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Posts tagged "Election Fraud"

H/T: Rebecca Leber at Think Progress Justice

Even if Democrat Mark Herring ends up with more votes than his Republican rival Mark Obenshain in the tightly contested Virginia attorney general’s race, he could still lose.

Herring is currently ahead of Obenshain by a follicle–the current official count states that Herring has 164 more votes than Obenshain out of more than two million cast. A recount is all but guaranteed and litigation seems likely. But even if after the dust clears Herring remains in the lead, under Virginia law, Obenshain could contest the result in the Republican dominated Virginia legislature, which could declare Obenshain the winner or declare the office vacant and order a new election.

“If they can find a hook to demonstrate some sort of irregularity, then there’s nothing to prevent them from saying our guy wins,” says Joshua Douglas, an election law expert and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law.  “There’s no rules here, besides outside political forces and public scrutiny.”

An election contest is a specific post-election procedure for disputing the official outcome of an election. Different states have different rules for election contests–some put them in the hands of the courts, others in the hands of the legislature. Obenshain couldn’t simply contest the election out of the blue. He’d have to argue that some sort of irregularity affected the result. Still, Virginia law is relatively vague in explaining what would justify an election contest, and historical precedent suggests that co-partisans in the legislature are unlikely to reach a decision that hurts their candidate.

“History shows that contests in the legislature are generally more politicized than if they’re adjudicated in the judiciary,” says Edward Foley, a professor at Moritz College of Law. That applies to both parties–but it’s Republicans who have the majority in the Virginia General Assembly. The Virginia state senate is evenly split, but Republicans have the majority in the state house. A spokesperson for Obenshain didn’t respond when asked directly if, after exhausting all other avenues, Obenshain would pursue an election contest.


That discrepancy could be the basis for a court challenge, because legal experts believe the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore requires jurisdictions within a state have to have uniform rules for counting votes. But if even if Obenshain loses in court, he could turn to the Virginia legislature with an election contest. The law states that Obenshain needn’t prove that Fairfax’s decision to allow more time for voters to argue their eligibility in order to go forward with an election contest, he need only “specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election.”

Obenshain may not have to prove that an irregularity would definitely have swung the election. “Virginia law permits a contest where a candidate can show a ‘probable impact’ on the result of an election, which is a relatively lax standard compared to other states,” says Foley.

Nevertheless there is a substantial political risks to this approach. Virginia Republicans could incur a severe political backlash if Virginians see them as thwarting the will of the electorate or subverting the results of an election simply because they didn’t like the outcome. Between a recount and potential litigation, we’re also still a long way away from a potential election contest.

Yet a campaign to persuade voters that the close election was simply the result of Democratic shenanigans at the polls isn’t inconceivable, especially with a base convinced that in-person voter fraud, which is very rare, is a deciding factor in elections. If after all options have been exhausted, Obenshain decides he wants to take his case to the state legislature, the only thing stopping Republicans from ordering a new election or declaring him the winner would be fear of a political backlash or their own self-restraint.

“It’s absurd to have a partisan legislature have the final say in who wins a close election, particularly with so few standard to guide it,” says Douglas. But it could happen.

If the Virginia GOP decides to steal the election for Attorney General to put in Mark Obenshain instead of Mark Herring, who was duly elected by the people of Virginia for that spot, then the state’s GOP will be hurt severely as a form of backlash. 


WASHINGTON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) did not rule out allocating the state’s electoral votes proportionally Saturday.

"It’s an interesting idea," he told a Newsmax interviewer at the National Review Institute Summit in Washington after speaking at a lunch. "I haven’t committed one way or the other to it. For me, and I think any other state considering this, you should really look at not just the short-term but the long-term implications. Is it better or worse for the electorate?

Said Walker, “Some might argue that it would give more opportunity for candidates to jump in; others suggest it might reduce it.”

"I think we have to very careful in changes like that. But I think it’s worth looking at," he said.




Vogel, a former Republican National Committee election lawyer, said she saw no problem with the bill’s legality, but objected to the image it creates for her party so soon after Obama’s victory last fall.

“It’s the timing of it,” she said. “It’s just an awful impression it makes.”

Riiiiiight. By “awful,” of course, she means “an accurate assessment of what our party is all about.”

(via pop-rocks-blowjob)

Virginia Democrats are raising hell after Republicans unexpectedly rammed a controversial redistricting bill through the state Senate on Monday, capitalizing on the absence of a Democratic lawmaker and civil rights leader who was in Washington for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.

The Virginia Senate is currently split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, each occupying 20 seats in the legislative body. Democratic State Sen. Harry Marsh’s absence paved the way for passage of the previously unannounced legislation by a count of 20 votes to 19.

“The new redistricting map revises the districts created under the 2011 map,” writes Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, “and would take effect before the next state Senate elections in Virginia and would redraw district lines to maximize the number of safe GOP seats.”


(via Hannity Floats Concern That Election Might Be Stolen | Video | Media Matters for America)

Hey HandTitty, if anyone is going to steal elections on November 6, it’s your buddies in the GOP, NOT Obama or the Democratic Party.


Employer pressure, fake voter purge letters, intimidating billboards, and more.

At this point in time, it’s difficult to think of the Romney campaign as anything but badly burnt toast. It’s not just Democrats and previously undecided voters who are turning on Romney and his never-ending series of gaffes and inartful glimpses into the psyche of the financial elite, it’s Republicans. Rachel Maddow talks about it here:

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. Richard Nixon - Who can tell a story of dirty Republican election tactics without first mentioning the modern day grandfather of slimy politics; “Tricky” Dick Nixon?

While Watergate is the most famous of GOP election scandals, it’s arguably the least interesting. Some of Nixon’s operatives broke into the Democratic campaign headquarters. They got caught. Some went to jail. Nixon was forced to resign in shame. By today’s standards, it sounds downright pedestrian, but at the Presidential level, it’s the only such scandal that had real accountability.

Nixon didn’t manage to steal that election, but not for lack of trying. Oh, but not so fast. In 1968, during the height of the Vietnam war and predating Watergate, Nixon committed a small crime we call treason. The achilles heel of then President Lyndon Johnson was the war. Nixon negotiated with the South Vietnamese to stay out of peace talks, at least until Nixon was in charge. They succumbed to his pressure and the war went on longer than probably necessary.

For those of us who are Obama supporters and political junkies, it’s tempting to grab the popcorn and watch an implosion that could be the envy of Hollywood action directors, but as in Hollywood, it wouldn’t be drama if the hero (or villain) didn’t have a last-minute plan, and if Republicans are known for anything, it’s their 11th hour, 59th minute talent for electoral shenanigans.

Just in case you or your friends are thinking this election is in the bag and are tempted to stay home, allow me to regale you with a cautionary tale, one of theft, manipulation and even international intrigue and–dare I say–treason. Just because the GOP chose a yawner of a Presidential candidate doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining.

2. Ronald Reagan – The GOP’s poster boy for all that is good with America. He was charming, clean cut, handsome (all this according to my then swooning grandmother). He was full of optimism, hope, and boy, could he give a speech. 

1980 was a tough year for Democrats. President Jimmy Carter was viewed as weak and ineffectual. The economy was suffering a double whammy of high unemployment and high inflation. By the time voters hit the polls, prices were rising at a rate of over 13% a year. Currently, our inflation rate is very low, at less than 2%.

Perhaps even more importantly, almost exactly a year before the election, the American Embassy in Iran was taken hostage by students.

3. George W. Bush – Bush 43 might be our most illegitimate President ever (and I’m including Gerald Ford, who was never elected to either Vice President or President). In 2000, the Supreme Court overrode the state of Florida to install Bush as President. Even if the five conservative justices hadn’t decided that Bush should become President, the Republican party was busy making sure that Democratic votes didn’t get counted.

You would think an incumbent wouldn’t feel the need to cheat, but if there was one thing that the Bush administration learned from the Nixon administration, it was that they should always buy insurance. In this case, it was Ohio in 2004. Before the election, Walden O’Dell, CEO of Diebold (one of the electronic voting machine companies) said he was, ”committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” O’Dell and Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State colluded to lock other voting machines out of the election. Exit polling showed that Bush’s competitor, John Kerry, should have won Ohio. Its 20 electoral votes would have given Kerry the election.

4. Barack Obama – No, he’s not a Republican and I’m not implying in any way that he stole the 2008 election, but there is absolutely no doubt that Republicans will be screaming “ACORN, ACORN – they registered Mickey Mouse!” Well, they did register Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and every other name that people outside of grocery stores pulled out of their smart asses, but Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck never got to vote. All organizations that registered voters are required by law to accept every registration. They are also required to report suspicious registrations, which ACORN did. The false registrations were quickly eliminated.

The real problem behind ACORN, of course, wasn’t about fictional characters who never made it to the polls, it was about the legitimate voters they were registering, African-Americans; people who vote Democratic. In the end, the GOP Mickey Mouse scheme worked. ACORN’s funding was pulled and they were forced to close their doors.

5. Mitt Romney – Obviously, we don’t know all the tricks up the GOP’s sleeve in this election, but they are numerous and undemocratic. Republicans are doing everything in their power to ensure that minorities, the poor, the elderly and the young are going to have a difficult time voting. Tactics range from requiring only certain photo IDs at the voting booths to restricting voting times and locations. The Brennan Center is reporting that the changes could affect up to five million people and up to 127 (out of a necessary 270) electoral votes. While some of the affected states will vote Republican, down ballot contests, like Congress and local legislatures, are at risk. Some of the states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, are considered swing states.

A quarter of a billion dollars have been spent so far in this election, the vast majority of it geared toward defeating Obama. Anti-Obama pockets are deep. The Koch brothers wouldn’t be throwing money at a candidate without at least a possibility he would win. At this point, all official polls, especially the all-important electoral polls, show that Romney has little to no chance. What do the Super PAC donors know that pollsters don’t?

As a last resort, there’s always treason. Was the release of the now infamous anti-Muslim movie trailer coincidental? Perhaps we’ll never know. Were the attacks on the US Consulate in Libya truly planned by Muslim terrorists? Again, we may never know. It might be far-fetched to pose the events in the Middle East as conspiracy theories, but Republicans have proven that they aren’t above sacrificing human lives and national security, all to win an election. As a game changer, if the unrest can be traced to a cynical ploy to try and sway an election, it has had little effect on Obama but Romney’s premature criticism of the Obama administration seems to have given him a lasting scar. With October just a few days away, it’s not difficult to imagine another pre-election surprise.

h/t: Wendy Gittleson at

When Edward and Mary Weidenbener went to vote in Indiana's primary in May, they didn't realize that state law required them to bring government photo IDs such as a driver's license or passport.

The husband and wife, both approaching 90 years old, had to use a temporary ballot that would be verified later, even though they knew the people working the polling site that day. Unaware that Indiana law obligated them to follow up with the county election board, the Weidenbeners ultimately had their votes rejected — news to them until informed recently by an Associated Press reporter.

Edward Weidenbener, a World War II veteran who had voted for Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential contest, said he was surprised by the rules and the consequences.

"A lot of people don’t have a photo ID. They’ll be automatically disenfranchised," he said.

As more states put in place strict voter ID rules, an AP review of temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which first adopted the most stringent standards, found that more than 1,200 such votes were tossed during the 2008 general election.

During sparsely attended primaries this year in Georgia, Indiana and Tennessee, the states implementing the toughest laws, hundreds more ballots were blocked.

Democrats and voting rights groups fear that ID laws could suppress votes among people who may not typically have a driver’s license, and disproportionately affect the elderly, poor and minorities. While the number of votes is a small percentage of the overall total, they have the potential to sway a close election. Remember that the 2000 presidential race was decided by a 537-vote margin in Florida.

A Republican leader in Pennsylvania said recently that the state’s new ID law would allow Romney to win the state over President Barack Obama.

Supporters of the laws cite anecdotal cases of fraud as a reason that states need to do more to secure elections, but fraud appears to be rare. As part of its effort to build support for voter ID laws, the Republican National Lawyers Association last year published a report that identified some 400 election fraud prosecutions over a decade across the entire country. That’s not even one per state per year.

ID laws would not have prevented many of those cases because they involved vote-buying schemes in local elections or people who falsified voter registrations.

h/t: Yahoo! News

One week before Wisconsinites vote on whether or not to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), a conservative group is engaged in dirty tricks that have shut down the Democratic challenger’s campaign phones.

According to multiple reports, independently verified by ThinkProgress, the following spam text message is being blasted out to many Wisconsin cell phones:
SUBJ:Union Puppet
MSG:Tom Barrett is a Union Puppet who will give Union Thugs everything they want. Call & ask why 414-271-8050

The phone number is that of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign headquarters. 

Idiots strike again.

h/t: Scott Keyes at Think Progress Elections

The latest voter suppression tactic employed by Republicans can be found in Maine, where last week the Secretary of State sent a threatening letter to hundreds of college students who were legally registered to vote in Maine, floating the possibility of election law violation and encouraging them to re-register elsewhere.

The letter explained that Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers was writing because he “was presented with a list of 206 University of Maine students with out-of-state home addresses and asked to investigate allegations of election law violations.” That list was provided to him not by an uninterested citizen, but rather the Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster, who has accused these students of voter fraud.

In his letter, Summers informed the recipient that “our research shows you have registered to vote as a resident of Maine,” before going on to strongly imply that the students did not meet the state definition for “residence of a person”. Summers went on to encourage the students to re-register in another state, telling them that if “you are no longer claiming to be a Maine resident, I ask that you complete the enclosed form to cancel your voter registration in Maine.” Here is the relevant section of the letter:

Dear ______:

On July 25, 2001, I was presented with a list of 206 University of Maine students with out-of-state home addresses and asked to investigate allegations of election law violations.[…]

Our research shows you have registered to vote as a resident of Maine. Maine’s election law (Title 21-A of the Maine Revised Statutes, section 111, subsection 1) defines “residence of a person” as “that place where the person has established a fixed and principal home to which the person, whenever temporarily absent, intends to return.” […]

If you are currently using an out-of-state driver’s license or motor vehicle registration, I ask that you take appropriate action to comply with out motor vehicle laws within the next 30 days (i.e. by October 20, 2011). If, instead, you are no longer claiming to be a Maine resident, I ask that you complete the enclosed form to cancel your voter registration in Maine so that out our central voter registration system can be updated.

The letter does not explicitly accuse the students of violating the state’s residency laws — and indeed it would be very difficult for Summers to defend such a claim. The Supreme Court ruled over 30 years ago that students cannot be held to a different residency standard than other people within the state. Nevertheless, the letter succeeded in intimidating many of its targets.

ThinkProgress spoke with a few of the letter recipients. Casey O’Malley, a senior at University of Maine Farmington, said her family has been worried about potential legal consequences because of this letter. She hasn’t decided whether to cancel her registration or not, but her family has been “pretty insistent” that she do so in order to be on the safe side. Another recipient, who wished to remain anonymous, said that students she knew were “beyond scared and freaked out.” One was “so shaken up” because she was scared the letter meant she was going to get sued.

H/T: ThinkProgress Justice

President Obama won Pennsylvania by more than 10 percentage points in 2008, and Democrats have won the state in every single presidential election for the last two decades. In a close election, it is difficult to draw an electoral map that sends a Democrat to the White House without that Democrat winning all of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. So the state’s GOP Gov. Tom Corbett has a simple plan — give away nearly half of the state’s electoral vote to the Republican presidential candidate for free:

Gov. Tom Corbett and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi are proposing that the state divide up its Electoral College votes according to which candidates carried each Congressional district, plus two votes for the statewide winner. The system is used by Maine — which, despite the system, has never actually split its four electoral votes — and by Nebraska, which gave one of its five votes to Barack Obama in 2008. […]

Had this proposed system been in place in 2008, when Obama won the state by a ten-point margin, he in fact would have only taken 11 out of the state’s 21 electoral votes at the time — due to a combination of past Republican-led redistricting efforts to maximize their district strength, and Obama’s votes being especially concentrated within urban areas.

Let’s be clear, the Electoral College is a terrible idea. It has, on three occasions, allowed the loser of the national popular vote to enter the White House. It forces presidential candidates to pander to swing states and ignore the needs of the vast majority of the nation. Without the Electoral College, Bush v. Gore would never have happened and former President-elect Al Gore would have succeeded Bill Clinton. If the entire nation were to adopt Corbett’s plan of doling out electoral votes by congressional district, it would eliminate many of the problems caused by our current system.

But when a major blue state’s Republican leadership adopts this kind of reform piecemeal, it is nothing less than an attempt to rig the election. One hundred percent of Texas’ electoral votes will still go to the Republican, but that same Republican will be guaranteed a share of Pennsylvania’s historically blue electors under Corbett’s plan.

And Corbett’s electoral giveaway to the GOP is merely the most audacious prong of a nationwide GOP strategy to steal democracy away from the American people. Numerous GOP state legislatures rammed through “voter ID” laws, which disenfranchise thousands of elderly, disabled, and low-income voters. Other states have erected new barriers to voter registration or reduced early voting opportunities — both of which make it more difficult for working class Americans to vote. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) gutted his state’s public financing system for candidates to pay for a voter disenfranchisement law. A 5-4 Supreme Court decision just declared laws enabling publicly financed candidates to defend themselves against unlimited corporate attack ads unconstitutional.

Because in the GOP’s America, We the People can elect anyone we want, so long as they are a Republican.

H/T: ThinkProgress Justice

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) will chair a hearing next week examining the rash of voter ID laws passed by state legislatures this year amidst concerns that such laws could suppress Democratic turnout across the country.

Durbin, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, announced Friday that the Sept. 8 hearing will feature testimony from Judith Brown Dianis, the co-director of the Advancement Project; Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levittl; and former Bush-era Justice Department official Hans van Spakovsky, who’s now with the Heritage Foundation. It’s titled “New State Voting Laws - Barriers to the Ballot?”

"These new laws significantly reduce the number of early voting days, require voters to show restrictive forms of photo identification before voting, and make it harder for volunteer organizations to register new voters," Durbin’s office said in an announcement. "Supporters of these laws argue that they will reduce the risk of voter fraud. The overwhelming evidence, however, indicates that voter impersonation fraud is virtually non-existent and that these new laws will make it harder for hundreds of thousands of elderly, disabled, minority, young, rural, and low income Americans to exercise their right to vote."

h/t: Talking Points Memo