Before the election last November I wrote a post about what I thought Karl Rove might have up his sleeve. I wrote:
We have created an ear worm that the Republicans are going to appropriate --- and they will use it much more aggressively and effectively than our side did. They are already gearing up for it. As I mentioned a month or so ago, Karl Rove was at the Republican Lawyers Association talking about how the Democrats are stealing elections:
QUESTION: The question I have: The Democrats seem to want to make this year an election about integrity, and we know that their party rests on the base of election fraud. And we know that, in some states, some of our folks are pushing for election measures like voter ID.
But have you thought about using the bully pulpit of the White House to talk about election reform and an election integrity agenda that would put the Democrats back on the defensive?
ROVE: Yes, it's an interesting idea. We've got a few more things to do before the political silly season gets going, really hot and heavy. But yes, this is a real problem. What is it -- five wards in the city of Milwaukee have more voters than adults?
With all due respect to the City of Brotherly Love, Norcross Roanblank's (ph) home turf, I do not believe that 100 percent of the living adults in this city of Philadelphia are registered, which is what election statistics would lead you to believe.
I mean, there are parts of Texas where we haven't been able to pull that thing off.
And we've been after it for a great many years.
So I mean, this is a growing problem.
The spectacle in Washington state; the attempts, in the aftermath of the 2000 election to disqualify military voters in Florida, or to, in one instance, disqualify every absentee voter in Seminole county -- I mean, these are pretty extraordinary measures that should give us all pause.
The efforts in St. Louis to keep the polls opened -- open in selected precincts -- I mean, I would love to have that happen as long, as I could pick the precincts.
This is a real problem. And it is not going away.
I mean, Bernalillo County, New Mexico will have a problem after the next election, just like it has had after the last two elections.
I mean, I remember election night, 2000, when they said, oops, we just made a little mistake; we failed to count 55,000 ballots in Bernalillo; we'll be back to you tomorrow.
That is a problem. And I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, a vegetarian or a beef-eater, this is an issue that ought to concern you because, at the heart of it, our democracy depends upon the integrity of the ballot place. And if you cannot...
I have to admit, too -- look, I'm not a lawyer. So all I've got to rely on is common sense. But what is the matter? I go to the grocery store and I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I've got to show a little bit of ID.
Why should it not be reasonable and responsible to say that when people show up at the voting place, they ought to be able to prove who they are by showing some form of ID?
We can make arrangements for those who don't have driver's licenses. We can have provisional ballots, so that if there is a question that arises, we have a way to check that ballot. But it is fundamentally fair and appropriate to say, if you're going to show up and claim to be somebody, you better be able to prove it, when it comes to the most sacred thing we have been a democracy, which is our right of expression at the ballot.
And if not, let's just not kid ourselves, that elections will not be about the true expression of the people in electing their government, it will be a question of who can stuff it the best and most. And that is not healthy.
QUESTION: I've been reading some articles about different states, notably in the west, going to mail-in ballots and maybe even toying with the idea of online ballots. Are you concerned about this, in the sense of a mass potential, obviously, for voter fraud that this might have in the West?
ROVE: Yes. And I'm really worried about online voting, because we do not know all the ways that one can jimmy the system. All we know is that there are many ways to jimmy the system.
I'm also concerned about the increasing problems with mail-in ballots. Having last night cast my mail-in ballot for the April 11 run-off in Texas, in which there was one race left in Kerr County to settle -- but I am worried about it because the mail-in ballots, particularly in the Northwest, strike me as problematic.
I remember in 2000, that we had reports of people -- you know, the practice in Oregon is everybody gets their ballot mailed to them and then you fill it out.
And one of the practices is that people will go to political rallies and turn in their ballots. And we received reports in the 2000 election -- which, remember we lost Oregon by 5000 votes -- we got reports of people showing up at Republican rallies and passing around the holder to get your ballot, and then people not being able to recognize who those people were and not certain that all those ballots got turned in.
On Election Day, I remember, in the city of Portland, Multnomah County -- I'm going to mispronounce the name -- but there were four of voting places in the city, for those of you who don't get the ballots, well, we had to put out 100 lawyers that day in Portland, because we had people showing up with library cards, voting at multiple places.
I mean, why was it that those young people showed up at all four places, showing their library card from one library in the Portland area? I mean, there's a problem with this.
And I know we need to make arrangements for those people who don't live in the community in which they are registered to vote or for people who are going to be away for Election Day or who are ill or for whom it's a real difficulty to get to the polls. But we need to have procedures in place that allow us to monitor it.
And in the city of Portland, we could not monitor. If somebody showed up at one of those four voting locations, we couldn't monitor whether they had already cast their mail-in ballot or not. And we lost the state by 5,000 votes.
I mean, come on. What kind of confidence can you have in that system? So yes, we've got to do more about it.
My speculation about Rove's plans was greeted with some rather intense skepticism and in fact I was proven wrong. Rove didn't do a thing about voter fraud.
But that's not to say he wasn't trying. With the NY Times reporting tonight that Bush was personally involved in the New Mexico matter by complaining to Gonzales about Iglesias' refusal to pursue voter fraud charges, Josh Marshall writes:
There's a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it's not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I've reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there's simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn't the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn't any evidence for it.
And when they refused to pursue bogus charges of voter fraud and Democratic corruption, they were bounced.
I don't know if Rove will ever be caught red handed -- he's masterful at dirty tricks. (He taught the art of it when he was in his 20's.) But when you see stuff like this anywhere near his vicinity you know he's up to his armpits in it.
Stay tuned. This is shaping up to be a very serious scandal.
Check out the Wapo tonight, too.
The Attorney General definitely lied to congress, as did two of his closest aides.