Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Next time you hear a Republican fulminating about "voter fraud" ...

... point to this:

The owner of a firm that the California Republican Party hired to register tens of thousands of voters this year was arrested in Ontario over the weekend on suspicion of voter registration fraud.

State and local investigators allege that Mark Jacoby fraudulently registered himself to vote at a childhood California address where he no longer lives so he would appear to meet the legal requirement that all signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California. His firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM, collects petition signatures and registers voters in California and other states.

Jacoby's arrest by state investigators and the Ontario Police Department late Saturday came after dozens of voters said they were duped into registering as Republicans by people employed by YPM. The voters said YPM workers tricked them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters.


Several dozen voters recently told The Times that YPM workers said they had to become Republicans to sign the petition, contrary to California initiative law. Other voters said they had no idea their registration was being changed.

YPM has been accused of using bait-and-switch tactics across the country. Election officials and lawmakers have launched investigations into the activities of YPM workers in Florida and Massachusetts. In Arizona, the firm was recently a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit.

(h/t: TC, via email)

And then, point them to Alterman and Zornick's analysis of the media coverage of this supposed "scandal" that McCain, et al, keep trying to trump up. Bottom line (and this'll shock you): in case after case, the MSM plays stenographer, dutifully typing in Republican accusations without doing the slightest bit of work to verify the charges.


Basically, partisan operatives make loud charges of “fraud” to discourage further enrollment of new voters—even though the evidence behind the charges is frequently paper-thin. This, in fact, was official government policy under the Bush administration. In the wake of the U.S. Attorneys scandal, Jeanne Cummings of the Associated Press reported that “operatives tucked thick folders of newspaper clippings and other fraud tips under their arms and pitched to reporters their claims that the Democrats’ registration program would lead to rampant voter fraud. Their passion was clear, but their evidence was slim, consisting mostly of isolated incidents of voter registration irregularities that were handled by local police or election officials.”

These thin charges are easy to disprove should journalists choose to do so. Sadly, Erin Ferns and Nathan Henderson-James of Project Vote write that, “the history of this issue shows that it has been bereft of this kind of basic journalism, even through the 2006 mid-term elections. This is important because haphazard reporting of partisan claims of voter fraud without checking the facts is how the media helps these voter suppression efforts. These stories not only deter potential voters from getting on the rolls, but… inspire bad election reforms aimed at disenfranchising voters, particularly those that are currently underrepresented in the electorate.”

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