Claims of massive voter fraud efforts backed by Democrats were all the rage in conservative circles in the weeks and months leading up to the election on Tuesday. But since the polls closed, there’s been barely a peep.
So says a report from the public policy center Demos issued Friday analyzing the “mixed bag” outcome of the 2010 campaign in the areas of voter access and effective administration of elections.
“Also noteworthy after Election Day had come and gone was the sudden silence from the fraud-mongerers and Tea Party poll watch groups,” Tova Andrea Wang, a Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos, wrote in the report. “Not a peep of one case of substantiated fraud at the polling place.”
“Yet the climate of anxiety and antagonism the groups created in the days leading up to the election had its effect — one that was not good for voters, elections officers, or democracy, and were completely unnecessary,” Wang added.
“The motivation for ginning up this bogeyman is to encourage activities such as vote caging and challenges designed to intimidate certain groups of voters and ultimately enact policies such as proof of citizenship and voter ID laws that will make it harder for disadvantaged groups to exercise their right to vote,” she wrote.
The report found that there were a number of problems with voter intimidation and vote suppression, but also said that both elections administrators and the Justice Department have taken “major strides forward” in proactively responding to allegations of both voter fraud and voter intimidation.
Since the polls closed, there has been virtually no substantiated voter fraud allegations, even with the voter fraud watch campaigns launched by Tea Party affiliated groups like those in Minnesota, voter watch training programs conducted by the Republican National Lawyers Association and the tea party group the King Street Patriots, citizen surveillance programs launched by the conservative website Pajamas Media and even an anti-voter fraud app issued by a conservative group. Fox News — which was so concerned with voter fraud that it launched an e-mail address just to receive viewer complaints — even canceled a planned report on Nevada voter fraud.
Poll watchers, the report says, “can play a constructive role in the process, but not if they are creating a climate of intimidation and subjecting voters to baseless suspicion and scrutiny.” Wang says it may be time to take a look at state laws about “what poll watchers are permitted to do, penalties for violations, training for poll watchers, and the number of poll watchers that are permitted per polling place.”
The report is embedded below.