In a 1980 speech to evangelical leaders, conservative movement icon Paul Weyrich explained that Christians' "goo-goo" efforts to get every American to vote were flawed because "our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." He brazenly declared, "I don't want everybody to vote."
Of course, this sort of blatant subjugation of democratic principles below the idol of bare-knuckled partisanship doesn't really play well in public. Over the past few decades, Weyrich's heirs have cloaked their partisan push for voter suppression -- seeking to ensure that "voting populace goes down" so that conservative "leverage in the elections... goes up" -- in the rhetoric of protecting voter rights.
In one recent example, Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky, a former Bush appointee to the Federal Elections Commission, took to National Review Online to claim that new restrictions on voter registration drives recently established in Florida are "intended to guarantee the enfranchisement of voters."
Von Spakovsky lauded the state's new restrictions requiring organizations to register with the state and turn in voter registration forms within 48 hours of completion. He added of the second law: "I fail to understand how that requirement will keep people from registering to vote."
The answer, of course, is becoming quite clear: The requirements will keep people from registering because they are so onerous that they discourage organizations from doing registration drives in the first place. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports:
The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School's student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote.
Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida's new and controversial election law.
Cicciarelli, you see, didn't register with the state before beginning her registration drive, and failed to turn in the forms within 48 hours. And so, for the crime of improperly trying to get her students involved in the democratic process, she faces fines.
She told the paper that she had wanted to pass the "big thrill" she had felt after first registering to vote on to her students, saying, "I just want them to be participating in our democracy...The more participation we have, the stronger our democracy will be."
Unfortunately, following in Weyrich's footsteps, conservatives like von Spakovsky disagree.
When media outlets report on potential criminal activity, it is usually useful for them to be aware of what the elements of those alleged crimes entail. For example, most reporters are generally pretty good at differentiating between, say, murder and armed robbery. But for some in the media -- especially the usual suspects at Fox News -- just about everything looks like it fits under the umbrella of voter fraud.
New York University's Brennan Center for Justice defines voter fraud as follows:
"Voter fraud" is fraud by voters.
More precisely, "voter fraud" occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system.
Seems pretty simple, right? And yet, here's how Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum began a report this morning: "There may have been some serious voter fraud in the Democratic primary back in 2008." The caption throughout the ensuing segment claimed: "Indiana district accused of 2008 Dem Primary Voter Fraud."
And yet, this segment mentioned absolutely no cases of actual voter fraud whatsoever. There are no allegations of fraudulently cast ballots. In fact, the alleged crimes mentioned in the report occurred long before any votes were ever cast.
Among his other specialties, right-wing commentator Hans von Spakovsky is a strong proponent of laws requiring citizens to present photo identification in order to vote. Conservatives often justify their call for photo ID laws by raising the specter of voter fraud even though instances of voter impersonation are rare and voter identification laws can disenfranchise poor people and racial minorities.
Now, even Spakovsky has acknowledged that nobody is claiming that there is "massive fraud in American elections."
A New York Times article reports that a new study by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice found that voter identification and other laws "could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012." The article quotes Spakovsky saying that he "[doesn't] think anybody ... says" there's "massive fraud," but that he is concerned about fraud in "close elections":
"The left always says that people who are in favor of this claim there is massive fraud," said Mr. von Spakovsky, of the Heritage Foundation. "No, I don't say that. I don't think anybody else says that there is massive fraud in American elections. But there are enough proven cases in the past, throughout our history and recently, that show that you've got to take basic steps to prevent people from taking advantage of an election if they want to. Particularly close elections."
Fox News' Fox & Friends hosted the network's favorite disgruntled storyteller, J. Christian Adams, to complain about his former employer, the U.S. Department of Justice, and hawk his new book, "Injustice," which is out today. While on the curvy couch, interviewer Gretchen Carlson gave Adams the green light to talk at length about phony allegations that President Obama's DOJ dismissed their case against the New Black Panthers and enforces the law with an anti-white agenda.
It's no surprise that Adams' book tour would find a home on Fox News. After Adams pushed his claims in a two-part interview on Fox News' America Live last summer, Fox devoted hours of coverage to hyping the myths about the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case.
Unsurprisingly, Adams' interview this morning did not delve into the results of the DOJ's extensive investigation into these allegations. In a March letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Robin Ashton of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility wrote that their investigation found that "department attorneys did not commit professional misconduct," and that there was "no evidence" that their decisions were improperly affected by political considerations or by the race of the defendants.
During their interview, Adams repeatedly pushed the falsehood that the DOJ dismissed the case against the New Black Panthers.
CARLSON: So let's go back to the Black Panther situation. You decide to come out and tell your side of the story, which was what?
ADAMS: Well, that they dismissed the case because there's a hostility to enforcing the law in a race neutral fashion. In the Black Panther case, the victims were white. The defendants were black and those were the sorts of things many people in the department don't want to enforce.
Adams failed to mention that it was the Bush DOJ who decided not to pursue criminal charges against the New Black Panther Party and that the Obama DOJ obtained a judgment against one of the defendants in the case.
In advance of a special election in New York's Ninth Congressional District, Fox News and National Review Online are raising the specter of voter fraud in case a Democrat wins the seat. In fact, the evidence they are citing has been debunked, and right-wing media regularly cry voter fraud when elections are close.
Thus far, the Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit that PajamasMedia.com filed against the U.S. Department of Justice has resulted in the disclosure of dozens of DOJ employee resumes and nine largely ignored columns by Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams and Richard Pollock.
"Every Single One" is their ongoing series of posts that tediously tick off the prior work experiences of DOJ lawyers followed by commentary declaring them unabashed left-wing radicals. Ostensibly, the point of the exercise is to establish a case that the administration of President Obama is engaging in the same kind of politicized hiring at DOJ that President Bush was found to have done. Their work has been an utter failure.
Von Spakovsky et al have provided no evidence of politicized hiring practices and have been content to make the lazy claim that, given "every single one" of the latest DOJ hires is liberal, improper procedures must have been used. Unfortunately, they've failed even at this. In order to make their case that every DOJ hire is liberal, they've concocted a definition of liberal so broad that even Pollack himself likely would have to be labeled as a radical leftist.
For the past couple of weeks, Pajamas Media (PJM) has been pushing what they believe to be is a profound disclosure of personal information about new employees at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. PJM contributors Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams have been struggling to make the case that the Obama administration is politicizing the DOJ the way the Bush administration was found to have done, and now that they've gone through the trouble of filing a lawsuit to obtain the resumes of everyone hired at DOJ's Civil Rights Division since 2009, they are desperate to make their investment worthwhile. As a result, PJM has decided to run with the theme that "every single one" of the new hires is a "far-left" liberal.
Their arguments have so far provided no evidence whatsoever that qualified, similarly-situated conservative applicants to the Civil Rights Division were turned away for a lack of liberal credentials. Instead, they rely on the assertion that because all of the new hires are liberal, it defies probability that conservatives weren't rejected for political reasons. Despite the logical inadequacy of this argument, it relies on a definition of "liberal" that is completely constructed by von Spakovsky and Adams. Their frantic attempts to make a case of politicization against Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration results in a broad, and at times ridiculous, characterization of what activities and affiliations constitute sufficient evidence of one's liberal worldview.
Here are just a few of the previous employers and affiliations that PJM believes are liberal (which by contrast reveals a lot about what von Spakovsky and Adams must believe conservative values do or do not encompass):
From the July 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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In a USA Today op-ed, Pajamas Media blogger and former DOJ Civil Rights Division official Hans von Spakovsky employed numerous falsehoods to defend statutes requiring all voters to show identification before casting ballots. In fact, contrary to von Spakovsky's argument, legal voters have been turned away from the voting booth because they lacked proper identification, the effects of voter ID laws may fall disproportionately on the poor and members of racial minorities, and instances of fraudulent voting are very rare.
On Thursday's edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy reminded viewers of "Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin who ran away from their responsibilities" to protest the stripping of union workers' collective bargaining rights in order to cheer the recall elections being held against of three of them. However, Doocy completely ignored that six Wisconsin Republican incumbents are also the subject of recalls, and that there were serious allegations of election fraud in the recall petitions filed against the three Wisconsin Democrats in question.
Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund is famous for crying voter fraud whenever a conservative is in danger of losing an election. We recently caught him making up facts to raise the specter of voter fraud when it appeared that conservative incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser had lost his bid for re-election.
Now that Prosser is in the lead, Fund has changed his tune a bit and is saying that the lesson from Wisconsin is that states must require voters to show ID notwithstanding the likelihood that such laws would disenfranchise some voters.
Fund argues that the actions of a clerk in one Wisconsin county -- who says she initially failed to report more than 14,000 votes, which gave Prosser a 7,000 vote lead -- prove that states must pass laws voters to "show photo ID at the polls."
Some states have since adopted photo ID laws. But too many (like Wisconsin) still do not require any ID to vote. In a time of razor-thin election margins, we can no longer afford such insecurity in our election process.
Fund does not explain exactly why the lesson of Wisconsin is the need for photo ID laws rather than better training and regulation of county election clerks. After all, the Wisconsin county clerk could have done the same exact thing even if voter ID laws were in place.
Fund also does not note that voter ID laws are likely to have a disproportionate impact on the poor and racial and ethnic minorities. In fact, given the rarity of voter fraud, it seems like there's little reason for voter ID laws besides vote suppression.
It's like clockwork. If there's a high-profile election that results in a narrow Republican defeat, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund will make vague allegations of "voter fraud" against ACORN or unions or whoever the right-wing boogeyman of the moment is.
Fund was at it again this afternoon on Fox News' America Live, claiming that the stench of "voter fraud" hangs over the April 5 Wisconsin Supreme Court election, in which incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser trails challenger Joanne Kloppenburg by about 200 votes with a recount pending. Fund suspects there might be fraud because of "scattered examples of people being asked to fill out their ballots in pencil, which is not supposed to happen because you can erase a pencil."
Watch the video:
That's an interesting allegation, given that the Election Administration Manual, put out by the Elections Division of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, directs municipal clerks that "Pencils or appropriate marking pens must be provided" at polling places.
That would help explain why this sample ballot for the April 5 election from Sheboygan County, and this sample ballot from Winnebago County, instruct voters in large capital letters: "IMPORTANT: USE A #2 PENCIL OR THE MARKING PEN PROVIDED."
It's almost like John Fund just makes accusations of voter fraud without knowing what he's talking about or doing basic research.
h/t Abram Sauer
If Megyn Kelly wants people to pretend that she is a journalist, can't she at least try to play one on TV?
Kelly, of course, is a touchstone of the so-called "news division" that puts the "news" in Fox News.
It was in that role last year that Kelly eagerly promoted "explosive new allegations" that the Obama Justice Department was racist, as evidenced by their supposed refusal to protect white voters from intimidation at the hands of minorities. Kelly bragged how she helped Fox News drag the rest of the media "kicking and screaming" to cover the preposterous claims being pushed by right-wing activists with an axe to grind. Kelly alone hyped the story during 45 segments in 2 weeks, covering 3 hours and 39 minutes of airtime.
I imagine Megyn Kelly, for one, will not return to this particular scandal -- a scandal that she has been hyping with obvious relish for some time now -- very often in the future.
Indeed. In four hours of on-air coverage since the new developments broke, Kelly has reported on kids who got stuck in the mud, a YouTube video of two girls in a fistfight, a missing cobra, AARP's support two years ago for health care reform, and - I'm not making this up - explosive new charges that the Obama administration is insufficiently transparent. The closest Kelly has come to the New Black Panthers was a report on controversy surrounding Oscar-winning film The Black Swan.
Kelly seems content to cover everything except an investigation that essentially discredited the non-scandal she flogged over, and over, and over again last summer.
Attempting to justify a push for additional restrictions on voter registration, The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren went searching for examples of fraudulent votes being cast in the last decade and came up with only five examples.
In his post, Warren tries to debunk progressives' arguments that Republicans are using restrictions on voter registration and voting as cover to disenfranchise people. Warren suggests that the restrictions are necessary to combat voter fraud, alleging that there have been "several substantial investigations into and cases of voter fraud since 2000." In fact, contrary to [Pew Center's Doug] Chapin's claim, there is much evidence that liberal groups like ACORN have gotten away with plenty of fraud in the last several elections before 2010. (Read here, here, here, and here, for starters.)"
As we've previously documented, actual examples of "voter fraud," people casting or attempting to cast an illegal ballot are extremely rare. Right-wing media figures often conflate "voter registration fraud," in which people participating in voter registration drives fill out fraudulent registration forms -- filling out registrations for Mickey Mouse, for instance, to pad the number of forms they turn in -- with actual voter fraud. After all, even if somebody fraudulently registers Mickey Mouse, how likely is it that Mickey Mouse will turn up to vote?
And sure enough, three of Warren's four examples of voter fraud in the last decade actually involve investigations of voter registration fraud. Indeed, one of the examples involves a man convicted of voter registration fraud who says he "took addresses from homeless shelters, used fake birthdays and Social Security numbers and took names from baby books to create voters out of thin air." It seems pretty unlikely that any of these registrations actually turned into votes.
Warren does hit on one report of actual alleged voter fraud: a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reporting that three people were charged with illegally voting as felons and two were charged with voting twice (another two were charged with voter registration fraud).
That's it: Five examples of alleged fraudulent voting in the last decade. (By the way, a Justice Department report found that between October 2002 and September 2005, the Justice Department convicted 17 people for casting fraudulent ballots with another three pending at the time of the report.)
Is this handful of examples of voter fraud really enough to support bills that will have the effect of disenfranchising legitimate voters?
David Bossie has no idea what the word "hypocrisy" means:
[I]nsiders connected to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are hatching plans to protect the tenuous Senate Democrat majority. These Reid insiders are forming a "super" political action committee, called Majority PAC, to raise unlimited money in order to go on the offensive in Senate races across the country. Reid's people are within their rights to form the PAC, thanks to the Citizens United v. FEC victory at the United States Supreme Court last year. … However, because the entire Democrat Party machinery was against this landmark decision last year, this blatant reversal reeks of hypocrisy.
No. That isn't hypocrisy. If someone said no one should form such a PAC, even if it's legal, then that person turned around and formed one, that might be considered hypocrisy. Or if David Bossie were to say "I would never distribute doctored transcripts in an effort to mislead the nation about my political opponents and you shouldn't either," after having done exactly that, he would be guilty of hypocrisy. But saying "we don't think this campaign tactic should be legal, but as long as it is, we're going to use it" isn't hypocrisy. It's merely a refusal to unilaterally disarm.
And that's what Bossie is suggesting Democrats must do in order to avoid being hypocrites: Unilaterally disarm. By Bossie's logic, campaign finance reformers should never employ legal campaign finance tactics they think should not be legal. That, of course, would severely disadvantage those reformers electorally, and thus make the prospect of reform unlikely.
Bossie's position is like saying that if a nation advocates a worldwide ban on the development of new nuclear weapons, it is a hypocrite unless it unilaterally stops developing such weapons while its enemies continue to do so. It just doesn't make any sense, and it just isn't what the word hypocrisy means.