The True Face of 'Voter Fraud'

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Let us dispense with all machination and intrigue and just say what we mean:

Bauer told TPM "voter fraud is rampant in urban areas" and he expected that to help Obama...

"There's a lot of people out now around America who depend on checks from their fellow taxpayers being in the mailbox every day," Bauer said. "They will turn out in massive numbers, but so will the entrepreneurs, the small businessmen and women, the military families, the soldiers in harms way, the millions of Americans that want to hope again." 

That last set of voters, Bauer said, will turn things for Romney. As for voter fraud, Bauer claimed Republicans will have to contend with lots of fake votes from the big cities. But he said those Obama votes won't be enough either. "My prediction is after all the votes are counted -- even the dead votes of Democrats in Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland -- I predict that we will win, that this nightmare will be over and America will finally be on the road to recovery," Bauer said.
The line here is rather interesting -- if you receive a government check of some kind (save Social Security, of course) and in an urban area you are likely fraudulent. Continuing in that vein the Times has a good story on a group True The Vote:
Ms. Engelbrecht, who at 42 is younger than most of the Tea Party members she addresses around the country, said that until four years ago she was apolitical, a churchgoing mother of two who ran a successful oil field machinery business with her husband in Fort Bend County, Tex. 

"Then in 2008, I don't know, something clicked," she said. "I saw our country headed in a direction that, for whatever reason -- it didn't hit me until 2008 -- this really threatens the future of our children."
Funny how it just "clicked" in 2008. Moving on:
The epiphany prompted Ms. Engelbrecht to work as a poll watcher in the 2009 local elections along with others in the King Street Patriots, the Tea Party group she founded. It was supposed to be a one-day assignment, but it crystallized the concerns of Ms. Engelbrecht and her fellow volunteers, who said they saw shenanigans including outright fraud. The group felt duty bound to continue its activities. 

In Houston, the group targeted the Congressional district represented by Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat who is black. Ms. Engelbrecht said the group settled on Ms. Lee's district because thousands of addresses there housed six or more registered voters, which it took as an indication of inaccurate registrations. The methodology, which the group still uses, could disproportionately affect lower income families. Volunteers spent five months analyzing 3,800 registrations in Ms. Lee's district, discovering more than 500 voters that the group said were problematic. More than 200 voters were registered at vacant lots, prompting Ms. Engelbrecht to later remark that those voters had a "Lord of the Rings Middle Earth sort of thing going on." 

 The reality was far less interesting. "They had one particular case I remember very well," said Douglas Ray, the Harris County assistant attorney who represents the election registrar. "They had identified an address where eight or 10 people were registered to vote. There was no building there." Mr. Ray found out that the building had been torn down and that the people simply moved. 

As a result of the organization's work in 2010, 400 to 500 voters were put on "suspense," forcing them to provide additional information verifying their addresses. By the fall 2010 election, volunteers again appeared to focus on minority neighborhoods, this time as election observers, Mr. Ray said.
The thing that's worth remembering here is that for as long as there has been an America, there have people attempting to curtail the citizenship rights of non-white people. This is a very old narrative, and it's important to see the connection here and portray this as something "new" or "innovative." 

Our picture of pre-Civil Rights America is unduly shaped by "Whites Only" water fountains. Some of the most pernicious racism was ostensibly color-blind. This is especially true in the realm of voting, where the legal weaponry of white supremacists weren't simply "No Coloreds" but literacy tests, poll taxes, felon disenfranchisement, and grandfather clauses. And just like vote-fraud prevention, each enjoyed a patina of legitimacy. Literacy tests could be defended by noting that voting should be restricted to those who could read the ballot; poll taxes, by noting that those with a stake in the community should determine its fate; felon disenfranchisement by asserting the basic amorality of criminals.

There is no real debate, today, over the true intent of these laws. The poll taxers of yore are the ancestors to groups like True The Vote. To deny their connection, to assume that they happened to bloom by coincidence just as America elected a black president, is to subscribe to a kind of historical blindness.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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