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Politics: Bogus registration claims a ‘smokescreen’ for GOP suppression efforts

Story by Chris Graham

Republicans and their allies in the mainstream news media are stating publicly that it’s Democrats who are trying to rig the 2008 elections by submitting voter-registration applications with phony names and other such chicanery. Funny how the media is either missing out on the real story or is working in concert with their friends in the GOP to suppress it as the GOP has been efforting to suppress Democratic voter turnout.

“This has been an election of enormous interest to the American people, and we think that’s something that should be celebrated. Our opponents seem to have a different view of that,” Obama-Biden campaign manager David Plouffe said on a conference call with reporters this afternoon to discuss the latest smear from the McCain-Palin campaign, that the Obama-Biden camp has partnered with outside groups that have been engaging in fraudulent voter-registration efforts aimed at skewing the ’08 presidential election.

The reports – breathlessly reported in the media – that voter-registration efforts in either 11 or 14 swing states, depending on who is doing the reporting, have come under investigation are so much bird-cage liner, as are the partisan investigations like the perp-walk-inspired raid on the Nevada headquarters of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, a nonprofit that has registered 1.3 million new voters this election cycle and has for years been the target of top Republicans, including former senior White House adviser Karl Rove and former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, for its success in getting people registered to vote.

The Obama-Biden campaign has been engaged in its own substantial voter-registration efforts organized by its paid staff, registering thousands of Shenandoah Valley residents dating back to the initiation of its registration campaign in June and millions nationwide dating back to the beginning of the ’08 nomination season. “Our approach has been to make sure that all Americans who have expressed such interest in this election and in their future have their voices heard, that their votes get counted, and that the integrity of the voting system is protected. That is our guiding principle,” Plouffe said.

The story that is being missed has to do with the voter-suppression efforts of Republicans that is apparently ongoing here in the Valley. Even as there has been much ado made about the campaign at the conservative Liberty University to register students there expected to vote Republican in Virginia on Election Day, there has been a for the most part quiet attempt in Harrisonburg to tamp down voter registration among students at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, as Harrisonburg Democratic Committee vice chair Joseph Fitzgerald reported in a column published today in the Augusta Free Press.

“The State Board of Elections listed 1,794 new city voters from February to the end of September, a week before the deadline to register. Almost 390 were listed by the State Board as rejected,” wrote Fitzgerald, who then noted that the numbers “suggest that almost 18 percent of new registrations in the city were rejected, but it does not reflect the 500 forms the registrar reported receiving just on the final day, nor does it reflect any that may have been rejected from that group. Adding to the confusion, it is not clear if those who received the “irregularities” letter have since been officially rejected.”

“The registrar and the senior member of the Electoral Board are Republicans, and polls suggest new voters this year will tend Democratic. Again, it is fair to question the intentions in the office. The effect, regardless of intent, is a Republican registrar disenfranchising several hundred potentially Democratic voters,” Fitzgerald wrote in the column. “The number may seem small in a state where more than 3 million people may vote, but three statewide elections in the past two decades have been decided by fewer than 10,000 votes, one of them by fewer than 500. Virginia is leaning Democratic in the presidential race this year, and Republicans have a vested interest in limiting the electorate, where possible, to those who have kept the state Republican in past presidential elections,” Fitzgerald wrote.

The issues being raised by Republicans regarding ACORN and the registration aims of the Obama-Biden campaign are a “smokescreen” for what Republicans are doing behind the scenes to suppress Democratic voter turnout, Plouffe said. And what we’re seeing now in that respect is just the tip of the iceberg. “We have no doubt that their efforts at suppression and intimidation are going to be unprecedented,” Plouffe said.

augusta free press
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