March 27th, 2007at 05:49pm Posted by Eli

This Politico story is simultaneously chilling and encouraging:

[Voter fraud is] an issue the White House had fixated on since the Supreme Court ended the 2000 Florida recount and settled the presidential campaign amid charges that if the ballots of the Sunshine State’s black voters had been counted, Democrat Al Gore would have won.

Bush’s allies were obsessed with ensuring that his reelection couldn’t be questioned as well. [Not quite the wording I would have chosen…] So, in the fall of 2004, Republican operatives tucked thick folders of newspaper clippings and other fraud tips under their arms and pitched to reporters their claims that the Democrats’ registration program would lead to rampant voter fraud. Their passion was clear, but their evidence was slim, consisting mostly of isolated incidents of voter registration irregularities that were handled by local police or election officials.

What wasn’t mentioned in those conversations with reporters was a Republican National Committee strategy, already underway, to work with state parties to identify and challenge questionable voters at the polling precincts. Among those working at the RNC was Tim Griffin, the former Karl Rove aide who recently replaced fired U.S. attorney Bud Cummins. Then, with the vast federal law enforcement community acting as the new sheriff, Republicans hoped to pocket the evidence they longed for: a string of high-profile investigations and convictions.

Failure of some U.S. attorneys to pursue the final plank in that strategy now appears to have helped trigger an internal debate over whether to fire all or some of them, administration comments and e-mails suggest.


Behind the scenes, court records show, the RNC worked with state parties to send letters to newly registered voters in some states, including hotly contested Ohio. Letters returned as undeliverable were then used to create a list of voters’ names to challenge at the polls on Election Day. In Wisconsin, Republicans conducted background checks on roughly 100,000 newly registered voters and trained more than 50,000 volunteers to monitor precincts or lodge challenges against voters.

At the Justice Department, Ashcroft instructed U.S. attorneys to meet with top election officials and make themselves available for fraud investigations on Election Day, if necessary.

Media disclosures of the Ohio and Wisconsin projects had upset and embarrassed local Republican leaders, who publicly urged an end to the program.

…[E]-mails released by Congress in recent weeks show that, within two months, the White House was debating whether to fire all or some of the U.S. attorneys. One reason: They didn’t pursue voter fraud cases.

The way I’m reading this story is that Rove and the RNC (assuming there’s a meaningful difference) latched onto “voter fraud” as their vote-suppression magic bullet, and pushed hard to disenfranchise a whole bunch of low-income and newly-registered voters, and to collect some high-profile scalps to make Democrats think twice about voter registration efforts, and to make minority voters afraid to even vote at all.

But they went too far. The local Republicans in OH and WI were appalled, or at least fearful of backlash, and none of BushCo’s handpicked US Attorneys were willing to gin up fake voter fraud cases to score political points for the bossman. And Karl, every bit as much a petulant crybaby as his boss, wanted to fire them all for not doing his bidding; for not being utterly soulless, amoral party hacks like him and his minions.

I don’t really have a point here, other than that it’s a relief to know that not all Republicans are corrupt all of the time, and it’s frightening to contemplate what might have been if they were.

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,Politics,Rove

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