The Real Side
Voter Fraud Fraud
The GOP’s own dishonesty
By Jim Scarantino
David Iglesias’ hold on the U.S. Attorney’s office began slipping when he didn’t prosecute anyone for fraud in the 2004 election. Iglesias says his federal-state task force found nothing to prosecute. Republicans threw a temper tantrum. Sen. Pete Domenici passed it along to the White House and Attorney General. Iglesias is now looking for a new job.
But several civil lawsuits have proven Iglesias right. Every time Republican complaints about voter fraud have been put to the test, they’ve lost.
First, full disclosure so you have some idea where I’m coming from: In 2004, I represented several voters opposing three GOP-generated lawsuits seeking to require newly registered voters—primarily students, the poor and minority voters--to produce a specified form of photo ID.
I have also been lead counsel in challenging Albuquerque’s law requiring in-person, but not absentee, voters to produce photo ID. The plaintiffs in that case are three individuals, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County League of Women Voters, the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness and the SAGE Council, a Native American advocacy organization.
In the Albuquerque case, I may be awarded attorney fees down the road. The 2004 cases I did completely pro bono.
More disclosure: I used to be a Republican. I co-chaired John McCain’s 2000 presidential bid in this state. I am now a Democrat, but the party shouldn’t count on me ever voting anything close to a straight ticket.
Enough with my bona fides. In three years of litigation, we have won every case where the GOP relied upon claims of voter fraud. The GOP lost all its state court cases back in 2004. They unsuccessfully sought to intervene in the Albuquerque case. U.S. District Court Judge Christina Armijo (a Bush appointee) overturned the city’s voter ID law in February. The city is appealing.
As for the GOP’s evidence of “widespread” voter fraud—in a word—there was none. In court, they had to either put up or shut up. They were represented by some of New Mexico’s best lawyers. They enjoyed ample opportunity to present all they had proving voter misconduct.
The legalistic terms used by the courts to describe the voter fraud evidence presented to them translate directly to some easily understandable, common English words. “Pathetic,” “make-believe” and “lame” pretty much cover it.
The Republicans’ favorite tale of “widespread” voter fraud is the 2004 flap over a 14-year-old boy who received a voter registration card. That’s as far as that story goes. He never voted. He was discovered months before the election by his father and the Secretary of State. Regardless, the kid never would have gotten past poll workers into a voting booth.
A worker for ACORN did falsify a number of 2004 registrations in order to submit inflated claims for compensation. She set out to rip off ACORN, not influence an election—the intent necessary to commit a federal crime. None of the false registrations became illegal votes.
In all the rancor, Republicans have pointed to a grand total of two—that’s right, two—people who claim they were impersonated at the polls. Both incidents hark back to 2004. The first allegation was never reported to the State Bureau of Elections. It curiously came to light on the other side of the continent in a Wall Street Journal editorial. The second incident involved an elderly Republican woman in the Northeast Heights.
The woman had voted at the same precinct at roughly the same hour for more than 30 years. The allegedly false signature that appeared under her name was an example of beautiful calligraphy, not something hurriedly scrawled during the commission of a federal felony. The impersonation would have occurred while neighbors stood in line, neighbors who would have heard the impostor call out the women’s name when she presented herself to vote. It would have occurred in plain sight of Republican, as well as Democratic, precinct officials.
This incident became the primary justification for Albuquerque’s voter ID law. But Republican lawyers never submitted as much as an affidavit from this purported victim. Draw your own conclusions.
Denise Lamb, who for a decade directed the State Bureau of Elections, and Millie Santillanes, Albuquerque City Clerk, both testified they know of no one ever losing their vote to an impostor. Since the advent in 2005 of New Mexico’s voter identification system—requiring name, birthdate and the last four digits of a Social Security number—Republicans can’t identify one incident of even alleged voter impersonation.
We looked into every allegation of “widespread” voter fraud we could find. The Iglesias task force looked into even more. They found nothing meriting prosecution. Little wonder, because, when it comes to voter fraud, there’s more dishonesty in GOP propaganda than there is at the polls.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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