of voter fraud. Todd Akin of Missouri appears to have voted ten times using the address of the home in which he and his wife previously lived, despite paying property taxes of the home he now lives in.

Presidential candidates don't want to be left out. Jon Huntsman used the governor's mansion in Salt Lake City as his official address to vote in Utah while he was serving as Ambassador to Mainland China- and after he had bought an expensive home in Washington, D.C. Mitt Romney, after buying a $5 million house in California and later selling his home in Massachusetts, then voted in the Massachusetts Senate race while claiming to live in the basement of his parent's home (donations now being accepted for the Mitt Romney Homeless Housing Fund).

Admittedly, none of these individuals has even the potential to do as much harm to the nation as did then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who prior to the 2000 election enlisted a private company to purge the voter rolls of felons. Although 94,000 names were purged, only 3,000 actually were ineligible to vote, according to the BBC's Greg Palast, as reported by The Brad Blog.

A report issued today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds little to support the charges that led to the demise of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a grassroots consumer advocacy organization driven out of existence by Congressional critics.

The GAO found that monitoring of awards to ACORN by government agencies generally consisted of reviewing progress reports and making site visits. Of 22 investigations of alleged election and voter registration fraud, most were closed without prosecution, the report found.

What do all these individuals have in common? Perhaps you've already guessed- and if so, it's understandable that you would think that voter fraud is most common among prominent Republicans. Whatever the outcomes of the charges filed against these individuals, it appears that collectively they committed more fraud than ACORN, defunded by the U.S. Congress and run out of business amid hysterical allegations by the GOP (hysterical, but effective in intimidating Democrats). As if we needed yet another study largely exonerating ACORN, now

One of eight investigations of alleged voter registration fraud resulted in guilty pleas and seven were closed without action due to lack of evidence.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) reported five closed matters – one resolved, one dismissed and the others dropped after FEC "found no reason to believe the violations occurred."

But ACORN is gone, Republicans throughout the land are finding new and creative ways to deter members of Democratic-leaning groups to vote, and- as President Bush would have put it- the mission must be accomplished.

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