Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal Journal: The all-purpose smitty_one_each response form Version 1.2 12

After fruitless and frustrating correspondance with smitty_one_each, I have decided that a checkbox form letter would be the best approach. Thus, I begin -

Additional updates to follow as live edits. Suggestions accepted.

------cut and paste------

The ALL-purpose smitty_one_each response form VERSION 1.2

My dear smitty_one_each, in an effort to save time, please find the answer to your post checked below.

___: Your post ignored because an assertion is not an argument
___: You changed the subject. It's difficult to discuss anything when you do that.
___: A rational tone is not a substitute for a rational argument
___: You failed to detect lies and bias in your news source.
___: Comment is cryptic. It is impossible to determine your point.

User Journal

Journal Journal: War on NULLMas check in 4

ALL TROOPS report on your activities regarding the war on NULLMas.

My report:

-I'm taking the Chi out of NULLMas. As smart people know, and few listeners to Bill O'Reily know, the X (Chi) is the Greek symbol for Christ. Therefore, writing XMas is equivalent to writing Christmas. If you're a serious NULLMas warrior, as I am, you will have to avoid the Chi. Chi == bad.

-When people wish me a Merry Christmas, I respond with a cheerful "Merry Christmas to you as well!" even though I don't really mean it. This is what we in the war on NULLMas call "subterfuge." When the enemy incorrectly believes that they have successfully wished us a Merry Christmas, then we have an advantage.

-I am planning a quickie rub out on NULLMas morning in the bathroom. I'll keep thoughts of all the beautiful animals of the manger in my head. Especially the sheep, beautiful sheep.

-NULLMas will be an ordinary day for me. That means I hope I can find a hooker with a credit card machine. Then I'll open a lot of presents from my admirers, and I'll see how many will fit in my ass.

Troops, we are close to eradicating NULLMas from America once and for all. Our agent in Paris, Zombie Ben Franklin, reports that it should only require his participation in a half-dozen more royal orgies to secure the support of the French in this war against the agents of General Kringle. Keep up the good work and submit reports of any anti-NULLMas activities below.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rahm Emanuel and Blagofuck transcript (fake) 2

Thought this was funny.

        RAHM EMANUEL: This is Rahm.

        ROD BLAGOJEVICH: Hey Rahm, yeah it's Rod.

        EMANUEL: Uh-huh. What's going on governor, I'm busy.

        BLAGO: Well, it's about that Senate appointment...

        EMANUEL: We already gave you the list of people we like.

        BLAGO: Yeah, I been looking the list over. Interesting names. Good people. How's the transition going?

        EMANUEL: It's going fine, governor. Are you calling to fucking tell me anything, or what, cause I--

        BLAGO: No no, I'm just wondering if you have all your picks already made. I heard something about Dashle for HHS--

        EMANUEL: I'm not gonna discuss ongoing deliberations, gov, you know that.

        BLAGO: Hey, come on Rahm, let's not act like I'm a stranger here.

        EMANUEL: Did I call you a stranger? If I thought you were a stranger, you think I'd be interrupting my important fucking business to take this fucking phone call?

        BLAGO: Hey you don't have to get curt with me, Rahm.

        EMANUEL: This isn't me being curt, Gov, this is me being fucking busy. Now what did you call about?

        BLAGO: I'm just feeling you out, seeing if Valerie [Jarret] still wants that Senate seat, just wondering what kind of priority that is for the President-Elect.

        EMANUEL: Actually, it's not a priority. Valerie's had second thoughts about the job.

        BLAGO: What, she doesn't want it anymore?

        EMANUEL: She's having second thoughts. You want more details, you ask her.

        BLAGO: She won't take my calls.

        EMANUEL: Big fucking surprise.

        BLAGO: What's that supposed to mean?

        EMANUEL: Um, I don't know, what's it supposed to mean governor? A.) You're a fucking crook. B.) You're a fucking asshole. C.) All of the above.

        BLAGO: I'm clean Rahm, you know this. You think that fucking Fitzgerald would being twiddling his fucking thumbs if he had shit to go on?

        EMANUEL: I gotta go, Gov. You appoint who you want, we really don't give a shit.

        BLAGO: What if I appoint Valerie, what if she takes it?

        EMANUEL: What do you want me to say? We'd appreciate it, I'm not gonna fucking kiss your ring over it.

        BLAGO: "Appreciate it"? Come on, this is a senate seat we're talking about. It's worth a fuck of a lot more than appreciation.

        EMANUEL: You asked us for a list, we gave you a fucking list, you want to make your own list then make your own fucking list. [Raising voice] But if you're asking for anything else from me, or Barack, or Valerie, then you can fucking stop talking right now Rod.

        BLAGO: Wait a sec there Rahm. Wait just a fucking minute. Who are you to talk to me like that? I fucking made you.

        EMANUEL: You made me? You made me? Tell me you're fucking joking.

        BLAGO: No no no, you listen to me shit-face. You see this list I got, the names motherfucking Obama fucking wants for the Senate. I just ripped it in two. How you like that? Oops, Harris just dropped it in the shredder. Harris?

        HARRIS (muffled): Yes sir?

        BLAGO: Did you just drop that list in the shredder?

        [Whirring, shredder noise]

        HARRIS (muffled): I did.

        EMANUEL: Do you have me on fucking speakerphone?

        BLAGO: It's in the shredder, Rahm. The list is bye bye.

        EMANUEL: Hold on a sec -- you got me on fucking speakerphone? Who the fuck do you think I am?

        BLAGO: Who are you Rahm? Who are you? You're shit, you hear me? Don't come back to Chicago Rahm, it's not your town any more.

        EMANUEL: Pick up the phone Rod.

        BLAGO: I'll put someone in the senate who will fucking fuck you. I might even put myself in there, how you like that Rahm? How you gonna explain that to fucking Barack, every time he's gotta call me up for my fucking vote. He'd have to take my calls then, wouldn't he?

        EMANUEL: [Screaming] I said pick up the FUCKING phone!

        BLAGO: [Picks up phone, speakerphone off] I got your attention now, didn't I?

        EMANUEL: Shut the fuck up and listen to me for one second Rod. And I want you to listen carefully, because this is the last time I'm ever going to talk to you. You are fucking dead to me. You been fucking dead to Barack since '06, now you're dead to me. Know what that means? That means you're dead to my people in Chicago, Daley on down, and all these friends you think you have aren't gonna touch you with a ten foot fucking pole.

        BLAGO: Oh now you're the fucking Godfather? Fuck you.

        EMANUEL: No fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

        BLAGO: Fuck you!

        EMANUEL: Listen up asshole. The shit's gonna hit the fan, maybe tomorrow, maybe next month, and when Fitz finally brings down the hammer it's gonna be my name that's going through your head. You won't know the hows or the fucking whys, but it's gonna have my fucking fingerprints all over it. Have a great life fatso.

        BLAGO: Hey fuck--

        EMANUEL: [Click.]

        End of conversation

User Journal

Journal Journal: Just so we're clear on how we got here 3

The truth is most of the individual mistakes boil down to just one: a belief that markets are self-adjusting and that the role of government should be minimal. Looking back at that belief during hearings this fall on Capitol Hill, Alan Greenspan said out loud, "I have found a flaw." Congressman Henry Waxman pushed him, responding, "In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right; it was not working." "Absolutely, precisely," Greenspan said. The embrace by America--and much of the rest of the world--of this flawed economic philosophy made it inevitable that we would eventually arrive at the place we are today.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Goodbye PC Magazine 8

Well maybe not goodbye, but PC Magazine will be stopping publication of a print edition in January, changing to a web-only format. I'm sure that everybody's read PC Magazine at one time or another, if only to catch up on John Dvorak's insane rantings. I can't say that I've read a copy in the past 5 years.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Time to fess up 9

OK, y'all. How many of you went out and bought one or more new guns just because Obama won the election?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Republicans have a racism problem 2

And too often, they apologize for the racists. They need to throw the racists out of the party, but it seems to me that conservatives just don't know how to do it. They're kind of new to this whole "equality" thing. Luckily, there's a video showing how conservatives can throw the racists out of the party. Hopefully, the old guys like McCain will watch it to learn how it's done. His current strategy of calling voters and telling them that Obama is an A-rab is NOT the way it's done.

OK, here is how you do it:

See how these people speak out loudly against racists without defending them even a little bit? They're not attacking the messenger, as many Republicans do. They're not minimizing the problem by saying that not all Republicans are racists. They aren't making any excuses for the racists behavior at all. They're just simply doing the right thing here.

Obviously we don't know what they said during the parts edited out, but it doesn't matter. The statements on the video, standing by themselves, are what conservatives EVERYWHERE need to be repeating.

Racists should not feel like they can come to a McCain rally and be welcomed when they sell hateful shit like these bumper stickers. Throw those motherfuckers out.

User Journal

Journal Journal: In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud 3

The New York Times
Printer Friendly Format Sponsored By

April 12, 2007
In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud

Correction Appended

WASHINGTON, April 11 -- Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.

In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting.

One ex-convict was so unfamiliar with the rules that he provided his prison-issued identification card, stamped "Offender," when he registered just before voting.

A handful of convictions involved people who voted twice. More than 30 were linked to small vote-buying schemes in which candidates generally in sheriff's or judge's races paid voters for their support.

A federal panel, the Election Assistance Commission, reported last year that the pervasiveness of fraud was debatable. That conclusion played down findings of the consultants who said there was little evidence of it across the country, according to a review of the original report by The New York Times that was reported on Wednesday.

Mistakes and lapses in enforcing voting and registration rules routinely occur in elections, allowing thousands of ineligible voters to go to the polls. But the federal cases provide little evidence of widespread, organized fraud, prosecutors and election law experts said.

"There was nothing that we uncovered that suggested some sort of concerted effort to tilt the election," Richard G. Frohling, an assistant United States attorney in Milwaukee, said.

Richard L. Hasen, an expert in election law at the Loyola Law School, agreed, saying: "If they found a single case of a conspiracy to affect the outcome of a Congressional election or a statewide election, that would be significant. But what we see is isolated, small-scale activities that often have not shown any kind of criminal intent."

For some convicted people, the consequences have been significant. Kimberly Prude, 43, has been jailed in Milwaukee for more than a year after being convicted of voting while on probation, an offense that she attributes to confusion over eligibility.

In Pakistan, Usman Ali is trying to rebuild his life after being deported from Florida, his legal home of more than a decade, for improperly filling out a voter-registration card while renewing his driver's license.

In Alaska, Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez, a Mexican who legally lives in the United States, may soon face a similar fate, because he voted even though he was not eligible.

The push to prosecute voter fraud figured in the removals last year of at least two United States attorneys whom Republican politicians or party officials had criticized for failing to pursue cases.

The campaign has roiled the Justice Department in other ways, as career lawyers clashed with a political appointee over protecting voters' rights, and several specialists in election law were installed as top prosecutors.

Department officials defend their record. "The Department of Justice is not attempting to make a statement about the scale of the problem," a spokesman, Bryan Sierra, said. "But we are obligated to investigate allegations when they come to our attention and prosecute when appropriate."

Officials at the department say that the volume of complaints has not increased since 2002, but that it is pursuing them more aggressively.

Previously, charges were generally brought just against conspiracies to corrupt the election process, not against individual offenders, Craig Donsanto, head of the elections crimes branch, told a panel investigating voter fraud last year. For deterrence, Mr. Donsanto said, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales authorized prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against individuals.

Some of those cases have baffled federal judges.

"I find this whole prosecution mysterious," Judge Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, said at a hearing in Ms. Prude's case. "I don't know whether the Eastern District of Wisconsin goes after every felon who accidentally votes. It is not like she voted five times. She cast one vote."

The Justice Department stand is backed by Republican Party and White House officials, including Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser. The White House has acknowledged that he relayed Republican complaints to President Bush and the Justice Department that some prosecutors were not attacking voter fraud vigorously. In speeches, Mr. Rove often mentions fraud accusations and warns of tainted elections.

Voter fraud is a highly polarized issue, with Republicans asserting frequent abuses and Democrats contending that the problem has been greatly exaggerated to promote voter identification laws that could inhibit the turnout by poor voters.

The New Priority

The fraud rallying cry became a clamor in the Florida recount after the 2000 presidential election. Conservative watchdog groups, already concerned that the so-called Motor Voter Law in 1993 had so eased voter registration that it threatened the integrity of the election system, said thousands of fraudulent votes had been cast.

Similar accusations of compromised elections were voiced by Republican lawmakers elsewhere.

The call to arms reverberated in the Justice Department, where John Ashcroft, a former Missouri senator, was just starting as attorney general.

Combating voter fraud, Mr. Ashcroft announced, would be high on his agenda. But in taking up the fight, he promised that he would also be vigilant in attacking discriminatory practices that made it harder for minorities to vote.

"American voters should neither be disenfranchised nor defrauded," he said at a news conference in March 2001.

Enlisted to help lead the effort was Hans A. von Spakovsky, a lawyer and Republican volunteer in the Florida recount. As a Republican election official in Atlanta, Mr. Spakovsky had pushed for stricter voter identification laws. Democrats say those laws disproportionately affect the poor because they often mandate government-issued photo IDs or driver's licenses that require fees.

At the Justice Department, Mr. Spakovsky helped oversee the voting rights unit. In 2003, when the Texas Congressional redistricting spearheaded by the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, was sent to the Justice Department for approval, the career staff members unanimously said it discriminated against African-American and Latino voters.

Mr. Spakovsky overruled the staff, said Joseph Rich, a former lawyer in the office. Mr. Spakovsky did the same thing when they recommended the rejection of a voter identification law in Georgia considered harmful to black voters. Mr. Rich said. Federal courts later struck down the Georgia law and ruled that the boundaries of one district in the Texas plan violated the Voting Rights Act.

Former lawyers in the office said Mr. Spakovsky's decisions seemed to have a partisan flavor unlike those in previous Republican and Democratic administrations. Mr. Spakovsky declined to comment.

"I understand you can never sweep politics completely away," said Mark A. Posner, who had worked in the civil and voting rights unit from 1980 until 2003. "But it was much more explicit, pronounced and consciously done in this administration."

At the same time, the department encouraged United States attorneys to bring charges in voter fraud cases, not a priority in prior administrations. The prosecutors attended training seminars, were required to meet regularly with state or local officials to identify possible cases and were expected to follow up accusations aggressively.

The Republican National Committee and its state organizations supported the push, repeatedly calling for a crackdown. In what would become a pattern, Republican officials and lawmakers in a number of states, including Florida, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Washington, made accusations of widespread abuse, often involving thousands of votes.

In swing states, including Ohio and Wisconsin, party leaders conducted inquiries to find people who may have voted improperly and prodded officials to act on their findings.

But the party officials and lawmakers were often disappointed. The accusations led to relatively few cases, and a significant number resulted in acquittals.

The Path to Jail

One of those officials was Rick Graber, former chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

"It is a system that invites fraud," Mr. Graber told reporters in August 2005 outside the house of a Milwaukeean he said had voted twice. "It's a system that needs to be fixed."

Along with an effort to identify so-called double voters, the party had also performed a computer crosscheck of voting records from 2004 with a list of felons, turning up several hundred possible violators. The assertions of fraud were turned over to the United States attorney's office for investigation.

Ms. Prude's path to jail began after she attended a Democratic rally in Milwaukee featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton in late 2004. Along with hundreds of others, she marched to City Hall and registered to vote. Soon after, she sent in an absentee ballot.

Four years earlier, though, Ms. Prude had been convicted of trying to cash a counterfeit county government check worth $1,254. She was placed on six years' probation.

Ms. Prude said she believed that she was permitted to vote because she was not in jail or on parole, she testified in court. Told by her probation officer that she could not vote, she said she immediately called City Hall to rescind her vote, a step she was told was not necessary.

"I made a big mistake, like I said, and I truly apologize for it," Ms. Prude said during her trial in 2005. That vote, though, resulted in a felony conviction and sent her to jail for violating probation.

Of the hundreds of people initially suspected of violations in Milwaukee, 14 -- most black, poor, Democratic and first-time voters -- ever faced federal charges. United States Attorney Steven M. Biskupic would say only that there was insufficient evidence to bring other cases.

No residents of the house where Mr. Graber made his assertion were charged. Even the 14 proved frustrating for the Justice Department. It won five cases in court.

The evidence that some felons knew they that could not vote consisted simply of a form outlining 20 or more rules that they were given when put on probation and signs at local government offices, testimony shows.

The Wisconsin prosecutors lost every case on double voting. Cynthia C. Alicea, 25, was accused of multiple voting in 2004 because officials found two registration cards in her name. She and others were acquitted after explaining that they had filed a second card and voted just once after a clerk said they had filled out the first card incorrectly.

In other states, some of those charged blamed confusion for their actions. Registration forms almost always require a statement affirming citizenship.

Mr. Ali, 68, who had owned a jewelry store in Tallahassee, got into trouble after a clerk at the motor vehicles office had him complete a registration form that he quickly filled out in line, unaware that it was reserved just for United States citizens.

Even though he never voted, he was deported after living legally in this country for more than 10 years because of his misdemeanor federal criminal conviction.

"We're foreigners here," Mr. Ali said in a telephone interview from Lahore, Pakistan, where he lives with his daughter and wife, both United States citizens.

In Alaska, Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez, who manages a gasoline station, had received a voter registration form in the mail. Because he had applied for citizenship, he thought it was permissible to vote, his lawyer said. Now, he may be deported to Mexico after 16 years in the United States. "What I want is for them to leave me alone," he said in an interview.

Federal prosecutors in Kansas and Missouri successfully prosecuted four people for multiple voting. Several claimed residency in each state and voted twice.

United States attorney's offices in four other states did turn up instances of fraudulent voting in mostly rural areas. They were in the hard-to-extinguish tradition of vote buying, where local politicians offered $5 to $100 for individuals' support.

Unease Over New Guidelines

Aside from those cases, nearly all the remaining 26 convictions from 2002 to and 2005 -- the Justice Department will not release details about 2006 cases except to say they had 30 more convictions-- were won against individuals acting independently, voter records and court documents show.

Previous guidelines had barred federal prosecutions of "isolated acts of individual wrongdoing" that were not part of schemes to corrupt elections. In most cases, prosecutors also had to prove an intent to commit fraud, not just an improper action.

That standard made some federal prosecutors uneasy about proceeding with charges, including David C. Iglesias, who was the United States attorney in New Mexico, and John McKay, the United States attorney in Seattle.

Although both found instances of improper registration or voting, they declined to bring charges, drawing criticism from prominent Republicans in their states. In Mr. Iglesias's case, the complaints went to Mr. Bush. Both prosecutors were among those removed in December.

In the last year, the Justice Department has installed top prosecutors who may not be so reticent. In four states, the department has named interim or permanent prosecutors who have worked on election cases at Justice Department headquarters or for the Republican Party.

Bradley J. Schlozman has finished a year as interim United States attorney in Missouri, where he filed charges against four people accused of creating fake registration forms for nonexistent people. The forms could likely never be used in voting. The four worked for a left-leaning group, Acorn, and reportedly faked registration cards to justify their wages. The cases were similar to one that Mr. Iglesias had declined to prosecute, saying he saw no intent to influence the outcome of an election.

"The decision to file those indictments was reviewed by Washington," a spokesman for Mr. Schlozman, Don Ledford, said. "They gave us the go-ahead."

Sabrina Pacifici and Barclay Walsh contributed research.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Obama Campaign's Response to McCain's ACORN Letter 33

Obama Campaign's Response to McCain's ACORN Letter

        September 23, 2008

        Honorable John C. Danforth

        Honorable Warren B. Rudman

        McCain-Palin 2008

        P.O. Box 16118

        Arlington , VA 22215

        Dear Senator Danforth and Senator Rudman:

                              We have received your letter of September 15, 2008, informing us of the formation of what you call the "Honest and Open Election Committee" by the McCain-Palin Campaign.

                                However attractively labeled, this seems a starkly political maneuver to deflect attention from the reality of the suppression strategies pursued by national,state and Republican party committees. This has been the shameful history of the party from the Goldwater "Operation Eagle Eye" program to the present day--a history replete with instances of systematically planned and executed programs to block access to the vote for targeted communities of voters.

                              In 2004, the Republican Party, on the eve of the general election, mounted challenges to tens of thousands of voters in Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin based on "caging lists," that is, lists of returned mailers or based on similar information providing no legitimate grounds whatsoever for such challenges. None of these challenges, to our knowledge, was upheld and accusations of voter fraud by national Republican Party leaders were proven utterly baseless.

                              Now,in 2008, the Republican Party again appears determined to engage in tactics and strategies to deny the right to vote to qualified citizens:

                        In Michigan, the chairman of Macomb County Republican Party has threatened to use lists of persons whose homes have been foreclosed to challenge those persons at the polls. Only after public exposure, did he deny that this was the plan for Macomb County, and this matter is now before the federal district court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

                        In Florida, the RNC has mailed non-forwardable letters to Democratic voters asking them to "confirm" their party affiliation as Republican--thereby raising doubts about their registration status and creating the basis for possible challenge lists. Even top Republican election officials in Florida, including the Secretary of State,have publicly condemned this tactic.

                        In Wisconsin, the Republican Attorney General, who serves as co-chair of the McCain-Palin campaign in the state, has filed suit challenging the refusal of the state's own election administration authorities to throw thousands of voters off the rolls based on dubious and impractical matches of identifying information.

                        In Ohio, Republicans are challenging the decision of the Secretary of State to allow first-time voters to obtain an absentee ballot at the time they register even though the law clearly affords this right.

        Manifestly, the confusion,uncertainty, deprivations of rights and interference with efficient election administration created by these tactics, and similar ones that the Republican Party has used in recent election cycles, cannot be effectively addressed by the creation late in the day of "committees" with gloriously self-serving names. Rather, the best way to address them is for responsible Republican leaders like both of you to speak out, loudly and forcefully, to condemn these tactics, to insist that they be shut down once and for all and then to make sure that they are.

              This is what we would hope that you could accomplish. If your concern truly lies with 'Honest and Open Elections", then your work is properly and effectively begins at home--with the Republican operatives who are planning and running these suppressive programs and who are being directed in these activities by the same national McCain and party leadership that recruited you to this "Committee".

        Sincerely yours,

        David Plouffe,

        Campaign Manager, Obama for America

User Journal

Journal Journal: The fraudulent fraud squad

Richard Hasen: The fraudulent fraud squad

The case of the incredible, disappearing American Center for Voting Rights

03:49 PM CDT on Sunday, June 10, 2007

Imagine that the National Rifle Association's Web site suddenly disappeared, along with all the data and reports the group had ever posted on gun issues. Imagine that Planned Parenthood inexplicably closed its doors one day, without comment from its former leaders. The scenarios are unthinkable, given how established these groups are. But even if something did happen to either, no doubt other gun or abortion groups would quickly fill the vacuum.

Not so for the American Center for Voting Rights, which has vanished with no notice, little comment and with no apparent replacement. This operation - the only prominent nongovernmental organization claiming that voter fraud is a major problem - simply stopped appearing at government panels and conferences sometime late last year.

Its Web domain name has expired, its reports are all gone (except where they have been preserved by its opponents), and its general counsel, Mark Hearne, has cleansed his résumé of his affiliation. He also won't speak to the press about the group's demise.

Its life and death says a lot about the Karl Rove-led Republican strategy of raising voter fraud as a crisis in American elections. One part of the attack, at the heart of the Justice Department scandals, involved getting U.S. attorneys in battleground states to vigorously prosecute cases of voter fraud. After exhaustive effort, Justice discovered virtually no polling-place voter fraud, and its efforts to fire U.S. attorneys who did not push the voter-fraud line enough has backfired.

But the second prong of this attack may have proven more successful. This involved using the American Center for Voting Rights to give "think tank" cachet to the unproven idea that voter fraud is a major problem. The center's work was used to support the passage of onerous voter-identification laws that depress turnout among the poor, minorities and the elderly - groups more likely to vote Democratic.

The short organizational history of the center, chronicled indefatigably by Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog, shows that the group was founded in March 2005, just days before its representatives testified at a congressional hearing on election-administration issues chaired by then-Rep. (and now federal inmate) Bob Ney. The group was headed by Mr. Hearne, national election counsel to Bush-Cheney '04, and staffed with other Republican operatives, including Jim Dyke, a former RNC communications director.

Consisting of little more than a post-office box and some staffers who wrote reports and gave helpful quotes about the pervasive problem to the press, the group identified Democratic cities as hot spots for voter fraud, then pushed the argument that "election integrity" required making it harder for people to vote.

The American Center for Voting Rights argued extensively by anecdote, such as someone, somewhere registering Mary Poppins to vote. Anecdote would then be coupled with statistics showing problems with voter rolls not being purged of voters who had died or moved, leaving open the potential for fraudulent voting. Given this great potential for mischief - yet without actual evidence - allegedly reasonable initiatives such as purging voter rolls and requiring ID seemed the natural solution.

At least in hindsight, the center's line of argument is easily deconstructed. First, arguing by anecdote is dangerous business. A new report by Lorraine Minnite of Barnard College looks at these anecdotes and shows them to be, for the most part, wholly spurious. Sure, one can find a rare case of someone voting in two jurisdictions, but nothing extensive or systematic has been unearthed or documented.

But perhaps most importantly, the idea of massive polling-place fraud (through the use of inflated voter rolls) is inherently incredible. Suppose I want to swing the Missouri election for my preferred presidential candidate. I would have to figure out who the fake, dead or missing people on the registration rolls are, then pay a lot of other individuals to go to the polling place and claim to be that person, without any return guarantee - thanks to the secret ballot - that any of them will cast a vote for my preferred candidate.

Those who do show up at the polls run the risk of being detected and charged with a felony. And for what - $10? Polling-place fraud, in short, makes no sense.

The Justice Department devoted unprecedented resources to ferreting out fraud over five years and appears to have found not a single prosecutable case across the country. Of the many experts consulted, the only dissenter from that position was a representative of the now-evaporated American Center for Voting Rights.

The arguments against vote fraud were built on a house of cards, a house that is collapsing as quickly as the U.S. attorney investigation moves forward.

But despite the demise of the voting rights center, the idea that there is massive polling-place voter fraud has, perhaps irrevocably, entered the public consciousness. It has infected even the Supreme Court's thinking about voter-ID laws. And it has provided intellectual cover for the continued partisan pursuit of voter-ID laws that may suppress minority votes.

Richard L. Hasen, the William H. Hannon distinguished professor at Loyola Law School, writes the Election Law Blog. His e-mail address is A longer version of this essay appeared at

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ayers connection bullshit 10

The New York Times

October 10, 2008
Prosecuting Weathermen

To the Editor:

Re "Politics of Attack" (editorial, Oct. 8) and "Obama and '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths" (front page, Oct. 4):

As the lead federal prosecutor of the Weathermen in the 1970s (I was then chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of Michigan and took over the Weathermen prosecution in 1972), I am amazed and outraged that Senator Barack Obama is being linked to William Ayers's terrorist activities 40 years ago when Mr. Obama was, as he has noted, just a child.

Although I dearly wanted to obtain convictions against all the Weathermen, including Bill Ayers, I am very pleased to learn that he has become a responsible citizen.

Because Senator Obama recently served on a board of a charitable organization with Mr. Ayers cannot possibly link the senator to acts perpetrated by Mr. Ayers so many years ago.

I do take issue with the statement in your news article that the Weathermen indictment was dismissed because of "prosecutorial misconduct." It was dismissed because of illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions, initiated by John N. Mitchell, attorney general at that time, and W. Mark Felt, an F.B.I. assistant director.

William C. Ibershof

Mill Valley, Calif., Oct. 8, 2008

User Journal

Journal Journal: ACORN memo 45

To: Interested Parties
From: Bertha Lewis and Steve Kest
Date: October 9, 2008
Re: The Truth About ACORN's Voter Registration Drive

Election Day is less than a month away, and our efforts to make sure that low-income and minority voters have a voice and vote on November 4th are in full swing. Unfortunately, just as we've seen in previous election cycles, the more success we have in empowering these voters, the more attacks we have to fend off from partisan forces making unfounded accusations to disparage our work and help maintain the status quo of an unbalanced electorate. We want to take this opportunity to separate the facts of our successes from the falsehoods of our attackers.

On Monday, October 6, as voter registration deadlines passed in most states, ACORN completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in history. In partnership with the nonpartisan organization Project Vote, we helped register over 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters in a total of 21 states. Highlights of this success include:

We collected over 151,000 registrations in Florida, 153,000 in Pennsylvania, 215,000 in Michigan, and nearly 250,000 in Ohio.

An estimated 60-70 percent of our applicants are people of color.

At least HALF of all are registrations are from young people between 18-29.

We are proud of this unprecedented success, and grateful to everyone who supported us in this massive effort, from our funders and partners to the literally thousands of hardworking individuals across the country who dedicated themselves to the cause and conducted the difficult work of registering 1.3 million Americans, one voter at a time.

And this work is far from over: now begins our effort mobilize these new voters around local and national issues, getting them to the polls and helping to channel their commitment and conviction into an ongoing movement for change in our communities.

As The Nation pointed out recently, ACORN's success in registering millions of low-income and minority voters has made it "something of a right-wing bogeyman." Though ACORN believes that the right to vote is not, and should never be, a partisan issue, attacks from groups threatened by our historic success continue to come, motivated by partisan politics and often perpetuated by the media without full investigation of the facts. As a result, there have been a few recent stories about investigations of former ACORN workers for turning in incomplete, erroneous, or fraudulent voter registration applications. Predictably, partisan forces have tried to use these isolated incidents to incite fear of the "bogeyman" of "widespread voter fraud." But we want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and tell you a few facts to show how these incidents really exemplify everything that ACORN is doing right:

Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field, but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic.

Fact: ACORN flags incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in, but these warnings are often ignored by election officials. Often these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards.

Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card, so there is NO incentive for them to falsify cards. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the relatively rare cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement.

Fact: No charges have ever been brought against ACORN itself. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes.

Fact: Voter fraud by individuals is extremely rare, and incredibly difficult. There has never been a single proven case of anyone, anywhere, casting an illegal vote as a result of a phony voter registration. Even if someone wanted to influence the election this way, it would not work.

Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected.

Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered and allowed to vote, so there is also NO incentive to "disrupt the system" with phony cards.

Fact: Similar accusations were made, and attacks launched, against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. These attacks were not only groundless, they have since been exposed as part of the U.S. Attorneygate scandal and revealed to be part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression.

These are the facts, and the truth is that a relatively small group of political operatives are trying to orchestrate hysteria about "voter fraud" and manufacture public outrage that they can use to further suppress the votes of millions of low-income and minority Americans.

These tactics are nothing new, and history has shown that they will come to nothing. We'll continue to weather the storm, as we've done for years, and we'll continue to share the truth about our work and express pride about our accomplishments.
Most importantly, we want to assure you that this good work continues, unabated and undeterred. ACORN will not be intimidated, we will not be provoked, and in this important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to speak for themselves. If the partisan political machines are afraid of low-income and minority voters, they're going to have to do a lot better than coming after ACORN.

After all, there are now at least 1.3 million more of them, and they will not be silenced. They're taking an interest, and taking a stand, and they'll be taking their concerns to the voting booth in November.

And ACORN will be here, to make sure that the voices of these Americans are heard, on Election Day and for every day to come.

Slashdot Top Deals

"You'll pay to know what you really think." -- J.R. "Bob" Dobbs