Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Latest Republican Scare Tactic: Register to Vote and Put Yourself at Risk for Identity Theft!

Virgina is sure to be a battleground state this fall, with the Obama candidacy putting the state in play for the first time in recent memory. Not to mention the fact that it looks like former Gov. Mark Warner (D) is going to walk away with the state's open Senate seat, which is being vacated by statesman Sen. John Warner (R, no relation). Mark Warner would join Virginia's up and coming Sen. Jim Webb (D) in Congress, representing a state that already has a popular Democratic governor in Tim Kane -- an early Obama supporter and someone whose national stature has risen as his name has occasionally been bandied about in the Veep Sweeps.

Needless to say, all this blue, donkey-shaped confetti floating around the used-to-be-reliably-red state of Virginia has got the state Republican party in a tizzy -- even Virgina Rep. Eric Cantor's name being included on the Maverick's Veep short list hasn't cheered them up. Enter Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jeff Frederick, also a member of the state's general assembly, with the latest Republican scare tactic, er -- plan -- to make things go a little more smoothly in the fall.

It all started when three people in Hampton, VA were recently charged with voter fraud. The folks in question -- two 18 year olds and a 22 year old -- worked for Community Voters Project (CVP). As part of the job, they had to meet a daily quota of new registrations. According to the Associated Press, the group is affiliated with the Fund for the Public Interest, which promotes progressive and environmentalist efforts but has no direct ties to the Democratic Party or the Obama campaign. Also important to note, it was the CVP that first discovered the problems and alerted the authorities. According to not only election officials but the police and prosecutors as well, greed was the motivation, not a desire to influence elections.

Note that, while of course innocent until proven guilty, apparently suspicious behavior was noted, investigated and charges were eventually filed -- the system worked. I suspect the real problem is not really about this particular case, but rather about the 140,000 new voters registered in Virginia this year -- most of them Democratic. If they were mostly new red voters, I sincerely doubt Mr. Frederick would be calling for a statewide -- yes, statewide -- investigation.

"If we can't tell the voters that their will is being executed on Election Day, then why do we even have a democracy?" Frederick whined. Yeah, where were you when the victims of the butterfly ballot needed help in Florida, pal? How about their will?

Local registrars are in Richmond, the state capital, for their annual training this week, and they were clear about safeguards that are already in place to make sure fraud is caught -- and the Hampton example seems to support that. It's also a great example of the self-regulating done by third party groups. "I can guarantee you one thing, whoever wins November 4 will win fair and square in Virginia," State Board of Elections Secretary Nancy Rodrigues said.

But wait -- here's the kicker. The coup de grace. The icing on the cake. Apparently Mr. Frederick is not just worried about voter fraud. Nope, this concerned citizen did not stop there. He used his press conference as a bully pulpit to also share his concerns about third party groups registering voters, and what he believes is the dangerous possibility of identity theft since the registration form asks for social security numbers. Not at all coincidentally, the Obama camp is currently engaged in a huge registration drive in Virginia. I sincerely doubt the timing of the Republican Party of Virginia's press conference was a coincidence.

"If you're not comfortable in giving your social security number, don't do that," said Rodrigues. "The general registrars will follow up with you." Maybe they are supposed to -- heck, maybe they mean to, but do you really think that's what will happen? With all the new registrations they have to process, new voting machines to deploy, and the huge election to prepare for? Or will registrars simply toss your registration form as incomplete, leaving you standing there on Election Day, being told by a poll worker that your name's not on the list -- sorry, come back next time.

I gotta tell you, this latest ploy is ingenious. Scare people away from voter registration drives by telling them it's a sure path to identity theft. Brilliant. Diabolical, but brilliant. Despicable, but brilliant. As far as I'm concerned, there is a special place in hell for people who intentionally try to disenfranchise others simply because they don't like how they'll cast their ballots. This nation is better than that. And this nation is certainly better than Jeff Frederick and his cheap, transparent scare tactics. I can think of no better way to repay him and his state party than for Democrats to run the table in Virginia on Nov. 4.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jeff Fredrick is a f***ing loser. He also happens to be my State Representative.

That slime ball always connives a way to absent himself from the General Assembly when the more controversial Bills (especially concernig transportation/roads), so he won't be faulted for voting against them.