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The Process is Political: Alleging Voter Fraud in WV Special Election

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Our daily look at the details that can change everything.

Dem Wins in West Virginia Gov's Race, GOP Leader Worries about Voter Fraud: When the count was done, Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin won a special election for governor in West Virginia by three points. But before polls were closed, the WV Republican Party chairman said he'd heard complaints about voter fraud in two counties that are Democratic strongholds, but he didn't give details. The allegations got one county clerk on the defensive. "All this stuff I think is untrue," Logan County clerk John Turner said. "They are going to have to show me in black and white, they have to prove it."

Calls to protect against potential voter fraud has fueled a surge of new, tighter voting laws at the state level this year. Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation told the NY Times this week that no one alleges that there is "massive fraud" in elections, "but there are enough proven cases in the past, throughout our history and recently, that show that you’ve got to take basic steps to prevent people from taking advantage of an election if they want to. Particularly close elections.” The Heritage Foundation holds a forum on Friday about efforts to protect against voter fraud.

These public debates and allegations in the media are cast against a backdrop of a clear, but politically charged, legal question: without proof of systemic fraud but the potential for some, what policies strike the appropriate balance, and whose votes are being protected and whose are being suppressed. Obama's Justice Department is asking that very question as it evaluates new laws like South Carolina's new photo ID requirement to vote. Separately, Arizona is suing to challenge the federal government's power to block changes to voting laws in some states. A 5-year investigation by the Bush administration's Justice Department in 2007 found "virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections," according to The New York Times. (State Journal)  

Minnesota Approves Spending Disclosure Rules for Outside Groups: The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board voted in June to include groups who spend to influence ballot questions in its disclosure requirements, and it followed that up yesterday with some rule clarifications that have rankled same-sex marriage opponents. Minnesota voters will consider a constitutional amendment next year that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, and the National Organization for Marriage has argued the board's rules are confusing and might dissuade individual donors from giving because they fear reprisal from being identified. Under the rules, any group that spends at least $5000 on a ballot campaign must reveal donors who give $1000 or more. (Minnesota Public Radio

Arizona Republicans 'Flummoxed' by Redistricted Map: Two freshmen Republicans may square off against each other in a new district that doesn't have a clear incumbent. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which is chaired by two Democrats and two Republicans, adopted the draft map. Republicans now hold eight of Arizona's Congressional seats, and the new map creates a new ninth district. The commission calls three of the new districts competitive, meaning historic voting patterns don't predict a clear Republican or Democratic advantage. But independent political analyst Stuart Rothenberg had a different read of the map: "It really helps Democrats and screws Republicans." (Arizona Republic)

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