Kenneth Blackwell, a former secretary of state of Ohio, had a little rant this week about the horrors of ACORN and the looming possibility of voter fraud. Now, it is true that ACORN has had its run-ins with, you know, maybe falsifying a voter registration form now and again. And it stands to reason that with increased numbers of people registering to vote (though who in America would, at least publicly, say this is a bad thing?) come increased chances of voter fraud.
But what the Ken Blackwells of the world refuse to cop to is the fact that voter fraud often comes in the form of Republicans trying to suppress the vote. Maybe he doesn't remember his own role in attempted voter suppression in the form of the 2004 Paper Stock Standoff of Ohio. And maybe he's forgotten the story about the fairly standard practice of purging voter rolls and how horribly wrong it went in Florida in 2000. Or the story of Republican congressional candidate Tan Nguyen and the infamous letter. And I can't help wondering what Jesus would think about the notion of using people's housing misfortunes to prevent them from voting, as is apparently being attempted by the Republican party in several states.
So yeah, voter fraud might be a problem. But it seems to be a problem of denying people their right to vote rather than, as Blackwell would have us believe, a problem of "extremist" groups like ACORN pushing people to vote. (Oddly enough, Blackwell doesn't provide any examples of individual voter fraud. He simply seems to think that increasing the number of voters is itself somehow indicative of fraud. And he uses Florida as an example, but individual voter fraud was not the issue in that election. Quite the contrary, the problems there predominantly concerned eligible voters not having their votes counted, whether due to hanging chads, the butterfly ballot, or the purging of eligible voters from the voter rolls. Correct me if I'm missing something here.)
Blackwell himself writes, "Voter fraud is a crime against democracy itself, because voting is the only means by which the people choose those who govern them - and hold them accountable."
In this, he is absolutely correct. So we should all take advantage of our right to vote, and fight anyone who tries to take that right away from people.
And as an aside, Ohio? Way to go in showing this blowhard the door in his race for governor in 2006. And I mean that seriously.