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Friday, June 1, 2012

Headline envy: 'The GOP Sees Dead People'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 11:11 AM

A couple weeks ago, Curt Guyette's News Hits column took aim at the widely discussed and totally bogus crisis of voter fraud — and the less-discussed but all too real crisis of looming voter suppression. “Mess of suppression: Why voter ID laws are solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist” was our headline.”

Today the online journal Slate weighs in on the same side with a headline that makes us a little envious: “The GOP Sees Dead People — Voting: Why Republican plans to fight voter fraud are based on nightmares, tall tales, and paranoid fears.” Good one.

Guyette's piece details the chilling history of the voter suppression movement, and both pieces cite the lack of evidence that there’s significant fraud to prevent. Actually, it's more than a lack of evidence. Where there is evidence, it's that the problem is minuscule — 0.0002 percent in one Wisconsin state election studied.

But in addition to the sharp headline, we’ll recommend Slate as a second read for a riff on the sheer illogic of the voter-fraud Chicken Littles.

Slate’s Scott Keyes cites videos by right-wing sting auteur James O’Keefe showing his actors misrepresenting themselves and being handed ballots. So if it’s that easy to game the system, strong preventative ID requirements need to be immediately put in place. Right? Think again, Keyes argues:

Regardless of how “easy” it may be to trick an unsuspecting poll worker, it rarely happens. And there is a simple explanation why: Voter fraud is a felony that carries a federal sentence of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If I show up at the polls and pretend to be Michael McDonald, at best, I gain a single vote for my preferred candidate; at worst, I get sent to prison until 2017. Stealing an entire election one vote a time (and risking significant penalties for doing it) defies common sense.

That the dozens of state bills around the nation to restrict voting — including Michigan's Senate Bills 751 and 754 — defy common decency as well should be obvious.

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