Talking Points Memo is one of the most important sources of news and framing in American politics today. I simply don’t feel like I know what is going on in American politics if I don’t read it. You also learn how the left is thinking.
Over the last several years, TPM has been engaged in a highly successful attack on the Bush Administration attempts to enforce election laws that limit the universe of voters to registered voters. I am perfectly willing to believe that the Bush administration exceeded its authority in places, but you get the sense that TPM’s goal was only secondarily to expose lawbreaking on the part of the Bush adminsitration.
They are engaged in a very smart attempt to delegitimize our election laws that protect the integrity of the ballot. You can see this in an absolutely astonishing post below. It seems that they have no interest in the law even being followed. Nearly every sentence contains a framing that acts to legitmize the crimes of voter and registration fraud. The piece is itself titled "Nevada GOP cracking down on urban voters". Normally TPM has credible journalism. Sometimes they go off the intellectual rails so far to push their agenda that it is hard to figure out what they are any more.
Read on for details.
This post is an example. Let’s take it line by line to understand how far they go to legitimize illegal voting.
The GOP effort to suppress the vote has reared its head in Nevada.
Let’s be clear what this means. Sue Lowden sent a letter to the Democratic Secretary of state urging him to only allow registered voters to vote. That is who is legally entitled to vote. Continuing from TPM:
How may peope are we talking about? Jon Ralston of the Las Vegas Sun reports: "I understand that 2,300 forms have been identified in urban counties."
Lowden argues that allowing these people to vote on the spot after fixing the errors violates a law that requires voter registration be closed three weeks before election day. She wants these voters to be made to cast provisional ballots — which are often tied in legal challenges before being counted.
First, the TPM writer confuses (deliberately) "forms" and "people". Someone submitted registration forms in the name of the Dallas Cowboys. Those forms were not deemed to be complete. Nevada law handles this by distinguishing between "elector(s)" and "voter(s)". Electors are people eligible to register to vote. And registered voters are then eligible to vote. What happens when "people" or "a person" shows up? They get a provisional ballot, pursuant to Nevada code:
NRS 293.3081 Casting of provisional ballot: General conditions; declaration or application. A person at a polling place may cast a provisional ballot in an election to vote for a candidate for federal office if the person complies with the applicable provisions of NRS 293.3082 and:
1. Declares that he has registered to vote and is eligible to vote at that election in that jurisdiction, but his name does not appear on a voter registration list as a voter eligible to vote in that election in that jurisdiction or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote in that election in that jurisdiction;
Now, TPM objects that provisional ballots "are often tied in legal challenges before being counted". They seem to be advocating the position that they be counted before any evidence that the person at the polling place is either registered or even eligible to vote.
My point here is that TPM is (deliberately) ignoring distinctions in the law. Now I am sure that Josh Marshall or other people at TPM would be happy to say that they want the typical list of lefty election law goals including same day registration, either a curtailing or abandoning of all photo ID requirements, validation of citizenship, felon voting, etc.
I would be curious to know what guarantees to the integrity of the franchise they would propose rather than to just wipe away any and all protections in the law. Some of us in America believe that this happens. I grew up in Chicago, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and, every once in a while, convictions. For example, Hans von Spakovsky goes to the archives and digs up one of the most impressive in the history of American politics:
Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor’s races in Illinois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast. Sixty-five individuals were indicted for federal election crimes, and all but two (one found incompetent to stand trial and another who died) were convicted. 
I freely believe that this happens in other places like Philadelphia, where certainly sketchy circumstances surrounded the late reporting of the results of then Republican Speaker of the House Jon Perzel. Or, famously, LBJ’s first election. Or recent convictions in East Chicago. The 1993-era State Senate race that was thrown out in Philadelphia.Or recent investigations and convictions in Alabama.
So how would the people at TPM, who I admire for their skills, propose to defend our rights? Or is that not their problem?