Via Eric Kleefeld at TPM this afternoon, candidates jockeying for chairmanship of the RNC, including current chair Michael Steele, held a debate today, and, naturally, spoke at some length to one of the most important imaginary threats facing our republic: Massive Democratic voter fraud!!! Coincidentally, almost always by black people and Hispanic people, who probably shouldn't be voting anyway, and stuff!!!
The goal of this years-long campaign against imagined "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" is, as long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG know too well, meant to encourage the adoption of photo ID restrictions at the polling place (and, short of that, intimidating challenges to voters when they show up to vote) under the purported guise of "ballot integrity".
Never mind that George W. Bush's own Dept. of Justice was unable to find more than a handful of actual voter fraud culprits despite their unprecedented efforts to root out this menace. And, definitely never mind that studies cited [PDF] by the League of Women Voters, and many others, have warned that more than 20 million legal American voters --- most of them, coincidentally, minorities, elderly and students (read: Democratic-leaning voters) --- stand to be completely disenfranchised by such draconian restrictions since many of them do not have the type of government issued photo ID the Republicans believe can protect us from "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!"
It's not new, of course. The modern Republican War on Voting has been ongoing for years, begun as long ago (at least) as Rightwing icon Paul Weyrich's incredible 1980 speech to preachers in Dallas with Reagan and Falwell on hand (see :40 video clip at end of article below). But it's clear, despite the Republican/Fox "News"/Andy Breitbart "pimp" hoax that succeeding in killing the GOP's former #1 "voter fraud" bogey man, ACORN, the fake story of "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" will continue as a helpful voter suppression meme for the GOP for years to come --- at least if the new RNC chair, whoever that may be, has anything to say about it.
Here, in part, is what each RNC chair candidate had to say today in response to the question about how they planned to combat "Massive Democratic voter fraud!!!" as the new leader of the GOP...
Reince Priebus [WI]: "We are one of the few states in the entire country, in Wisconsin, where you can actually vote on Election Day without registering. And you can also vote without any picture identification at all. So our challenges in Wisconsin are astronomical. ... I think we need to win more races in the legislature so we can pass photo ID in all states, and make sure that we either have photo ID or real ID, or some method of protecting our constitutional right to vote in this country. And I think it has to be a top priority of the next chairman."
Ann Wagner [MO]: "Voter fraud is a real issue out there, and it's important that every state party, and at the national party, that we provide the resources and the legal basis and the resources in order to stop voter fraud out there, and to initiate what we'll call ballot integrity programs across the country. Poll watchers are very, very important to have out there to keep vigilant, and we had an army of those in this last election cycle at many precincts around the state of Missouri."
Saul Anuzis [MI]: "I think voter fraud is a very serious issue for all of us obviously. If you take a look at what's happened. Michigan as an example is a blue state that can go red under the right circumstances, and one of our challenges traditionally has been voter fraud in many of the urban areas."
Maria Cino [NJ]: "I too have been involved with a lot of ballot integrity and ballot security programs, and I think they're extremely important. I'll just remind you in 1981 - some of you probably weren't even born --- in the state of New Jersey we won our governor, Tom Kean, by 1,776 votes. In the state of Florida in 2000, we won by 500 votes. Ballot integrity programs are important, and as chairman that would be one of the things I would most certainly fund."
Michael Steele [MD]: "The issue of ballot integrity is one that is clearly on the fore-mind of everyone, in terms of whether or not ballots are secure and people can trust that the process is going to work ... And coming from a state like Maryland, we know what it's like to lose a governor's race because of cheating."
So, the story continues. See Weyrich's remarkable 1980 speech below which, no doubt, still serves as an inspiration to many of the Republicans who continue his work today. The only question now is how many of them know they're full of shit, versus those who have been getting high on their own phony supply for so long, they don't even remember that the entire campaign is nothing more than an anti-democracy --- and anti-Democrat --- voter suppression scheme.