Fighting for Democracy on Every Front! (Can we clone him?)
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2005, 1:20pm PT  

Late last week, the good John Conyers posted a fun (and very smart) piece headlined "The GOP's Attack On Voting Rights" over at TomPaine.com. Presumably his article was in reply to Russ Baker's attempt --- published the week before at TomPaine.com --- to tamp down the ever-growing cries of foul in Election 2004 and the need for true Electoral Reform in this country.

Election Reformers being no dolts and well used to subtle smoke-screens, trojan horses and deflections by now, quite a few enlightening letters to the editor were published over there as well last week in reply to Baker's article. Those letters also followed a quick reply/clarification/CYA column by TP's Executive Editor, Alexandra Walker.

Conyers' piece uses a bunch of Harper's Index-like numbers to cut through the crap and outline the very real and very major assaults now being mounted by the Right against American freedom and democracy. Read the whole thing. Here's a couple grafs of particular note to BRAD BLOG readers...

22: The number of times the phrase "voter identification" or "voter ID" was said at the first Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform hearing on April 18, 2005. The mantra of Republicans is that dogs, dead people, and cartoon characters are allowed to cast fraudulent votes. Republicans are advancing that strict voter identification requirements are the means to eliminate such voter fraud and state legislators are passing voter identification legislation as fast as they can with little debate or delay. In recent months, Indiana and Georgia have enacted voter identification requirements that have been characterized as some of the most severe and unreasonable voter identification requirements in the country. Several other state legislatures have similar legislation pending. At this first Carter-Baker Commission hearing, executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Barbara Arnwine told of the real-world consequences of these measures: More than 10 percent of eligible voters currently lack government-issued photo ID, and would be arbitrarily disenfranchised.

6: The number of days the American Center for Voting Rights, a new, "non-partisan," "voting rights" organization, had been in existence before it was called to testify by Republican members of Congress before a House Administration Committee hearing on March 22. The American Center for Voting Rights was formed by a lawyer for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the notoriously anti-voting rights Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, who described the group as a non-partisan, voting rights advocacy group. He testified and submitted a report on Ohio election irregularities, which highlighted the Mary Poppins Conspiracy in this country. If you haven't heard about it, the Mary Poppins Conspiracy consists of many, many ineligible voters—using the names Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive F. Turkey—fraudulently voting in elections.

Unfortunately for advocates of this conspiracy theory, a precinct has yet to report that a citizen by the name of Mary Poppins showed up on Election Day and voted. Searches for Dick Tracy votes and Jive F. Turkey votes have also come up empty.

UPDATE: Oliver T. Dawshed also delivers a helpful reply to Baker's article in his letter that was not published at TomPaine.com. Amongst the information in his rebuttal:

The journalistic deficiencies in Baker's article are capsulized in one simple observation. Mr. Baker assures us that the academics who believe the exit polls are insufficiently trained in the science of poll interpretation.

So, who are the paladins he trots out to defeat their arguments? Warren Mitofsky, whose company and future stand or fall on the work under discussion. A psychology graduate student who has written a children's book. A bachelor's level graduate with some graduate coursework in polling (and many years working as an employee of polling firms). And someone with no relevant credentials (but plenty of chutzpah), whose work ironically contradicts Baker's implied characterization of it, saying "Dr. Freeman is right in concluding that statistical explanations of the discrepancy of the discrepancy to date are inadequate."