Saturday, April 28, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #54 - Part 2

Outrage of the Week: Reuters on voter suppression moves

I have to start with an update: Last week, I noted that Rep. Allen West, the man who puts the wack in wacko, claimed that about 80 Democrats in the House are members of the Communist Party.

It turns out that inanity actually can have some consequences. West was to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for his district chapter of the NAACP on April 21 (although why in hell they wanted him I've no idea). The group canceled the event and told West not to come back for the rescheduled date. The reason, a representative of the group said, was "a certain statement he made about Communists."

But you can't keep a good bozo down: On April 23, he criticized the FBI for removing culturally offensive material from a training manual. He called that an act of "cultural suicide" and said it meant that US was taking policy direction from the Muslim Brotherhood.

This week's Outrage comes from a Reuters report on these new laws being pushed and sometimes passed in a number of states that restrict the ability to vote. These go beyond those hideous, anti-democratic, voter photo ID laws I've talked about before. Laws passed in a dozen states have sharply restricted voter-registration drives, which typically focus on young, low-income, and minority voters. Sixteen more are considering bills that in various ways would make it more difficult for people to register to vote.

To show how bad some of these laws are, one enacted in Florida under Governor Voldemort requires groups doing voter registration drives to register with the state - and would subject them to fines of at least $5000 if signed registration forms are not turned in within 48 hours of being collected, a requirement so onerous that even the League of Women Voters is not trying to register voters in Florida this year.

In Wisconsin, land of Governor Walkalloveryou, new laws require that anyone who registers someone else to vote must have a license to do so - and the rules for being licensed vary from town to town.

There are laws eliminating election-day registration, shortening the period for early voting, restricting absentee balloting, and more. All these laws have one thing in common: the people affected are overwhelmingly the poor, students, minorities, and the elderly. And the thing they all have in common is that they are groups who are less likely to vote for right-wingers.

Not so long ago, the discussion about registering and voting was around how we can get more people out to vote, how we can get more people involved, and how shockingly low our turnout rate is. Now, for the right wing, the argument is all about how many roadblocks to voting they can throw in the path of the "wrong" sorts of voters.

But the laws themselves are not the outrage I'm focusing on here, but the opening sentence of the Reuters report:
New state laws designed to fight voter fraud could reduce the number of Americans signing up to vote in this year's presidential election by hundreds of thousands, a potential problem for President Barack Obama's re-election bid.
These laws have noting to do with voter fraud. Voter fraud is a vanishingly small problem. It's tiny, minuscule, hardly big enough to measure. "Voter fraud" is right-wing propaganda desired to push a reactionary agenda to restrict the voting rights of everyone who is not reliably right-wing.

For Reuters to absorb that lie and spew it back out as if it was uncontested truth that "voter fraud" is what these laws are about and that the effect on the poor, students, minorities, the elderly - that is, the very people the right wing wants to disenfranchise - to suggest that that effect is nothing more than an unfortunate side effect is the worst imaginable sort of journalistic malpractice.

The Reuters news agency: the Outrage of the Week


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