For those of us who are political junkies the battle being waged by the Republican candidates is must see TV. The televised debates, the gamesmanship and the personal attacks are emblematic of all that is good…and bad…about our political process.
But while the candidates are cooking up new ways to make their case in the national press; there is a pot boiling on the back burner that has a real stench about it.
Republicans are very concerned about voter fraud playing a major part in the upcoming elections. Their angst stems from the large influx of illegal immigrants flooding across our borders…IE: Mexicans. Legalized Latino voters typically vote Democrat. Republicans believe that these illegal immigrants somehow will flock to the polls and sway what promises to be a tight race in favor of the Democratic candidates. Therefore Republicans have moved to enact tougher voter ID laws in over half the states. They say these laws are needed to protect against double voting, non-citizen voting, fictitious voter registration and voter impersonation.
For those of you that don’t speak the language of “ideology” allow us to translate. What Republicans are really trying to do is make it as difficult as possible for minorities and lower income families, who typically vote Democrat, to cast their votes.
Don’t believe us? Google “voter fraud statistics” and read the findings.
Every statistical survey conducted during the past decade shows that voter fraud is wildly exaggerated. During the last election cycle, out of over 30 million votes, there were 9 convictions of voter fraud. During that same period 382 people were struck by lightning. And the new voter ID laws would have not had any effect on those nine convictions. Voter fraud occurs countrywide at a rate of 0.00004% of the votes cast. Most of these are for failure to properly complete the necessary voter registration paperwork. Voter fraud is nothing more than a hyped up scheme designed to discourage traditionally Democratic voters from going to the polls.
These efforts seem to be working. According to the latest USATODAY/GALLUP daily tracking poll, the number of registered Democratic voters has dropped by 5% since the last election cycle while the number of registered Republican voters has increased by a like percentage.
In addition to tamping down voter turnout; Republicans are looking for any other means possible to sway the upcoming election in their favor. In those states where Republicans control the state legislatures there are organized efforts to redraw the local voting districts to favor Republican candidates. For example, Ohio is the home state of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. According to public records obtained by the voter advocate group: Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, Mr. Tom Whatman, executive director of Team Boehner, the political wing of the speaker’s office, participated in the redistricting process with map making consultants, the National Republican Congressional Committee and various other legislative leaders including Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus.
The report found that redistricting decisions were not made in public, public input was ignored , there was limited opportunity for the public to review proposed maps, the public was not provided relevant data for the proposed districts, nonpartisan redistricting criteria were not used and the criteria used to evaluate the plans were never publically identified. The two people hired to draw the maps were each paid $105,000 for 14 weeks work. They were in touch with the National Republican Congressional Committee on a daily basis.
Much like the aforementioned voter ID laws; these redistricting efforts seem to be working as well. A number of incumbent House Democrats have already stated that they will not seek re-election; citing new redistricting laws and an atmosphere in Washington that is hostile toward moving the country forward. Most notably Massachusetts Representative and House Finance Committee Chair, Barney Frank has announced that he will not run for re-election. A long time advocate for progressive ideals, Frank cited the new redistricting laws within his state, and said that he could be more effective working outside Washington than battling within the current system.
There is a concerted effort in this country to alter the election process and deprive citizens of their right to vote. While the circus that is on display in front of the cameras may be good for a few laughs; what is going on behind the curtain is no laughing matter.