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Theft by Fiat

September 27th, 2007

I would say that the chutzpah of Republicans in how openly they try to steal elections is galling, but then I have to remember that this is simply par for the course for them.

Under thinly-veiled pretenses of fighting “voter fraud”–something there has been virtually no evidence of despite widespread right-wing claims and a concerted effort to find it–Republicans have been successful in getting laws passed in key electoral states that specifically target Democratic voters, especially minorities and the poor. This story from McClatchy outlines the efforts.

One of two primary tactics in the regard is voter caging: to target tens of thousands of registered letters at heavily poor and minority Democratic voters, especially ones who have the highest chances of not being able to sign for the letters. Any letter that is not signed for is brandished as “proof” that the voter registration is fraudulent, and the voter is challenged at the polls, and forced either not to vote at all, or to cast a “provisional ballot” which is usually not even counted.

One such incident involved letters sent to students at their school addresses–during summer vacation, when they would mostly be away and unable to respond. The letters were even marked “do not forward” so as to guarantee fraudulent challenges.

The other tactic is a modern-day “Jim Crow” law: to require a photo ID in order to vote. Since the people who usually don’t have photo ID are largely minority and Democratic, these laws essentially throw up unfair roadblocks in the hopes of preventing them from voting. Normally, I would not protest the requirement of something like getting an ID if a person feels it necessary to carry out an act–even if it is a right–but the roadblocks are not being put in place on legitimate grounds, nor are they inconveniencing voters indiscriminately–they are specifically targeted at disenfranchising a very specific segment of society. For example, if someone suggested a gun control measure that had no discernible effect on crime but specifically targeted an ethnic group to deny them the same rights as others, then that would be a no-brainer–of course it should be opposed. That’s what we’ve got here.

It should be noted that the same people who are pushing for photo ID requirements at polling places are the exact same people who vehemently fight against “motor-voter” law which make it easier to register to vote when one acquires a photo ID, in the form of a driver’s license. Why? Because it is likely that Democrats would benefit from such a convenience more than Republicans. Not just because more Democrats would register, but because it would make it harder to fraudulently cage Democratic voters.

So we have two laws, both tying photo IDs to voting, and conservatives push for one and fight against the other–not based upon fighting voter fraud or enabling people to vote, but decided purely on the grounds of denying as many Democrats as possible their right to vote.

But the tactics don’t stop at such minor measures; this year, the Republicans are thinking big. They want to steal California. The idea is to change California from a standard winner-takes-all state to a state which divvies up its electoral votes according to which districts voted which way.

Why is this stealing? Because the GOP only wants it to happen in California, a Democratic stronghold. Now, if they proposed a measure that would simultaneously switch California as well as Texas, Mississippi and Alabama–three Republican strongholds with the same number of combined electoral votes as California–that I would approve. A fair and even switch. Or change the whole country that way. But not just Democratic strongholds.

California Governor Schwarzenegger, while not directly opposing the measure, did not approve:

“I feel like, if you’re all of a sudden in the middle of the game start changing the rules, it’s kind of odd,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-California. “It almost feels like a loser’s mentality, saying, ‘I cannot win with those rules. So let me change the rules.’”

That’s kind of funny, because in 2005, he called special elections in order to try to pass measures to gerrymander California along Republican lines, and to prevent unions from contributing to Democratic campaigns. At the same time, Republicans in California were also attempting to pass the exact same electoral-vote-splitting measure as they are this year.

Schwarzenegger may be less a victim of poor memory than he is of getting his ass kicked in an election; after his pro-GOP measures were soundly trounced, he swung noticeably to the center.

What this all comes down to is fairness. You want to make changes that affect everyone the same, great. Democrats tend to go for that, and even give way against their own advantage–like they did when they passed campaign finance reform laws that actually benefitted Republicans a few years back. Or like when they arranged for Clinton’s special prosecutors to be Republicans; not only would Republicans fight the idea of a Democratic prosecutor investigating Bush, they would fight tooth and nail against any prosecutor investigating Bush.

For the GOP, fairness simply doesn’t figure into politics. They laugh at the idea. They don’t want fairness, they don’t want people to exercise their rights, they don’t want all the votes counted. They just want to win, at any cost. And they don’t care if it is by hook or by crook, and apparently they don’t give a damn about who knows it, from the blatant nature of their theft.

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  1. Carl Burton, Sacramento CA
    September 28th, 2007 at 14:35 | #1

    The Seattle Times reported on Aug 7 that the Democrat sponsored Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now “The ACORN case — what Secretary of State Sam Reed called “the largest case of voter-registration fraud in the state’s history” — has resulted in a settlement that looks at first like a slap on the hand. It is more than that when the details are examined. ACORN has done things similar in other states, and it needs to be cleaned up or shut down. “

    Democrats need to stop support ACORN

  2. Carl Burton, Sacramento CA
    September 28th, 2007 at 14:40 | #2

    Once again the Democrat control California state legislature failed to pass redistricting and California Congressional and legislative districts are so gerrymandered that we don’t have combative general elections but one party rule in each district. If reform of Electoral College passes then it will not be long until we have meaningfully redistricting of both Congressional and legislative districts.

    For that reason I’m supporting the Electoral College reform that will be on the June ballot next year. I’m not just looking for reform of the way California elects its Electoral College delegates next year, but over the long term, to make sure that “one man, one vote” is, in fact, a principle, that it is established in this state from the grassroots, lowest levels of politics right up through the presidency.

    The change would not be unprecedented. Maine and Nebraska are other states where the winner doesn’t necessarily take all and use a formula based on who wins congressional districts.

    In 2006 Democrats sponsored something like what is going on California in Colorado and North Carolina is talking about change next year too.

  3. Luis
    September 28th, 2007 at 15:21 | #3

    On the Seattle Times story: this story is in regards to seven workers who forged registrations as a private scheme to get more money for signing up voters. As in almost all such cases, the “voter fraud” is not that, but “voter registration fraud” that results in not one single false vote being cast. Not to mention that it is not aligned to party–Republican workers do the same or worse. And that kind of registration hanky-panky is completely separate and distinct from what Republicans claim they are trying to fight, which is fraudulent voting; neither voter caging nor photo IDs have anything to do with greedy part-time registration workers trying to stuff their pockets. When it comes to registration fraud that actually affects votes, Republicans tend to be guilty far more often, as is with the case of Nathan Sproul and “America Votes,” among others. But Republicans are not usually arrested or indicted in such cases; no surprise, as the politically-charged Bush US Attorneys are directed to try to identify and punish Democrats and leave Republicans alone.

    But you do bring up a point I forgot to mention–there is election fraud, it’s just primarily Republican. Don’t agree? Just say so, I have tons of material and could discuss it for hours.

    As for gerrymandering, I completely agree. So why isn’t the GOP fighting it in Texas? And what about other states where not only are the Republicans gerrymandering, they are doing so aggressively and not even waiting for the census? Gerrymandering should be completely stopped, just as the electoral system should be scrapped in favor of a simple majority vote. Your main argument here seems to be “Democrats are doing it too!” while ignoring the difference between massive corruption on one side and far more contained corruption on the other side.

    As for Colorado and North Carolina: I knew someone would try to bring that up. A phony charge in itself. Aside from the fact that we’re talking about a massively different scale, neither Colorado nor North Carolina are Republican strongholds. Both states have fallen into the category of “close states” in 2 or 3 of the past four presidential elections, and Colorado is seen as tipping to the Democrats, and very soon. So if Democrats succeed in their nefarious plans, they will likely lose electoral votes for their efforts, not gain any–and that suggests that their motives are based upon the desire to have a fair system, rather than to outright steal votes. If Republicans tried to do this in Texas, I would applaud their devotion to principles. But that’s not what they’re doing, is it?

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