Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voter Suppression vs Registration Fraud vs Voter Fraud

The ACORN scandal is serious, but conservative talk shows and radio are absurdly trying to connect this effort to the Obama campaign in irrational and unethical ways. Vote fraud is not much of a problem in the USA where sophisticated voter suppression ... is a problem.

Forget Acorn, I'd hire Ken Blackwell if I was in the vote manipulation biz:

In 2004 in Ohio Blackwell tried to preferentially and illegally enforce a rule that said the *weight* of the paper would disqualify registrations. Even his own offices forms did not qualify as well as standard forms around the state. His ruling was overturned eventually, but had some suppressive effect. It's hard to measure suppression and I don't think it turned the 2004 election but I now think it's clear that without the very strategic suppression efforts against Florida voters in 2000 Gore would have *easily* won the state even with the butterfly ballots disallowed as they were.

As everybody should know but does not, there is *no rational dispute whatsoever* that the butterfly ballot spoilage lost the election for Gore. It's not clear you could have done anything about that legally (eg allocate votes proportionally rather than destroy them), but it is clear that in terms of voter intent Gore won Florida. Also not well known, but shown by a Miami Herald recount of every ballot (a great read!), is that even if the Supreme Court recounts had gone through Bush would have won using most of the prevailing counting standards of 2 or more chads disconnected. (Gore did not challenge the factors that lost the election - Palm Beach spoilage and/or voter suppression). Bush was "necessarily" installed as President after losing the Florida election, although there was a precedent for keeping those ballots and proportional votes.

I think if one is truly interested in Democracy working more than partisan concerns, they should be a lot more worried about the suppression efforts, especially in Ohio and Florida. These are simply appalling. The system is very good at finding fraud and very bad at avoiding suppression and ballot spoilage.

The reason suppression is a lot more worrisome is that it appears they keep a lot of legitimate voters from voting where voter fraud is likely to be very uncommon (convicted felons, for example, even if registered by ACORN, are hardly gung ho to go in and vote illegally).

I started looking at the situation after the Florida fiasco of 2000 and was really appalled because until then I'd bought the line that fraud was the big deal. I do think fraud helped Kennedy win Illinois thanks to Daley and possibly the mob, but suppression is more relevant now.

No comments: