My Hamstring! My Calf! My Spleen!

Dear Republican Party:

You’re aware that to the rest of us, your transparently insincere whining about voter fraud every time you’re about to get your ass handed to you in an election makes you look like that second place runner who mysteriously gets a leg cramp as soon as it’s clear he’s got no chance to win the race, right? “Oh, I would have won, if not for this darn pulled muscle! Someone should check the track! I think it’s got a design flaw that made me cramp up!”

Yes. That’s it.

I’m not sure you can suppress enough votes to win it this time, guys. You might want to try arguing policy instead. Oh, right. That’s why you need to whine about “voter fraud” in the first place. Well, then. Carry on, I suppose.

135 thoughts on “My Hamstring! My Calf! My Spleen!

  1. Goddamnit, more cries about voter fraud. Last time from Democrats, this time from Republicans… and people wonder why I hate politics.

  2. Just had a slightly scary thought about “voter fraud.” So, there’s been some talk about McCain dropping Palin, and I’ve even heard a few “what if…?” rumbles about Pain dropping McCain.

    It would be stupid. Rational people know this. It would make them look so crazy and desperate that it would surely backfire in a most amusing fashion, ensuring the trickle of supporters walking away became a flood.

    But let’s assume they’re convinced they’ve already lost. What’s the downside for them if they mix things up a bit? It can score points in the same way the Palin selection did — to show that the GOP isn’t as hidebound and stodgy as they appear. I can’t see it getting them votes, but I could certainly see it scoring them points for future elections.

    Harmless enough, right? But here’s the scary thing: Lots of ballots have already been cast, for or against the ticket as it is today. What happens if that ticket changes? It may not automatically invalidate those ballots, but boy howdy does it give the GOP a nice big foot in the door to bring down all kinds of legal thunder.

    I sincerely hope I’m just feeling a little foil-hatty today.

  3. It’s World Cup Soccer!

    “I know the ball is over there and the closest person to me is the guy selling beer in the stands, but OMGWTF I WAS TRIPPED! I FELL! I’M INJURED! I… what? Hello? Anyone? Oh, well, back to it, then.”

  4. If the GOP changed their ticket now (I’m sure that they would love to swap for Zombie Reagan and Mr. Ed, if they could), the already-cast votes for McCain would still stand as such. You vote for people in the US, not parties.

    As for Mrs. Palin, I suspect that her career’s over and done with now, no matter what. Even four years of spin won’t be able to erase her performance in that Katie Couric interview. She’d have to claim that she was high on mescaline and Vicodins to get out of that one.

  5. Joe, I don’t think ballots can be revised at this late date. That’s why sometimes a dead person is on the ballot.

  6. I hope McCain tries to bring up ACORN tonight, and Obama then slaps him down by talking about the ‘investigations’ by the DOJ that led to the terminations of anyone who wasn’t pursuing these cases with any zeal.

    I can’t believe I was ever a GOP voter. I can’t believe I ever subscribed to National Review. Feh.

  7. I’m trying to write a reply without flaming, since I did that the other day to one of your posts (don’t even remember which one now) and felt bad about it. (So I apologize if anyone remembers it. ;) )

    As polite as I can: you’re being a bit hypocritical. “whining about voter fraud” has practically been Play 1 in the Democrats’ playbook for years. I’ve been reading Whatever for a few years, but not all ten, so if you’ve previously called out the Democrats for it, and just aren’t mentioning it here because they don’t happen to be doing it much this week, then never mind. It is indeed a stupid tactic (which fits well with the rest of the terrible campaign McCain et al. have been running) but it’s also not even remotely new or unique.

  8. Joe R: Actually, that wouldn’t do much. Every state has laws about how to get onto the ballot. If a state says you must submit a petition with 5000 voter signatures by Oct 1, then the candidates named in that petition are on the ballot. A last-minute change of mind is irrelevant. She would have to resign post-election, and McCain would have to follow the constitutional process to appoint her replacement.

  9. mjfgates–Actually, in quite a few places, you’re voting for people to vote in the Electoral College.

  10. Dear Hamilton County Republican Party Chair:

    I voted absentee this year. If my ballot is not counted, I will personally walk over to your office on my lunch break the day after the election and kick your ass from one end of downtown to the other, then post a YouTube video of it so everyone can see what happens to whiny little brats when they interfere with my right to vote.

    That’s right, Mr. Chairman. You will learn an entirely new and painful meaning of the term “sore loser.”

    Sincerely,

    Me,
    who is not Chang*

    (Or am I? I mean the name says “Evil” J, so I might be lying.)

  11. And if some states allow a last-minute change and some don’t, I don’t know what happens if the electoral college result is:
    Obama/Biden 48%
    McCain/Palin 30%
    McCain/Hilton 22%

    Maybe that means the election of vice president goes to the House of Representatives.

  12. Kevin @ 10:
    It’s a bit of a nitpick, but from what I remember, democrats do whine about vote fraud when it is actually possibly vote fraud (after an election has occurred). Also, democrats seem to worry a bit about disenfranchisement (the active stripping of the right to vote). Right now we technically have drama over “registration fraud”, as I do not believe the discussion is regarding early or absentee ballots but rather the effort to register folks to vote.

    The distinction is significant, as vote fraud is actually a pretty bad thing, and also relatively difficult to carry out compared to the difficulty of filling out a registration form with the name Mickey Mouse.

  13. Kevin @ 10: The difference is that the voter fraud that the Republicans are alleging now is what I would call “positive” voter fraud. People registering who can’t vote. What the Democrats alleged in the past has by contrast been “negative” voter fraud, where election officials kept people who WERE registered from voting.

    negative is much more likely, and much easier to substantiate. Positive is easier to just whine about…

  14. In the Presidential election, you vote for electors, not candidates. A vote for Foo is actually a vote for a slate of electors pledged to vote for Foo.

  15. Voter suppression? Would that be the Democrats trying to get military absentee votes not counted in Florida in 2000? Would that be the Democrats trying to disallow absentee ballot requests done on a form that the McCain campaign had created in Ohio? Whatever are you talking about, John?

  16. The way it’s supposed to work is you vote for electors who then are free to vote for whomever they choose, so McCain and/or Palin dropping out at this point wouldn’t matter — anyone voting McCain/Palin would still be voting for the electors designated after he was officially nominated.

  17. John Scalzi,

    I am honestly curious.

    As a self-labeled independent, have you ever voted for a Republican for President?

    This is not a loaded question. I am simply wondering.

  18. Kevin:
    First: whining about voter fraud has not been the democratic playbook. Voter fraud is fraud by voters to amplify their vote. What democrats have been calling out is action to suppress other peoples’ votes.

    Secondly: do you seriously think that the vote has not been suppressed on a broad scale?

  19. And even as we see voter registration fraud (which is not the same as voter fraud), we’re once again seeing voter suppression tactics by Republicans as well. Talk about hypocrisy…

  20. Yeah, it has seemed to me for a while now that the GOP was gearing up to lose, or to at least make the post-election period as muddled and nasty as possible, with as many excuses as possible. I think it’s largely going to fall on deaf ears, but I doubt at this point it’s as much about contesting results as it is getting the base all lathered up and energized to carry them through to the midterm and next presidential election.

  21. Sub-Odeon:

    Nope, not yet. I’ve voted Republican for representative and senator, but none of the Republican presidential candidates have done much for me, either individually or in comparison to their opponents at the time. The only Democratic candidate I was truly ambivalent about was Dukakis, but I knew he had no chance, and I wasn’t thrilled with Bush, so what the heck.

    If the McCain of 2000 had showed up for this election, I would have had a tougher time of it. But he didn’t. Also, a McCain – Gore battle would have been a tough one for me.

  22. Kevin R: That was my first thought too–that Democrats were complaining about this before. However, the article makes a distinction between voter fraud and voter suppression. Democrats have made major (and legitimate) claims of voter suppression in the last few elections. I don’t remember any complaints of massive fraud, as described in the article.

  23. FYI, I was living and working in the Puget Sound when liberal Democrats used out-and-out vote fraud to secure a win for Christine Gregoire.

    The only defense any Gregoire supporter could ever come up with was, “We’re getting revenge for Bush stealing it in 2000!”

    You know things have gone daffy when the same people crying about fraud in one election, engage in fraud during another election.

  24. Thanks for the honest answer, John.

    I’ve voted as follows:

    1992 = Perot
    1996 = Clinton
    2000 = Gore
    2004 = Bush

    I don’t think the Dems or Republicans particularly have their heads screwed on straight in 2008.

    I wanted Romney, because he’s the only one on either side who was in the primaries, and had a clue about economics. Alas, he’s a Mormon, which means he’s hated by both the Religious Right and the Militant Secular Left.

    A shame. I think our current crisis screams for a savvy, economically-wise President who knows how to clean up and clean out.

    McCain, Obama, Palin, Biden… Would any of us trust any of them to balance our checkbooks or do our tax returns for us?

    Yikes!

  25. Kevin:

    A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be other than what they are. I see no evidence of this in John’s post.

    Also, “whining about voter fraud” is considerably different in degree from say, complaints that require a supreme court decision. For instance (as has been pointed out) the current ‘Acorn’ kerfluffel would only be considered fraud if Mickey Mouse actually showed up and tried to vote.

    No, this is not new or unique, merely current. Perhaps that’s why John is so tired of it.

  26. Brian’s exactly right.

    There’s a huge, huge difference between three things:

    1. Voter registration fraud (filing a registration for a non-existent or otherwise unqualified person), which isn’t actually illegal.

    2. Voter fraud (an unqualified person attempting to vote).

    3. Election/counting fraud (preventing qualified people from voting, deliberately dumping or miscounting votes, etc.)

    The problems in Ohio and Florida before were not about VOTER fraud, but about ELECTION fraud. And I would argue that the latter is a far, far more serious problem, and one which is perpetuated primarily by Republican-leaning groups.

    The spew about ACORN is pointless. Even if someone turns in a sheet full of registrations for Mickey Mouse, there’s no actual fraud unless Mickey Mouse shows up and tries to vote.

    Likewise, the number of people who are legitimately disqualified from voting (felons, non-citizens, people who have moved out of their district) is miniscule compared to the number of people the GOP in these states is trying to disqualify.

    But trying to cage votes? Trying to deprive people in Democrat-leaning districts of their legitimate rights to vote? Trying to scare them out of registering or voting with threats of arrest for overdue parking tickets or loss of scholarships? That’s just disgusting.

    Even if 1% of voters aren’t actually qualified to vote, it’s far, far better to err on the side of allowing them to do so than to risk depriving qualified people of their legitimate votes.

    This is the same reason we don’t convict people of a crime until they’ve been proven guilty. We don’t deprive people of a vote until we know for certain that they aren’t qualified.

  27. Let’s roll the clock back to the 2000 elections, shall we?

    “One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.” – Justice Stevens

    So fraud on a local level doesn’t mean much, if you’ve got Supreme Court Justices to perpetrate the fraud for you, does it?

    (not a thread jack – just reminding people)

  28. Would any of us trust any of them to balance our checkbooks or do our tax returns for us?

    No, but I’d certainly trust Warren Buffet (Obama’s primary economic advisor) to do it far, far more than I would trust Meg “let’s lay off 20k eBay workers” Whitman, Carly “let’s screw HP” Fiorina or Phil “deregulating banking is GOOD!” Gramm.

  29. David,

    I was present for the entire farce, and I disagree. The successive recounts, wherein the King County people kept “finding” more and more votes for Gregoire… Sorry, I don’t believe for a second that that election was won honestly. Especially with all the double and triple absentee ballots, ballots by the dead, ballots by the homeless… Basically, the Democrats kept screaming for recounts until they got a score they liked, then they said, “The people have spoken!”

    What if successive recounts had tallied more votes for Rossi than Gregoire?

    Thanks to the stalwart, steely-eyed officials in the Peoples Republic of King County, that didn’t happen, did it?

    Looks like this year there will be a rematch. Since I no longer live in WA I will observe from afar. If it comes down to a couple hundred votes again, I fully expect the tried and trusted King County mechanism to kick in for Gregoire once again.

    Seattleites would sooner hurl themselves off the Aurora Bridge than see a Republican govern “their” state.

    =^)

  30. FYI, I was living and working in the Puget Sound when liberal Democrats used out-and-out vote fraud to secure a win for Christine Gregoire.

    Funny, though, when Republicans tried to substantiate this, about 30% of their charllenges were for actual, legal voters. Not very credible.

    (In other words, the election was so tight, simple human error and noise had an effect on the results).

  31. Seattleites would sooner hurl themselves off the Aurora Bridge than see a Republican govern “their” state.

    Dan Evans is still quite loved around here.

  32. Oh no, they didn’t, and the Republican Secretary of State for Washington agreed.

    Ssssh. Don’t confuse the acolytes of Dinito Rossellini with facts and logic.

    And as a side note: I really, really wish that creepy little reptile would get the heck off my TV. I can’t stand his sneering, lying mug. Though I do find it hilarious that he’s trying to distance himself from the rest of Republicans by calling himself GOP Party instead. Heh.

  33. Even if 1% of voters aren’t actually qualified to vote, it’s far, far better to err on the side of allowing them to do so than to risk depriving qualified people of their legitimate votes.

    Oh, we allow them to vote…it’s that the government can then examine their bonafides to see if they should be counted.

    Philosophically, that seems to be more acceptable, particularly if the “illegal” vote stems from a simple human failure like failure to update an address or not voting in a primary. Given that voting is a right and not a privilege, any strictures should be looser than those put on privileges.

  34. Sub Odeon,

    Okay. So, if recounts go in favor of Republicans, they’re a wonderful tool of the electoral process, but when recounts go in favor of Democrats, it’s evil evil fraud by …oh, just pick one of your hyperbolic labels up there and insert it right here.

    It was a close race. Recounts showed Gregoire won. If you don’t even live here anymore and you’re STILL all het up about it…? I don’t know. You need a hobby, dude. May I recommend crochet?

  35. Tal @31: Every voter registration form I’ve ever filled out has had legalese on it saying that the voter-candidate swears/affirms that they are a U.S. citizen and that all information provided is true under penalty of perjury. So I’m pretty sure that if I was (hypothetically speaking) one of those eeevul illegal immigrants from Mexico and I sent in a registration form in my own name, thus falsely claiming to be a citizen, that would be a crime.

    I’m not sure about the case where someone fills out a form in the name of a fictional character. Who’s doing the swearing? I also wonder how this interacts with the general principle that you can change your name to whatever you want. Suppose a legitimate voter happens to have changed their name to “Mickey Mouse” (or, not so hypothetically, “Optimus Prime”) — how much grief will they face when they try to register to vote?

    Tangentially, it always amuses me to see the checkboxes at the top of the registration form: “Are you a citizen of the United States of America? [yes] [no] If you checked “no”, do not fill out this form.”

  36. gwangung,

    So you admit that 70% of the fraudulent votes for Gregorie were, indeed, fraudulent?

    (snicker) Just checking.

    I eventually got over that one, since I don’t even remember who I voted for for WA governor on my ballot in 2004. I was more concerned with The Big Contest in D.C. at the time.

    I just thought it was too convenient that Seattle got to decide the race. Not Tacoma. Not Spokane. Not Olympia. It was Seattle. The most liberal city in the entire state.

    Not just a bit like Florida deciding it for Bush in 2000, eh?

  37. I am mostly amused by the fact that the GOP is whining about voter fraud after the last two weeks of reports of GOP offices in various states challenging 10s of thousands of voters that *just happen* to be in Dem. leaning precincts.

    I am so freaking sick of politics. November can’t come soon enough.

  38. re: people’s voting history and voting independantly

    I was raised a Young Republican. Seriously. (Even though Dad told me to vote for issues, not parties, Mom enrolled me in the Young Republicans and I’ve been to about four or five state conventions.) I remember the first time I voted for a Democrat. In Utah, no less.

    I came home from my first election ever, having voted for a Republican for every office except the Attorney General (I think it was). My mother asked how I had voted…and I casually mentioned that I had voted for Jan over the other candidate, and there was this icy silence. Despite the fact that I had otherwise voted a nearly straight ticket ballot.

    I was old enough to vote for Clinton in 96, but voted for Bob Dole instead. And in 2000 I was out of the country and my absentee ballot didn’t get to me in time. I would have likely voted for George Bush, as I’d bought into the “Al Gore said he invented the internet” crap that was floating about, and because Al Gore was Clinton’s VP and I still had a residual hate-on for the Clintons. I am ashamed to admit that, but there it is.

    Anyway, when 9-11 happened, I made some predictions about what Bush would do and what he wouldn’t do….and I was wrong. Dead wrong. I still nominally supported him during the early Afghanistan bits, although I wasn’t overly pleased, but when he chose to invade Iraq, he and the Republican party lost me. (During this time, I began examining other issues, such as reproductive rights and health care and GLBT issues and so on. So while I’m not 100 percent happy with the Dems, I think they are more closely aligned to my views.)

    I got that icy silence again from Mom when I told her I was voting for Kerry. And my parents were only mollified by me voting for Obama in the primaries because at least I wasn’t voting for Hillary Clinton, who my mother (seriously) thinks ranks with Hitler.

    I’ve used the rugby team analogy before, but I still don’t understand why my Republican friends and family can look at the Patriot Act (they hate it) and No Child Left Behind (ditto) and lack of reasonable health care and still think Bush is God’s chosen servant. Because they DO think that. (Yes, they are all Mormon.)

  39. akeeyu,

    I never said any such thing.

    And go read my comments to gwangung.

    What the Gregoire/Rossi and Bush/Gore contests tell us, if anything, is that BOTH parties are in trouble if they can’t run well enough on the issues to develop a wide enough margin so that no amount of vote tampering, or simple human error, can muddy the results.

    This should be the goal of any politician now running: to get the message out loud and clearly enough so that the margin is distinct, and the other side must concede.

    Relying on endless recounts, “found” votes, or worse yet, a judge, to win it for you…. That’s not a way to win with (or inspire) confidence.

  40. Surely if voter fraud were happening, it would make more sense for it to happen in swing states. You are more likely to get away with it if it only needs the votes of a few Disney characters to get your party over the edge. So it’s not intrisnically unreasonable that that’s where accsuations are being made.

  41. Pixel,

    I think what it comes down to, with the Mormon vote, is family issues. Any politician or political party which appears to threaten or oppose the church’s Proclamation To The World, is a no-go for traditional LDS folk. Thus many LDS are willing to overlook a host of Republican sins, so long as the Republican in question appears to support policies which are in tune the Proclamation.

    I’m LDS (though I’ve not always been active) and I tend to think that the seemingly blind support, by Utah members anyway, for the Republican party, is somewhat foolish. Because the Republican party is just a label. What it stands for, and what it means, changes over time. The Republican party has also been very contradictory as of late. Example: allowing or encouraging endless spending and outrageous debt/deficit expansion. Thrift and saving is something we LDS get pounded between the eyes with, when it comes to church doctrine and teaching. So how come we as members seem to forgive our elected officials, when they spend our country into the ground? Especially Republicans, who are supposed to be the guardians of thrift in D.C?

    It’s also worth noting that the Republicans didn’t have a hammerlock on the LDS vote until Reagan showed up. Prior to that, my perception is that LDS were liable to be “loyal to the leader” in that they supported the sitting president and got behind him as the leader of the country. Hence good LDS support for LBJ, FDR, etc.

    Will the Republicans maintain hammerlock on the LDS vote? Hard to say. Probably, as long as the Republicans style themselves as the religiously conservative of the two major parties. If the Democrats were to ever reverse course on, say, abortion, or if the Republicans were to ever go soft on, say, gay marriage, this could change substantially.

  42. Andrew @45:

    The problem of casually voting as a Disney character is that poll-workers would need to be in on your act. Which, given the hairy, scrying eyeball I’ve been given most every time I go to the polls simply isn’t the case.

    And I don’t look remotely like a Disney character.

  43. @ those who speculate about Palin being dropped from the ticket:

    The McCain ticket has quite a problem with Palin. One one hand, she has absolutely destroyed McCain’s credibility among moderates and independents, those oh-so-important voters that decide the swing states. Given that fact, dropping Palin for somebody more *ahem* competent might seem like a good idea. On the other hand, Palin has been a knockout hit with the conservative base of the Republican Party. Prior to the Palin pick, the GOP base (and in particular, the religious right), was not very enthusiastic about McCain. Palin has single-handedly galvanized that base in favor of McCain, giving him a big boost that would all but vanish if Palin were dropped. Sure, maybe some of the more centrist Republicans despise her, but this race is not about principles, it’s about winning votes. Karl Rove chucked Bush’s values out the window in 2004; now McCain has done the same. These are only symptoms of the true problem, however. The Republican Party has become a cold, soulless political machine that claims to represent traditional values, but in reality represents nothing more than the self-interests of the privileged few. As such, it is willing to do anything to get its candidates elected, including shift the focus of the election from the issues to personal attacks, or try to create fraudulent voter fraud.

  44. Frank,

    I’d not be shocked by an Obama loss.

    I’d not be shocked by an Obama win, either.

    The Republican name brand is so trashed at this point, anyone who wears it is giving themselves an automatic negative handicap.

    Anyway, the only poll that matters, is the one on Nov. 4

  45. Especially with all the double and triple absentee ballots, ballots by the dead, ballots by the homeless

    I provided a link. I’m sure you can do the same.

  46. #49 Frank: And when Obama loses come November, I’m sure I won’t hear “OMG! How could this be? Republicans stole another election!”

    There are 300 million people in this country, so it’s a sure bet that someone’s going to say it. Is it really that big a problem if someone does?

    If it’s any consolation, a lot of us are going to try to make sure Democrats have nothing to complain about in this election.

  47. “Karl Rove chucked Bush’s values out the window in 2004″

    Bush had already tortured people in 2004. He’d already lied about the cost of his Medicare drug benefit.

    He had no values to chuck.

  48. David, I don’t ordinarily play link poker.

    Ergo, you provide a link.

    I provide two links to disprove your link.

    You provide three links to disprove my two, etc.

    But if we must:

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/206969_dead07.html

    Again, the lesson is obvious: one side or the other MUST challenge on the issues and get their message out such that they build enough of a lead that even error (or small-time fraud) cannot surmount the gap.

    Because, as we’ve seen, anything even close to a tie, is going to be decided in a controversial fashion, and the decision will lose a tremendous amount of credibility.

  49. Jon H,

    People without a permanent mailing address should not be able to vote via absentee.

    Is it so hard to figure out? Phantom ballots from people who use public buildings (like the King County courthouse) as their “permanent residence” are not exactly reliable.

    Voting is a right. But if people can’t maintain a permanent mailing address, or can’t satisfy the basics for voter registration… Well, it sucks to be them.

  50. “Voting is a right. But if people can’t maintain a permanent mailing address, or can’t satisfy the basics for voter registration… Well, it sucks to be them.”

    How lovely and compassionate of you.

  51. deCadmus@47: To be sure. I’m not suggesting it’s a plausible tactic anywhere. But if one wanted to practise it, I think a swing state would be the best place to do so.

  52. You may mock voter fraud, but I don’t find dead people voting funny myself.

    And as for the comment on the complaints centering on swing states, you can thank the electoral college for that. With the electoral college only the close states have incentive for voter fraud (as well as incentive for cleaning up voter fraud). If the winner was chosen by popular vote you can be sure there would be more instances of fraud and more complaints everywhere.

    My county gives a pretty good example of this. It’s the very eastern edge, and beyond, of east St. Louis. A few/several months after every election we have the investigative reporting specials on all the 4-10 year deceased people voting in our county. But it doesn’t really matter since most of the local canidates are democrats running unopposed and Illinois will be giving it’s electoral college votes to the democrat. The way the voter fraud is accomplished is by first fraudulently registering voters, or failing to unregister dead voters. Then the poll workers either give accomplices extra ballots, or using extra ballots themselves during slow times, vote using the names of these fake/dead people. The current voter registration fraud is key to allowing later voter fraud to occur, and stopping it will help stop voter fraud too. But the best way to stop the fraud is having poll watchers since poll workers are the biggest (and easiest) way fraud is commited. I’m sure voter fraud happens everywhere somewhat, however in my area it is pointless to do and to stop thanks to the electoral college.

    So while voter fraud is serious, I’m not too worried about it. McCain will have watchers in swing states limiting it, and the rest don’t matter. I’m more worried about how unreliable the electronic voting machines are.

  53. link poker

    This is also called “providing evidence” and is useful in discussion, argument, and conversation. It helps people find your assertions about things somewhat more credible.

    In any case, I read your link, and it cites 8 cases (out of how many millions of votes?) and the examples it provided were of 1) a woman who filled out her husband’s ballot because she claimed to know how he would have voted (she had power of attorney for him before he died and she called the voting office to ask if it was okay and received an ambiguous answer), 2) a vote which no one claimed, 3) a vote in which the husband voted for his wife because she felt “very strongly about the race” 4) a woman who voted using her husband’s absentee ballot but not her own (ie her vote got counted as his), 5) a man whose husband filled out the ballot before he died 6) an administrative error 7) a woman who died on August 4 but somehow was listed as voting at the precinct (ie in person, which must have been impressive) 8) not specified.

    Two points:
    1. There’s no mention of who the votes were cast for. It’s your presumption that they were for Gregoire.
    2. I see no pattern of fraud there, i.e. no attempt to systematically game the election. What I do see is a lot of confused people doing dumb things. Sam Reed, the GOP Secretary of State is quoted as agreeing that evaluation.

    If you’d like to argue that elections are messy things in which a lot of stuff goes wrong, be my guest. But arguing that the election was stolen based on the evidence in that story is just silly.

    But if people can’t maintain a permanent mailing address, or can’t satisfy the basics for voter registration… Well, it sucks to be them

    This roughly translates as “You’re only American if you can meet the requirements.” I’d like to live in a United States where Americans are Americans, even if they’re down on their luck.

  54. David,

    “Internet evidence” is an oxymoron IMHO.

    That’s why I don’t play link poker. We could lob links at one another all day long and not accomplish or ‘prove’ anything.

    Irregularities in the vote tallying and recount process centered on heavily-liberal King County (ergo, Seattle) and it’s no shocker that the discrepencies always came out in Gregoire’s favor. You can call it a rose if you want. I think a lot of us who saw it happen real-time would say the results smelled a little more “earthy” than that.

    Oh, and even Americans “down on their luck” can manage to maintain a fixed address. My wife and I made less than $10,000 our first year together, in 1994, and we were never on the street.

    Because voter fraud is always a danger, there must be safeguards. Being able to verify a person’s permanent residence is one big way to ensure that the person voting is not, in fact, engaging in fraud.

    If you somehow do wind up on the street, and stay there for any period of time, I suspect being able to vote is the least of your concerns.

    Yes, voting is a citizen right.

    But rights can be lost as a result of carelessness, neglect, or deliberate mischief. Which is why jailbirds don’t get to vote, and rightly so.

  55. That’s why I don’t play link poker. We could lob links at one another all day long and not accomplish or ‘prove’ anything

    Oh no, I think we’ve done something quite interesting. And that is that the best evidence you could come up with points to *8* cases of potential voting fraud, more than half of which turn out to be confused people doing silly things. _This_ is the basis for your assertion that the governor’s race was stolen? Watergate, it ain’t.

    and it’s no shocker that the discrepencies always came out in Gregoire’s favor

    They did? Where’s your evidence for that? (the article you linked did not specify who the voters voted for).

    and even Americans “down on their luck” can manage to maintain a fixed address. My wife and I made less than $10,000 our first year together, in 1994, and we were never on the street

    Good for you and your wife. That has nothing to do with the fact that a person remains an American even if they don’t have a home. “In good times and bad” applies as well to our fellow citizens as it does to our spouses.

    If you somehow do wind up on the street, and stay there for any period of time, I suspect being able to vote is the least of your concerns.

    How about if we let the citizens of this country decide what their worries are, homeless or not?

  56. Some folks seem to be implying that voter registration fraud isn’t all that big of a deal. It is a big deal.
    It’s a Denial Of Service attack on the system. When understaffed registrars have to deal with 72 applications from a single person, or registrations from the dead, or from Disney characters, it reduces the time they have to process legit applications. Hamilton County, OH has had to deal with 10000 duplicate registrations this year. ACORN registered the Dallas Cowboys in Nevada. Marion County (Indianapolis) IN has more registered voters than it has eligible people to vote. 3700 voters in Franklin County (Columbus) OH apparently live in vacant lots. Sorting through all this crap means that some legitimate voters won’t get to vote.

  57. understaffed registrars

    Small government at work. I’m so happy my tax cuts went to useful things.

    Sarcasm aside, what you’re essentially saying is that the organization set up specifically set up to deal with voter registration can’t actually handle voter registration. And the solution, of course, is to stop actual people (like those without addresses) from registering.

    “We have to destroy the voters to save them”

  58. Hmmm. The only people I have seen whining about voter fraud were democrats. I’m sure it was a democrat who went to far as to blame all long lines on republicans who engineer them deliberately to keep democrats out, because “no republican ever had a job to get back to.” And the only whiners I have heard locally were democrats who informed me that the Diebold company was founded by friends of Bush for the sole purpose of guaranteeing his election. Talk about whining and paranoia!

  59. Sub-Odeon @59

    Anyway, the only poll that matters, is the one on Nov. 4

    True ’nuff. I am very suspicious of the “likely voter” models this year mostly because of the voter registration scandals. It is likely true that phony voter registration will not translate into vote fraud, but it has served to skew the likely voter models, and in fact the statistical models for polling in general because these models “weight” the results by voter identification.

    Bill @66

    Some folks seem to be implying that voter registration fraud isn’t all that big of a deal. It is a big deal.
    It’s a Denial Of Service attack on the system.

    This is also true. But another aspect of this is that ACORN is helping the “vote suppression” argument.

    Look, it is a fact that the tighter the voter registration rules are, the more likely it is some will be disenfranchised. However, the more there is evidence of potential voter fraud, the more likely it is that states will take action to make sure it doesn’t happen by making it tougher to register. And voter registration fraud gives them a reasonable argument for it.

    ACORN is not doing the disenfranchised any favors. People who encourage illegal aliens to vote are not helping either. The same with felons, etc.

  60. Tal @ 37

    intresting tidbit: less than of 5% of republicans running for office have the word ‘republican’ on their (mostly blue) websites.

    Sub-Odeon @ 41

    When they got around to actually counting the votes Florida went to Gore. Sorry to burst your bubble. On the other hand the people who really ‘decided’ it for Bush were the Supreme Court. 9 people and ’41 only needed to pull strings on 5 of them.

    Ballots by the homeless being a problem? Isn’t this a somewhat tweaked varient of the old have-to-be-a-property-owner-to-vote idiocy? Voting is a right in this country. You can be deprived of that right for sufficiently proved crimes just like you can be deprived of liberty for sufficiently proved criminality. You cannot be deprived of that right for not being to prove an address – we shouldn’t do poll taxes, however disguised.

  61. “Recall the gubernatorial election of Christine Gregoire of Washington State, where those ACORN activists were convicted of fraud. In Gregoire’s election, Democratic districts tallied up more mail-in ballots than there were mail-in voters, while Republican districts were found to have fewer votes than voters.” – since Sub-Odeon won’t defend himself with “internet evidence”

    From the National Review (which I’ve linked too in the website box of this comment form), in an article about ACORN’s antics. Ultimately I don’t think this is as big a problem as the electronic voting machines, but its hard to make a case for ACORN’s activities.

  62. Frank @ 69

    The laws require Acorn to submit ALL filled out forms. The fact that they have flagged any suspect forms before that submission simply shows that the overworked registration offices would rather complain about the forms than admit that they were flagged and accept the help.

    The unfortunately consistant cries of v-v-v-voter fraud by the republicans every election cycle serves as an easy cover for the regular suppression efforts and caging attempts that tend to occur at the same time.

    FYI, a five year attempt by the Bush Justice Department to show the magnitude of the election altering practice has resulted in exactly 120 cases resulting in 86 convictions. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/12/washington/12fraud.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin

    Scourge that it isss! ::shakes finger::

  63. John:

    Just to be clear where you stand: Is it your position that ACORN has *not* engaged in the fraudulent registration of voters? Is the whole ACORN story the result of a nefarious plot by the right wing?

    If you watch all the major networks (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc.) you will see stories about ACORN signing up some people as many as 70 times. (And many of these stories have interviews with the people who were signed up multiple times. Some of these voters were harrassed by ACORN until they participated in the scheme.)

    Moreover, Burmon is making a cynical play to the race card. All of the reports indicate that ACORN is doing the multiple registrations with minority voters. In Burmon’s words, these are “recognizable Democratic voters” who can help bring the People’s Republic of Obama into fruition on Election Day.

    Are we supposed to ignore multiple voter registrations if the voter in question happens to be a minority member who was selected by ACORN as a “recognizable Democratic voter”?

    According to Burmon’s peculiar logic, we must ignore ACORN voter fraud, or we must be charged as racists– since most of the voters ACORN ensnares happen to be minorities. Either way, political correctness gives ACORN a free pass.

  64. Maybe the reason that Scalzi doesn’t hear about voter fraud allegations in other states is that he lives in Ohio, a semi-perpetual swing state, and the media only likes to report it in swing states.

    Here in Central California (home of the Fresno Bee, Scalzi’s alma mater), there are widespread concerns about vote fraud, not just “registration fraud” (which is the first step, followed by absentee ballot requests, then multiple voting). The DA and Secretary of State just don’t have the resources to really go after it.

    The town of Orange Cove, for example, is essentially run as a one-person/one-party state controlled by their mayor because of the rampant voter fraud there. But that’s just one of many places where it occurs.

    Voter fraud is a real concern, whether its allegations of bad electronic voting machines from Democrats or fake voter registrations used by absentee voters or illegal immigrants to vote that concern Republicans. This country needs to fix its election systems, before everyone believes its elections are fixed.

  65. Sisyphus, vote fraud is a real concern. The problem is when vote fraud is used as “the real reason my candidate is losing” (John’s point), or as an excuse to take measures that suppress the opposition’s votes.

    I’m not following why “oh yeah? members of the other party did it too!” is any kind of excuse.

  66. I feel like I’m missing something, not being from the US.

    Why do you even need voter registration?
    I mean, everybody in the US is supposed to file a tax form, right?

    Why not have this situation – everybody is automatically registered to vote (optimistically assuming that citizens care about voting).
    Your address for voting is the address the state knows you’re living in – say, your DMV address or the address you last filed taxes from. If you’ve moved, you can tell the state you’ve moved – going to the DMV, or a special form.

    A month or two in advance, send everybody their poling place.

    That’s it. No registration necessary. When you die – you’re removed from the voter registry.

    That’s how it works in Israel, and there seem to be less problems than the voter registration thing here.

    So what am I missing? Or is the current situation a result of (historical) advantages of being able to deny people the vote (by removing their registration, or just having them not bother registering)?

  67. Edward Trimnell #76 — no. Read upthread — you don’t have to go any higher than comment #73. Acorn is required by law to submit all forms given to them.

    It’s not “political correctness” that’s giving Acorn a pass. It’s reality (and its well-known liberal bias).

  68. I mean, everybody in the US is supposed to file a tax form, right?

    No.

    You’re also forgetting that Israel is a single state. The United States is a group of fifty states, bound together by an overarching federal government.

  69. LOL!

    I’m glad to see the left has recovered from its debilitating hamstring injuries following the last two elections enough to point fingers and laugh, pre-emptively, this time around.

    ROFL

  70. We have several kinds of “fraud” here.

    1. Registration fraud. Pay registrars by the signature, and you’ll get a lot of “Mickey Mouse” registrations. Effect on elections: nil, unless Mr. Mouse shows up to vote.

    2. Voter fraud. “Mickey Mouse” actually votes. Effect: slight, except in a very tight race or a wildly corrupt district. Think of the organization that you’d need to get, say, 1000 fake voters. Remember, each fake vote is a felony.

    3. Vote suppression. This can have a major effect, as we’re talking about thousands to tens of thousands of votes. “Purges” are just one way of doing this — making sure the “wrong” districts have voting machine problems, deliberately underprinting ballots, etc, are others.

    4. Vote counting fraud. Here is where you have the real game-changers. Especially with computer-based systems (impossible to audit), you can push things as far as you think you can get away with. Most places allow recounts only if the vote margin is less than a certain percent (Generally 0.5% – 1.5%, from what I’ve seen). Steal more than that, no recount.

    Republicans make a great fuss about #1, while claiming (without evidence) that #2 is running wild. Democrats complain about #3 and #4, which can easily shift an election. They’re about as equivalent as jaywalking and armed robbery.

  71. Lightning, take a look at this article in the Columbus Dispatch.

    http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2008/10/15/fraud_followup.html?type=rss&cat=&sid=101

    The two big paragraphs…the first and the sixth.

    “Amid new allegations of voter fraud, the Ohio Secretary of State conceded today that the eligibility of nearly one third of newly registered voters is in question.”

    “Elections officials across the state said they fear chaos if they must verify the validity of thousands of newly registered voters in the busy days leading up to the election.”

    And that’s the danger with this ACORN mess. They could very easily shut down this kind of stuff with some sort of quality control. But they won’t.

    And because of that, the obvious inference is that they’re seeking chaos on election day. If they’re Alinsky followers like I suspect, they’re doing their best to delegitimize the whole process for ideological reasons.

    That is the real danger. We can all whistle along with Steve Goodman’s “Banana Republic.”

  72. One other note.

    Lightning, I’m with you all the way on computer voting. It’s WAY too easy to scam, since there’s no paper trail. I don’t trust it. Period.

  73. First, for those claiming only Democrats complain about voter fraud, links to an article from National Review about the 2002 Senate race in South Dakota, which Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson won by 524 votes. I will note only that the Republican Secretary of State in SD saw no merit to NR’s claims:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york121902.asp

    http://archive.prospect.org/archives/archives/2002/12/index.html

    Second: Remember Thomas Cooper. Who? He’s an African-American who tried to vote in Florida in the 2000 election but was told he was a convicted felon. (He wasn’t, of course.) Investigative reporter Greg Palast tracked down the actual chart listing Cooper as invalid and showed that it showed him as committing a crime…in 2007. There were over 300 “future criminals” on this list. Palast’s total list of people who couldn’t vote but should have been able to totals 57,000.
    I’ll note only that Republicans frequently say “you can’t name one single African-American voter disenfranchised in 2000.”
    I’ve never heard a Republican response to Greg Palast’s charges. His *name* doesn’t even come up.

    http://www.think-twice.org.uk/2002/palast/

    The company in charge of compiling the list of who could vote and who couldn’t in Florida is ChoicePoint, the CEO of whom was a Bush Pioneer–so dedicated to the cause of Bush winning that he donated over $100,000 to the Bush campaign in 2000.

    Third: I’m sure Republicans concerned about voter fraud are equally concerned about the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal, for which RNC New England Regional Coordinator James Tobin went to prison. (He was released on a technicality, but is now being prosecuted for lying to the FBI.)

  74. Oh, it’s easy to laugh at voter fraud when it’s your candidate that benefits. How cynical can you get?
    Acorn isn’t a ” community organizing” or “voter registration” organization”; it’s a an organized crime crew that should be prosecuted under the RICO statutes. Currently under investigation in 13 states…keep on laughing. When our elections can’t be believed to be accurate, America is no better than some third world piss hole and democracy is a pathetic joke.

    And Mr. Scalzi, an inopportune rain storm or a traffic accident a few blocks away from some inner city polling place or a butterfly ballot that so many of your fellow socialists in Florida couldn’t decipher in 2000 ( all of which were described by intellectually challanged “citizens” as glaring examples of voter suppression ) do not actually constitute “voter suppression”. Tell us about all the instances of voter suppression the Republican Party has been found guilty of in the last 50 years. And please don’t mention Bush vs Gore in 2000. Bush won every single recount in Florida. Never lost. Hurts, doesn’t it?

    One more thing Mr. Scalzi. I can usually tolerate reasoned, rational and civil political disagreement. Your remarks that opened this thread are none of those…and I think you know it. Voter fraud is never a laughing matter, so why are you laughing?

  75. Okay, I’m getting tired of people telling blatant untruths.

    When ACORN submits fraudulent registrations, it is because ACORN was the defrauded party – they paid people to get registrations, and those same people, instead of doing the work, just made shit up.

    ACORN is required by law to submit every single form they get. So they flag the suspicious ones and submit them – and then, lo and behold, almost all the suspicious ones are in fact bad!

    … and yet the very idea of -helping Americans vote- is apparenly anathema.

  76. This is nutpicking.

    Republicans do talk about issues. You just won’t read about it in the papers, or see it on CNN.

    Case in point, McCain’s delivers a speech on the economy. LA Times quotes the speech right up until he starts to talk about the economy, at which point it switches to the Obama camp’s assertions that McCain won’t talk about the economy.

    You will hear about Republicans investigating voter fraud.

    Nutpicking.

  77. Alien Probe:

    “Acorn isn’t a ‘community organizing’ or ‘voter registration organization’; it’s a an organized crime crew that should be prosecuted under the RICO statutes.”

    Yes, and so crafty they managed to trick John McCain into attending one of their rallies a couple of years ago! Those bastards! I love this line from the Acorn spokesperson recently:

    We are sure that the extremists he is trying to get into a froth will be even more excited to learn that John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN, at an ACORN co-sponsored event…

    And their bastardy bastardness entrapped Republican governors from Texas, California and Florida, too! They must, have, like, incriminating photographs or something. Oh, the power they wield is immense.

    “Voter fraud is never a laughing matter, so why are you laughing?”

    Well, Alien Probe, show me the actual systematic voting fraud, perpetrated by ACORN or the Democratic party, and then we’ll talk. However, show me self-serving grandstanding about obvious registration errors that (as others have noted) are being flagged by the very organization that you’re declaiming as a criminal enterprise, grandstanding whose point is to pretend that the fix is in and the Republicans couldn’t have possibly have won (never mind the last eight years, the consequences of which are now being played out on the markets — although I’m sure I’ll hear about how ACORN managed to screw them up too, because clearly ACORN is responsible for everything bad that’s happening now), and I’ll happily mock it for what it is.

    You don’t like it, you know where the door is.

  78. John, ACORN is a serious problem. If it was happening in a couple of states, that would be one thing. However, there are over a dozen investigations going on involving that group. They’re the same issues in each state, which makes it appear that these practices are SOP.

    Stopping this kind of stuff would be easy, involving greater supervision of employees. They seemingly refuse to do it. I’ve already stated my opinion of why in other posts, so I won’t belabor the point.

    The math in Ohio is self explanatory.

    660,000 new applications.
    200,000 new applications with discrepancies.

    There’s a systemic problem with ACORN. Whether it’s by design or just incompetence remains to be seen, but I know where I’ll put my money on that question.

  79. I’d put it on incompetence, personally, Dave. That and the idea that if people are being paid to produce signatures, they’ll produce them, even to the detriment of the process and the organization running the operation.

    However, you’ll note I say nothing bad about the idea of vetting registrations. I’m all for getting erroneous registrations out of the system before election day. However, vetting does not imply criminal activity (others have noted here that ACORN, among other things, flags suspicious registrations, which they would not do if they were intending to let something slip by), and unless someone tries to vote with an erroneous registration, we’re not talking voter fraud.

    Note also, incidentally, that of the 200K questionable registrations, a fair number of them are likely to have small errors in them — misspellings of names, addresses and so on. “Discrepancies” does not mean “fraudulent” in this case, it means there are discrepancies. Are there going to be some “Mickey Mouse” registrations? Almost certainly. But probably not 200,000 of them.

    What might be useful, which we don’t have at the moment, is an idea of whether or not this level of error is in line with previous and similar registration drives. Basically, if one of the historical side-effects of attempting large registration drives is a lot of error, that would be worth knowing, and could provide some context.

  80. The problem of bogus registrations turned in by ACORN employees is nothing new. That went on in the past as well.

    The sheer number of them turns into a nothing short of a DOS attack on the various voter registration boards. And when these are turned in at the last minute, and with the change in Ohio laws, people can vote the same day they register without having submitted to the vetting process, the fraud factor goes thru the roof.

    I can’t lay this at the feet of incompetence. There’s too much of a track record of this kind of stuff with ACORN to give them that kind of pass.

  81. Well, as I added in as I updated above, the question is whether that’s a function of ACORN trying to be fraudulent, or just part of what happens when people attempt large registration drives.

    Also, if as noted elsewhere ACORN flags what it deems suspicious registrations, it’s difficult to make the argument they are attempting to be fraudulent. It’s more likely they’re aware that registration drives inherently offer up a high rate of error.

    In other words, what you (and the GOP) are decrying as suspicious might simply be the nature of registration drives as a whole.

  82. Sorry about the partial post…a computer glitch.

    They pulled the same stunt in Washington state in ’06, with all but half-a-dozen of 1,800 registrations tossed out.

    ACORN flagging the obvious ones can just give cover to others that aren’t quite so obvious. A little flash, a little footwork, and slip a few in there. A 2% success rate would be an awful lot of bogus registrations.

    And the 13 activists that worked on “Vote from Home” out of that one house in Columbus are under investigation by the Franklin County prosecutor.

    Once is luck. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

  83. Dave in Georgia:

    “ACORN flagging the obvious ones can just give cover to others that aren’t quite so obvious. A little flash, a little footwork, and slip a few in there. A 2% success rate would be an awful lot of bogus registrations.”

    You’re making an allegation, not presenting a fact, however. I don’t know that’s what they’re doing, and unless you can show it as fact, you’ve got nothing substantive in your allegation. And what we’re also missing here is the context of what the error rate of registration drives is in general. If registration drives are inherently prone to error (which they may be, particularly if people getting signatures are being paid for output) then ACORN’s error rate may not be that surprising. We’re not getting context, and it’s certainly not in the GOP’s interest to provide any. Do you have any additional context, Dave? You certainly seem to be implying you know enough about registration drives to suggest there’s something unusual about how ACORN does it.

    Again, as I said, I’m not opposed to verification; please let’s. But unless I have more context on the nature of registering people en masse, I’m hesitant to label ACORN a criminal enterprise.

  84. After Washington state two years ago, and the fact that virtually all of the new registrations turned in by ACORN were thrown out, why do they continue to do business in the same way? Why not change what you’re doing to make sure the registrations are valid if your goal is to sign up new voters.

    That’s what leads me to believe that ACORN’s game is not signing up new, valid voters.

    No, I don’t have proof of unlawful intent. But, boy oh boy, it stinks to high heaven. This is a group that gets a whole lot of money from a whole lot of powerful people (like 800k from a presidential campaign).

    What’s their real game?

  85. “After Washington state two years ago, and the fact that virtually all of the new registrations turned in by ACORN were thrown out, why do they continue to do business in the same way?”

    See. This gets us back to incompetence. Also, if I remember correctly, ACORN is an umbrella organization for a number of local organizations, so it’s possible the lessons learned in one place are not learned in others (or that there’s no single process).

    Mind you, we’re not disagreeing that the process should be done to minimize error.

  86. John, you’re making excuses for them. The errors each ACORN group has made have been consistent. They’ve all continued to do business the same way despite the results.

    And if they’re that incompetent, why did the Obama campaign shell out over $800k to them?

  87. “John, you’re making excuses for them.”

    Well, no. I don’t give a crap about ACORN one way or another, probably because I registered myself to vote as soon as I could. I’m pointing out places where I see the possibility of things not connecting. What I’m not doing is looking for excuses to accuse them of some sort of registration fraud conspiracy.

    As I said, you and I are in total agreement that the process of registering new voters should be as error free as possible, and I’d be happy if those folks registering people would share information on how to make that so.

  88. ACORN’s motives aside, surely it’s obvious that in order to cast a fraudulent vote you must first have a fraudulent registration? I’m aware that there are many other ways to cheat the vote, but thousands of fraudulent registrations is an obvious potential precursor.

    Claiming that registration fraud is different than voter fraud, and is therefore a non-issue, seems disingenuous, and inherently meaningless, since the election has yet to take place and we are therefore in a time period where voter fraud CANNOT yet have taken place, at least on any wide scale.

    I too would be interested in the error rates inherent to mass registration drives. If registration offices have routinely dealt with this number of flawed registrations in the past the DOS Attack claim loses some of its potency and ACORN becomes just another wildly inefficient bureaucracy of questionable value. A lot like all the other bureaucracies in the world.

  89. Skar:

    “Claiming that registration fraud is different than voter fraud, and is therefore a non-issue, seems disingenuous, and inherently meaningless”

    Well, but it’s not, since it’s entirely possible that a lot of what’s being passed off as “registration fraud” could simply (and somewhat pathetically) be the residue of a very inefficient process. If you show up to a polling place with a fake ID, you’re very definitely there to commit fraud. But there are lots of ways for a registration to be suspicious or in error that don’t involve fraud. It’s not helpful to suggest or even imply that every erroneous registration represents an intent for voter fraud.

  90. “It’s not helpful to suggest or even imply that every erroneous registration represents an intent for voter fraud.”

    Agreed. Wild unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud are exactly the kind of political hand-waving I find just as distasteful coming from the Republican camp as I did when it came from the Democrat camp.

    I would suggest, however, that an organization that is routinely “very inefficient” on such a grand scale probably has something to gain from that inefficiency. Whether it’s garden variety bureaucratic inertia or an attempt to skew the election is open to interpretation. I’m not inclined to give ACORN the benefit of the doubt here as you seem to be.

    Personally, I consider registering yourself to vote to be a perfectly acceptable, very mild, and (best of all) self-administering qualification hurdle. If you can’t be bothered or are incapable of getting yourself registered, well, that sucks for you, but not for the rest of us.

  91. As an interesting counterpoint: Florida Governor Charlie Crist thinks too much is being made of false voter registrations:

    I think that there’s probably less [fraud] than is being discussed. As we’re coming into the closing days of any campaign, there are some who enjoy chaos,” Crist told reporters… Crist’s Republican Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, said he doesn’t think ACORN is committing systematic voter fraud. And Crist said that settles the matter because ”I have enormous confidence” in Browning.

  92. Bogus voter registrations are the necessary precondition for vote fraud which is difficult to detect and effectively impossible to overturn.

    Ballots are secret/anonymous. Once a ballot is accepted from a registered voter there is no way to pull it back out from the pool of valid ballots.

    Once a bogus registration is established in a district (in a state where no photo ID is required) anyone who knows the name, district, (and maybe the address of the registrant as entered) can vote as that registered voter.

    Hmm. Who would have that information? Maybe the organization which collected and submitted the registrations?

    Actually getting folks to show up and vote as those false registrants would indeed require considerable manpower and coordination, whereas absentee ballots would be much simpler.

    Provisional ballots at least have the potential to be removed from the pool (since they are sealed and not counted until validated) of valid ballots if determined to be invalid.

  93. And now, Rodney, you’re running afoul of my other pet peeve: multiple sequential posts. Try to put all your updates into a single post whenever possible.

    Sorry to look like I’m picking on you about piddly stuff, Rodney.

    As far as the other thing: Well, don’t you see, Rodney? This is just more evidence of the GOP establishment abusing its political power to create the illusion of wrongdoing where none exists.

    (stands back to see if Rodney’s head explodes)

    More seriously, let them investigate. If there’s wrong doing, fine. If there’s not, then it will be used as evidence of GOP attempts at voter suppression. These are the problems with making everything political.

  94. By the way, if “Joe the Plumber” was a newly registered voter, they’d probably have to purge his name from the rolls due to a typo:

    The Toledo Blade reported today that “Joe the Plumber’s” name appears on Ohio voter registration rolls with a slight misspelling — as Worzelbacher, not Wurzelbacher.

    And that sort of data-entry error might be enough — were Joe a new registrant — to have him disqualified from voting in Ohio, Florida, or Wisconsin this year, depending on the outcome of ongoing litigation.

    I guess it’s lucky for McCain (since Joe is a registered Republican) that he’ll still get to vote…

  95. More seriously, let them investigate

    Which they have; as someone else cited, the Bush Justice Department did a national investigation of vote fraud and found 128 cases. Nationwide. Yessir, that’s some serious vote fraud going on.

  96. John says:

    And now, Rodney, you’re running afoul of my other pet peeve: multiple sequential posts. Try to put all your updates into a single post whenever possible.

    Sorry. I drew the short lot and was obliged to do at least five things which annoy John Scalzi today, including letting slip that there is a pool of persons required to annoy John Scalzi… Sometimes the taunted taunt back!

    Sorry to look like I’m picking on you about piddly stuff, Rodney.

    I didn’t take it personally…

    As far as the other thing: Well, don’t you see, Rodney? This is just more evidence of the GOP establishment abusing its political power to create the illusion of wrongdoing where none exists.

    (stands back to see if Rodney’s head explodes)

    You’re going to have to try harder. Didn’t change color or even spew on the monitors. Just kept on eating my lunch (or was it yours?).

    The FBI tries assiduously to avoid investigations with political ramifications during elections, to a point which I would consider a fault. If they’re jumping in, that’s a pretty good indication that they were called in by state authorities and that there appears to be enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

    Nonetheless, The FBI could very well absolve ACORN of any and all wrongdoing as a consequence of their investigation.

    Care to place a small wager on the outcome of the investigation?

    More seriously, let them investigate. If there’s wrong doing, fine. If there’s not, then it will be used as evidence of GOP attempts at voter suppression. These are the problems with making everything political.

    Does the one follow the other? Investigations in 13 states all tying back to one interstate entities actions should be something the FBI should investigate, should it not?

  97. Rodney:

    “The FBI tries assiduously to avoid investigations with political ramifications during elections, to a point which I would consider a fault. If they’re jumping in, that’s a pretty good indication that they were called in by state authorities and that there appears to be enough evidence to warrant an investigation.”

    Really? I think my friend Josh Marshall might disagree with you on that one:

    But, remember, this is right out of the book of the Bush Justice Department’s efforts to assist in GOP voter suppression efforts in the 2004 and 2006 elections (part and parcel of the US Attorney firing story). This is the same scam US Attorney firing player Bradley Schlozman got in trouble for pulling with ACORN just before the 2006 election.

    Note that this is all part and parcel with Marshall’s reporting on the attorney firing scandal, which garnered his site a Polk Award for Legal Writing, so unlike the Michelle Malkin, he’s got journalistic credibility on his side.

    Which is to say — and to go back to the original post — the GOP getting the vapors over this stuff seems to happen on a regular and predictable basis, and certainly the Bush Administration doesn’t mind doing it in a highly visible fashion right before an election, perchance to influence it. Mind you, it didn’t seem to work for the GOP very well in 2006. Seems likely it won’t do much here, either, other than to give the GOPers a reason to feel aggrieved. But it’s nice to know the GOP really is that predictable.

  98. “This is the same scam US Attorney firing player Bradley Schlozman got in trouble for pulling with ACORN just before the 2006 election.”

    “Bradley Schlozman has been criticized for bringing voter fraud charges against several ACORN registration organizers just days before a close election in 2006. ”

    So now it’s voter suppression to investigate allegations of voting fraud just prior to an election? WTF?

    They should maybe do it AFTER the election? Perhaps to avoid contaminating the election it should be investigated BEFORE the candidates are declared? When, pray tell, should an investigation into voting fraud take place?

    I suppose if you buy the idea that all Republicans are dictators-in-waiting ANY actions on their part would be suspect and this would make sense. But objecting that investigations into voter fraud are taking place…in close temporal vicinity to an election?

    Good grief. I hope the Kool-aid tastes REALLY good, ’cause it looks like shite from here.

    To be paranoid with my tongue in my cheek I submit that this is a ploy by the Republicans to get the left/Democrats to publicly lose their shit and zealously declare that investigating voter fraud is ridiculous and a ploy for bad-losers. That way maybe they’ll shut up about it when McCain wins. Unfortunately, this tactic is doomed to failure because the big media outlets will collectively forget that Democrats ever said anything of the kind if it becomes convenient for their ideology.

  99. Skar:

    “When, pray tell, should an investigation into voting fraud take place?”

    Sometime earlier than mere days before an election, perhaps, when such activity can reasonably be seen as an attempt to influence an election (which is why there are DOJ guidelines against doing so — or were, anyway).

    Remember also that at the heart of the attorney firing scandal was the fact that at least one US attorney general was pressured to bring indictments for voting fraud right before an election, presumably for the political hay that could have been made out of them.

    Which is to say it’s not exactly paranoia to wonder about the timing of these things, because there is more than ample evidence that previously there were attempts by the GOP to manipulate the timing charges of voter fraud. The only thing remarkable about it, in fact, is that the GOP and/or its supportes seem surprised that those who are not in the GOP see this stuff as another example of the GOP calling wolf for its own political gain.

    Basically, if the GOP wants to be seen being genuinely concerned about voter fraud, it shouldn’t be in the business of trying to manipulate things like vote fraud indictments, etc.

  100. Direct from the Alinski playbook I see…

    I learned everything I know about dirty politics from the Republicans. Well, and Lyndon Johnson.

  101. “Sometime earlier than mere days before an election, perhaps, when such activity can reasonably be seen as an attempt to influence an election.”

    Like right now for instance?

  102. Skar:

    I’d prefer “before registration deadlines are closed,” since we now run the risk of depriving actual people the right to vote (or alternately forcing them to vote with provisional ballots, which often are not counted). Which is the other aspect of the timing. If you believe that most of the people newly registered are Democrats, and the challenge on their registrations comes a) from the GOP, b) after the registration deadline, it’s not difficult to entertain the notion that the challenges are politically motivated.

  103. John @ 122: There is only one attorney general at a time. The scandal was in the firing of US attorneys who wouldn’t do what AG Abu Gonzales wanted them to do — suppress minority votes…

  104. John H:

    My error in terminology. Sorry.

    Another link, this one from ABC News:

    McCain Acorn Fears Overblown

    Key grafs:

    McCain’s voter fraud worries – about Acorn or anyone else – are unsupported by the facts, said experts on election fraud, who recall similar concerns being raised in several previous elections, despite a near-total absence of cases.

    “There’s no evidence that any of these invalid registrations lead to any invalid votes,” said David Becker, project director of the “Make Voting Work” initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

    Becker should know: he was a lawyer for the Bush administration until 2005, in the Justice Department’s voting rights section, which was part of the administration’s aggressive anti-vote-fraud effort.

    Which goes back to why everyone else not in the GOP tank rolls their eyes a bit at this stuff.

  105. Registration deadline where I live isn’t until Monday the 20th but I take your point. I’m fairly sure, however, that the whole ACORN thing started before most registration deadlines ran out. So, to repeat myself, “Like now for instance?”

    “Which is the other … challenges are politically motivated.”

    Under what circumstance could a political party push for investigations of voter fraud, in good faith or otherwise, and NOT have that action be construed as being, somehow, politically motivated? In this country it seems the GOP always does it for political gain while the donkeys always do it to “lift the oppressed” or some such. I just don’t buy that.

  106. Skar:

    “Under what circumstance could a political party push for investigations of voter fraud, in good faith or otherwise, and NOT have that action be construed as being, somehow, politically motivated?”

    Skar, per the story linked to @ 130, probably when they’re not so obviously politically motivated. That said, I would grant that at this point the GOP is going to be looked upon with skepticism even if its motives were pure, simply because it’s gone to this well so many times.

  107. Perhaps if the GOP weren’t the little boy crying wolf every other year — claiming voter fraud only to find a handful of actual problems — they might get more sympathy to their cause…

  108. If things get really desperate, Barack is going to change his last name to O’Bama and campaign heavily in the working-class Northeast districts as a swarthy Irishman.

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