Good News on ‘Voter Fraud’?

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November 3, 2008 9:45 p.m.

For this and the three previous election cycles we at TPM has devoted a significant amount of our election coverage resources to highlighting and investigating effort to use bogus claims of voter fraud to suppress voter turnout and put barriers in the way of legitimate voters exercising their Democratic rights. (You can see some of our recent TPMmuckraker.com coverage of the topic here.) But whatever happens tomorrow in the elections results, we may have some tentatively good news on this front.

Jonathan Kaplan, writing in the Washington Independent, reports that the Obama campaign thinks GOP voter suppression efforts are, on balance, failing. You can read in Kaplan’s article the arguments between the Obama campaign and some progressive bloggers over whether that’s true.

One thing to keep in mind is that campaigns almost always find themselves in a delicate balance on these issues. They want to call out bad practices and be proactive. But they also reason that too much publicity about voter suppression efforts can have a self-fulfilling result — driving people away from the polls because they’re not confident their votes will be counted or that they’ll be made to jump through too many hoops. Whether that’s a valid way to look at it is a more complicated matter; but it definitely is the prism through which most campaign view the issue.

But our own reporting has shown that in almost every case judges have shot down the GOP suppression gambits in the courts. Again and again, the courts have just shut them down.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be pollyannish. This is an issue where even if the glass if 95% full — it’s not nearly enough. It’s all about the 5% empty. But there’s some room for optimism, especially on how rough a time the vote suppression crew has had in the courts this cycle.

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