We Are All Joe The Plumber Now

by dday

There were early reports by Internet sleuths that the ubiquitous Joe the Plumber, the manifestation of the guy in "Swing Vote" come to life, was not a registered voter in the state of Ohio. As it turns out, he is, but with a slight misspelling - and if all elections systems were run by Republicans, that would be more than enough to disenfranchise him.

Purging voters or blocking their registration because of data errors is disenfranchisement by typo," said Michael Waldman, the executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal legal group involved in litigation in those states. "Joe is a perfect example. If he were anew voter, he would be being challenged right now as not eligible to vote."

"Joe the Plumber is not committing voter fraud by having his name spelled differently on two different lists," he said.

Republicans have argued that there are safeguards against improper purges, and state officials say their lists are more accurate, and their purges more careful. They also note that voters whose registration is challenged can vote by provisional ballot.

National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote that "if there's a typo in the voter rolls, I trust local election officials to sort it out and ensure that that provisional ballot is used and subsequently counted once it's certain that the voter in question is the person on the registered voter list."

"Provisional ballots are not a substitute for actually voting," said Waldman, who pointed to data suggesting provisional ballots are rejected at a high rate, and that voters who are told their names don't appear on the rolls often simply walk away.

And he produced cases in which typos similar to the one affecting Wurzelbacher have knocked citizens off the rolls.

For instance, Florida officials in 2006 removed the name of Jose Lopez-Sandin, after officials typed his name in as "Joseph Lopez-Sandin." They also removed the name of Anne Nguyen after election officials typed her name as "Ann Nguyen."

"Because he’s the famous 'Joe the Plumber' it seems like an obvious typo, but this is the sort of error that will keep people from voting," Waldman said.

The idea that Jim Geraghty has so much "trust" in local election officials is laughable. Because the Republican Party has spent the better part of 40 years trying to break that trust.

There is a current lawsuit in the state of Ohio that would force the Secretary of State to check hundreds of thousands of new registrants, by Friday, against government documents and databases, which is explicitly not required by the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The insertion of "Friday" is important, since this is clearly impossible. We know this is going to result in thousands of Ohioans losing their right to vote at the very minimum. People like Joe the Plumber, who because of a typo would be pushed to use a provisional ballot were he a newly registered voter. (Other reports say this is less of a problem, but I'm going on the word of the Secretary of State).

Our grip on the franchise of voting is so tenuous that a mishit letter at the DMV, poor penmanship on a voter registration form, could be all that stands between you and ineligibility. And this has been exploited by experienced voter suppression operatives in the Republican Party, a number of whom work on John McCain's campaign, who
have raised this bogus spectre of voter fraud, against all known evidence, to try and lower turnout, historically in lower-class and minority regions of the country. Last night John McCain accused ACORN as "destroying the fabric of democracy." Physician, heal thyself.

A few braver Republicans are speaking up about this coordinated effort to undermine American confidence in elections and delegitimize any Democratic President.

Florida's governor says his fellow Republicans may be exaggerating claims of voter fraud in the state.

Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday that he has confidence in Secretary of State Kurt Browning, who says there's only been a scattering of isolated incidents.

Crist said in the closing days of any campaign "there are some who sort of enjoy chaos." There may be more of that going on than fraud, he said.

I can identify those "some" for you, Gov. Crist. They are the members of your own party who use chaos to create opportunities, in voting as well as governing.

UPDATE: Outrageous. The FBI is now directly investigating ACORN, turning the federal government into an aide for voter suppression. More at my site.