"a pathway for something other than voters choosing the next president"
September 30, 2020 2:03 PM   Subscribe

It is remarkable, but not at all accidental, that a narrative built from minor incidents, gross exaggeration and outright fabrication is now at the center of the effort to re-elect the president. As we approach an election in which the threat of voter fraud is being used as a justification for unprecedented legal and political interventions in our democratic process, it is important to understand what this claim actually represents: It is nothing short of a decades-long disinformation campaign — sloppy, cynical and brazen, but often quite effective — carried out by a consistent cast of characters with a consistent story line. The Attack on Voting (12,000 words, NYT) posted by theodolite (11 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I really have to stop reading American news.
posted by krisjohn at 4:21 PM on September 30 [3 favorites]

This article is super long but it does an excellent job tracing the recent history of Republican lies about voter fraud and how they are then used as a tool of voter suppression. The pattern is repeated over and over again. They allege voter fraud, which turns out to be false. But that gets a bunch of people all upset and they approve voter suppression policies; voting roll purges, stricter voter ID requirements, etc. All of which tend to disproportionately disenfranchise people who tend to vote Democrat. Which is not an accident.

As a tiny example cited in the article; Bill Barr lied and claimed someone filled out 1700 mail-in ballots all by himself. The real story is nothing like that. There is some funny business that actually happened; a guy did plead guilty to improperly returning one ballot and there's evidence he was paid by someone to collect ballots and may have gotten a few. But nowhere near 1700.

Here's the awful part. The whole thing was triggered because some Texan freaked out that there were 700 ballots voted with the name "Jose Rodriguez". The common name was cited as evidence of voter fraud. But this is classic racist voter suppression. Turns out Hispanics have the same name more often than white voters; there really are 700 legitimate Jose Rodriguez. So any voter screen based on "too many people with the same name" is racist unless language and ethnicity are controlled for. None of this is subtle, it's well known and has been for years. And it's exactly why the GOP holds up "same name" as a screen. A similar thing happens for name matching algorithms; they tend to flag white people as potential voter fraud less often than other ethnicities. See the Kobach section of the article for how that was weaponized.

But this is all in some sense politics as usual. It's awful but a known form of voter suppression. That's not even touching the really scary part at the end of the article which talks about how Bill Barr may just straight up lie on election day as a way to illegally deploy his paramilitary forces to intimidate voters.

If a bunch of DHS thugs show up at election precincts or vote counting centers, it is evidence of a coup. If extremist citizens groups like the Proud Boys get anywhere near the election, it is evidence of a coup. Trump called for their help yesterday, and apparently already has Barr's Army in his pocket.
posted by Nelson at 4:59 PM on September 30 [25 favorites]

So any voter screen based on "too many people with the same name" is racist unless language and ethnicity are controlled for.

Anybody who would even create a screen based on name alone has no experience with names in the first place. There are 3 William Joels in my company address book. There are like 20 people named John Jones and close to 40 named John Smith.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:42 AM on October 1 [3 favorites]

3 William Joels in my company address book.

"Look, could at least one of you go by Billy?"

The three Williams narrowed their eyes.
posted by Beardman at 11:31 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]

The three Williams narrowed their eyes.
He's the one that sucks, why should I change my name?

Yeah, I know that was Michael Bolton, but there is only 1 Michael Bolton, vs 6 Michael Jacksons, 2 Mike Jacksons, and two Michael J Jacksons in the "Michael Jackson" set.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:37 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]

[small brain]

Jack Burkman, Jacob Wohl Charged in Alleged Voter Suppression Scheme

[large brain]

Trump’s encouragement of GOP poll watchers echoes an old tactic of voter intimidation

[galaxy brain]

Texas governor limits election drop boxes to one per county in sprawling state

Why bother around the margins with robocalls or poll-watching when you can just issue a proclamation that will almost certainly swing the election?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:26 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]

Jack Burkman, Jacob Wohl Charged in Alleged Voter Suppression Scheme

I was mostly aware of Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman as incredibly incompetent trolls who couldn't get literally anything right (i.e., zipping up their trousers before holding a press conference at which they tried to frame a person with spurious accusations), but I'm reading Wohl's Wikipedia page right now and I can't believe the amount of stupid shit he's done. I don't even know what diagnosis would explain someone like him, and in a society with a decent justice system, he'd have been in prison long ago.
posted by orange swan at 4:05 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]

The GOP has been doing this a long time. They organized armed poll watchers to intimidate voters back in 1981, and had to sign a consent decree to not do that. Unfortunately it expires this year.

The Texas drop box thing is incredibly slimy. Texas has the most counties of any state, and has more than 200 counties with less than 100,000 population. The policy is aimed at Harris County, the third most populous in the nation with 5 million people. Hopefully they build a Texas-size drop box.
posted by netowl at 7:34 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]

Could Harris County connect 100 drop boxes with fishing line and claim they're a single congressional district ... I mean drop box?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:18 PM on October 1 [1 favorite]

NPR: How does poll watching work?
MOSLEY: OK, so sanctioned observers. What about the president's call to have his supporters go on their own in the polls? Would they be allowed?

PATRICK: So they wouldn't, unless he was calling them to sign up to be a sanctioned observer. Then they would be allowed. So it's important to kind of make that distinction, I think, on what exactly the clarion call was for. And if it was an open call to, you know, anyone to go into any polling place, that's just not allowed under most state laws.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:18 AM on October 2

"a pathway for something other than voters choosing the next president"

Acting president Pelosi attending President-elect Biden's bedside inauguration and Vice President Harris taking the post of Acting president immediately after is not an impossibility now.
posted by popcassady at 2:20 AM on October 2

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