Some (But Not Enough) Republicans Backing Away from the GOP's ACORN 'Voter Fraud' Hoax as John McCain Puts Winning by 'Destroying the Fabric of Democracy' First, and His Country and its Democratic Ideals a Distant Second...
Hopefully, soon will come the GOP's ACORN "voter fraud" fraud backlash, though I realize that's still very much a hope given the continuous right wing media's full-throated attempt to punk American democracy in regards this issue.
Palm Beach Post, thankfully, bothered to do some actual reporting yesterday, and led with the following good news:
Republican National Committee officials are turning up the heat on a left-leaning organization linked with Sen. Barack Obama that tried to register "Mickey Mouse" to vote this summer, but state officials say accusations of voter fraud in Florida are mostly unfounded.
The story goes on to quote FL Secretary of State Kurt Browning who says: "'we have not seen a persistent problem across the state of Florida' with registration fraud by ACORN or other groups."
And FL's Republican Governor Charlie Crist who says: "There's some who sort of enjoy chaos. That's kind of what's going on more than fraud."
Bingo, Charlie. And rather ironic, given the outrageous statement John McCain made during last night's debate; the GOP's own far-worse-than-ACORN's record of registration form problems in California; Crist's own record of voter purges in his own state; and the Republican Party's dismal history of trying to use ACORN at the last minute, just before elections, in order to wreak the "chaos" that Crist was referring to...
John McCain: 'Destroying the Fabric of Democracy'
Said the once-honorable McCain during last night's debate: "We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who 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."
So who's really "one of the greatest frauds"? And who's really "destroying the fabric of democracy" here? Even ABC's Jake Tapper called that claim "so hyperbolic I don't even know where to begin," and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate tonight says "Even for McCain that was a little bit of breathless chest-heaving."
As I've pointed out, both at The BRAD BLOG on Tuesday, and over at the UK's Guardian today, there has been absolutely zero cases, or even evidence of any "voter fraud" by either ACORN, or any of the 1.3 million voters registered ACORN over the last two years.
It's also no small point that the comments above come from FL's Crist and Browning. Those two have been in the process of purging thousands of legal Florida voters from the rolls based on the flawed "No Match, No Vote" concept which dumps thousands of legal voters from the rolls simply because they do not have a perfect match on their registration forms with either the state's Dept. of Motor Vehicles or the U.S. Social Security databases.
Eg., If I'm registered to vote as "Brad Friedman", but my driver's license says "Bradley Friedman", I can be tossed from the rolls, along with thousands of others, under the sort of strict matching that Crist/Browning are now allowing in their state.
That same sort of "perfect match" test, previously approved by a wholly politicized U.S. DoJ, resulted in the purging of some 26% of new voters in CA in 2006, and 43% purged in Los Angeles County alone, before the policy was trashed in this state.
That's a similar type of database cross-checking that OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner is being forced to make following a Republican lawsuit brought against her this week. She's now had to file an emergency appeal at the Supreme Court, to avoid the "chaos" being brought about in Ohio, after the federal appeals court ordered her to change the state's policies by Friday. Republicans had filed suit alleging 200,000 improper voters might have recently signed onto the Buckeye State voting rolls.
Same Old Desperate GOP Attempts to Effect Elections
But, as we've pointed out previously, these last minute claims of "ACORN voter fraud!!!" are nothing new. See Lorraine Minnite's must-read "The Politics of Voter Fraud" [PDF], and even the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s own bi-partisan report [PDF] on voter fraud in the U.S. (or lack thereof) before it was re-written by the GOP "voter fraud" scammers who controlled the commission.
The original EAC report, before it was re-written without the agreement of the authors, noted "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud." The only dissenting voice to make up that "not unanimous agreement", was a member of the now-defunct "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR), who The BRAD BLOG was the first to out, back in 2005 as nothing more than a phony GOP front-group pushing for voter-suppression legislation, and publishing propaganda to support it.
The report, after being rewritten by the EAC (chaired, at the time by Paul DiGregorio, a Missouri colleague of the ACVR's founder, Bush/Cheney national general counsel, Mark F. "Thor" Hearne) rewrote the above to read instead: "there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud."
So it's an old scam, but one that's being perfected now that the media is almost entirely controlled, wall-to-wall, by Right wingers.
Back in 2004, Michelle Malkin and wingnut "media" outlet Newsmax (along with many others of her ilk), alleged ACORN "voter fraud" in Ohio, just days before the Presidential election. In that case, both of them had falsely reported that ACORN was registering terrorists to vote in the Buckeye State.
Despite all the phony charges and bogus lawsuits against ACORN in 2004 having fully collapsed by the next year, the same nonsense was drudged up again in 2006.
After the Bush Administration had managed to purge a number of their own U.S. Attorneys because they refused to bring phony ACORN "voter fraud" charges during the previous election, their new USA in Missouri was kind enough to bring several indictments just days before an incredibly tight Senate race in the state. We would later learn that bringing such indictments at that time, so close to an election, was in strict violation of the DoJ's written policies.
Those 2006 indictments in Missouri -- the state was later described by McClatchy as "Ground Zero" for the GOP's "voter fraud" scam -- were the topic of an extraordinary Senate Judiciary hearing, finally convened after the Democrats took over Congress in 2006. The charges were brought by new Bush puppet U.S. Attorney, Bradley Schlozman, who was confronted about them in the must-watch exchange below, with Patrick Leahy (D-VT)...
Schlozman was later forced to retract his testimony, where he had blamed the DOJ's Public Integrity unit for his bringing the prosecutions.
GOP Registration Fraud Outpaces ACORN
Finally, Steven Rosenfeld filed a superb report yesterday at AlterNet, pointing out, ironically enough, that the California GOP had the same voter registration error problems as ACORN in 2006. Only much worse...
Faked names on voter registration forms. Error rates as high as 60 percent. Firing the people responsible for these errors. Investigations launched by local and state police. Sound familiar? This is not ACORN in the 2008 election's final days.
This is the California Republican Party and its contractors in 2006, when the same problems that are now dogging ACORN and providing political fodder for GOP attacks plagued an effort by California Republicans to register 750,000 people.
Rosenfeld's excellent reporting goes on to "put ACORN's errors in perspective" by noting...
More than 120 million Americans may vote in November. ACORN, which hired 13,000 workers to register 1.3 million voters, had a few bad hires - like any big company.
But unlike the California GOP in its 2006 voter drive, ACORN has a policy of telling local election officials when it believes it has fraudulent registrations. It is required by states to submit all voter applications and urges election officials to prosecute knowing mistakes. The current case against ACORN comes from its own disclosures.
...before noting that ACORN's estimated error rate on registrations seems to be "less than one percent".
By contrast to the GOP in California, then, Rosenfeld points out, as based on a 2006 series of reports from Los Angeles Times:
In 2006, contractors for the California Republican Party had local error rates of 60 percent in San Bernadino County, the Los Angeles Times reported, where 1,800 out of 3,000 submitted registrations were incomplete and could not be processed.
How does ACORN's nationwide error rate compare to other voter registration problems? The data is thin, academics say. But two statistics are telling.
A 2007 National Science Foundation report for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found county election workers who entered voter information into county databases made mistakes 5 percent of time, if poorly trained. This is not the same as making up a voter's name, which is a prosecutable offense, but not all of ACORN's errors are fake names. Some are the same people filling out more then one voter registration form.
This month in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin County Board of Elections Deputy Director Matt Damschroder said about 2.5 percent of the 200,000 new voter registrations turned into his office in 2008 could not be processed because of typos, unreadable writing or missing information. He said that error rate was pretty good.
Moreover, in gathering signatures for ballot measures, it is a common practice for their sponsors to turn in "150 percent of the legal requirement," said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News. "With some people, you can't read their hand writing."
Nobody in the national media is praising ACORN for an accuracy rate of 99 percent in its voter registration drive. Nobody praised the California Republican Party for an accuracy rate that probably also was in the 90th percentile in 2006.
Presuming the GOP's California failures were accidents and not meant to defraud the democratic process, much less create an opportunity for Republican voter fraud (I realize that's a big presumption), that doesn't even begin to explain the purposeful destruction, by outfits paid by the RNC, of Democratic registration forms alleged to have occurred in in Nevada, and elsewhere where Team Bush actually paid millions to such operatives, and then tried to hide that fact from public disclosure.
And what about those 75,000 voter registration application cards discovered "in a construction trash bin at Atlanta Technical College in southwest Atlanta" in 2007? Did John McCain, the GOP, and Fox "News" forget to get exercised about that one for some strange reason?
Real Issues Ignored, 'Fabric of Democracy' Shredded
In the meantime, the very real concerns about the impending 2008 election are still being largely ignored. Never mind, for the moment, that our voting machines don't work, and that there is absolutely no way to confirm the accuracy of at least 30% of America's votes which will be counted on unverifiable Direct Recording Election (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting machines. The real November Surprise is likely to have been spelled out for us in advance, but largely ignored by the bulk of the media, in several recent reports.
- CBS News reported on Sept. 30th, on two different reports, by two different public advocacy groups noting tens of thousands of recently purged voters.
- New York Times reported on Oct. 8th, on its own investigation revealing that tens of thousands of voters have been illegally purged in at least six swing states, based on erroneous use of the U.S. Social Security database for matching.
- Greg Palast at BCC's Newsnight noted on Oct. 10th (on video) all of the above.
Of course, The BRAD BLOG has had our virtual hair on fire about all of the above, and much more, for years.
Unfortunately, the good guys don't have a Fox "News", a Rush Limbaugh, a Sean Hannity, or even a national candidate who is willing to stand up and tell the truth to a ready-to-listen national audience about the real scams being played out right now on American voters. And only occasionally, does anybody in the corporate mainstream media get the ACORN "voter fraud" fairy tale close to correct.
Though his desperate, dangerous and destructive, derision was misdirected at ACORN last night, instead of back at himself and his own party, where such charges rightly belong, John McCain was correct in one sense.
He and the GOP are "now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."
As Lithwick notes at Slate tonight, in a just-in must-read, all of the disingenuous sturm und drang about creating just the impression of voter fraud. With that impression, the U.S. Supreme Court has already expressed its willingness to allow for still more draconian Photo ID restrictions -- sure to disenfranchise millions of minority, elderly and student (read: Democratic-leaning) voters -- at the polling place. Just like their recent decision to allow an Indiana Photo ID law that disenfranchised vets, 90-year old nuns, college students and untold others, and Florida's "No Match, No Vote" rule being implemented by Crist and Browning (even as they decry the "chaos" being caused by their fellow Republicans over ACORN.)
In McCain's pretend bloating and blustering last night about ACORN "destroying the fabric of democracy", despite lack of any evidence of any such voter fraud, he was, as Lithwick points out, "either deliberately or unconsciously encouraging his own supporters to grab a handful of the stuff and start ripping."
Brad Friedman is an investigative journalist/blogger and the creator/publisher of The BRAD BLOG, which has been focusing for some years on the many issues involved in election integrity. He can currently be seen in a number of documentaries on the topic, now in release around the country, including David Earnhardt's Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections, and the just-released Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, by documentarian Patty Sharaf.