Thursday, October 16, 2008

A bias for voting

That's the title of an editorial in today's PiPress. It explains why bogus voter registration cards - even those submitted by the notorious ACORN - are not the same as voter fraud:
But a filled-out card cannot be discarded even if it is obviously phony, Secretary of State Mark Ritchie said. By law, it must be forwarded to the counties, where cards are checked against drivers' license and Social Security records. It is at that point that the "Mickey Mouse" registrations are put aside or referred to prosecutors.

So there is a difference between concerns about registration problems, such as we are hearing in Minnesota and elsewhere, and voting-day problems. Mansky said federal law requires verification of new registrations to weed out bad ones. While charges of questionable registrations are not unusual, allegations of illegal voting are extremely rare.

Given that sadly now, there can be but one outcome, we can expect to see the cries of voter fraud from the right grow louder and louder. Not because it's going to make a bit of difference in November, but because it sets up an atmosphere where the legitimacy of the electoral process and its results allow the losers to question it nonstop.

In an interview in Salon recently, Lori Minnite, a professor of political science at Barnard College who has spent the last eight years studying the role of fraud in U.S. elections, described what she is seeing this year.
I am struck by the ferocity of the attack on ACORN. I am not privy to the campaign strategy of the Republican Party, but I have to assume that it is the result of a coordinated disinformation campaign aimed not only at undermining ACORN's work, but also as a part of a far broader effort to corrode public confidence in the electoral process.

* * *

I believe that what we are seeing are efforts to create mass public confusion, to turn people off, and to create chaos on Election Day. This is a campaign strategy to distract people from the voter suppression efforts that actually distort electoral outcomes and to preemptively discredit the potential Obama presidency as fraudulent.

What is happening is exactly that -- a preemptive attack on the legitimacy of the election and by implication on an Obama presidency. As bitter as many of us were about the 2000 election, I don't think our grudges will hold a candle to the ones we're going to see, both between November and January as well as over the next years.

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