Monday, October 25, 2004
Democrats launch disgusting lawyer blitz
Jerry Kilgore was right last week when he chastised national and state Democrats for an initiative to deploy a statewide army of lawyers to polls on Election Day.
Democrats contend that by recruiting lawyers to volunteer as poll monitors they’ll be protecting the sanctity of the Virginia electoral system in a year when certainly every vote nationwide is going to be carefully watched. They say they’re just doing their red, white, and blue part, as their Virginia initiative is part of a broader deployment by the Democratic National Committee.
Virginia Democrats would like to send as many as 500 lawyers to state polling places. The DNC hopes to have of tens of thousands of poll-watching lawyers in all 50 states.
Kilgore, Virginia’s good attorney general who chairs the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign in Virginia, criticized the DNC for so brazenly publishing an instruction manual for its state parties that details actions to take when voter intimidation or fraud is suspected.
Amazingly, though, it also tells how to create an Election Day stir even where electoral operations are on the up and up. That’s right, even where there’s no voter intimidation or fraud whatsoever, the Dems may want to create a specter of it anyway.
Says the DNC manual: “If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a ‘pre-emptive strike’ (particularly well-suited to states in which there [sic] techniques have been tried in the past).”
The manual goes on to instruct state Democratic operatives across the country to use African-Americans in their efforts to create doubt about the election process. It says to “prime minority leadership to discuss [voter intimidation] in the media,” arming them with talking points, and encourages the ground troops to “place stories in which minority leadership expresses concern about the threat of intimidation tactics.” And to whet the media’s appetite, the manual says to “use minority intimidation as an organizing tool.”
Playing the race card any time is disgusting. Playing it to cause a stir on Election Day is especially disgusting.
Any Virginia Democratic lawyer launch portends that the Old Dominion has a recent history of election fraud and that such is possible – even expected – on Nov. 2 when we choose our next president. It portends that Virginia’s state and local electoral boards are incompetent or crooked. And it portends that a 2000 Florida-type fiasco is possibly at hand here.
It portends a lot that’s simply not true or realistic.
Virginia does not have a history of voter fraud, save the same shenanigans in the early- to mid-20th century that blacks – and poor whites, it must be remembered – encountered in many Southern states when they wanted to gain and exercise their rights as citizens. On the whole, however, Virginia has had an unassailable elections system for decades.
In Virginia, the party that occupies the governor’s office runs the state electoral apparatus. In addition to the three-member state electoral board, every county and city has a three-member board. The governor’s party holds two of the appointed seats on the state board and each local board. Typically, when a new governor takes office, he appoints new members to the state board and the local Republican and Democratic party leaders offer up names to their circuit court judges to consider for appointment to the county or city electoral boards. If the governor is a Republican, two of the three local board members will be Republicans. If the governor is a Democrat, then Democrats will comprise two-thirds of the local electoral board’s membership.
Regardless of which party has been in power, county and city electoral boards have most always been made up of solid citizens – partisans though they may be – who take seriously their oversight responsibilities. Much more often than not, the affirmed Republicans and Democrats on these boards work cooperatively for the good of the system. After all, it’s in everybody’s interest that elections remain locally run and unimpeachable.
Kilgore is right to criticize – even condemn – the DNC’s move. Sending hundreds of drippingly partisan lawyers to hundreds of Virginia polling places – without historical good cause for doing so – may in itself create the very environment of intimidation Democrats say they want to guard against.
A Time poll conducted just last week reveled that 48% of registered voters believe an illegitimate winner will next occupy the White House. There’s an incredible amount of cynicism about our electoral system.
The Democrats’ plan to overlay it next week with hundreds of lawyers in Virginia and tens of thousands nationwide only underpins that cynicism.