Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An inconvenient truth, suppressed, unsurprisingly, by the all-GOP federal government:

Report refutes fraud at poll sites

WASHINGTON -- At a time when many states are instituting new requirements for voter registration and identification, a preliminary report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found little evidence of the type of polling-place fraud those measures seek to stop.

USA TODAY obtained the report from the commission four months after it was delivered by two consultants hired to write it. The commission has not distributed it publicly.

...The bipartisan report by two consultants to the election commission casts doubt on the problem those laws are intended to address. "There is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling-place fraud, or at least much less than is claimed, including voter impersonation, 'dead' voters, non-citizen voting and felon voters," the report says....

This is the lead story in the print edition of this morning's USA Today, which means it will have attracted the notice of a lot of business travelers who had a 10:00 A.M. meeting in the Holiday Inn conference room in Cincinnati or Toledo. I mean no disrespect to them -- unfortunately, though, a lot more members of the opinion-forming elite will see this story, which runs today -- what a coincidence! -- in The New York Times:

U.S. Says Blacks in Mississippi Suppress White Vote

MACON, Miss., Oct. 5 — The Justice Department has chosen this no-stoplight, courthouse town buried in the eastern Mississippi prairie for an unusual civil rights test: the first federal lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act accusing blacks of suppressing the rights of whites.

...The Justice Department’s main focus is Ike Brown, a local power broker whose imaginative electoral tactics have for 20 years caused whisperings from here to the state capital in Jackson, 100 miles to the southwest. Mr. Brown, tall, thin, a twice-convicted felon, the chairman of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee and its undisputed political boss, is accused by the federal government of orchestrating -- with the help of others -- "relentless voting-related racial discrimination" against whites, whom blacks outnumber by more than 3 to 1 in the county.

...Mr. Brown is accused in the lawsuit and in supporting documents of paying and organizing notaries, some of whom illegally marked absentee ballots or influenced how the ballots were voted; of publishing a list of voters, all white, accompanied by a warning that they would be challenged at the polls; of importing black voters into the county; and of altering racial percentages in districts by manipulating the registration rolls....

If true, that's appalling, obviously. Yet as the story makes clear, it's localized. If this were an illness outbreak, it would be four people at your office getting a bug that's going around. It's not the 1918 flu pandemic -- yet Republicans, who are obsessed with this subject, will almost certainly talk about it that way.

If it's all true, I hope Ike Brown goes to prison again, for a long, long time. But it's certainly curious that he makes the Paper of Record at precisely this moment.


UPDATE: The USA Today story is also here, under (inexplicably) a somewhat more timid headline.

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