The most valuable takeaway from the entire U.S. Attorney Purge scandal will likely prove to have been the exposure of the long-perpetuated GOP "voter fraud" scam. The scheme has been been so pervasive for so long, but the coverage of it has been largely contained to blogs like ours.
In the interim, the MSM coverage of the issue had been given over to the well-funded Republican propaganda machine which had detailed the phony claims of "voter fraud" as if they were legitimate.
The result, as designed, were calls for restrictive Voter ID legislation at the polling place, an effort that was successful in a number of states. After all, as the Republican snakeoil salesmen oft-repeated, "you need an ID to get on a plane, to cash a check, why not to vote?"
It was a difficult line to refute on its face, but it was built on lies, disinformation, and attempts by this White House and this Republican party to wage an unprecedented effort to keep any portion of the 10 to 30 million Americans (mostly Dem-leaning) without photo ID's (many even without birth certificates!) from being able to cast a vote.
The U.S. Attorney Purge scandal has helped to reveal the insidious scheme, opening it up for everyone to see by helping to expose the slimy, well-funded campaign for what it really is: little more than a broadly-waged, party-funded, voter suppression ploy.
Scores of MSM articles and columns over the past week or two have finally helped expose this scam to the public, and the likes of vote-suppression operative Thor Hearne's well-financed, systematic, White House-run "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) has, for now, slithered back underground.
Much of the MSM coverage to date has repeated what BRAD BLOG readers already know since we've been covering it for so long. But there are a couple of notable must-read exceptions recently which move many of these inter-related stories forward several moves...
One is Eric Lipton and Ian Urbina's tremendous NY Times piece from last week, detailing the DoJ's five-year voter suppression efforts revealing (whodathunkit?!) "Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud".
Their report reveals how very few "voter fraud" cases actually occurred or were prosecuted successfully, despite the Bush Administration's unprecedented new policy of bringing criminal charges in such cases even when no evidence existed for concerted efforts to throw elections. Included in the piece are heartbreaking examples of people thrown into jail by this DoJ for accidentally filling out a second voter registration form (though still only voting once!) and even the case of a Pakistani man who, after living here for ten years with his American wife and daughter, was deported for having mistakenly filled out a voter registration form at the direction of a bureau of motor vehicles employee.
Only one quibble with Lipton and Urbina's story. They don't yet seem to grasp the strategic importance of the ACVR operation in making the entire scam possible. They refer only to the fake "grassroots" operation as "Conservative watchdog groups" who "said thousands of fraudulent votes had been cast."
We're in touch with Urbina, hoping to make sure he has more information for a follow up report if he's inclined.
Today's must-read on the "voter fraud" scam comes from Glen Gordon at McClatchy. His new report advances a number of the DoJ "voter fraud" shenanigans across the country, games they played with voter registration database purges, and the wholesale corruption of the department's Civil/Voting Rights unit. Again, many of the stories reported have been told here over the last several years, but most are advanced a significant notch or two by Gordon's excellent reporting.
Just a few of the money grafs from the McClatchy piece...
On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.
In late 2001, Ashcroft also hired three Republican political operatives to work in a secretive new unit in the division's Voting Rights Section. Rich said the unit, headed by unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate Mark Metcalf of Kentucky, bird-dogged the progress of the administration's Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and reviewed voting legislation in the states.
One member of the three-person political unit, former Georgia elections official and Republican activist Hans von Spakovsky, eventually took de facto control of the Voting Rights Section and used his position to advocate tougher voter ID laws, said former department lawyers who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals.
Note that von Spakovsky has since been appointed by Bush to head the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The article also describes "doctored memos" by GOP operatives inside the Voting Rights unit at DoJ who reversed findings of the career staffers and changed procedures to ensure that only the Bush appointees could make such findings in the future. Additional details on that is also available in Paul Kiel's excellent TPMMuckraker coverage.
One more from the McClatchy piece, chock full o' such nuggets:
Instead of forcing lax agencies to increase registrations, the Justice Department sued at least six states and sent threatening enforcement letters to others requiring them to scour their election rolls for potentially ineligible voters.
Both the Times and McClatchy articles are highly recommended reading, now that (hopefully) the true nature of the Republican "voter fraud" scam has finally been revealed to America as the deceptive, democracy-hating, anti-American con job that it has been from the get-go...back when only we seemed to give a damn about it.
CORRECTION: The initial version of this article had incorrectly described a career staffer of DoJ as has having left the department to move to "American University's 'Commission on Election Reform', another Hearne & Company operation, this one responsible for the phony Baker/Carter Election Reform commission we exposed a couple of years back." While we stand by our concerns about the past practices of AU, their "Commission on Election Reform" and the Baker/Carter panel, we inadvertently identified the DoJ career staffer as one of the Bush operatives involved with it. We've edited the article above to correct that point. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.