Fodder and Folderol: Election Integrity in Nevada

Ballot BoxNow! Fodder for the right wing Vote Suppression crowd — evidence of voter fraud in Nevada! Well, sort of.  The Las Vegas Review Journal tells us that one person was arrested in April on voting registration fraud charges, and another was arrested this week.  What makes these cases interesting is that the charge in April concerned an ineligible voter who registered as a Republican, and the more recent allegation concerns a person who decided to register with both major parties.

There are two ways of looking at these prosecutions. (1) They are the tip of the iceberg concealing massive election fraud; or (2) They are two instances out of 1,434,946 registered voters in the state of Nevada. [SoSpdf]  The Tip of the Iceberg/Vote Suppression advocates will, necessarily, see an obscure epidemic, and may allege that the laws aren’t working because the statutes should have prevented these possible incidents.

The preventionist argument is a stretch. As noted previously, (here, here) you have a Right to Vote.  The burden of proof rests where it always does in a criminal prosecution, with the government.  It’s been said before, and now will be repeated:

“The burden of proof always rests with the state — in any prosecution for anything.  If a person is alleged to have voted once in Clark County and again in Nye County that would call for a prosecution of a crime under NRS 293 — but the burden of proof rests with the state.   If a person is alleged to have voted using an assumed identity, then this calls for prosecution, and once again — the burden of proof rests with the state.

Any suggestion that the citizen be required to “show proof of citizenship” at the polls is not only redundant, but shifts the burden of proof from the state to the individual.  That’s not the way the American system of jurisprudence works.  It’s not the way the American judicial system has ever worked.” [DB]

What the voting suppression advocates are promoting is not only the restriction of voting in local, state, and national elections, but the fundamental shift in the burden of proof from the government to the individual by requiring multiple and progressively more stringent identification procedures. Procedures which are calculated to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities, the young, and the very old.

The preventionist argument also falls apart because most of the proposals don’t prevent fraud — they just prevent voting.  But, hey, if you can’t vote then you can’t commit voter fraud?  Whoa, not necessarily.  If a person were to steal another person’s identity, complete with all the appurtenances like a phony Driver’s License, then that fraudulent ‘voter’ would still be able to cast a ballot.  The ‘government issued ID’ prevents nothing.  It’s merely an inconvenience (or impossibility) for someone young, old, or an ethnic minority.

There’s always that old standby — the Election Integrity Argument. It isn’t any more substantial than the preventionist one.  The Republican Platform calls for “election integrity,” and this, too, has been discussed previously. There would be nothing the Nevada GOP would like more than to regain control of the State Senate, and install legislator Barbara Cegavske as Secretary of State.  Then we’ll be hearing all manner of proposals for vote suppression in this state.  Why?

Because “illegal voting” calls our elections into question, it minimizes our “election integrity.” And, people have to “trust our elections.” This argument works best among those who devoutly believe that any election outcome other than the one they desired must be fraudulent.  For example, there’s this analysis of the 2012 election from a conservative publication:

“So how did Romney lose a race that numerous reputable polls and pundits predicted would be an easy win, based on historical patterns? The most realistic explanation is voter fraud in a few swing states.”

Surely, it wasn’t because of candidate Romney’s highly unfortunate remarks about 47% of the population? His connection to vulture capitalists? His dubious campaign organization? His attention to invalid polling? The economy was improving under the incumbent? Nupe. The least realistic explanation must be transformed into the most realistic explanation.

There were 994,490 votes cast for the Presidency in the 2012 Nevada elections. [SoSNV]  That one person may have voted illegally obviously wasn’t going to make a difference. In short, it’s far more difficult to amass a critical number of illegal votes to control election results than it is to continually disparage those election results, and by the medium of continual publicity sow seeds of doubt into the minds of the electorate.

The ‘election integrity’ campaign is a carefully phrased, meticulously tuned, propaganda effort to justify vote suppression activities.  ALEC loves it, the Koch Brothers love it, and we’re going to hear more of it.

Both the Tip of the Iceberg and the Election Integrity arguments also fall when their supporters argue that “the law doesn’t work.”  How could the current statutes not be working when the state was able to identify 1 person out of the 994,490 who voted for President in the last election who may have voted illegally?  The only way this allegation works is to adopt the patently ridiculous rhetoric of right wing chauvinists who refused to acknowledge election results, and to join the Tip of the Iceberg crowd of extremists.

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