There is no better example of the depths of deceitfulness to which the Republican Party has sunk than its efforts to suppress the vote by ramming through laws based on bogus claims of voter fraud that disenfranchise Democratic voters while it engages in systematic fraud itself.
This outrage was on offer in Florida, where suspicious voter registration forms were found in nine counties, including the county where those infamous hanging chads led to the U.S. Supreme Court to throw the 2000 election for George W. Bush. The forms were the work of Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm hired by the state Republican Party to sign up new voters.
Among problems with the forms were incorrect addresses, addresses that don't exist, signatures that don't match the names, signatures in the same handwriting, dates of births that don't match the names, and names that match with names in death records.
Washington, D.C.-based Allied Consulting is owned by Nathan Sproul, who has been involved in GOP voter registration "efforts" since at least 2004, an election in which there were widespread allegations of fraud involving his company that the Bush Justice Department failed to diligently pursue.
One aspect of this fraud was fiendishly clever: Sproul's employees impersonated members of Democratic-leaning groups, registered as many Democrats as possible and then destroyed their legitimate registrations instead of turning them over to local canvassing boards.
In addition to Florida, Strategic Allied also was hired by the Republican National Committee to conduct registration drives this year in four other swing states that Mitt Romney must win if he is to oust Barack Obama.
There is no reason to believe that Strategic Allied drives outside of Florida aren't dirty, as well, and officials in North Carolina are looking into that possibility.
Meanwhile, a videotape of an employee of the firm shows her working outside a store in Colorado Springs where she told potential voters that she wanted to register only Republicans and that she worked for the county clerk's office. The woman was fired, while Strategic Allied itself was canned in Florida after the embarrassing revelations about its true agenda emerged.
Which begs a very big question: How many other fraudulent Republican efforts are ongoing but have not been found out?
Probably a good many, although the lid has been blown off a scheme in the Democratic stronghold of Riverside County, California to register voters as Republicans without their knowledge.
Complaints were filed by 133 residents of a Riverside County state Senate district who say they were added to GOP rolls without their knowledge, calling into question the party's boast that Republican membership has skyrocketed 23 percent there. More than 27,700 residents of the district have become Republicans since January, according to the California secretary of state's office, magically erasing a registration edge long held by Democrats.
* * * * *The reason that the Republican Party is working so hard to disenfranchise blacks, Latinos, university students and low-income people who vote Democratic and will vote to re-elect Obama, is perversely simple:
Pretty much everyone save for angry white men and their compliant wives are fleeing the Republican Party in droves. The party no longer has its once considerable clout when it comes to national tickets outside of the South, where antipathy toward racial minorities and uppity women of all colors, remains strong. And as was the case in the 2008 presidential election, many of the independent women Romney needs to carry the day are repelled by the party's efforts to deny them access to family planning and contraception, deny them abortions regardless of the circumstances, and deny them equal pay for equal work.
So what's the GOP to do?
Rather than moderate its message, it's trying to suppress turnout in the expectation that some Democrats may lack the photo identification cards required by voter laws not coincidentally passed in states with Republican governors and legislatures. It's tough luck if elderly votes who no longer have photo IDs because they no longer drive, let alone elderly veterans who carry Veterans Administration cards that lack photos, are unable to vote.
Republican operatives well understand that there is very little voter fraud such as someone voting twice. Therefore, the GOP is concentrating on getting away with voter registration fraud such as registering nonexistent people to vote or signing up legitimate voters without their signatures or permission, while trying to disenfranchise Democrats.
* * * * *As it is, efforts to put in place tough voter registration laws have largely been rebuffed by courts with the encouragement of Attorney General Eric Holder, most recently in Pennsylvania.
The Republican-dominated legislature had passed and Tom Corbett, the Republican governor, had signed an especially draconian law. It not only required photo IDs, but state-issued IDs in the case of voters who did not have drivers licenses, passports or other documents with photos. Voters who did not have certain kinds of photo IDs would be allowed to vote, but only provisionally and might be required to provide further identification after the election if their vote was to be counted.
Laws also have been set aside or held in abeyance in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, while in Florida and Ohio, early voting and voter-registration drives have been restored after legal challenges.
The Pennsylvania law, which a high-ranking Republican state legislator unashamedly boasted was designed to suppress the vote in an effort to give Romney a leg up, was challenged by the ACLU after it was found that upwards of 750,000 people could be disenfranchised. Robert Simpson, a lower court judge, could have done the courageous thing by declaring that the photo ID requirement was unnecessary and unfair, but he upheld the law although the state executive tasked with enforcing it acknowledged under oath that she knew of no cases of voter fraud in the Keystone State, her department had done little to speed the photo ID authorization process, and to boot she didn't know the specifics of the law, either.
The Democratic-dominated state Supreme Court rode the the rescue, voting 4-2 to require Simpson to show why the law would not hurt potential voters who might not be able to obtain photo ID cards in time to register to vote. Simpson ruled that the state had not done enough to ensure that potential voters had access to the documents required to get photo ID cards under the law, so he delayed full implementation of the law until after the election. He created an element of confusion, deliberately in my view, in also ruling that voters still could be asked to produce photo IDs on November 6, but if they did not have them still could vote, leaving open the possibility that less informed voters might conclude they won't be allowed to cast ballots.
While Democrats cheered the victory, although it may be a temporary one, it drew venom from the state party's right wing, which accused Simpson of "judicial activism" and overstepping his authority in a ruling "skewed in favor of the lazy," and excoriated Corbett for the law's failure to pass muster.
Responded Philadelphia City Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer: "There's one thing we can't disagree on, [and] that is that no one can be disenfranchised."
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It is sadly unsurprising that there are no voting rights advocates anymore in a Republican Party that once proudly referred to itself as The Big Tent.
The party's efforts to deny people the right to vote by undermining a cornerstone of our democracy are not merely criminal. They are treasonous in every sense of that weighty word and part and parcel of an ideological extremism that has manifested itself in the party's blood lust to go to any end to deny Obama a second term.