This was not supposed to have been an easy year for U.S. liberals. After the Tea Party wave of 2010 and the unprecedented flood of money brought in by the Citizens United ruling, the deck was stacked against many on the left. But liberals fought back and won: this was the year of resilience.
The fight against right-wing voter suppression was perhaps the biggest success. More than half the states in this country considered voter ID laws, and some lawmakers were open about their intent. Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Mike Turzai put it simply: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania- done.”
But it wasn’t done. Voting rights advocates successfully blocked that law in Pennsylvania, and blocked similar laws in Wisconsin and beyond. Obama went on to win the state’s electoral votes.
Despite the odds, the massive liberal ground game ultimately overcame the billionaire boys club.In Florida, voter suppression measures backfired and inspired many voters to go to the polls, where some stood in line for six or seven hours, waiting to vote. But eventually all the ballots were casts, and the voice of the people was heard.
Not everyone had an easy time accepting the defeat, especially Karl Rove, who’d spent three hundred million dollars trying to win an election, and failed. Despite the odds, the massive liberal ground game ultimately overcame the billionaire boys club.
One common myth explained:
MYTH #2: St. Lucie County, FL had 141 percent turnout!
A second popular myth, is that Democrats stuffed the ballot boxes in St. Lucie County, Florida, where 141 percent turnout helped Barack Obama carry the county. This myth was circulated by Free Republic, Town Hall and Kyle Rogers at the Examiner. Each of these sites went apoplectic when they jumped to the conclusion that 247,000 ballots were cast in a county with only 175,000 registered voters.
The myth appears to have been started during Republican Rep. Allen West’s short-lived challenge to the results of his race in that county, when the first page of the 11/11/12 St. Lucie County’s Election Summary Report [PDF] said there were 175,554 “Registered Voters” in the county and 247,383 “Cards Cast” in this year’s election. The result was what appeared by the incurious to be a 140.92% turnout.
Naturally, that number was taken as a clear sign of voter fraud on a massive scale.
Of course, there was a simple explanation. The ballot was printed on two pages and 247,000 ballots cast actually meant about 123,500 people had voted.
The front page of the St. Lucie County Elections website even explains, in all caps:
NOTE* - TURNOUT PERCENTAGE WILL SHOW OVER 100% DUE TO A TWO PAGE BALLOT. THE TABULATION SYSTEM (GEMS) PROVIDES VOTER TURNOUT AS EQUAL TO THE TOTAL CARDS CAST IN THE ELECTION DIVIDED BY THE NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS. ALSO NOTE THAT SOME VOTERS CHOSE NOTE TO RETURN BY MAIL THE SECOND CARD CONTAINING THE AMENDMENTS.
Read the whole thing at The BRAD Blog.
It’s also helpful to remember again that voter suppression has been an article of faith among the right wing for decades, as Paul Weyerich explicitly laid out back in 1980:
“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
The Secretary of State in Nevada has asked the State legislature to consider a voter ID law that he has proposed.
Under his proposal, which lawmakers will consider in 2013, the photos on residents’ driver’s licenses would be placed electronically with their voter registration records and in the poll books at election locations. People without any identification, but who are registered, would be required to have their pictures taken by poll workers and sign an affidavit that they are the person they represent the first time they vote.
What is surprising is that the Sec’y of State is a Democrat. And what is different about this Voter ID law is that the ID is maintained by the election officials. Hence although it is called a voter ID law, voters are spared the burden of acquiring an ID.
Miller has himself suggested that voter ID is a solution in search of a problem. And he also admits that the program will cost many millions of dollars. But the strategy is clearly to neutralize the Republican effort at voter suppression by satisfying their explicit concern for ID without satisfying their real aim to disenfranchise those who don’t really deserve to vote anyway: poor people and minorities.
Although Republicans, not Democrats, generally have championed voter ID laws, Miller said the Minnesota secretary of state, who is a Democrat, proposed the photo ID bill, and the Republican legislators opposed it.
“I am not sure why they would oppose it,” Miller said. “It suggests to me you are after something else.”
The Nation has has a nice writeupabout how Teabaggers and right wingers are having trouble coming to terms with the fact that they lost a presidential election for the second consecutive time, and instead of being personally responsible and doing a little self analysis to discover why it is they lost, the personal responsibility crowd is engaging in time honored tradition right wingers have perfected since the late 1960’s - blame someone or something else.
This time it’s the dreaded bugaboo of…VOTER FRAUD! Of course, the number of verified instances where true, in person voter fraud has been caught couldn’t tip the balance of an election for dog catcher, yet these teabagger groups are convinced that it is happening, and in some instances, may have violated a federal consent decree against targeting people of color for challenges of their eligibility to vote:
On October 5, an e-mail circulated around Allegheny County from Patti Weaver, head of the Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement, that was a clarion call for volunteers to be poll watchers on Election Day. In that message Weaver included a caveat:
Be warned that some of the areas that need poll watchers are not in the nicest part of town. However, this is an excellent opportunity to serve your country.… We are working with the Republican Committees so that they can place people at the locations with the highest likelihood of fraud.
This was interesting because for years, Tea Party groups and True the Vote have sworn that they aren’t targeting minority neighborhoods in their poll work. They’ve been denying this not just to sound moral but because they know it could be found a violation of the Voting Rights Act. And if it is happening in coordination with the Republican Party, then it’s in violation of a longstanding legal consent decree that grew out of the party’s previous efforts to suppress black voters.
But in the post-election fog of finger-pointing on the right, True the Vote and Tea Party groups are directing blame for Mitt Romney’s loss to that very consent decree. They believe that Obama was fraudulently elected both this November and in 2008, and that the Republican Party is unfairly restricted from rooting out that fraud because of the consent decree.
The party has had trouble following these rules. Federal courts found the RNC in violation of the consent decree in 1990 and again in 2004 in Ohio (pdf), where the GOP targeted black voting districts with voter challenge lists.
Republicans have tried to have the decree dismantled as recently as this year, but federal courts have refused (pdf) , citing how demonstrably effective it’s been in stopping the Republican Party from intimidating voters.
At this point, it’s helpful to remember Paul Weyerich’s take on voting - he doesn’t want everyone to be able to do it:
It’s Election Day, and Right Wing Watch fired up the wayback machine to find the clip below of Paul Weyerich speaking on how conservatives do better in elections when fewer people vote:
The right wing and GOP have whipped up hysteria around voter fraud, which is virtually non-existent, in order to justify roadblocks to voting for millions of Americans. I’ll let Paul Weyrich explain why.
Weyrich is widely regarded as the ‘founding father of the conservative movement.’ He founded ALEC and co-founded the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, Council for National Policy, and Free Congress Foundation, among others.
Speaking more than 30 years ago at a right-wing conference in Dallas, Weyrich set out the case for voter suppression. The right-wing and GOP are still acting on it to this day.
So the controversial Pennsylvania Voter ID
Fiasco Law was legally struck down. So how do you think the Republican Governor would continue to spend ad money? Want to guess?
Run the same ad with nothing changed. Except at the very end. Where it states “You will be asked to show photo ID…….but not required to show it. WTF. Your GOP hard at work to get that ID Card that they screamed and shouted for years that the “Gubbermint” was planning to institute. Just registering to vote is no more a good thing? Nah. The future photo ID law? The future?
Since 2010, Republicans have been successfully passing laws that effectively suppress voter turnout. Less successful have been their attempts to defend these laws in federal court.
Ari Berman of the Nation counts 11 cases that have been rejected by the courts, including today’s ruling in Pennsylvania that narrowly (and temporarily) blocked a voter ID provision passed by the state.
In other key battleground states, like Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, judges have similarly ruled against crackdowns on voter ID laws, restrictions on voter registration and early voting, and voter purges, among other things.
Over the past year Voter Fraud has become an important issue in Florida. Governor Rick Scott has spearheaded the issue by creating new Voter ID laws to curb illegal voting. But the fear remains that it may be too little too late. Florida gun owners are uniting to bring a new law to the table called Protect the Polls. The logic behind Protect the Polls is simple. If you are a legal gun owner in the state of Florida and you suspect someone on Election Day is committing voter fraud you can shoot him or her with your licensed weapon and not be charged with a crime. Precedents have already been set allowing these rights, like the important Stand Your Ground law, and in this case, there is more at stake than just one person’s life; this is for the life of this great country.
Never mind that voter fraud is rarer than rare and that ID wouldn’t stop it. Now the extremists want to be judge, jury, and executioner. They’ll stop at nothing to scare away voters that may “look like” they’re foreigners. People who advocate things like this need to have their heads examined and their carry license taken away.
A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the last dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, was virtually nonexistent.
The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000.
With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.
The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity - including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.
The analysis found that there is more alleged fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than in any of the other categories. The analysis shows 491 cases of alleged absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases involving registration fraud. Requiring voters to show identification at the polls - the crux of most of the new legislation - would not have prevented those cases.The analysis also found that more than 46 percent of the reported election fraud allegations resulted in acquittals, dropped charges or decisions not to bring charges.
In many cases, people simply made mistakes. Felons or non-citizens sometimes registered to vote or cast votes because they were confused about their eligibility. Some voters accidentally cast their ballots twice or went to the wrong precinct. And election officials made mistakes, such as clerical errors - giving voters ballots when they have already voted - and errors due to confusion about eligibility.
Wait a tick, why then would Republicans be pushing so hard for voter ID laws then…
One obvious answer: voter suppression.
Despite the popular conception that no one can function in modern society without a valid photo ID, there are an estimated 11 percent of U.S. citizens — more than 21 million people — who don’t have a current, unexpired government-issued ID with a photograph.
A multitude of groups are more likely to lack a valid ID: people who don’t leave their homes very often; the disabled; the elderly; people who have moved since they registered; people who forgot to renew their licenses; people who don’t have cars and live far away from ID-issuing offices; people who tried to get one, but could not without the birth certificate required to get a government-issued photo ID, and you need a photo ID to get a birth certificate.
By all estimates, those disproportionately affected by voter ID laws include the elderly, minorities, the poor and young adults. Three out of four of those demographic groups tend to vote more Democratic than Republican.
Thirty three voter ID laws have been passed, some of which are still awaiting implementing legislation and clearance under the Voting Rights Act.
(details at this link)
Is the new voter fraud legislation justified?
Thomas B. Edsall, contributing writer for the New York Times:
On March 14, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation requiring all voters to have a photo ID. Under this legislation, voters going to the polls without a photo ID, including indigent voters unable to pay necessary fees to get an ID, will be allowed to cast ‘provisional’ ballots. If you are one of these voters, you will then ‘have six days to provide your photo ID and/or an affirmation to your county elections office to have your ballot count,’ according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
‘I am signing this bill because it protects a sacred principle, one shared by every citizen of this nation. That principle is: one person, one vote,” Corbett declared. ‘It sets a simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.’
Republican State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, the bill’s sponsor, said on the state House floor: ‘I believe every single individual has a right to have their vote counted and if any individual vote is being canceled out by a fraudulently cast vote, that is one too many.’
A legal challenge to the law, currently before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, has, however, raised questions about the legitimacy of justifications for voter fraud legislation. On July 12, attorneys defending the law on behalf of the state and the Corbett administration stipulated the following:
The Parties are not aware of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere. Respondents will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.
Respondents will not offer any evidence that in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.
In other words, the state cannot and will not produce any evidence of the kind of voter fraud the legislation has supposedly been crafted to prevent.