GOP plays games on voter fraud

The Republican National Committee has held several phone conferences to tout voter fraud issues.

The RNC, Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Jim Gibbons are still out decrying the ACORN fraud for a big reason:

When voters hear of attempted registration fraud, they are more apt to believe the whole system is failing. And when the GOP can push hard on the notion that it is reforming such fraud, it tends to keep some people away from the polls.

In some Philadelphia precincts, fliers turned up warning people that voting will help the government find parking ticket scofflaws. The message? If you vote, you’re going to have to pay that fine.

In Nevada, the message takes a more subtle approach. Ensign is out leading the charge. On Tuesday, he issued a curious news release urging the use of identification at the polls to “comply with federal law.”

The headline of the news release might lead some voters to believe that everyone will have to show an ID to vote. Perhaps, then, you might not want to go vote if you have parking tickets or owe back taxes or have a stack of overdue library books.

Ensign’s news release follows the simple GOP playbook: Fight hard against suspected voter fraud to distract from real issues.

The Help America Vote Act, enacted after the disastrous 2000 election, requires new voters to show some type of identification when they register. If a new voter simply filled out a form and handed it to a campaign worker, election officials have no real proof of that voter’s identity. So when the voter shows up to vote for the first time, he or she is supposed to be asked to show ID.

The rest of us, and anyone who showed ID when registering, aren’t supposed to need an ID when voting.

Ensign’s bold suggestion is that poll workers check IDs. “Nevada officials should implement the highest standard to ensure that Nevada’s election maintains maximum credibility,” Ensign said. “I believe that requiring photo identification is the best way to do that.”

That may be his belief. But for the vast majority of Nevada voters, it’s not a requirement. Yet Ensign continues to spin his yarn. “Given the current irregularities relating to fraudulent voter registration, this would go a long way in maintaining confidence in our election process,’ Ensign said.

The reason I have confidence in the system is that the ACORN knuckleheads being paid to register a set quota of voters got caught.

The GOP is using this now only to try to keep more people from voting.

The Associated Press reports 9 million new voters have registered for this election nationwide. The Obama campaign’s voter outreach has sparked a good deal of that. You don’t need an MBA to see how these numbers work against the GOP.

In Pennsylvania, Democrats have gained 500,000 voters while the GOP has lost them. Here in Nevada, Democrats have at least a 100,000-voter edge.

The Obama-Biden campaign claims Democratic registration has outpaced Republican registration by a 4-to-1 margin over the past six months.

Every election cycle, the GOP runs around the country screaming about voter fraud and threatening to sue. In 2006, the Department of Justice was supposed to be ferreting out all this fraud. And U.S. attorneys who didn’t find any evidence or vigorously pursue these shadow cases were shown the door.

In Montana, the state Republican Party has recently challenged roughly 6,000 registered voters, most of them in Democratic areas. Democrats sued, and last week Republican U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy lambasted the GOP for issuing the challenges.

“The timing of these challenges is so transparent that it defies common sense to believe the purpose is anything but political chicanery,” Molloy wrote in his order.

Montana shouldn’t even be a worry for the GOP, but the party is also challenging voters in Michigan and Wisconsin (using foreclosure lists) and fought against having the registration and early-vote periods overlap in Ohio.

How democratic.

Here in Nevada, Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller strongly warned against anyone challenging voters using foreclosure lists and similar methods.

And his office is the one that went after ACORN for the bogus registration attempts to begin with. GOP officials are just bummed they can’t isolate Miller as a partisan hack. That might help raise money, like the RNC tried Wednesday under the banner “Fight Vote Fraud Now.”

Ensign has let his role as chairman of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, not to mention his desire to climb the leadership ranks, undermine his common sense.

And there’s nothing sensible about it.

Contact Erin Neff at (702) 387-2906, or by e-mail at eneff@reviewjournal.com.

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