Voter Fraud

Voter Fraud at Liberty University?

Considering that Republicans are up in arms over allegations of “voter fraud” or, more accurately “voter registration fraud,” we assume that they’ll soon be turning the attention to Virginia where, as we last month, Jerry Falwell Jr. set out to register the entire student body at Liberty University, in hopes of being the “college that elected a president."

It turns out that Liberty registered some 4,000+ new voters, but that a lot of the new registrations were illegible, incomplete, or otherwise ineligible:

Disappointment, however, could await an estimated 200 to 300 people whose handwriting on their voter applications was so illegible or incomplete that registrar’s office personnel couldn’t find them to fix their information … Board member John Falcone said workers who processed the flood of applications told him many of the illegible forms came from Liberty University students, however [Patricia Bower, Lynchburg’s registrar] said there’s no way to tell whether those forms came from Liberty, because they show addresses in California or several other states.

Of course it’s impossible to tell if they came from Liberty since all the addresses are from other states.That’s exactly the problem. But unless there was another organization conducting a massive voter registration drive in Lynchburg to get out-of-state students to register in Virginia, it’s probably safe to assume that these forms came from Liberty.

Right on Voter ID: Those People 'Should Not Be Voting Anyway'

The Supreme Court’s decision upholding Indiana’s partisan voter-ID law, like other recent cases with conservative outcomes, received generous praise from the Right. “This victory continues conservatives’ good run of Supreme Court decisions dating back to last term,” wrote Human Events columnist Sean Trende, who called the case evidence that John Roberts’s appointment as Chief Justice “mark[ed] a sea change” in pulling the court “rightward.”

Paul Weyrich praised the Court and called objections to the law—which closes access to the ballot box for many otherwise eligible voters, primarily minorities and the elderly, in pursuit of the phantom threat of voter fraud—“overblown and sensational,” adding, “We do not compel people to vote.” (As Weyrich said in 1980, “I don't want everybody to vote. … [O]ur leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”)

And Gary Bauer boldly asserted that “all citizens have photo I.D.s, and the only people who don’t are illegal aliens, who are, by definition, not allowed to vote. The only ones disenfranchised by the photo I.D. requirement are those who should not be voting anyway.”

Of course, by the time Bauer sent that remarkable claim out to his e-mail list, the AP was already reporting on some of these people he said “should not be voting”:

About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow sister because they didn't have state or federal identification bearing a photograph. …

The nuns, all in their 80s or 90s, didn't get one but came to the precinct anyway.

"One came down this morning, and she was 98, and she said, 'I don't want to go do that,'" Sister McGuire said. Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives.

They weren't given provisional ballots because it would be impossible to get them to a motor vehicle branch and back within the 10 days allotted by the law, Sister McGuire said. "You have to remember that some of these ladies don't walk well. They're in wheelchairs or on walkers or electric carts."

Anonymous Operative Alleges Need for Voter ID

A congressional staffer has taken to the pages of the right-wing Human Events to assert that voter fraud is a “Stunning Reality” in the U.S., and that therefore, the Supreme Court should uphold an Indiana voter-ID law. Published under the “pen name” of “Wright Talley,” this “long-time congressional employee” claims that voter fraud is “very real,” citing “numerous cases” that have been “reported by the media.”

Your right to vote will be at stake when the Supreme Court decides this case next year. It is now endangered unless there are adequate safeguards against voter fraud such as Indiana’s voter ID law.

“Talley” isn’t the first to make an anonymous pitch for voter ID laws.  Remember Hans von Spakovsky? He’s the controversial Bush nominee to the FEC who secretly published an article advocating a voter ID law in Georgia while serving as a senior appointee in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Spakovsky later approved the law over the objections of career civil rights attorneys.

“Talley” offers as proof of fraud the result of “a casual look at news reports over the last 10 years.” This “casual look” provides him with a few examples of allegations of fraud, but a closer look—without too much effort—shows that most of those allegations simply didn’t pan out.

For example, “Talley” cites “a probe by U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic and Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann that found clear evidence of fraud in the election, including more than 200 felons who voted illegally and another 100-plus people who voted under bad addresses or false names or who voted twice.” Biskupic made national news recently as one of the U.S. attorneys controversially targeted for dismissal by the Justice Department, “after complaints from Rove that he was not doing enough about voter fraud.”

In fact, Biskupic aggressively pursued allegations of voter fraud; he just didn’t find any evidence of it. While Biskupic originally alleged hundreds of instances of fraud, what “Talley” fails to mention is that he only prosecuted 14. Only five people were convicted. Scraping the barrel, Biskupic managed to put a grandmother in prison who voted while on probation.

Ms. Prude said she believed that she was permitted to vote because she was not in jail or on parole, she testified in court. Told by her probation officer that she could not vote, she said she immediately called City Hall to rescind her vote, a step she was told was not necessary.

“Talley” also cites Washington’s narrow 2004 election. Republican candidate for governor Dino Rossi filed a lawsuit alleging thousands of fraudulent votes were cast; the court ended up taking away four of his own votes. In the end there was one conviction for double voting.

Between 2002, when the Bush Administration made tackling voter fraud a top priority, and 2005, there were 24 convictions of individuals casting votes while ineligible, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast, making it more likely a voter will be struck by lightning than commit fraud.

Disenfranchisement Strategy at Heart of Modern Right Wing

As Eric Rauchway noted in the New Republic Online this week, the Right’s myth of rampant voter fraud persists in spite of the facts of its near-nonexistence:

The divergence of rhetoric from reality resembles that of a hundred years ago, when reformers first supported registration laws. Although the reformers talked about "corruption," they didn't really mean vote-buying or repeat voting. They meant the wrong kind of people voting: "Universal suffrage," one reformer noted in 1903, meant "'tramp' suffrage"; it meant "licensed mobocracy."

Characterizing the modern right-wing campaign to place restrictions on voting -- to counter mythical “fraud” -- as simply a cynically veiled attempt to disenfranchise citizens seems unfair. Nevertheless, this view was more or less plainly articulated by Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the conservative movement, in 1980:

Get the Flash Player to see this video clip.

Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome -- good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Weyrich was addressing one of the seminal events in the creation of the New Right, the Religious Roundtable’s National Affairs Briefing in Dallas. At this gathering of 15,000-20,000 ministers and activists just a few months before the election, Ronald Reagan joined speakers including Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Phyllis Schlafly, and many more. Reagan famously declared, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you” – cementing the alliance between the Religious Right and the Republican Party that continues to this day.

REAL ID Debate in Maryland Mixes 9/11, Day Laborers

Since Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, which (among other things) mandates that all states require drivers prove their legal immigration status in order to get a license, several states have balked at the cost and myriad civil liberties issues stemming from the bill. Maine and Idaho have passed laws rejecting the new guidelines, and a number of other state legislatures are considering joining them, including Maryland. This week, however, the Maryland Senate debated a competing bill that would implement at least one part of the REAL ID rules – the proof of immigration status requirement. And although REAL ID was passed as part of emergency funding for the War on Terror, some are trying to refocus the debate away from civil liberties and on to anti-immigrant “quality of life” complaints. From The Washington Times:

Bill supporters told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee they were concerned about public safety and potential terrorist attacks because one of the September 11 hijackers obtained a Maryland driver's license.

"I live in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which has been in [newspapers] quite recently, and is really on its way to becoming the first authentic barrio in the county," said Susan Payne of Citizens Above Party. "The poison that's coming out of this state, known as the Maryland driver's license, has to be stopped because it's infecting the entire country."

Payne was also quoted in the Annapolis Capital, warning “You are driving people like me out of our home state.” She co-founded Citizens Above Party in response to the building of a day-laborer center in Gaithersburg, a prosperous D.C. suburb known for its New Urbanist planned communities.

The other founder of the anti-day-laborer group was Demos Chrissos, a veteran producer of Republican political ads who, like Susan Payne, is frequently quoted in the local media. Chrissos is also a professional anti-immigration activist on a national scale: He produced a TV ad for WeNeedAFence.com that included a shot of the World Trade Center being hit, and more recently produced ads around a campaign to pardon border agents convicted in a shooting. According to the online bio from his video marketing firm, Chrissos co-founded Citizens Above Party to “investigat[e] the suspected link between illegal immigration and widespread voter fraud across the nation.”

Of course, there’s no sign of “widespread voter fraud” by illegal immigrants anywhere except in the press releases of anti-immigrant groups and the politicians who court them, or of a link between suburban day laborers and anti-American terrorists. But press coverage of Payne’s rhetoric does demonstrate how easily the anti-immigrant movement can “infect” the REAL ID debate in Maryland and elsewhere. And while Payne comes off in the media as a typical concerned citizen, her partner’s work as a professional media consultant suggests that this confusion is part of their strategy.

GOP Spokesman Accuses Dems of Orchestrating 'Rampant Voter Fraud'

Responding to a report on voter intimidation and suppression by the National Voting Rights Institute/Demos, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee told the right-wing Cybercast News Service that it was “preposterous” and accused Democrats of orchestrating widespread voter fraud:

"Democrats and the left-wing groups with whom they coordinate wrote the guide on voter fraud," [Ed] Petru told Cybercast News Service.

He accused Democrats of "shenanigans" with provisional ballots in 2004 and "rampant voter fraud."

"Voter fraud is coordinated, systemic and pervasive among Democrats and their allies," Petru said. "They've been doing this for so long now. It has reached clinical interests - a science and a profession for Democrats.

"They can't understand why their outrageous agenda keeps being rejected by voters, so they are continually invoking conspiracy theories to explain it," Petru said. "It's routine - voter fraud among Democrats in elections."

A preliminary report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found scant evidence of voter fraud – in contrast to the very real persistence of voter suppression, as documented by People For the American Way Foundation’s report, “The New Face of Jim Crow.” If you encounter problems voting tomorrow, call the Election Protection voter assistance hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Voter ID: Protecting the Right Wing from Urban, Minority Voters?

Marion Edwyn Harrison, president of Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, calls on “Every State legislature, and more particularly those with considerable voter fraud" to "consider requiring meaningful proof of citizenship and residence of everyone seeking to register to vote or seeking to vote.” In particular, Harrison calls for requiring voters to produce a photo ID.  A preliminary report from the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission found scant evidence of voter fraud in America, but Harrison makes it clear the kind of place he expects to find “suspicious” voters: urban precincts, poor, with a lot of renters, and a lot of minorities. Writes Harrison:

Limbaugh Admits to Republican Voter Deception, Blames Democrats

On his radio show yesterday, comedian Rush Limbaugh encouraged Republican efforts to deliberately disenfranchise voters.
I mean, you take a look at the average Democrat voter registration drive, you can take for every hundred thousand voters they register, the cumulative IQ would probably be less than a pencil eraser. So when it comes time for the election, half of them can be fooled in saying, "No, it's not Election Day. It's tomorrow, Wednesday." And they show up on Wednesday to vote when the polls are closed, and the Democrats claim a trick has been played on them. That's how stupid some of their voters are.
Limbaugh then pointed out a specific example of a ‘successful’ campaign to deny registered Democrats the right to vote:
You think I'm lying? That happened. Republicans did a dirty trick and sent a flier out a week early and said due to unfortunate circumstances, certain precincts, Election Day will be held on Wednesday, blah, blah, blah, blah. Democrats heard about it, this is such a dirty trick. They were worried because they knew it would work, because half their voters are stupid idiots! They have to be when you look at the way they vote.
Right-wing voter suppression campaigns are nothing new. People For the American Way Foundation’s latest report, The New Face of Jim Crow: Voter Suppression in America, highlights methods of intimidation and deception such as this, plus budding legislative proposals that would keep eligible voters, many of them African- American, from the polls. Supporters of these proposals claim they are to bringing “integrity” to the process, but can the Right really be trusted to bring “integrity” to election reform while Mr. Limbaugh brags about the ease with which his friends work to suppress the vote? One would hope that Mr. Limbaugh would feel compelled to report such egregious violations of the law to the proper authorities. In the alternative, now that Mr. Limbaugh has indicated his knowledge of, or complicity in, voter fraud, perhaps the feds should pay him a visit.
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Voter Fraud Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Thursday 04/14/2011, 10:44am
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has intensified his defense of the deposed president of the Ivory Coast. Laurent Gbagbo, the country’s Roman Catholic president, lost a December election to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who is Muslim. While the country’s electoral commission and the international community, including African nations, recognized Ouattara as the winner, Gbagbo’s appointed national council threw out the results (saying Ouattara won through voter fraud) and Gbagbo declared himself the winner. Gbagbo’s wife, an evangelical Christian, even declared that “... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 12/20/2010, 1:29pm
After being lifted from fringe figure in the Nevada State Assembly to become an all-star for Religious Right and Tea Party groups across the country, Sharron Angle is now plotting her next move after losing to Harry Reid in November. Even though voters in Nevada rejected Angle in three separate elections, including races for the State Senate, House, and US Senate, Angle is floating another bid for higher office. According to Guy Benson, the political editor of the conservative Townhall.com, Angle may be a candidate for “statewide office” in 2012 despite her humbling loss to Reid... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 09/08/2010, 4:48pm
I think that I am just going to start regularly posting the Family Research Council's suggested prayers that it sends out regularly to its "Prayer Team" because it provides a good insight into just what the FRC considers its key priorities at any given moment. The most recent update contains prayers aimed at the Values Voter Summit: Pray that God will mightily bless; that next weekend's VVS will have a life-changing impact on attendees and a nation-changing impact on America. As well as the stem-cell research lawsuit: Praise God for strict constructionist judges... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 10/01/2009, 2:20pm
Right-wing groups have long made unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud the supposed rationale for pushing legislation that would erect new barriers to the ballot box. A How to Take Back America workshop on “Voter Fraud, the Census, and ACORN” made it clear that right-wing politicians will try to use ACORN’s recent troubles to build momentum for restrictive voting laws. Kris Kobach, a lawyer and failed congressional candidate who has made a name for himself on the Right as an anti-illegal immigration crusader, announced this summer that he is running to be Secretary of... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Wednesday 09/30/2009, 4:47pm
The How To Take Back America conference held in St. Louis September 25 and 26 drew some 600 activists and, according to organizers, 100,000 online viewers. The gathering was an expanded version of the annual conference held by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, co-hosted this year by radio personality and far-right activist Janet Folger Porter and promoted by other right-wing bloggers and radio shows. Conference leaders and participants were both fearful and optimistic: fearful that if the Obama administration gets its way, freedom in America will give way to servitude to a... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/16/2009, 4:01pm
Back in February and March, we wrote a series of posts about how the Religious Right was trying to get a supposedly "anti-Christian" provision stripped from the stimulus legislation, screaming and yelling about discrimination and threatening lawsuits only to utterly fall silent about it after the legislation containing the provision at issue was signed into law.The over-arching theme of those posts was a sense of amazement that the Right fully knew that everything they were saying about this provision was blatantly untrue yet they continued to repeat it regardless.  In fact, it... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Tuesday 04/07/2009, 11:21am
Last month, when I wrote a post about the Right's opposition to President Bush's first judicial nominee, David Hamilton, I took issue with their attempt to tie him to ACORN by pointing out that his "ties" to the organization consisted entirely of a one-month stint as a canvasser some thirty years ago.I didn't bother explaining at the time the back story about the Right's hatred of ACORN because a) it is already well-known and b) it would have been a time consuming project to compile all the smears against the organization.Fortunately, Media Matter has now released a report... MORE