Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Donald Trump’s Dangerous Vote Rigging Comments Follow Years of Republican Voter Fraud Hysteria

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It has long been an article of conservative faith that the "Democrat Party" engages in systematic surreptitious voter fraud.  "Vote early and often", "voting from the graveyard", "late reporting Chicago districts"  are old memes which may have had, at some point, a basis in fact.  The only truly systematic vote rigging was, of course, in the south where Black people were in fact denied the vote.
The voter fraud theme has been a rallying cry for Republicans - it is the groundless basis for the many state voter ID laws making it harder for poor and minorities to vote.  Thirty five years ago I was  involved in the protests against Newark's proto-Trump Anthony Imperiale a/k/a forty gun Tony.  He organized a "National Ballot Security Task Force" equipped with arm bands to patrol voting places.
The Democratic National Committee filed suit against the Republican Natonal Committee.  The late Federal District Judge Dickinson Debevoise issued a nationwide "consent decree" barring voter intimidation.  He retained jurisdiction and handled subsequent proceedings.  The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order and its continuing validity in 2010. Donald Trump's repeated calls to his supporters to be on the lookout for voter fraud present a risk far greater than did the local bully Imperiale. I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop: for the DNC to go back to court to enjoin such "poll watching".  When it does Donald Trump will likely go ballistic: the federal courts are rigging the election, authorizing voter fraud, etc. As a tactical matter one wonders if a law suit is the right tactic to protect the voting.  But there is real danger.  The integrity of the vote is an essential element of democracy.  UC Irvine law professor Richard Hasen sounds the alarm.

Donald Trump’s Dangerous Vote Rigging Comments Follow Years of Republican Voter Fraud Hysteria
by Richard L. Hasen
Let’s start with what Trump has said and why it is so irresponsible. As I’ve written, one of the things we take for granted is that, even in tumultuous times when elections are hard-fought, the losers concede the election and embrace the process, even if things did not go well. That’s what Al Gore did after the Supreme Court decided Bush v. Gore. He did not call for demonstrations in the streets, which could have been destabilizing. In 2008, after great controversy over the Bush years, Obama v. McCain was very hard-fought, but we were able to come together again as a country.
Donald Trump threatens this peace by raising the prospect not only of sending his supporters, unsupervised, into polling places (likely in minority neighborhoods). This can lead to voter intimidation on election day. He has also backed off his earlier, somewhat ambiguous statement that he would support Hillary Clinton if she won. Now, speaking to the New York Times, he backed off even his qualified pledge to support Clinton if he loses, saying: “We’re going to have to see. We’re going to see what happens. We’re going to have to see.”
The message has resonated with his supporters. According to an AP-NORC poll:“Only about one-third of Republicans say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence that votes on Election Day will be counted fairly... Half the people who have a favorable opinion of the Republican nominee say they have little to no confidence in the integrity of the vote count.”
But this should be no surprise, because members of the fraudulent fraud squad have pushed this message for years, claiming that voter fraud is rampant, and that it inevitably helps Democrats. As I pointed out in my 2012 book, The Voting Wars, conservative flame thrower Michelle Malkin warned just before the 2010 election that voter fraud was rampant. But when Democrats faced a “thumping” at the polls, Malkin had nothing to say about fraud. And now she’s at it again, claiming non-citizens will steal the election in Colorado and elsewhere.

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