Home National Politics GOP VIGILANTES UNDERMINE VOTER RIGHTS

GOP VIGILANTES UNDERMINE VOTER RIGHTS

326
0
SHARE

For quite some time, AlterNet’s Steven Rosenfeld has been investigating voter-fraud allegations and presumptive actions (mostly and ironically by the GOP) to make U.S. elections honest. According to his recent investigative report “Going Undercover at the GOP’s Voter Vigilante Project to Disrupt the Nov. Election” (8/24/2012), a vote suppression project well funded by the extreme right and spurred on, not coincidentally, by John Fund (author of the paranoid and inflammatory book titled Stealing Elections) is seeking to undermine the registration of voters, purge voter rolls, and watch the polls on November 6 in order to contest voters’ rightsto cast their ballots and have them counted. This project calls itself “True the Vote”; it grew out of the King Street Patriots, founded by Tea Partier Katherine Englebrecht, who leads the project. (By the way, she and her husband started a company this year called “Plan B Firearms.” According to Tea Party websites, “plan B” is code language alluding to steps that “patriots” might take if Obama is re-elected.)

For part of his investigation, Rosenfeld attended “a state summit” in Colorado organized by True the Vote. Members of this group, observes Rosenfeld, “think it’s patriotic to be self-appointed judges, juries and, if necessary, citizen police, to stop what they believe is rampant illegal voting.

True the Vote claims to have 300 chapters spread across three-dozen states, with thousands of volunteers using its web-based software to identify “questionable” voter registrations and possibly illegal voters in highly contested states. And on November 6, the project hopes to deploy a million poll watchers to observe how the IDs of voters are checked, how they are given ballots, and whether or not voters actually fill out their own ballots. According to Rosenfeld, John Fund encouraged those at the summit to bully liberals because “`Your opposition are cartoon characters…. They are fun to beat up. They are fun to humiliate. You are on the side of the angels. And these people are just frauds, charlatans and liars’.” True the Vote is also arranging for lawyers to take its reports to sympathetic state officials, and it is being encouraged by Republicans in high office: Florida’s governor, the secretaries of state in Colorado, Kansas, and Ohio, and attorneys general in Colorado and Texas.

Using vetting standards and software of its own, True the Vote scans voter registration lists (which are always changing as people register, move, and die), driver’s license databases and jury lists, and looks for inconsistencies. If project members “don’t like the way a person’s signature varies from form to form, it is flagged as suspicious. If they see that too many voters are registered at an address, it is flagged. If a driver’s license has a different address than a voter registration form, it is flagged. Their research team then seeks to turn over these names to county or state officials….” If election officials don’t remove names from voter lists, then True the Vote coaxes them to take other steps, such as sending a postcard to each voter in question, saying that he or she must present proof before getting a ballot this fall; or that he/she can’t vote by mail without first showing ID documents at a polling place.

True the Vote’s assessments and demands are based on what it sees in the law, not necessarily the law itself. Hence, some election officials do not process its information and expectations the way it does. As Rosenfeld points out,  “A Wisconsin Government Accountability Board [G.A.B.] report … issued in May [2012] assessed their vetting of recall petitions [regarding Governor Scott Walker]. It concluded they `created results that were significantly less accurate, complete, and reliable than the review and analysis completed by the G.A.B’.”

Leaders of True the Vote and other so-called “voter-fraud” projects know that such fraud is rare. Presumably, these leaders know what their own party members have found-namely that after nearly eight years of investigation the Attorney General under George W. Bush found no more than a handful of provable voter fraud cases. And after a lengthy study the Republican Lawyers Association found no more than 340 cases over a period of ten years-340 cases out of tens of millions of votes cast! But the leaders of True the Vote and other such groups don’t tell their members these facts. Instead, their real purpose is to take elections for their party. According to Rosenfeld, John Fund explained the following glibly to his audience at the summit in Colorado: “`You know the job of a [vote] re-counter.  You count, you count, you count until your candidate is ahead, and then you stop counting’.”