As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?
-- William Marcy Tweed, Tammany Hall Statement (1871)
The Republicans have finally uncovered evidence of fraud they can prevent. For a time it seemed as though they'd never find it and their relentless search created the illusion of incompetence.
Individual Republicans and Republican legislatures all over the country have been passing laws in order to make what they describe as voter fraud more difficult by a variety of efforts that coincidentally (although only the most cynical would believe deliberately) have a greater impact on the poor and minorities than on the rest of the population.
In Colorado, Scott Gessler, the secretary of state, decided that non-citizen voting was a serious problem in that state saying: "We have real vulnerabilities in the system. I don't think we should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability." As evidence of this he first said that he thought there were 11,805 noncitizens on the voting rolls. After presumably praying over this number or invoking some other deistic assistance, he reduced that number to 3,903 and sent letters to those individuals demanding that they offer proof of citizenship or be stricken from the rolls. Once the letters were sent out it was learned that there were only 141 noncitizens on the voter rolls or .0041 percent of the total number of voters in the state.
In Florida the Division of Elections said there might be 180,000 non-citizens on the rolls. After pursuing the issue it concluded that number was 207. In Florida, there are no cases of people having voted who were not entitled to vote.
In South Carolina a law was passed requiring photo ID in order to cut down on voting fraud of which there have been three cases since 2000. In Pennsylvania, the Republican legislature's attempts to prevent voter fraud by requiring photo IDs are now in the court. Michael Wojcik who served as Alleghany County solicitor from 2004 to 2012 has written that there was never an accusation of voter fraud in that county. According to NBC's Open Channel, the State of Pennsylvania advised the court that it would present no evidence of voter fraud in the trial involving the photo ID law that was passed in 2012. (Following passage of that law Republican Mike Turzai, in a moment of brazen and unbridled enthusiasm at the law's passage, said the law was "going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania-done." That left the impression that the law had nothing to do with fraud and everything to do with winning one for Governor Romney.) As was observed at the outset, there is, nonetheless, good news on the fraud front. Some has been discovered by the Republicans.
In the best of all possible worlds for which the Republicans were searching in their zeal to find fraud, they would have found dead Democrats voting, in some cases more than once, non-citizens voting, live Democrats voting twice, etc. Instead they found fraud being committed by themselves.
On September 29 it was disclosed that several Florida counties were encountering suspicious registration forms. Florida's Republicans, it will be recalled, were so concerned about the registration process that in 2011 the legislature passed a law that imposed such punitive requirements on people registering voters that the League of Women Voters and other groups said they could no longer conduct registration drives because of the law's stringent provisions and draconian penalties for their violation (such as a $1,000 fine if forms were not turned in within 48 hours after they were signed. The law's unreasonable requirements were blocked in June 2012 but groups wanting to register voters lost almost a year because of their fear of violating the blocked provisions.) The fraud the Republicans found was being undertaken by one of their own and it was real, actual fraud as distinguished from the imaginary kind of which they had been dreaming.
Strategic Allied Consulting was a firm hired by the Florida Republican party to register new voters. On September 29 it was reported that 10 Florida counties had encountered suspicious voter registration forms submitted by Strategic Allied Consulting employees. According to reports, some employees told people they contacted they were only registering Republicans, some forms had suspicious signatures and others had bogus addresses. In response to criticism of the company by Republicans, the company said the comments were "libelous" and that the fraud was limited to one employee although in Palm Beach County more than 100 applications were being examined and investigations were being conducted in 10 other Florida counties. In Colorado an employee of the company could be seen on a video telling a potential voter she was only registering Republican voters and that she was an employee of the county clerk's office. Apparently the company's one rogue employee was mobile.
Whether one employee was criminal and peripatetic or whether the company had many criminally inclined employees is irrelevant. What is important is that the Republicans have finally found fraud. The weapon they used was a mirror. The entire country is in their debt.
Christopher Brauchli can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com