Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Catching Voter Fraud Is Hard. It's Hard Work

As a report authored this spring by Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Barnard College of Columbia University, for the voter-rights program Project Vote makes unmistakably clear, the government's failure to prosecute or convict more than a handful of people for voter fraud isn't for lack of trying. Since 2002, the Justice Department's Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative has, as Gonzales put it, "made enforcement of election fraud and corruption offenses a top priority." And yet between October 2002 and September 2005, just 38 cases were brought nationally, and of those, 14 ended in dismissals or acquittals, 11 in guilty pleas, and 13 in convictions. Though a Justice Department manual on election crime states that these cases "may present an easier means of obtaining convictions than do other forms of public corruption," federal attorneys have failed to rack up those convictions, for the simple reason that incidents of fraud have been few and far between.

Now think about the pressure Rove was putting on justice with his willing partnerlackey Abu Gonzales. They averaged one indictment per month for the entire country. 36% of those cases were tossed. Think of how these prosecutors were fired for not going hard core on this issue. A message was being sent that you must vigorously prosecute anything that you can. In this environment, two dozen convictions in three years means that it isn't a real problem.

What are real problems are phone jamming,purging voters from the rolls, not setting up enough machines in poor districts.

Karl Rove wanted to suppress minority votes by threatening them of prosecution for vote fraud. In the wake of 9/11, a new citizen from Mexico might be wary of voting, if they weren't absolutely sure that it was legal. Felons who had their voting rights returned, don't want to go back to jail.

In a way this is like the 9/11 Saddam Hussein connection that the administration pulled. They wanted to intimidate the disenfranchised from voting by targeting people for voting fraud, confusing voters with not enough information into thinking they were next.

Those twenty six people who broke the law though are menaces. A few were long time green holders who were confused and thinking they could vote. A danger to our way of life, or Karl Rove trying to scare the poor into staying home in November?