Voter Fraud, Voter Suppression

This week in Nevada, Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller led authorities to seize records from the local ACORN office which, Miller charged, has submitted myriad fraudulent voter-registration forms, including those using duplicated information, false information, and forms filled out for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

"Tony Romo is not registered to vote in the state of Nevada, and anybody trying to pose as Terrell Owens won't be able to cast a ballot on Nov. 4," Miller said.

ACORN voter registration drives are also under scrutiny in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

"The fact is, this is hard work and there were some people that probably sat down on a couch and filled out names out of a phone book," Matthew Henderson, Southwest regional director for ACORN, told the Associated Press. "That's really what we're talking about here — not an attempt to steal an election."

But on the other side of the political spectrum are legitimate concerns about improper voter purges amounting to voter suppression.

The U.S. Department of Justice, for instance, this week said that Georgia's actions to verify identity and citizenship appear to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Brennan Center for Justice has issued a new report criticizing the way voter "purges" are conducted: "Officials strike voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation."

The New York Times reviewed state records and Social Security records and concluded that "(t)ens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law" -- the six battleground states being Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina.

“These purges are in violation of federal law, including the National Voter Registration Act, which prohibits such purges of voters 90 days before a federal election," Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project said in a statement. “Of course, states should update their voter lists with accurate information, but they should do so in a way that complies with the law and is not driven by partisan bias and does not have an adverse impact on racial and language minorities. Regrettably, our past and recent history is filled with examples of partisan bias driving voter purging and vote suppression. If these practices are allowed to continue, we could see thousands of eligible voters show up on Election Day, only to find that they were removed from the rolls."

There's a case to be made to voters that any news organization, candidate, or political party that acts as if one of these two issues is a problem, but ignores the other, is only concerned about their side winning, as opposed to caring about a clean and orderly and fair election.

Most Americans, I would guess, do not see it that way. Americans are a fair-minded people who believe the election should be clean, and every eligible voter should be allowed to cast his or her ballot, without either fraud or suppression. It seems to me there's an opening for either Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., to talk about how both voter fraud and voter suppression are wrong and should be prevented. But I bet neither one will.

- jpt

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