While Democrats, most progressive bloggers and Obama supporters stand by idly, the GOP is once again ramping up the primary engine of the Department of Justice scandal -- bogus claims of voter fraud designed to disenfranchise thousands, if not millions, of low-income and minority voters. Once again, as echoed by John McCain today, the target is ACORN, which has registered 1.3 million voters in this election cycle.
Republican operatives are, justly, counting on the gullibility and scandal-seeking hunger of mainstream reporters, even supposedly objective CNN -- and their lack of knowledge of the Republican history of taking some error-plagued registration forms to create a myth of illegal voting at the polls. So the Republicans are re-launching their war on voting, using the same script of phony and exaggerated charges they've used in previous years.
Yesterday, the frantic McCain campaign added new smears: it sought to lump together everything from voting fraud to the economic crisis -- and blame it on poor blacks and ACORN in a new smear ad. But as the New York Times reports today:
The Obama campaign described the accusations as a spurious effort to tie Mr. Obama to potentially fraudulent voter registrations.
"Barack Obama strongly condemns voter registration fraud or any other breach of election law by any party or group," Ben LaBolt, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
Acorn, whose political action committee has endorsed Mr. Obama, has said that the investigations into its voter registration work are politically motivated.
"Rumors of Acorn's voter fraud have been greatly exaggerated and to a large extent manufactured," Bertha Lewis, the organization's interim chief organizer, or chief executive, said Monday in a conference call to announce that the organization had registered 1.3 million people to vote.
You can hear the full conference call with reporters here; Project Vote deputy director Michael Slater's rebuttal to the smears starts at 15 minutes, 56 seconds.
On top of that, ACORN's president Maude Heard pointed out:
"For almost a decade, ACORN, a community organization of 400,000 families in neighborhoods across the country, has been fighting against the predatory lending practices that have robbed our members of their homes, destabilized neighborhoods, and roiled the global economy."
"In his newest ad, John McCain's campaign bizarrely claims, "ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans, the same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we're in today." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, ACORN has worked successfully to help working class families get good home loans on fair terms from legitimate banks and has fought vigorously against predatory lenders who have ripped off families in our communities. These predatory loans caused the crisis...."
"Unfortunately, the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans like John McCain have blocked the sensible regulations that ACORN and others proposed that would have averted the mortgage meltdown."
All these smears are being abetted by the mainstream media as if the entire Department of Justice scandal never happened; several attorneys were fired, including New Mexico's David Iglesias, for failing to pursue thin and fake charges of voter fraud. As McClatchy papers reported last year, "Was campaign against voter fraud a Republican ploy?" The politicization of the Justice Department and its top officials' alleged criminal conduct, including grand jury subpoenas for officials who stonewalled the IG, were confirmed by a new inspector's general report. Is voter fraud a ploy? The answer, of couse, is yes.
Amid all the hooplah and phony charges, a striking statistic remains ignored: Despite a wide-ranging voter-fraud witch-hunt led by Attorneys General Ashcroft and Gonzales not one person in the entire country, out of over 200 million votes cast in federal elections, was even charged with impersonating another voter at a polling place between 2002 and 2005. Twenty-four people were convicted of illegal voting, mostly felons who didn't know they weren't allowed to vote in certain states.
Today, numerous clueless reporters phoned in to a conference call organized by Project Vote, which manages the voting drives along with Acorn, to ask a series of questions about "voter fraud" fed to them by Republican officials. But the Project Vote officials sought to explain that even with their careful vetting process, sometimes Acorn and Project Vote are scammed by their own temporary employees -- and they're required by law to turn in even obviously fake voter registration forms, which then they flag for election officials after firing those employees and referring their names for prosecution. CNN"s Political Ticker reported:
Citing a long history of voter suppression in the country, ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring said recent charges against the organization are just partisan attacks intended to undermine the group's voter registration efforts. "The current strategy seems to be, from the right, to create, to manufacture a so-called crisis of voter fraud . . . and then to solve that crisis through measures that are about constricting the electorate, narrowing the electorate, keeping people from being able to vote," he said.
But not one of the mainstream reporters from outlets ranging from MSNBC to CNN to Bloomberg news even mentioned the shameful history of voter fraud myth-making and the Department of Justice scandal. You can learn more about this sordid history in this column from this spring, looking at "DOJ"s War on Black Voters."As Brad Friedman of Brad Blog reports, trying to keep up with the ever-expanding raft of GOP stunts, gimmicks and phony charges that are left unchallenged by Democrats:
GOP OCTOBER 'SURPRISE' SPREADS TO OHIO: Coordinated Plan to Wreak Havoc,
Bring Bogus 'Voter Fraud' Allegations Hits Buckeye State
VIDEO: McCain Picks Up Phony ACORN 'Voter Fraud' Allegations in Stump
Concerns of Actual Election Fraud, Voter Registration Purges in State
After State, Completely Ignored by Republicans, Media...
The GOP's October "Surprise" continues...Even as it's no surprise at all that they are hoping to cause absolute bedlam at the polls. They are off to a good start, as the Democrats seem to be caught flat-footed, despite years of warnings about all of this.
The latest Republican assault on democracy began earlier this week with a 'stunt' raid in (swing state) Nevada, then unsubstantiated allegations in (swing state) Missouri last night (raid coming soon, no doubt), and just hours ago as AP reports, it's (swing state) Ohio...
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Law enforcement officials in southwest Ohio are seeking information on hundreds of voters who registered and voted during Ohio's weeklong same-day voting window.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer and representatives of County Prosecutor Stephen Haller have contacted the local Board of Elections asking for the voter registration cards of everyone who voted during the six-day window, which ended Monday.
Haller is the former law partner of Mike DeWine, the former Republican senator who is chairing presidential nominee John McCain's Ohio campaign.
[Update: In an updated version of the AP report quoted above, it's noted that Sheriff Fisher is "a Republican," that Green County is "rich with Democrat-leaning college students," and that Fisher requested the voter information after "he had been inundated with phone calls from people concerned about possible fraud." In other words, no actual evidence of anything, just angry Republicans, fired up by chasing their own tails after Fox/RNC told them too. Smelling the rats here, yet?]
Of course, the GOP's ACORN "Voter Fraud" Scam was picked up today by John McCain on the stump (and, mercilessly, on Fox "News" all morning, naturally). Here's McCain putting the scare tactics first, and democracy and country second, if even that high on his list.
But, once again, these claims will be used to justify the purging of voters and "voter caging" challenges at the polls to legitimate, mostly minority voters. Expect Democrats to do little except field some lawyers on Election Day who may offer legal challenges that are too late to make any difference.
Your only hope for ensuring a fair election is making sure that there's a massive turnout on Election Day -- and joining such groups as Election Protection, and calling 1-866-OURVOTE to volunteer or report problems. Don't count on the Democrats or the Obama organization to protect the vote for you.