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 State in Kansas. His theme is combating voter fraud, a solution in search of a problem in Kansas. Kobach, like other speakers, implied that Al Franken’s Senate seat was somehow illegitimate, referring to Franken’s “pseudo-election.”
The workshop was largely a tirade against ACORN and the “hard left,” which is supposedly engaged in a massive effort to steal elections. No one, said Kobach, is disenfranchised based on the color of their skin these days. He slammed the Obama Justice Department for signaling to states that they’re “on their own” when it comes to fighting voter fraud.
Kobach’s five-step prescription for states, which he hopes he can implement in Kansas as a model, includes ramping up prosecutions for voter fraud, enacting photo-ID laws, taking more aggressive steps to “clean up” voter rolls (otherwise known as purging), requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration, and standardizing provisional ballot and recount procedures, which he said “the left” was abusing.
The other workshop speaker was Ed Martin, who is preparing to mount a challenge for the congressional seat now held by Rep. Russ Carnahan. Martin bragged about taking on ACORN as chair of the St. Louis City Board of Elections and argued that voter fraud next year could be financed by federal stimulus money. One solution he offered was to get “tea party” activists to sign up as poll workers.
In spite of the worskhop’s name, little was said about the census in the session or at the conference generally – even by census-bashing Michele Bachmann – possibly because people were feeling a little chastened about the recent murder of a census employee and the creepy anti-government overtones to that crime. Helen Blackwell, the workshop’s moderator, did quip that its title referenced “three of my very favorite atrocities.” And Kobach made reference to the “pernicious” move by the administration to bring oversight of the census into the White House and the Census Bureau’s have included ACORN among its partner organizations.