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VOTE FRAUD IS A MYTH! (I Love Dahlia Lithwick!)

Consistently one of the best writers on the law and the USSC for public consumption and just all ’round bright, thoughtful scribe Dahlia Lithwick brings her laser-reasoning and crisp prose to the ACORN Voter Registration Fraud issue in today’s Slate.

Among the many elements I’ve been yammering about (with a certain degree of hope that I’m being paranoid), Lithwick hammers home the following points:

  • Neither Barack Obama or the Democrats are trying to steal this election.

Evidence of voter-registration wrongdoing is no more a sign of widespread, Obama-sanctioned vote fraud than evidence of minorities being misled and intimidated on Election Day is a sign of official, McCain-sanctioned vote suppression. What’s the real point of turning voter-registration shenanigans into “one of the greatest frauds in voter history”?
The object here is not criminal indictments. It’s to undermine voter confidence in the elections system as a whole. John McCain wants to build a better bogeyman, and he needs your help to do it.  (emphasis added)

  • Vote fraud is a myth; a bogeyman; an invention.

Large-scale, coordinated vote stealing doesn’t happen. The incentives—unlike the incentives for registration fraud—just aren’t there. In an interview this week with Salon, Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College, who has studied vote fraud systematically, noted that “between 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty others were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five were guilty of voting more than once. That’s 26 criminal voters.”

RNC General Counsel Sean Cairncross has said he is unaware of a single improper vote cast because of bad cards submitted in the course of a voter-registration effort. Republican campaign consultant Royal Masset says, “[I]n-person voter fraud is nonexistent. It doesn’t happen, and … makes no sense because who’s going to take the risk of going to jail on something so blatant that maybe changes one vote?”

There is no such thing as vote fraud. The think tank created to peddle the epidemic has evaporated. A handful of cases have been prosecuted. Then why is Sarah Palin shooting off e-mails contending that “we can’t allow leftist groups like ACORN to steal this election?” Why is former Sen. John Danforth announcing, all statesmanlike, that the whole 2008 election “has been tainted?” Why is Ted Olson, the Republican National Lawyers Association lawyer of the year, claiming that “[ACORN] acknowledged having to get rid of a thousand people or more who were participating in voter fraud efforts.” These people know the difference between registration fraud and vote fraud. Why continue to suggest they are the same thing?

  • The voter rolls are being systematically purged of (mostly) low income and minority voters (probable Democratic voters) and this is being done by (mostly) Republican agents.

Consider the fact that, as the Brennan Center reported recently, “[E]lection officials across the country are routinely striking millions of voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.” Consider the recent New York Times review of state records and Social Security records, which concluded that “[t]ens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law.” Consider the case, now on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, in which 200,000 new Ohio voters stand to be bounced off the rolls because, through no fault of their own, their names don’t match error-riddled state databases. Consider the indictment this week of former Republican official James Tobin for his 2002 role in jamming Democratic get-out-the-vote calls. Consider the much-ballyhooed Republican challenge to the eligibility of 6,000 Native American and student voters in Montana that backfired first in court, then with the abrupt resignation this week of the official who spearheaded the effort.

  • Neither MIckey Mouse nor Tony Romo are going to cost McCain the white house.

Nobody is suggesting the Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts are perfect. But the suggestion that Barack Obama, through ACORN, is systematically working to get Huey, Dewey, and Louie to steal elections, and that therefore minorities and people of color should be disenfranchised, is cynical beyond belief. (emphasis added)

Pay attention to the language.  Dahlia is, after all, a lawyer.  One might mistakenly read those final words as merely accusing the Republicans of cynicism in some greater than usual degree (a proposition that itself beggars belief).
Not at all.  Their argument, says DL, is cynical beyond belief.  They are not cynical.  That’s just not credible.  So, what are they?  In this instance, it is certainly arguable that all that could possibly lie on the other side of such false cynicism – a facade behind which rots an ugly and base motive – is evil.

Each time they spread the word that Democrats (especially poor and minority Democrats) are poised to steal an election, John McCain and his overheated friends deliberately undermine voter confidence. That is the point. It encourages citizens to accede to ever-harsher voter-verification laws—even if they are not needed. It musters support for voter purges that are increasingly draconian. Insist often enough that the other side is cheating, and you may even encourage partisans to take matters into their own hands, leading to the worst forms of polling-place vigilantism—from a cross burning in Louisiana on the eve of a 2006 mayoral election to the hiring of intimidating partisan “poll watchers” to volunteer at inner-city polling places. When McCain goes after ACORN, he’s really just asking you to join him in believing that the system is broken. And if you choose to overheat along with McCain, the Supreme Court promises to sign off on any measure that might calm you down later. John McCain might want to be a little more careful about accusing Obama, ACORN, or anyone else, of “destroying the fabric of democracy.” In so doing, he’s either deliberately or unconsciously encouraging his own supporters to grab a handful of the stuff and start ripping. (emphasis added)

I believe it is intentional – designed not only to restrict the vote in ways favorable to McCain/Palin but to set the stage for protracted recounts and litigation over ballots in swing states.  In a country of lawyers, I’m only surprised it took this long.  Lessons were learned in 2000 and they will now be employed in the service of the client’s best end.  There are precedents.  Elections no longer answer questions – they raise them.  And America has a process for answering political and social – legal – questions under the Constitution – get a lawyer and go to court.

Want the paranoid version?  This is potentially the trick they need to impose marital law (haha!  I meant MARTIAL law…but that, too – Avi).
Protests in the streets, in these dangerous and uncertain economic times, will not be tolerated.  Return to your homes, citizens.  Curfew.  No freedom of assembly or association.  Habeous corpus?  That went out long ago.
You must be some sort of anti-American, Muslim-loving, commie terrorist!

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