Republican officials across the country are having a major problem with their widely ballyhooed claim that they must create new barriers to voting in order to ensure the “integrity” of the ballot. The problem is this: Their high-decibel effort is completely devoid of integrity.
The real electoral fraud being perpetrated across our country is the GOP’s frantic claim that hordes of ineligible Democrats are voting illegally. It just isn’t true. Indeed, despite all of their squawking, and despite deploying numerous dragnets to apprehend thousands of these election defrauders, they’ve produced practically no cases of illegal voting happening anywhere.
Nonetheless, what they have produced is a rash of intimidating, show-me-your-papers voter ID requirements. Thus, the GOP is tainting itself with a sleazy legacy of voter suppression, deliberately trying to diminish Democratic turnout by purging voter rolls and scaring off legitimate balloters.
Rather than meekly acquiescing to the suppression, however, the constituencies targeted by the GOP’s hokey poll-integrity campaign (mainly going after darker-skinned voters, poor people, students and others inclined to vote for Dems) have been standing up for their rights and taking the self-serving suppressors to court. And, to the party’s chagrin, the courts have been rejecting, setting aside or weakening every one of their repressive laws that have been challenged this year, including those in Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.
In fairness, though, we must concede that fraud does lurk as a threat to our democratic process. Take Sugar Land, Texas, the hometown of Catherine Engelbrecht. A Tea Party zealot, she founded an outfit called True the Vote, which has run a nationwide witch-hunt to find and indict those imaginary hordes of Democrats casting illegal ballots. No luck there. But rather than charging pell-mell across the country, she could have sniffed out a real fraud case right under her nose.
Bruce Fleming, running for county commissioner in Engelbrecht’s very own precinct, turns out to be a serial violator of voter integrity laws. In 2006, 2008 and 2010, he voted in person in Sugar Land, then voted again by mail in Yardley, Pa., where he owns a home.
But he’s a Republican, and Engelbrecht’s fraud squad wasn’t looking for those. In fact, this fraudulent voter had been named “precinct chairman of the year” by the county GOP in 2010!