Years ago the Democrats learned that the surest way to win a tight election was to have just the right number of dead people ready to vote. It worked in Texas in 1948 and Illinois in 1960 and may have worked in South Carolina in 2010 if Attorney General Eric Holder hadn't left well enough alone.
In late December he announced that the U.S. Department of Justice would block South Carolina's new law requiring voters to present photo IDs at the polls, a direction he reiterated in a MLK Day appearance yesterday. Holder's stated reason for the blockage was that the law would put minorities and poor people at a disadvantage. He ignored the fact that photo IDs are required to board airplanes; (from young people) to buy cigarettes or liquor; to buy certain over-the-counter medicines; and, in many stores, to buy things with a credit card. Never mind awkward facts when it's possible to depict the South Carolina legislature and Republicans in general as discriminatory.
Holder may soon regret his action which, like nearly everything else done by the Obama Administration these days, is intended to help get Mr. Obama reelected. South Carolina's attorney general, Alan Wilson, has announced that the Palmetto state is going to court to clear this blockage. He announced that his investigation shows at least 900 dead people voted in South Carolina in the 2010 election. If only Holder had left things alone, those 900 dead folks might just have easily voted again this year.
South Carolina's voter ID is similar to active laws now in place an half a dozen other states. ID cards are free, and readily available at South Carolina motor vehicle department offices. In addition, if a voter who comes to the polls without a voter ID can cast a provisional vote by signing an affidavit. Once it has been checked for accuracy the vote is counted.
The late, unlamented ACORN put new a twist on the dead-people-voting gambit: Their minions registered non-existent people in several states. In Seattle, in recent years, several were caught filling out voter registration sheets using names from the telephone book. In St. Louis, they filled in the names of baseball players. Currently, Indiana is investigating a case of fraudulent voting in South Bend.
In California, the Democrats have found a subtler way to skew voting. A voter initiative in 2010 took redistricting from the highly partisan state legislature and put it in the hands of a "citizen commission," presumably neutral. A much heralded vetting process culled some 35,000 applicants down to a commission of 14, five each registered Democrats and Republicans and four "independents." Because population in the more conservative inland had increased considerably since 2000, it was thought the Republicans might pick up some seats. The opposite occurred. On paper at least, it looks as if the party will lose seats in both the legislature and the Congressional delegation.
When the maps were published, the Republican Party began a signature-gathering effort for an initiative that would stop the state senate redistricting until it could be voted on by the public. The final certification is not yet in, but it looks as if it will qualify for the November ballot. If so and it passes, the Supreme Court will take the redistricting for that body out of the hands of the commission and develop its own.
Meanwhile, ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism group headed by former Wall Street Journal editor Paul Steiger, blew up the issue in a new report headed "How Democrats Fooled California's Redistricting Commission." It caught the left by surprise. No wonder. ProPublica is not some Republican PR device. It was created in 2008 by long-time active Democrats, Herb and Marian Sandler, whose foundation got it started. George Soros's foundation is also a major contributor. Steiger recounted his interview for the job with the Sandlers by asking them if they would be uncomfortable if his reporters uncovered information that would be embarrassing to one of their own causes. They said it would be "no problem." What they wanted was professional, disinterested reporting. And that is what his team has given them.
ProPublica says in spring 2011 several California Democrats met privately in Washington to map out a plan to influence the redistricting commission. They were sworn to secrecy.
The Commission announced it would hold a number of community forums to get genuine input. The Democrat planners worked assiduously to get allies to purport to be ordinary citizens. These were no grassroots. They were more like hothouse-grown specimens. ProPublica reported that, "One woman who purported to represent the Asian community in the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho and lives in Sacramento."
And so it went until the new maps significantly helped Democrats, giving each Northern California representative, as one put it, "A ticket back to Washington."
That's a lot more complicated than getting dead people off pages in the telephone book to vote, but, hey, there's less risk and it can produces more Democrats in office.
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