GOP Voter Fraud Hucksters Latest Lie: Felons Made Franken U.S. Senator
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Fund and von Spakovsky contend that county prosecutors chose to ignore the bulk of illegal voting, according to York, because the state’s standards for obtaining convictions are lax. “The accused can get off by claiming not to have known they did anything wrong,” he said, citing their book. “Still, that’s a total of 243 people either convicted of voter fraud or awaiting trial in an election that was decided by 312 votes.”
That is another statement that should make any lawyer cringe—and von Spakovsky, a lawyer, should know better. The issue of criminal intent is a fundamental precept in American justice. It is the rule and not the exception in criminal law that intent must be in evidence to convict someone of violating a law. By glossing over that distinction—a typical Fund move—these provocateurs are seeking to heighten a sense of unfairness among their clan. Ignoring criminal intent has never been a legal standard or even controversial.
Attacking Elections Is Not Patriotic
There are many reasons why the GOP’s voter ID arguments—including this rubbery analysis—are an overreaching solution in search of a barely-existent problem.
In a state where 2.9 million people voted in November 2008, even if there were 243 illegal voters—and that includes people who have not yet been proven guilty—less than one-thousandth of 1 percent of the state’s electorate registered or voted illegally. The GOP’s ‘solution,’ forcing millions of voters to present specific government-issued photo ID to get a ballot, is using a bulldozer to swat a fly.
Moreover, having a photo ID requirement to obtain a ballot would do nothing to end the confusion surrounding ex-felons prematurely registering to vote. They can do that with a driver’s license. If illegal felon voting is in fact a problem, then the solution lies with telling probation officers to better-inform their charges, not new statewide voting rules.
But the myth of voter fraud refuses to die among the GOP. Minnesota’s Republican-led Legislature passed a voter ID law that was vetoed this spring by its Democratic governor. It subsequently put a state constitutional amendment on voter ID on the November 2012 ballot. Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, a Democrat, has been sued over ballot language, precluding him from commenting on this new attack by right-wingers on the senatorial recount that he oversaw in 2008-2009.
But beyond arguments over voter ID, there is a bigger point. Republicans increasingly have been trying to tilt the rules surrounding all aspects of voting in recent elections—from restricting voter registration drives, to rules validating voter registration applications, to presenting more specific forms of ID to get a ballot, to toughening the rules for counting provisional ballots given to people who lack that ID, to suing afterwards if the vote count is close. All of these tactics are in play in the 2012 presidential election.
Beyond ignoring the facts, the implicit racism in this latest charge may be its most repugnant feature, as many felons are presumed not likely to be white.
The further assumption that felons vote for Democrats and not Republicans should also be disputed. There are a lot of felons in white majority states that vote for Republicans. In Minnite’s book, she cited the 2004 Washington state gubernatorial recount, where the GOP also claimed that felon voting benefitted the winner, Democrat Chris Gregoire.
In that recount litigation, the court found people with felony convictions who had not yet restored their voting rights had voted illegally—because local election officials mailed them ballots. There was no finding of an intent to defraud. In contrast, the court found that the only showing of an intent to fraudulently vote was by four illegal voters who supported the Republican candidate.