per a tip from josh at talkingpoints,
i just saw last friday’s slate article
on karl rove’s two-pronged attack on
mostly poor, mostly democratic-leaning,
mostly minority voting rights — all
under the guise of “enforcing” the
laws against “voter-fraud” — a largely
non-existant “problem” in modern, com-
puterized, electoral america. . .
“. . .Presidential adviser Karl Rove and his allies, who have been ghostbusting illusory dead and fictional voters since the contested 2000 election, apparently mounted a two-pronged attack. One part of that attack, at the heart of the current Justice Department scandals, involved getting the DoJ and various U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. That prong has failed. After exhaustive effort, the Department of Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire the U.S. attorneys in battleground states who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired [ed: note the congressional hearings, etc.]. . .
But the second prong of this attack may have proven more successful. This involved using ACVR [ed: a now-defunct-GOP-political-influence-group] to give “think tank” academic cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem in elections. That cachet would be used to support the passage of onerous voter-identification laws that depress turnout among the poor, minorities, and the elderly—groups more likely to vote Democratic. Where the Bush administration may have failed to nail illegal voters, the effort to suppress minority voting has borne more fruit, as more states pass these laws, and courts begin to uphold them in the name of beating back waves of largely imaginary voter fraud. . .
ACVR argued extensively by anecdote, pointing to instances of illegal conduct, such as someone, somewhere registering Mary Poppins to vote. Anecdote would then be coupled with statistics showing problems with voter rolls not being purged to remove voters who had died or moved, leaving open the potential for fraudulent voting at the polls. Finally, the group would claim that the amount of such voter fraud is hard to quantify, because it is after all illegal conduct, hidden from the public. Given this great potential for mischief, and without evidence of actual mischief, allegedly reasonable initiatives such as purging voter rolls and requiring ID seemed the natural solution.
At least in hindsight, the ACVR line of argument is easily deconstructed. First, arguing by anecdote is dangerous business. A new report (PDF) by Lorraine Minnite of Columbia University looks at these anecdotes and shows them to be, for the most part, wholly spurious. Almost always the allegations were followed by charges being dropped or allegations being unproven (and sometimes raised for apparently political purposes). . .
In support of his position that voter-ID laws did not unconstitutionally suppress the votes of poor and minority voters, Hearne cited the decision of the DoJ to approve the pre-clearance of Georgia’s voter-ID law, and a law review article supporting such laws, written under the pseudonym Publius. Hearne didn’t reveal that the decision on Georgia was made by political appointees of the DoJ over the strong objections of career attorneys there who believed the law was indeed discriminatory. Nor did he explain that (as I discovered and blogged about a few years earlier) Publius was none other than Hans von Spakovsky, then serving as one of the political DoJ officials who approved the Georgia voter-ID law. (President Bush later gave von Spakovsky a recess appointment to the Federal Election Commission.). . .“
simply outrageous — the whole slate
article is infused with links that
support each major allegation. . .
so — go read it. you’ll come away
angry — but glad that you read it.