Monday, September 17, 2012

When Does a Party Go Off a Cliff?

When it starts believing in mythic creatures and vehicles.  This story features Republicans believing in an invisible, stealthy bus that works to spread voter fraud throughout the land.  Yes, J.K. Rowling and her Knight Bus has apparently influenced the VoterFraudFraud movement.*  Voter fraud has now become a religion for the Republicans since it is non-falsifiable.  This is moving beyond conspiracy theory since most conspiracies do not jump to invisible vehicles, but unseen forces shaping outcomes?  Oh my. 

*  That the NYT makes a Harry Potter reference in the first line thrills me to no end.
Yes, there are dead folks on the rolls.  Yes, some people are listed in multiple states because some people, dare I say it, move.  But there is no evidence that voter fraud is a threat to elections in the U.S.  I have engaged in more than a few twitter conversations with people who buy into one piece or another of this argument.  Thus far, none have cited the bus cloaked in a very large invisibility cloak.  Otherwise, I would have been giggling tweets for days and days.  

If it sounds like I have contempt for those who fear voter fraud, well, I do.  Because they seem to think that fear of a non-existent threat validates making it harder to vote.  The real threat here is denying people their most basic and important right.  This is a right that people fought and died for--during the Revolution (remember the "without representation"  part of taxation without representation), during the Civil War, and during the Civil Rights movement. 

Voter fraud is only a thing now with the Koch brothers and others miffed that their candidates might lose because they do not appeal to minorities and because they are pissed of that students turned out to vote four years ago. 

Why now?
“Then in 2008, I don’t know, something clicked,” she said. “I saw our country headed in a direction that, for whatever reason — it didn’t hit me until 2008 — this really threatens the future of our children.”
Yep, it voted a black man into the Oval Office.  I mean, seriously?  How is Obama a bigger threat than the womanizing, draft-dodging Clinton?  What really threatened the future of her children were the Bush tax cuts and wars that took Clinton's surpluses and turned them into fiscal holes.

Who do the anti-fraudsters target?  Places with more than six registered voters: "The methodology, which the group still uses, could disproportionately affect lower income families."  Yep.
“They had one particular case I remember very well,” said Douglas Ray, the Harris County assistant attorney who represents the election registrar. “They had identified an address where eight or 10 people were registered to vote. There was no building there.” Mr. Ray found out that the building had been torn down and that the people simply moved. 
The funny thing is that these folks ignore the basic reality of American life--people move.  Voter registration laws that pose significant hurdles catch those who move from one place to another because updating does not take place that much.  But do people then try to vote in their new AND old districts?  Not as far as anyone can determine.  Again, a non-existent threat requires fear and mythology.

Check out some of the results of the voter fraud investigations in Wisconsin:
The accountability board concluded that about 900,000 signatures were valid and, in a memorandum reviewing True the Vote’s work, criticized its methods.
For example: Mary Lee Smith signed her name Mary L. Smith and was deemed ineligible by the group.
Signatures deemed “out of state” included 13 from Milwaukee and three from Madison.
These folks not only didn't learn math, history, and civics in high school, but their geography lessons apparently failed them, too.

Yes, these folks are having some success--not at catching fraudsters but being inconvenient enough to drive away voters:
“They were making challenges of certain kinds and just kind of in physical contact with some of the poll workers, leaning over them, checking and looking,” said John Lepinski, a poll watcher and former Democratic Party chairman for Outagamie County.
He said that as a result of the scrutiny, the line to register moved slowly. Finally, he said, some students gave up and left.

So, now these folks send groups of white "election monitors" into primarily minority districts.  No, this does not mean they are engaging in voter intimidation, but the optics of this, for those who remember history, really sucks.  

I was going to entitle this post:  Harry Potter and the Invisible Bus of Voter Fraud.  But the title I do have really shows what is going on--members of the GOP and its key funders are losing their minds and the party is committing suicide if it continues to antagonize minorities to the point that the majority of Americans will be voting for the party that does not seek to disenfranchise them.

H/T to Jimmy Sky for pointing out this piece to me.

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