Sunday, July 15, 2012

All Worked Up About Nothing

The Cycle, MSNBC's new program at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on weekdays, is off to a rough start. Typical is the argument recently between S.E. Cupp and Ari Berman of The Nation, described by Mediaite:

“I have a question for my tablemates. Go with me for this,” Cupp began. “Should non-citizens of this country be able to vote?”

Touré quickly answered “no” but immediately tagged his response with the qualification that “voter fraud is a red herring.”

“But let me finish my premise,” said Cupp.

Touré replied that he would not and repeated that voter fraud was, in his estimation, a red herring. “The disenfranchisement of millions of black and brown people is the issue,” said Touré.

“Voter fraud exists,” replied Cupp. “We can argue over how much it exists, but it absolutely exists.”

“No, it does not exist,” Touré replied.

“No examples of voter fraud around the country, Touré? It’s never happened,” replied an increasingly frustrated Cupp.

Berman jumped in and said that the Bush administration prosecuted only 86 cases of voter fraud after an investigation into the elections that took place between 2000 to 2006.

“That’s 86 too many, Ari,” said Cupp. She again attempted to circle back to her original premise. “If we agree that non-citizens should not be allowed to vote — if we agree, then how do we enforce that?”

Cupp is the house conservative on The Cycle, though it is hardly conservative doctrine to set up an entirely new government bureaucracy because of wrongdoing (not involving violence) affecting approximately 14 people each year in a nation of 300,000,000+.      In 2007, 613 people in the U.S.A. died of an unintentional shooting.   Sixty-five of these were children under the age of 15.    Would Cupp support prohibiting all firearms, or at least possession of firearms in any household in which a child resides?

The figure of 86 cases cited by Berman emanated from an investigation by The New York Times.   Kevin Drum notes "Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff."      Voter fraud is rarely committed, he notes

since there are few individuals willing to risk a felony charge merely to cast one extra vote and few organizations willing or able to organize large-scale in-person fraud and keep it a secret. When Indiana's photo ID law, designed to prevent precisely this kind of fraud, went to the Supreme Court, the state couldn't document a single case of it happening. As the majority opinion in Crawford admits, "The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history."

Generally, suspected voter fraud turns out to be merely clerical errors or someone listing his/her name as, say, Mickey Mouse, which gets caught by a registrar anyway.   Voter ID laws- a solution in search of a problem- pushed by GOP legislatures and chief executives are designed only to catch someone trying to impersonate another individual at the polling place.

Drum believes there is little likelihood of Repub voter suppression efforts determining the results of an election.    And perhaps it is hard to imagine, not unlike a presidential election turning on a ruling by a court to prohibit full counting of election ballots in a state governed by the brother of one of the candidates.   Could never happen.

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