Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Cool Heads on "Voter Fraud"

Earlier today, I took a trip over to the Hamilton County GOP Blog and remembered why I respected Alex Triantafilou so much when he was a judge.

Since Triantafilou left the bench to become chair of the HamCo GOP Chair, he certainly hasn't wasted any opportunities to throw "red meat" to the base of his party. I'm often irritated by what he writes (not merely because I disagree with him, but because I get tired of seeing the same old daily talking points--and I think he can do better than mindless regurgitation of the national party line).

But he takes his role as chair of the HamCo Board of Elections seriously. And while still managing to throw some "red meat" out there, in this post, his concern for the fairness--and the perceived fairness--of next month's election comes through:

I want to assure readers of this blog that the election in Hamilton County will be fair and that their vote will count. Are there problems? Yes. There are always problems in any system where humans are involved. But, will those problems lead to massive voter fraud that changes the outcome of the election? No. I have seen no evidence of this.

Yesterday at the Board meeting, I made a rather poor analogy that I will, unfortunately, repeat on this blog. I compared the perception of downtown Cincinnati to the perception of the election.

Downtown Cincinnati is mostly a safe neighborhood and a great place to live, shop and visit. There is the occasional crime that sometimes mars the image of downtown and draws a fair amount of attention. These crimes and downtown's proximity to a high crime neighborhood have caused the misperception that downtown is not safe. It is safe.

In the same way, a few bad actors (or groups) have possibly engaged in improper conduct with regard to voter fraud. Voting fraud rightfully draws tremendous media and public scrutiny because it can undermine the democratic process that underpins our society. This high level of attention to potential crimes have caused a misperception that the election is not safe. A special prosecutor has been assigned by the courts to deal with this question.

At a time when it seems that every Republican--from top-ranked surrogates down to Bill Cunningham--is getting in front of microphones to declare that the sky is falling and Obama is "stealing the election," it's nice to see Triantafilou inject some sanity into our public discourse. He doesn't gain anything from that post; in fact, he's probably being deluged with emails and calls from people within his own party incensed that he's not doing more to stop "voter fraud." Instead, we see an excellent example of Triantafilou's thoughtfulness and integrity. (It's what made him a good judge.)

There is no conspiracy to steal the election--either in Ohio or nationally--by either side. Some registration efforts may have gotten carried away. ACORN's actions were likely downright negligent: paying (unemployed) people to register voters and giving them a quota is guaranteed to get the results we're seeing this year: fictitious names in an effort to turn in enough names (the people submitting the names, frankly, couldn't care less about the election's outcome--they just want their checks). Similarly, the police officers whom Griff mentions (who, if the FOP is any indication, are likely to vote GOP) aren't trying to sway the election; they've just bought into a popular misconception that it's permissible for them to register at their police district. (If they're not Cincinnati residents, though, they need to get registered in the right place, as they shouldn't be casting votes in municipal elections.) What's going on out there? Some mistakes. Some overzealousness. But no right-wing or left-wing conspiracy. And probably very, very little in the way of actual criminal misconduct.

Say it with me again: just two more weeks.....

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