The truth about voter fraud

It’s being actively perpetrated by Republican Party officials, not criminally-minded voters. Of course, this isn’t exactly news. This past June, Mike Turzai, the Republican majority leader of the Pennsylvania House, explicitly boasted that voter ID laws in that state would enable Mitt Romney to win the presidential vote there:

“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation — abortion facility regulations — in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” he said to applause at a Republican State Committee this weekend, according to PoliticsPa.com.

The comment contradicted the usual Republican line that voter ID laws are for guarding against voter fraud — which is extremely rare if not nonexistent in practice — and not to help elect Republicans.

Pennsylvania passed a new law in March through a GOP-led legislature requiring voters to show a driver’s license or government issued photo ID before voting.

Turzai’s statement was widely condemned by Democrats and activists, who continued to remind the public that voter fraud is extremely, extremely rare and that Republican harping on it was indicative instead of a desire to suppress certain votes — principally those cast by minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies.

Well, now we have even more evidence that Republican attempts to eliminate Democratic votes was not restricted to Pennsylvania, nor to one erstwhile and tone-deaf state representative. The Palm Beach Post reports:

A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.

Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.

“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”

It must be noted straightaway that both Crist and Greer are hardly disinterested observers. The latter is, in fact, currently under indictment, “accused of stealing $200,000 from the [Republican] party through a phony campaign fundraising operation.” Crist, likewise, is rumored to be switching to the Democratic side of the aisle after already angering conservatives by realigning as an independent in 2010.

Nevertheless, the article’s extensive investigation is well-conducted and deserving of greater attention. Given the Republican Party’s obsession with the voter fraud phantom menace, it’s nice to see journalists actually digging a little deeper by talking to active participants in the discussions, instead of simply inferring Republican leaders’ intentions from badly-justified voter ID laws.

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