Friday, October 17, 2008

Voter fraud vs. vote suppression

Legal manoeuvering is starting to rival political manoeuvering as we get closer to election day. Charges, counter-charges, appeals and counter-appeals are flying fast and furious. Some of the major events of the last few days:

  • During the third presidential debate on Wednesday, October 15th, John McCain charged that ACORN "is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
  • The day after McCain made this pronouncement in front of 56.5 million television viewers, ACORN offices across the country were vandalized, and ACORN workers received threatening e-mails and phone calls. (see this post for more info about ACORN.)
  • Anonymous officials "leak" to the Associated Press that the FBI is investigating allegations of voter registration fraud by ACORN registration workers. The officials are anonymous because "Justice Department regulations forbid discussing ongoing investigations particularly so close to an election."
  • The NY Times reports today (October 17) that: "law enforcement officials sought on Thursday to ratchet down speculation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had begun a broader investigation into the group’s activities. Some officials said privately that they were wary of being pulled into a highly partisan controversy so close to Election Day."
  • The Obama campaign has sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey requesting that the Special Prosecutor looking into the firing of US attorneys include in his investigation recent Republican attempts to suppress voters' rights by casting aspersions on the validity of recent voter registrations. (The actual letter is available on Talking Points Memo.) The link between current voter suppression efforts and the Special Prosecutor's investigation is that there is evidence tying the firing of US Attorneys to their reluctance to pursue voter registration fraud prosecutions that were politically motivated.
  • The McCain-Palin campaign complained that, by writing to Attorney General Mukasey, the Obama campaign is "attempting to criminalize political discourse." They characterize the letter as "outrageous."
  • Ohio vote in the courts - A Washington Post headline today reads, "Ohio Litigating Its Way Through Election Cycle." According to the article, the Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, is involved in 8 court cases against the Republican party this election cycle, and she predicts the number will rise to 12 by the time a winner is decided. In the most recent case, Republicans filed to require that 200,000 new registrations be verified before election day because some aspect of the data provided did not match data entered in other databases, such as Social Security or motor vehicles. The Ohio Supreme Court made an emergency ruling supporting Brunner, overruling a federal appeals court that had ordered her to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility. Jennifer Brunner is the Democrat counterpart of Republican Kenneth Blackwell, who was the Republican Ohio Secretary of State in the 2004 and Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State during the 2000 election. It seems elections in this century have brought state secretaries of state into the public eye.
  • BBC journalist Greg Palast and voters' rights attorney Robert Fitgerald Kennedy, Jr. warn in Rolling Stone magazine that "if Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat McCain at the polls - they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering." Their year-long investigation of voter suppression allegations reveals a systematic program of "GOP vote tampering" on a massive scale.

The moral of all these stories is: TAKE VOTING SERIOUSLY. Make sure in advance that you are registered, and that your registration is in order. Allow plenty of time to vote. Visit to download a comic book with tips to avoid your vote being "stolen." To be pro-active and help others, sign up with MoveOn or the Obama campaign's GOTV (Get Out The Vote) activities. And when you go to vote on election day, TAKE FIVE FRIENDS WITH YOU!

UPDATE: The LA Times is reporting on a group called YPM, operating in California, that has fraudently registered people as Republicans under the guise of signing a petition. According to the Times report, datelined Sacramento,

"Dozens of newly minted Republican voters say they were duped into joining the party by a GOP contractor with a trail of fraud complaints stretching across the country. Voters contacted by The Times said they were tricked into switching parties while signing what they believed were petitions for tougher penalties against child molesters. Some said they were told that they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Others had no idea their registration was being changed."

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