The polls are surging, the fundamentals of the election are in the favor of the Democrats, and time is running out. That's why today, the Republicans kicked their ground game into high gear.
Nevada state authorities are raiding the Las Vegas headquarters of an organization that works to get low-income people to vote.
A Nevada secretary of state's office spokesman said Tuesday that investigators are looking for evidence of voter fraud at the office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.
No one was at the ACORN office when state agents arrived with a search warrant and began carting records and documents away.
ACORN, which is going to supplant the ACLU as the organization conservatives blame for all the world's ills, routinely flags suspicious voter registration applications for election officials generated by their registration drives. This does not sound like the work of an organization dedicated to stealing elections - the whole "we turn ourselves in" part works against that. This is from ACORN's statement today:
Election officials routinely ignored this information and failed to act. In early July, ACORN asked to meet with election officials to express our concerns that they were not acting on information ACORN had presented to them. ACORN met with Clark County elections officials and a representative of the Secretary of State on July 17th. ACORN pleaded with them to take our concerns about fraudulent applications seriously. One week later, elections officials asked us to provide them with a second copy of what we had previously provided to them. ACORN responded by giving election officials copies of 46 "problem application packages," which involved 33 former canvassers.
On September 23, ACORN had received a subpoena dated September 19^th requesting information on 15 employees, all of whom had been included in the packages we had previously submitted to election officials. ACORN provided our personnel records on these 15 employees on September 29.
Today's raid by the Secretary of State's Office is a stunt that serves no useful purpose other than discredit our work registering Nevadans and distracting us from the important work ahead of getting every eligible voter to the polls."
So you have 46 bad applications out of 80,000 new voters registered in Clark County. And of course the thing about bad voter registrations is that they are easily flagged and almost by definition cannot result in a fraudulent vote. If someone submits a registration form with the names of the Dallas Cowboys on them, that won't result in the Dallas Cowboys voting in Nevada. The same with duplicate voter registrations. It would be the most time-consuming and least likely to be successful vote stealing effort in history.
But that's hardly the point. The Bush Administration sought to make this a priority months ago by creating joint task forces to investigate voter fraud. The Attorney General of Wisconsin, in a bid to become the next Katherine Harris or Ken Blackwell, openly boasted about taking action - with the Justice Department - over this non-existent problem at the RNC (how nonpartisan of him):
"We are out there front and center everyday and you'll be hearing much more from the Department of Justice in the coming months about doing what we can to make sure that those people who have illegally and illegitimately registered to vote, don't have the opportunity on election day to show up and take away your vote by casting one that is not legal," he continued.
This isn't about stopping the scourge of voter fraud. It's about using that as a crutch to stop people from voting, to put up obstructions and increase the burden among Democratic communities. They put fliers in black neighborhoods warning of prosecution if black people vote, and they distribute false information designed to get students to be afraid to vote at their colleges. Voter fraud is the hook on which they hang this cloak of suppression.
Here's Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
A recently unearthed e-mail from a Republican strategist in New Mexico shows the unbridled cynicism that underlies claims about fraudulent voting. Patrick Rogers, former lawyer for the New Mexico Republican Party, was among the party hacks pushing for criminal investigations into alleged voter fraud. He clearly was hoping that the threat of legal sanctions would intimidate Democrats and aid Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), who was in a tight race for re-election. According to a new report from the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general, Rogers wrote in September 2004:
“I believe the [voter] ID issue should be used at all levels — federal, state legislative races and Heather’s race. … You are not going to find a better wedge issue. … This is the single best wedge issue, ever in [New Mexico].”
The McCain campaign is doing the same thing with this perverse charge that Barack Obama's contributions are "shadowy" and "suspect." Because donors under $200 don't have to be itemized on FEC reports, they are essentially attacking the strength of Obama's small-donor base in much the same way that these bogus fraud allegations attack the strength of Democratic voter turnout.
This may not be enough to turn the tide of the election, but will certainly be enough of a seed of doubt for the right wing noise machine to cultivate for years, delegitimizing an Obama victory and setting the stage for another wave of backlash politics. If you thought the right had a persecution complex while in the majority, wait until you see it in the minority.
...it's been brought to my attention that the Secretary of State and the Attorney General of Nevada are Democrats. The investigation is part of a joint task force with the US Attorney of Nevada and the FBI, in addition to state officials. I seem to remember the US Attorney scandal being about firing prosecutors who wouldn't vigorously pursue voter fraud allegations. I'll leave it to you to decide who's running the show here, the state or the feds.