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Markos Moulitsas: Voter fraud is a lie

Markos Moulitsas: Voter fraud is a lie
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Republicans are a national minority, and it’s a fact they’re well aware of it. 

How do we know this?

For one, Democrats historically do better in elections that take place during presidential years, when the electorate is expanded, while Republicans do better in off-year elections, when fewer voters tend to participate. 

But there’s an even bigger tell.

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If Republicans truly believed they were the national majority, they would fight for expanded voting rights and opportunities. Instead, they have engaged in a persistent nationwide effort to limit the franchise and size of the voting pool. 

That effort bled into the 2016 presidential race last week, when Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE called for 20 days of early voting in every state, to make it as easy as possible for everyone to vote in next November’s elections, as well as automatic voter registration when Americans turn 18 unless they choose to opt out. 

“Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” she said. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?”

Well, they’re afraid of the part of democracy in which they lose because their rump base won’t let them appeal to the American mainstream. 

So, predictably, Republicans have hit back at Clinton. The Republican National Committee claimed the former secretary of State was “misleading and divisive” — rich coming from the party that has built its movement on exclusion. Just ask the GOP’s usual targets: African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, LGBT people, union members, Native Americans, young voters and single women — the same people, not so coincidentally, that the GOP seeks to exclude from the polls. Who is divisive again? 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), apparently still delusional about his own presidential chances, trotted out yet another conservative delusion: the myth of voter fraud. 

“My sense is that she just wants an opportunity to commit greater acts of voter fraud around the country,” he said of Clinton. When a reporter pushed back, saying, “she says it’s fear-mongering, this idea that there’s a lot of election fraud going on,” Christie’s unchallenged retort was curt: “Yes. Well, she’s never been to New Jersey, I guess.”

So, is there an epidemic of voter fraud in New Jersey, or anywhere else? Don’t hold your breath for evidence. 

A constitutional law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles last year found since 2000 in both primary and general elections just 31 incidents of alleged voter fraud — out of over 1 billion votes cast. Even fewer were actually prosecuted. A News21 investigation found just 10 cases of voter impersonation since 2000, and only 159 guilty verdicts in cases involving ineligible voters (like felons or noncitizens illegally voting).

If it suited their interests, Republicans would somehow muster the strength to survive those pitiful cases of alleged voter fraud over those 14 years. Indeed, note their unconditional support for unrestricted gun ownership, despite the fact that nearly half a million people are victims of gun-related crimes every year, including more than 12,500 killed last year alone. But an expanded franchise doesn’t suit Republicans. 

Thus, voting rights are now the latest bifurcation between red and blue states. While Republican governors and legislatures in places like Texas and Wisconsin work hard to restrict voting rights, Oregon just implemented automatic voter registration when its residents get driver’s licenses. California is set to follow suit. 

Too bad Republicans aren’t fighting for the hearts and minds of the broad American mainstream. Until they shed their restrictive Tea Party fringe, they will necessarily stand in the way of such democratic ideals as “broad civic participation.”

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.