Tuesday, October 26, 2004

If turnout is the name of the game in this election, then new registration is the ninth inning, tie breaking run. Both sides know it.
Citing examples from "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy" by John Fund of The Wall Street Journal, George Will argues that voter fraud by the Dems is widespread. In Columbus, Ohio, he points out, there are approximately 815,000 people 18 or over. But 845,720 are now registered. One reason for such unacceptable numbers in various jurisdictions across the nation is that voter rolls are not frequently enough purged of voters whose status has changed. Unfortunately, there is reluctance, especially among Republicans, to support measures that might appear to have a "disparate impact" on minorities and therefore be denounced as racist.
Indeed. How unfortunate that Republican motives are so misunderstood. They purge a measly few thousand black voters off the 2000 Florida and St. Louis voter rolls and Democrats get bent out of shape about it. It's so unjust. Will fails to point out, though, that Florida Republicans were up to the same shenanigans this year and had to be taken to court before they would lay off their dirty doings. Will's disingenuousness intrigues me: Does he believe his own blather? If so, I'd like to point out to him that these shrinking violet Republicans who don't dare purge outdated voter rolls are planning to be mighty aggressive on election day. They've registered thousands of people who are going to be "vote challengers" at Ohio polling places. Earlier, the Ohio Secretary of State tried to prevent new registrations by invalidating those that weren't on the right thickness of paper. And that's just in Ohio. In several states, Sproul and Associates has been registering people, but tearing up the Democratic registration cards. A Republican judge in Nevada ruled that those poor Dems can't reregister. Ari Berman's "Daily Outrage" column last Friday summarized a range of other Republican disenfranchisement sins.
Look at underhanded Republican tactics this way: they're scared. That's why Mallard Fillmore spent every comic strip last week urging ignorant (read: Democrat) voters not to vote. And Mona Charen ran with the same theme in Monday's column: "If you're ignorant about the issues, don't vote."
They should be worried, and at least this time, Dems won't roll over and play dead if it's close. Katrina vanden Heuvel's column in The Nation makes the case that disenfranchisement, not voter fraud is the widespread threat and that we're not about to let them steal it all again. She quotes Andrew Gumbel's warning that 2004 could turn into "a concatenation of knockdown, drag-out fights in several states at once, making the debacle in Florida four years ago look, in retrospect, like the constitutional equivalent of a vicarage tea party."
Forestalling such chaos is as simple and as difficult as overwhelming them next Tuesday. As I said, voter turnout is the name of the game. Getting newly registered and infrequent voters to the polls could be a tie breaking grand slam. If you're not already signed up, get busy and help.

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