Each election reliably brings accusations of voter fraud and voter intimidation. This season is no different.
, Tea Party folk are blamed for launching a full-scale assault on minorities. The New York Times,
unsurprisingly, sees widespread Tea Party voter intimidation, based on some anecdotal accusations from around the country.
Put them all together, and you don't come close to the number of military personnel in Illinois alone that already have been disenfranchised. These are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that are overseas, volunteers all who are defending this country and its interests. Illinois Republican
Party chairman Pat Brady said in a letter to the U.S. Justice Department that in 35 out of 110 Illinois voting districts, absentee ballots did not go out in time to be returned and counted Tuesday night in their local polling places. Brady said, "At least one district was 20 days late."
I won't forget when I was overseas during the 1968 election, deployed on a Navy ship, and was denied the right to vote. My absentee ballot arrived past the deadline for returning it, but I mailed it back anyway (with a vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey) to demonstrate how screwed up the process was. I felt betrayed and angry.
Now, whether or not the failure to send out absentee ballots in time is a political conspiracy or just another example of government incompetence, I cannot say. I can say, though, that military personnel tend to vote conservative and Republican, and if anyone has a motive to stifle their vote, it would be Democrats. Just as the assumption is made that Tea Party folks would be trying to target minorities because they tend to vote Democratic.
Some of the rhetoric has reached extremes, invoking the ghosts of literacy tests, poll taxes and other devices designed to keep African Americans from voting during the long-gone days of Jim Crow. Because nobody is so stupid these days to engage in such blatantly illegal tactics, the left charges that minority voter suppression is being disguised as campaigns for clean elections. As the New York Times story related: Tea Party efforts to sniff out voter fraud has "liberal groups and voting rights advocates...sounding an alarm, claiming that such strategies are scare tactics intended to suppress minority and poor voters."
I don't suppose the same charges would be hurled at, say, the highly respected and non-partisan Illinois Campaign for Political Reform when it tries to clean up Chicago and Illinois elections, which have a preternatural inclination at voter fraud. I would remind observers and partisans who see malevolence behind clean election campaigns when conducted by conservatives, that Tom Roeser, one of the more prominent conservative voices in these parts was founder of Project LEAP (Legal Elections in All Precincts), another respected, non-partisan clean election group.
Memories are short, so I don't imagine that many commentators these days remember when voting conditions were so fraudulent in Chicago that such good government groups were ridiculed as being insufferably naive. I'd also remind commentators that much of the vote fraud--mostly carried out by the Chicago Democratic Machine--then mostly victimized people in minority and poor neighborhoods.
As long as their tactics are reasonable and legal, efforts to clean up elections should be hailed, not attacked, whatever the political perspective of the reformers. But sometimes, captives of their own pre-conceived notions, liberals just can't bring themselves to accept the idea that Tea Party folk, as part of their anger, are determined to see that elections are honest and fair.