The cynicism of voter intimidation in the US

Cynicism is reputed to induce wariness. On Voting Day in the US it should trigger the opposite.

Try watching attempts to disenfranchise US minority voters while simultaneously tuning into FOX News’ ‘report’ on how Republicans are the likelier casualties of voter intimidation; you’ll feel only anger, raw anger.

The real story of this election is surely less the potential outcomes and more the corrupt process itself. Let us speak plainly here: There is a concerted, organized effort, once again, to disenfranchise and discourage certain voters (i.e. groups more likely to vote Democrat).

To their credit, several prominent conservatives are calling time on this ultimate crime against the liberal democratic system.

Here’s Bush II’s speechwriter, David Frum (i), on “America’s Disgraceful Voting System”:

Almost everywhere else, elections are run by impartial voting agencies… But here’s what doesn’t happen in other democracies: Politicians of one party do not set voting schedules to favor their side and harm the other. Politicians do not move around voting places to gain advantages for themselves or to disadvantage their opponents.

When local Democratic officials saw themselves disadvantaged by the existing rules, they appealed to a judge for special treatment for its (likely) voters — and only for those voters.

Frum’s point is good twice over:

1. The system is utterly vulnerable to political manipulation.
2. The remedy to a dodgy system is not simply challenging the parts that hurt ‘your team’; the only remedy is an independent and system-wide overhaul.

But while the Democrats’ attempts to challenge the system have been woefully inadequate, driven much too much by feelings of partisan disadvantage when the focus should be a bipartisan determination to secure the right to vote for all, this is not a crime where implying “they’re both at” even begins to illuminate what’s unfolding here and why.

The central dynamic driving voter intimidation can only be seriously discussed by calling out the culprits and their agenda. Cue 2008 McCain Campaign Manager, Steve Schmidt (ii):

“It’s part of the mythology now in the Republican Party that there’s widespread voter fraud across the country,” Schmidt said. “In fact, there’s not.”

Almost there Steve. Yes, there’s little or no significant voter fraud – at least not in the way Republicans imply, i.e. Democrats gaining en mass from illegible voters. And they damn well know that. But no voter fraud?

If attempts to prevent thousands of likely Democratic voters – primarily minorities and college students – from voting by passing laws restricting opening hours and invalidating forms of identification long relied on by the poor and the young is not an act of fraud that’s only because fraud is too tame a term for this dastardly business.

Is it any wonder that members of the African-American community, as featured below, like members of the Latino communities and many more besides, volunteer their time to monitor their local election stations when, to quote the ACLU (iii):

“…the Republican Party, under the guise of combating alleged voter fraud, has assigned Election Day poll watchers disproportionately to majority African-American precincts,”

It’s against this indecent backdrop campaign of voter disenfranchisement, that FOX reports thus:

It’s fitting that I saw the clip on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish (iv) since Sullivan has previously nailed the brilliance of the Rovian approach that now characterizes the GOP-FOX approach to political mass marketing: take your own biggest vulnerability and instead of concealing it or denying it, accuse your opponent of it.

Watching FOX, the outrage and concern is not for the people whose voting rights are being denied, it’s with the uppity among their number who are taking a stand against it.

*Due to hyperlink issues, see links here:

I Frum:

II Schmidt:

III ACLU coverage:

IV Sullivan:

  • Kevsterino

    We need an impartial body to govern elections. I don’t think that any step short of that will fix this growing problem.

  • sdelaneys

    Perhaps it’s time that other countries went into the USA and imposed democracy, maybe Iran could teach them a few things. It could possibly be done without drones.

  • Last night I watched a movie on Sky Atlantic.
    “Recount” a dramatised version of Florida 2000.
    Kevin Spacey & Dennis Leary as Democrat being Mike Woolley.
    John Hurt as Warren Christopher
    Tom Wilkinson (James Baker) and a brilliant Laura Dern as Kathleen Harris the hapless and hopeless woman at the heart of the controversy.

    Certainly what might be claimed a Democrat bias but it was scary stuff. Both sides I am sure are lawyered up in 2012…….and those people are ruthless. The Republicans are just MORE ruthless.
    if Bush really did “steal” that election, I am surprised at the lack of outrage (the strange belief that the System needed to be protected more than either Party interest).
    To think of it as Nation before Party stretches credulity.

    And we could say the same about 1960s Illinois.
    The American system seems at once heartening……long lines outside polling stations……and bizarre rules (not the least being an embargo on results before all polls are closed)

  • kelly d

    fjh: “bizarre rules (not the least being an embargo on results before all polls are closed)”

    Yes, maybe bizarre now that radio/TV stream nationwide in real time, whereas previously, I believe, the “early results” were deemed to influence later time zones to give up/not bother to vote.

    I was born in 1960 Illinois. Please elaborate on “1960s Illinois”, le do thoil. Yes, truly interested.

  • Metacom

    Kelly d mo cara –

    There’s wide speculation that Mayor Daley at the behest of Joe K engaged in various and sundry acts of skullduggery in Cook County to deliver Illinois and the election to Prince Jack …so they say.

  • Kevsterino

    2 quotes (or maybe not) have entered popular folklore.

    Joe Kennedy “Jack, I don’t mind buying you the election, but I am not going to waste my money on a landslide.”

    Richard J Daley, mayor of Chicago, when asked how many votes John Kennedy received in Cook County, “How many votes do you need?”

  • kelly d

    Ah, yes, of course! Da Mayor Richard J.

    You see there’s Illinois, and then there’s the statelet known as Chicago, hence my confusion. I’m a little slow on the uptake today, celebrating re-election of another famous Chicagoan….