Saturday, May 12, 2007

Vote fraud vs. election fraud

One thing that gets lost in the Republican vote fraud hype is the distinction between vote fraud (in which individual voters vote illegally) and election fraud (in which there is an organized effort to subvert an election). I wish more people would not blur that distinction. Republicans have already worked hard to blur it for them.

Rove and Co. are engaged in a campaign of vote suppression (election fraud) supported by allegations of rampant vote fraud. They use a technique similar to the one used to convince Americans that Saddam and 9/11 were connected. (They rarely said explicitly that Saddam had something to do with 9/11. They repeatedly threw them together in sentences, enough times that people made the connection for them, while they maintained they never made such a claim.) Today they cry vote fraud. Repeated enough times, people will infer there is an organized effort (by Democrats) to commit election fraud, when it's really the GOP pursuing that. Republicans might actually have to uncover real, substantive evidence to sustain a myth of election fraud by the Democratic party, but find an ACORN worker here or a felon there who commits vote fraud and they've got enough to sustain the myth that election fraud is rampant, requiring measures like voter ID, etc. aimed suppressing turnout among groups of likely Democratic voters.

Discussing the issue this week in Salon, Garrett Epps introduced it this way:
By evil chance, I spent the Saturday night before Election Day 2000 at a jolly dinner for high-level Republicans. Most of the talk over the entrees concerned why then-candidate George W. Bush had been too pusillanimous to tell the voters that Al Gore was not just a liberal, but a Soviet-style Marxist-Leninist. But as the desserts circulated, so too did a piece of comic relief -- an anonymous leaflet explaining to voters that because of heavy voter registration, the rules had been changed: Republicans would vote on Tuesday, Democrats and independents on Wednesday.
[h/t The Errington Thompson Show]

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