Once upon a time in America, if a group of citizen volunteers set out to help election officials detect problems with the voter rolls, they would have been praised. If a group of citizen volunteers had detected scores of dead people on the voter rolls they would have received broad accolades from all corners of America.
Once upon a time in America, we esteemed law abiding citizens who helped law enforcement detect law breakers – especially when it comes to the sanctity of elections.
But this isn’t the America we used to know. Instead, when election integrity groups like Houston-based True the Vote help detect countless problems with American elections – including people who illegally voted twice in the 2008 Presidential election from different states – they are slandered and attacked by the New York Times, academia and formerly relevant civil rights organizations.
Something has indeed changed.
The 2012 election will have something never before seen in American elections – ordinary citizens in every corner of the country analyzing the voter rolls to see if dead and ineligible voters remain registered. On election day, volunteers will fan out across thousands of American polling places armed with pen and paper and record what happened.
For exercising this noble civic undertaking, the headlines of the New York Times scream “Voter Harassment Circa 2012.” The Times tells us “a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records . . . nonexistent [voter fraud] is used as an excuse to reduce the political rights of minorities, the poor, students, older Americans and other groups that tend to vote Democratic.”
This is an outright lie. And it might be shocking if it weren’t published on the pages of a newspaper with a long history of publishing lies, such as those fed through the pen of Times reporter and Stalin stooge Walter Duranty. The Times has no data that cleaning up the voter rolls affects “minorities” and “the poor,” but emotional dog whistles work better than reason or facts.
Then the Times lies about the election day poll observation activities of citizen volunteers: “In 2009 and 2010, for example, the group focused on the Houston Congressional district represented by Sheila Jackson Lee, a black Democrat. . . . That didn’t stop the group from sending dozens of white “poll watchers” to precincts in the district during the 2010 elections, deliberately creating friction with black voters.”
The truth is that True the Vote was deployed all over Harris County, Texas, in 2010. The only place where their elderly, and usually female, volunteers were met with hostility and discourtesy was in Sheila Jackson Lee’s Congressional district. Nowhere else did they encounter any objections to their law abiding observation activities. But in Jackson Lee’s district, these elderly retirees were verbally assaulted and in some cases even removed from the polling places after the personal intervention of Quanell X of the New Black Panther Party.
It makes you wonder what was happening inside the polls that made elderly volunteers with a pen and paper so threatening.
Once upon a time in America, the outrage would be directed toward the uncivil New Black Panthers who threw out the elderly poll watchers, and not toward the poll watchers merely recording events inside the polls.
Small liars at left-wing blogs print lies like the Eric Holder Justice Department is “investigating” Tea Party voter intimidation, and then big liars and big newspapers eventually print the same thing. This is how decent Americans seeking to improve the election process are smeared and slandered by the irresponsible. This is another in a growing list of modern examples where the law abiding are attacked while the lawless are defended.
Unfortunately, the New York Times is not alone in smearing law abiding citizens. The usual suspects have joined in. The Advancement Project, Demos, the Brennan Center and Common Cause have all resorted to slander and dishonesty to stop the work of law-abiding groups like True the Vote.
But a few facts get in the way. First of all, the National Voter Registration Act (usually called Motor Voter), invites private third-party groups to play a role in policing the nation’s voter rolls. This was part of a compromise in 1993 in Congress to increase voter registration. For 20 years, this right lay dormant, untouched by any party or candidate. Not until after 2010 did groups like True the Vote mushroom all over the nation and begin to use this federal power to police the rolls.
Second, most state laws permit third party election observers. The power to observe the election is a power used in third world elections to ensure they are fairly and properly run. That groups like Common Cause now oppose the exercise of this right says a great deal about them. These citizens groups are doing exactly what the law allows – quietly standing in a polling place with a pen and paper.
Apparently to some in Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s district, having someone watch and record the voting process is too risky.
In my book Injustice, I document instance after instance of election fraud. But I also report the troubling results of a poll conducted by pollster Pat Cadell. He found that only 17% of Americans believe we still enjoy the “consent of the governed.” He calls this attitude “pre-revolutionary.” Free and fair elections, open to observation by all, are the best way to foster belief that we are governed by consent. The more thugs groups like the New Black Panthers and high-browed publications like the Times seek to remove law abiding citizens from American poll places, the more we will wonder what they are trying to hide.
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