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Daily Archives: October 19th, 2016


Being smart in voting begins with reading and understanding what the respective parties do to get your vote, including legislating against you for their purposes. MA

Trump is only amplifying what Republicans have been saying for years.

Updated by German Lopez @germanrlopez german.lopez@vox.com Oct 17, 2016, 4:30p

 

Donald Trump is very publicly freaking out about election fraud. He has tweeted multiple times about it, complaining that the election will be rigged against him — conveniently, as Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls continues to grow.

It’s really no mystery where all this bluster — with no evidence of actual voter fraud to back it up — came from: the Republican Party.

Over the past few years, Republicans in many states took an opportunity — enabled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling — to pass a series of new restrictions on voting. Critics said the restrictions disproportionately hurt minority voters. But Republican backers, at least in public, have pointed to a single issue to defend the measures: voter fraud.

A previous report by the US Department of Justice captured the sentiment among many Republicans: Rep. Sue Burmeister, a lead sponsor of Georgia’s voter restriction law, told the Justice Department that “if there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. [Burmeister] said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.” Other Republicans, such as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Iowa Rep. Steve King, have similarly warned about the dangers of voter fraud.

Trump isn’t even the first Republican presidential candidate to raise concerns about voter fraud. Back in 2008, many Republicans, with the support of conservative media outlets like Fox News, pushed concerns that ACORN — a community organization that focused in part on registering African-American voters — was engaging in mass-scale election fraud. At the time, Republican nominee John McCain warned that ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Touting these concerns, 14 states have passed new voting restrictions — from strict photo ID requirements to limits on early voting — in time for the 2016 election: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Other states passed restrictions, but they’re currently tied up in court battles.

Trump himself has referenced voter ID laws when pushing his claims that the election is rigged. He told Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, “I’m looking at all of these [court] decisions coming on down from the standpoint of identification, voter ID. And I’m saying, ‘What do you mean, you don’t have to have voter ID to now go in and vote?’ And it’s a little bit scary. … People are going to walk in, they are going to vote 10 times maybe.”

So there is a long history here. As unusual as Trump is in many ways, the idea of large-scale voter fraud is something that Republicans were perpetuating before Trump was their nominee for president.

There’s just one problem: As much as Republicans and now Trump have freaked out about voter fraud, the evidence suggests it’s extremely rare — and it’s never swung a presidential election.

Voter fraud is nearly nonexistent

Republicans’ voting restrictions tend to require a photo ID to vote — and what kind of photo ID is eligible can be strictly defined to not allow, for example, a school ID. Some laws also eliminate some or all early voting days. And they might limit when someone can register to vote, particularly so they can’t register and vote on the same day.

These restrictions can significantly hinder some people’s ability to vote. Fewer early voting days and narrower windows to register to vote limit when a voter, especially someone with a busy work or family schedule, can sign up to vote and cast a ballot. And for some, an eligible photo ID may be too costly, or they might not have the time or means to make a trip to a DMV to get the only form of ID that’s allowed.

The justification for all of this, supposedly, is to limit voter fraud.

But the type of voter fraud these initiatives target is nonexistent to extremely rare. Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt has tracked credible allegations of in-person voter fraud for years. He found 35 total credible allegations between 2000 and 2014, when more than 800 million ballots were cast in national general elections and hundreds of millions more were cast in primary, municipal, special, and other elections.

There are other kinds of voter fraud, such as vote buying, insider ballot box stuffing, double voting, and voting by people who turn out to be ineligible. All of these are also extremely rare, and there’s no evidence they have swung national elections, according to experts (and even Breitbart, a pro-Trump outlet).

But the focus is mainly on in-person voter fraud. By requiring a photo ID and limiting voting times, Republican lawmakers claim they want to stop fraudulent voters before they can even cast their ballots.

Trump has taken it a step further, arguing that beyond new laws, he wants his supporters to monitor elections for suspicious activity. His website, for example, provides a form to sign up to become an “election observer” to help “Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!”

This is all part of the same message: If Republicans and their supporters really believe that a lot of people who aren’t eligible to vote are nonetheless voting on Election Day, why wouldn’t they try to check out polling booths to make sure nothing bad is going on?

The voter fraud myth is dangerous — especially for minority voters

Republicans have long been playing with fire with this rhetoric. Claims of widespread voter fraud challenge the legitimacy of American democracy. Healthy democracies rely on people trusting the results of an election. But if people don’t feel that their voices are being heard or that they’re being treated fairly, they’re much more likely to try to take matters into their own hands — by intimidating other voters, inciting violence, or worse.

But there’s another potential consequences: New voting restrictions — and so-called “election monitors” — may target minority voters.

One widely cited 2006 study by the Brennan Center found voter ID laws, for instance, disproportionately impacted eligible black voters: 25 percent of black voting-age citizens did not have a government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of white voting-age citizens. And a study for the Black Youth Project, which analyzed 2012 voting data for people ages 18 to 29, found 72.9 percent of young black voters and 60.8 percent of young Hispanic voters were asked for IDs to vote, compared with 50.8 percent of young white voters.

For civil rights groups, the restrictions hark back to the days of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other rules that were imposed to block minorities from voting until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 effectively banned such laws. Like modern voting restrictions, the old laws didn’t appear to racially discriminate at face value — but due to selective enforcement and socioeconomic disparities, they disproportionately kept out black voters.

Trump’s call for “election observers” may produce the same kind of disparities. For example, here is how one Trump supporter explained his Election Day plans to the Boston Globe:

“I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

In other words, Trump voters expect that the fraudulent voters will be nonwhite. So they’ll target nonwhite voters to make sure they don’t break the law.

Just like voting restrictions, then, selective enforcement and “monitoring” could put extra hurdles mostly on minority voters.

This essentially puts the lie to voter restrictions and Trump’s claims. The real concern does not seem to be voter fraud, but rather that minority voters may swing elections in Democrats’ favor.

Some Republicans have admitted to this. In 2012, ousted Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer told MSNBC that concerns about voter fraud are just a “marketing tool” to justify the suppression of minority voters. “Never one time did we have any discussions where voter fraud was a real issue,” Greer claimed. “It’s simply been created as a marketing tool here in Florida for the right wing that is running state government now to convince voters that what they’re doing here is right.”

For Trump, though, there may be another reason for fostering fears about voter fraud: It gives him an easy explanation for justifying his loss in November. Trump has never taken defeat well, based on everything we know about his public persona. Claiming that the election is rigged gives him an easy out: “I didn’t really lose. The whole thing was just skewed!”

Whatever the reason, Trump’s claims of a “rigged election” are merely latching onto the myth that Republicans have built up to pass new voting restrictions — a natural extension of the rhetoric Republicans have fanned for years. So if that rhetoric leads to trouble, it can’t be pinned solely on Trump.

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The current elections have shown how divided we are as a country. This division is not new but has been accented by this Presidential race. Race became an issue when President Obama ran and won twice! The division was always there but once a man of color ran and won the Racists and bigots surfaced in droves spurred on by the likes of the Drump and many members of our illustrious(?) Congress. Skin color, sex or religious belief  has nothing to do with ability and intelligence. Our problem starts with the lack of reading and understanding what is really happening in the world and our Congress. If we were “smarter” as voters we would give less weight to the political ads that interrupt our TV time, our dinner  and assail our senses. The political system has come to rely on half truths and outright lies to get our votes. It is in our best interests to ignore this deluge of garbage and research the candidate  for ourselves. We have to remember a political campaign is just advertising in a different form. Our future is in the hands of the people we elect and unfortunately we fail to follow-up on them after they get into office. This lack of follow up is why they fail us (but not themselves).Once they fail we become disenfranchised and stop paying attention to them while looking for the next best thing. There is no next best if we continue to follow the same pattern of apathy (which the electeds depend on) until the next election cycle. I wish we were smarter, smarter means put aside the rhetoric you hear and look for the results. Look at the track record of the candidate (incumbent or new) and stop being a single issue voter. There are always multiple issues in a campaign and they affect all of us no matter who you are. The way to affect change in government is to be a smarter voter. Disappointment will always follow the uninformed.

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This political race and previous ones have shown that several so called political pundits and media hosts have one objective and that is to sell their books and their opinions (no matter how flawed). Bill O’Reilly has killed off several Presidents, Ann Coulter has shown she can’t tell one person of color from another. The issue is that in modern American the Racial divide is alive and seemingly living well. These well known (if not well read) writers have the ability to do better things with their writing but with their implied if not implicit bias they have only increased the ignorance in understanding other “races”. First we need to examine “Race” . We are ALL members of the “HUMAN RACE!”, that being said would it not make sense as members of the same world wide group that we work together in the face of truth to make the world we live in better? Forget the politics of Brexit, ISIS, Al Qaeda and other semi political groups (some of whom hold up their cause as religiously based). The aforementioned writers/ pundits have one goal and that is to sell books! Do your self a favor do not buy the books but read them on line or at a library then decide the validity of their writings and the facts(?) behind the text.   As humans we have capability to get beyond these common misconceptions by simply talking to one another and understanding that each division of the human race aside from religious views have similar if not exactly the same views on more issues than is known. The divisions are political ploys to keep us separate with overblown explanations of non issues.

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The FBI has failed again (still?). The close to the vest method of gathering information has hurt us again and again. Information on the Boston Bombers and now the Orlando shooter should have been made available to local Law enforcement. The local officers have the ability to monitor these people and hopefully prevent another tragedy. It is time that the FBI step up and really help protect Americans from any potential radical threats local and foreign. Apparently its OK to allow these events to happen in order to protect the “integrity” of the agency. It is well past time that these agencies should have a reciprocal association for the security of the Nation, this is after all their job. The agency was so intent on investigating civil rights activists that there was no protection Dr. king, none for Malcolm X and none for Robert Kennedy. I am of the opinion that the agency possibly had information that could have prevented these acts but we may never know for sure. More recently, the bureau has extensively investigated Hillary Clinton’s email (at what cost?) and decided that there were no intentional mistakes in what was done but there were many instances of poor record keeping. Little known facts  that 2 former Secretaries of State used private email servers and these were never brought up in this debate by the Dupublicans. As an agency, the FBI has changed from protectors and investigators to more of a dingy office detective. This is not to say that the agency is bad but more to say that their mandate does not  or should not include investigations involving politics or at least not publicize them until a full and complete investigation is done. These days of instant information put out incorrect or incomplete information with the speed of light but correction is lost in the dust.

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