Saturday, October 18, 2008

Block the Vote

A must read in this month's Rolling Stone.
To justify this battery of new voting impediments, Republicans cite an alleged upsurge in voting fraud. Indeed, the U.S.-attorney scandal that resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales began when the White House fired federal prosecutors who resisted political pressure to drum up nonexistent cases of voting fraud against Democrats. "They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away," says David Iglesias, a U.S. attorney for New Mexico who was fired in December 2006. "We took over 100 complaints and investigated for almost two years — but I didn't find one prosecutable case of voter fraud in the entire state of New Mexico."

There's a reason Iglesias couldn't find any evidence of fraud: Individual voters almost never try to cast illegal ballots. The Bush administration's main point person on "ballot protection" has been Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney who has advised states on how to use HAVA to erect more barriers to voting. Appointed to the Federal Election Commission by Bush, von Spakovsky has suggested that voter rolls may be stuffed with 5 million illegal aliens. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown that voter fraud is extremely rare. According to a recent analysis by Lorraine Minnite, an expert on voting crime at Barnard College, federal courts found only 24 voters guilty of fraud from 2002 to 2005, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast. "The claim of widespread voter fraud," Minnite says, "is itself a fraud."
The article goes on to detail some of the measures taken to keep people's votes from counting.

UPDATE: You can read more about the article at author Greg Palast's own site. Palast and co-author Robert Kennedy, Jr have a companion site called Steal Back Your Vote. It even has a movie:

Steal Back Your Vote! from Greg Palast on Vimeo.

Palast is kind of a goof (who wears a fedora anymore?), and his presentation has a tendency to be a bit over the top, but the questions raised by the article and the movie are legit and should prompt viewers and readers to look up additional information. What say you?

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