Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Since the 2000 election, it has become an article of faith for the Democratic Party and its allies on the political left that George W. Bush won by suppressing the black vote in Florida and elsewhere.

John Kerry and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe have made numerous speeches declaring that Democrats must remain vigilant against a repeat of such Republican chicanery. People For the American Way, New York Times columnists Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman and some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been recycling a false story suggesting that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has dispatched state police to the homes of elderly blacks in an effort to discourage them from voting. DNC officials have produced a manual urging party members to publicly challenge Republican efforts to “intimidate” voters even if there is no evidence that intimidation is taking place.

Meanwhile, America Votes, a 32-member coalition of anti-Bush organizations — led by such groups as George Soros’ MoveOn.org, America Coming Together and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — is spending $100 million on a campaign that voting officials say has resulted in a massive increase in voters nationwide. The aim of this door-to-door voter-registration drive is to identify undecided and potential Democratic voters in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and 11 other battleground states.

One member of the coalition, a left-wing activist group known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), claims to have registered 1 million new voters since July 2003. The problem is that at least some of these were fraudulently registered. ACORN’s western regional director acknowledged in an interview with this newspaper that several hundred of those new registrants in Colorado were fraudulent, but sought to downplay the problem with the explanation that registration fraud is different from voter fraud: “Just because you register someone 35 times doesn’t mean they get to vote 35 times.”

Not everyone finds this reassuring. Authorities in several states are investigating whether thousands of voter registrations have been fraudulently submitted — many of them by members of the America Votes coalition. In Florida, the Justice Department and state authorities are investigating charges by a former ACORN field director that workers for the organization routinely withheld Republican voter registrations, while thousands of invalid voter registration cards were submitted in their place.

Regarding the 2000 election, allegations of mass voter intimidation and suppression in Florida were determined to be unfounded by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which spent six months investigating the charges. In recent months, Messrs. Herbert and Krugman of the New York Times have given extensive publicity to charges that members of the Florida state police tried to intimidate black voters while investigating fraud in the Orlando mayoral election this year. After conducting his own investigation of the charges, Jeffrey Billman, a columnist for the liberal Orlando Weekly newspaper, pronounced them “bull—.” Saying they were part of a legitimate investigation into whether one of the candidates manipulated absentee ballots.

Thus far, the evidence suggests that the Bush-bashers are the people engaged in political chicanery when it comes to the question of voting rights.

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