As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vote Suppression Now Aided Directly By Federal Gov't

This is outrageous.

The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election.

A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press. A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam.

This is a federally-backed effort to suppress the legal votes of minorities and the lower class. Bottom line.

I hate to keep making the argument over and over, but it's necessary. The FBI is taking an organization with a 97% accuracy record in turning in registration forms, certainly better than the paid signature gatherers of any right-wing ballot initiative out here in California, and subjecting them to investigations and scrutiny that is wholly unwarranted. When a paid worker for ACORN falsifies a registration form, they are not scamming the voting system, they are scamming ACORN. They are trying to get paid extra for illegal work. ACORN flags every single suspicious form and turns all of them in to election officials BY LAW in most states. If they didn't, the right wing would be screaming about how ACORN holds back forms that Republicans fill out. And then, of course, the flagged registrations are noticed by election boards (if they weren't you wouldn't be hearing so much about this). And even if they weren't, Mickey Mouse and Hugh Jass and Ivanna Tinkle aren't showing up at your friendly neighborhood polling place. Not one honest person in this country seriously thinks that individual voter registration fraud is part of a coordinated effort to tip the election. Grabbing at straws, I hear wingers claim that ACORN "dumps voter registration forms on elections officials at the last minute" to overwhelm the system. See, when there's a deadline typically a lot of whatever is requested by that date comes in at the end. Another ridiculous claim.

If you want to solve the problem of inaccurate voting registrations, there are a million ways to do it. Automatically register everyone with a Social Security number or a driver's license or a pay stub. End the practice of paying people to gather forms or signatures. And on and on. But of course, the right doesn't want to fix the problem. They want a scapegoat to point their fingers at and blame for their own electoral and governing failures. That's why they're claiming vote fraud in states where ACORN didn't even run voter drives this year.

But the real outrage here is the involvement of the FBI in the investigation. The US Attorneys scandal was almost entirely predicated on compelling federal prosecutors to pursue investigations of bogus voter fraud cases and charges against Democrats. Those who didn't got fired, and we know the consequences of those attorneys who did what they were told. See Don Siegelman in Alabama, Georgia Thompson in Wisconsin, even ACORN in Missouri. This was wholesale politicization of the Justice Department, using prosecutions as an extension of the RNC. That's exactly what this FBI investigation reveals.

The Justice Department is using its law enforcement arm to stir up doubt about a legitimate community organization as a means to delegitimize this election. This is designed to sap voter confidence in the process. It's also designed to harass and intimidate low-income and minority voters. The 1.3 million people who registered through ACORN and Project Vote this year are now seeing the law come down on that organization. They're seeing their registrations questioned. They're being accused of stealing the election. Do you think they're going to risk going to the polls? It's an open question.

There should be outrage at this maneuver, a federal attempt to step into the election process and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. This is dirty and Congress needs to assert its voice.

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