Cripes, not this fake ‘voter fraud’ bullshit again.
I’ll say this for the GOP, they’re certainly single-minded. They know what they have to do to maximize their chances of victory (cheat, rig the game), and they pursue it with the unyielding effort of your average zombie pursuing a meal. In this case, it’s the old zombie lie of widespread voter fraud, which the GOP has been flogging for years if not decades as the electorate and voting demographics shift against them, in order to maintain their electoral viability (hint: hey guys, try actually appealing to a greater number of voters, instead of attempting to disenfranchise ones you don’t like).
PJ Media and National Revue and Sideshow lead the baying of the pack (of course). “Massive Voter Fraud Discovered in North Carolina’s 2012 Election” screams PJ Tatler’s headline. NRO’s “The Corner” blog’s headline “N.C. State Board Finds More than 35K Incidents of ‘Double Voting’ in 2012” is only slightly more controlled. FOX News has also been running with it; expect to see multiple segments on the “shocking new revelations” uncovered in North Carolina (if you haven’t seen them already). And the stories themselves are, if anything, even more breathless and apocalyptic. From the Tatler story:
The North Carolina State Board of Elections has found thousands of instances of voter fraud in the state, thanks to a 28-state crosscheck of voter rolls. Initial findings suggest widespread election fraud.
Wow, sounds bad. Only…how ’bout a few facts to go with all that hype?
Let’s start with how actual news organizations in North Carolina conducted their own reporting on the story. Here’s CBS’ Raleigh affiliate WRAL’s article title: State elections officials seek tighter security. See the difference there? That headline is actually more-or-less true: as a result of this study, officials in the state are indeed “seeking tighter security.” But what does the director of the Board of Elections, who delivered the report, have to say? You’ll find her on-the-record thoughts nowhere in either the PJ Media article and only once in the NRO piece, nor – I suspect – will you find it in any of the FOX news segments, though I’ve not been able to see those. The Director’s name is Kim Westbrook Strach, and she’s quoted fairly extensively in the WRAL piece. Among the quotes:
Strach also said a “10-year death audit” found 13,416 deceased voters who had not been removed from voter rolls as of October 2013. Eighty-one of those individuals, she said, died before an election in which they are recorded as having voted.
I don’t want to go all Nate Silver on you here, but 81 out of 13,416 is a reported rate of 0.6%. That’s everything they could find. Barely over half a percent. And that’s before they even bother to check these out individually, as Strach also notes:
Strach cautioned that about 30 of those 81 voters appear to have legally cast their votes early via absentee ballot and then died before Election Day.
Oops. Followed up (somewhat drily) a bit later in the piece by:
Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud…Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.
In other words: expect weeks if not longer of GOP hype on this issue, followed by a little-noticed post-mortem from Strach and her team, concluding this was mostly if not entirely much ado about nothing, AKA: horse shit (a fact Strach’s statements seem to indicate she knows – or at least suspects – already).
Why might Strach be sounding (to my ears, anyway) a bit jaded about this? Well, it could be because she’s already had to watch/endure James “Pimp” O’Keefe’s Project Mendacium – er, I mean “Veritas” – conduct a deeply partisan and almost immediately debunked “exposé” on voter fraud in her state back in 2012, I suppose. Only, O’Keefe has nothing to do with this current investigation. It was conducted by Strach’s office as part of an “Interstate Crosscheck” of voter rolls looking specifically for instances of voter fraud.
You may ask: what is this “interstate crosscheck?” Is it some sort of federal program, maybe through the FEC? And why would a federal program undertake a specific (and, one assumes, costly) investigation into the existence and prevalence of a phenomenon which multiple previous studies have determined to be as rare as hen’s teeth? Good questions. The answer is: no, it’s not a federal program.
“Interstate Crosscheck” is an initiative of True The Vote, a Houston-based tea party-originated and sponsored effort to suppress votes of traditionally Democratic-leaning constituencies by making it harder for them to vote any way they can, and challenging every vote they’re able to. Sourcewatch.org calls True The Vote “a Houston based vote-monitoring initiative committed to stopping voter fraud with a “horrendous record of filing inaccurate voter registration challenges’.” (quoted portion is from a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings to Catherine Englebrecht, head of True the Vote).
Among True The Votes greatest hits are getting caught in 2012 in Ohio attempting to intimidate Democratic voters in that critical state into not voting by sending them ominous-sounding letters saying their right to vote had been challenged, engendering a series of threatening emails to a voter registration group in Houston in 2010 (including lovely terms like “N*****s,” “greasy Mexican s***s,” and “fraudulent Marxist pigs”), and intimidating voters by hovering behind them while they cast their ballots and disrupting lines of voters.
Why on earth would the state official in charge of elections in North Carolina spend her agency’s time and effort (not to mention taxpayers’ money) doing the behest of such a private group as True the Vote’s “interstate crosscheck?” Because the Republican-led North Carolina legislature forced her to. That’s right: the second paragraph of the WRAL piece somewhat blandly observes:
State lawmakers last year mandated the State Board of Elections to enter into an “Interstate Crosscheck” – a compact of 28 states that agreed to check their voter registration records against those of other states.
So, to sum up: a bunch of GOP legislators in North Carolina used their majority to ram through a partisan bill to force the state’s Board of Elections to use a rabidly partisan outside group with a history of factual inaccuracies, voter intimidation and suppression to provide information for a “cross-check” of “fraudulent vote(r)s.” Here’s the final tally of the 2013 vote on HB 734, which set up yesterday’s “revelations”:
Nothing to see here. Just “good government” in action, folks. Move along, and remember to vote…if you still can.