"Let's put this in context," said Heritage legal eagle Hans A. von Spakovsky. "The left has not had unlimited power since 1965."
I was having lunch at the Heritage Foundation to get some perspective on a paranoia gripping the right and the left: the spectre of vote fraud. In 2004, you couldn't click on a liberal blog without reading rumors of Diebold machines rigging the election. In 2005, Democrats actually challenged Ohio's electoral votes on the floor of the House and Senate. The Democrats chilled out a little after, uh, winning in 2006, but vote fraud pied piper Greg Palast, who megaphoned those mid-decade stories of fraud, has an article in the new Rolling Stone (leading the site right now!) about how Republicans have pre-stolen the 2008 election through tickery and voter roll purges. Palast quote: "They've already stolen the 2008 election." Special extra Palast quote: "Fear of [Hugo] Chavez is fear of democracy."
Here he is:
Anyway, I went to Heritage to get the other side of this. It's more fact-based (no claims that the 2006 elections were stolen by brandishing Missouri Senate race exit polls), but if anything, it's more panicked. As Spakowsky said, conservatives fear that a Democratic victory will lead to ultimate Democratic power. Roman Buhler, a Republican election lawyer, warned that the cost of Democratic victory would not just be a locked-in liberal agenda, but locked-in Democratic power. "Their goal is rigged elections," said Buhler. "In Zimbabwe we know what to do with people like that. We're not used to it in America."
The evidence, point-by-point:
– Democrats passed the Motor Voter law in 1993 (in the meeting I started hearing the old Republican name for it, "auto fraudo"), which permanently loosened the rules on mailed-in voter registration.
– Democrats opposed a law that would have sent all military ballots back home via 4-day expedited mail instead of three-week snail mail, because the postal service unions opposed it. "They don't want the military to vote," Buhler said.
– Democrats want card check, which would take away the secret ballot in union elections. Not actually related to general election voting, but revealing of the party mentality.
– Democrats have muddied the vote fraud waters by accusing Republicans of "vote caging," sending mail to voters' homes and purging their names from the rolls if the names bounce back. That's legal, but Democrats have gained ground by characterizing it as illegally focused on minority neighborhoods. "They probably went through a lot of focus groups to come up with that name, caging" Buhler said. (Actually, it's what Tim Griffin and Monica Goodling called it.)
– Democrats take advantage of loose rules governing absentee ballots to committ fraud that way; "voters" will sign multiple ballots and send them in, confident that the state won't check to see if the signatures on them match other signatures.
Quin Hillyer of the D.C. Examiner began his remarks with a quote from Saul Alinsky: "A war is not an intellectual debate, and in the war against social evils there are no rules of fair play." He found it, he said, on the blog of Lynette Long, a Hillary Clinton dead-ender who claims that Obama stole the Democratic caucuses. This material can build the conservative argument against Democratic fraud, he said, because "this doesn't come from the right. It comes from a strong Hillary Clinton feminist."
There was even more at stake here than one stolen election, Buhler said. "The conservative movement has been what Americans look to when they think of political integrity," he explained. "Democrats were the party of Chicago and the Daleys. They've worked very hard to deflect that image and characterize all attacks on voter fraud as 'racism.' We must convince people that it is the left that breaks the law, and that they haven't changed since Dick Daley."