the use of u.s. attorneys and the fbi to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud

In the wake of the 2004 election, voting rights activist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., came out in the pages of “Rolling Stone” and said unequivocally that the election had been stolen. “Republicans,” Kennedy said, “prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted – enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.” And now, as we approach another contentious election day, he’s back in the pages of “Rolling Stone” — this time with author Greg Palast — warning us that it’s likely to happen again.

Kennedy contends that Republicans, having planted the irrational fear of voter fraud in the minds of Americans, were able to add provisions into the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) that, in practice, will keep hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from casting their ballots on November 4. Here’s a clip from the article:

…But from the start, HAVA was corrupted by the involvement of Republican superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, who worked to cram the bill with favors for his clients. (Both Abramoff and a primary author of HAVA, former Rep. Bob Ney, were imprisoned for their role in the conspiracy.) In practice, many of the “reforms” created by HAVA have actually made it harder for citizens to cast a ballot and have their vote counted. In case after case, Republican election officials at the local and state level have used the rules to give GOP candidates an edge on Election Day by creating new barriers to registration, purging legitimate names from voter rolls, challenging voters at the polls and discarding valid ballots.

To justify this battery of new voting impediments, Republicans cite an alleged upsurge in voting fraud. Indeed, the U.S.-attorney scandal that resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales began when the White House fired federal prosecutors who resisted political pressure to drum up nonexistent cases of voting fraud against Democrats. “They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away,” says David Iglesias, a U.S. attorney for New Mexico who was fired in December 2006. “We took over 100 complaints and investigated for almost two years — but I didn’t find one prosecutable case of voter fraud in the entire state of New Mexico.”

And, speaking of the U.S. attorney scandal, while it may have left the front pages with the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the battle over the proper role of government when dealing with voting rights issues such as these is still raging. When, a few days ago, it was leaked that the FBI was launching an investigation of the voter-registration group ACORN, Michigan Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House judiciary committee, was quick to respond, saying that it was clearly political. Following is an excerpt from his letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI director Robert Mueller:

…I know that it has become a right-wing cottage industry to cry wolf over alleged “voter fraud” during an election season (only to have such claims evaporate after the election has concluded). Indeed, using superlatives that would make P.T. Barnum blush, Senator John McCain, the Republican Presidential candidate, said in the debate last night, that ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetuating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” One would hope the Justice Department and FBI would more skeptically examine such sensational accusations than some cable news outlets. And this is particularly true where the allegations, even given their fullest reading, simply do not support such alarmist and unreasonable claims….

If Kennedy and Conyers are right, and the claims against ACORN are nothing more than political theater to justify widespread voter suppression activities, or, as Andrew Sullivan suggested a few days ago, to preemptively de-legitimize an Obama win, my hope is they know when to reel in the rhetoric. As ACORN workers are already being threatened with violence, it seems as though it’s just a matter of time before someone, believing that the organization is, as McCain said, “destroying the fabric of democracy,” takes matters into his or her own hands. And, when that happens, I wouldn’t want to be John McCain.

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  1. Meta
    Posted October 28, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Kennedy and Palast have more to say on voter fraud:

    Virtually the entire mainstream electronic media drank ACORN Kool-Aid this month brewed up by the Republican National Committee. Almost no one seriously challenged John McCain’s comical assertions that ACORN, a grassroots voter registration group, “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

    While the Republicans had the distracted media searching for links between Obama and ACORN, RNC operatives were busily completing one of the most massive voter suppression and purging efforts in American history, stealing hundreds of thousands of Democratic votes across the embattled swing states and striving to arrange chaos and endless lines at the voting booths next week.

    The rest is at:

  2. Posted September 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I’d forgotten that we were talking about the myth of voter fraud four years ago.

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