GOP playing politics with voter registration

Analysis by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

The Barack Obama presidential campaign is trying to add 150,000 names to the voter-registration rolls in advance of the ’08 elections, the idea being that new voters will break Democratic in a substantial way and push what could be a close contest in the Old Dominion in November in the Obama campaign’s favor.

Today came the first bit of pushback from the GOP.

“Getting more citizens involved in the process is great. I think that’s what democracy is all about. Yet nothing undermines democracy more than the poisoning of the process and the jeopardizing of the integrity of our elections,” said Republican Party of Virginia chairman Jeffrey Frederick, who told reporters on a conference call today that it appears that there is a “coordinated effort and a widespread effort in Virginia to commit voter fraud,” based on reports that three people in Hampton Roads have been charged with submitting false names on voter applications and another report from Richmond that involves allegations of the misuse of a Social Security number to register a voter.

“These are just two known and documented examples of voter fraud in what we believe has become a widespread problem across the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Frederick, who also used the occasion of the call to throw in allegations of possible identity theft being a problem with the registration efforts for good measure.

The Obama campaign has said that its goal of registering 150,000 new voters in Virginia is predicated upon the idea that half of those new voters will actually end up at the polls in November, and that 90 percent of those new voters will vote for Obama, which would give the Obama campaign as much as a three-point swing in what is looking to be a swing state in the fall.

The allegations cited by Frederick do not appear to involve the Obama campaign or the Democratic Party, which probably goes without saying. The people cited in the Hampton Roads case were affiliated with a nonprofit group, and there were no details on the identity of the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators in the Richmond case.

My guess is that it doesn’t matter that we don’t know much about the people involved, because the issue isn’t as much about “groups coming into Virginia and attempting to fraudulently impact our elections,” as Frederick put it in the conference call, as sowing the seeds of doubt about the motivations of those who will be out and about trying to register new voters between now and October.

I’m not faulting him for taking that tack. I’m just pointing out that this is about playing politics, and not, as Frederick offered by way of hyperbole on today’s call, about how there “should be some concern, and you want to make sure people are aware.”

Really, A for effort, Jeff, but you might have been better off sleeping on this one and then not doing it, considering.

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