This is getting to be ridiculous. James O’Keefe has demonstrated that he is a recidivist lawbreaker, but what’s truly astonishing is that he continues to post video proof of his crimes.
In his latest YouTube folly, O’Keefe’s lackey performs precisely the same stunt as his previous performance. Namely, going into a polling place and asking for a ballot in the name of someone else. This time he targeted Bill Maher, Ben Jealous, and David Brock. As I noted previously, all this proves is that someone intent on committing a crime can do so. Of course that’s true for any crime, but you don’t see O’Keefe sending his trained seals into McDonalds and videotaping while they shoot all the customers. The crime that O’Keefe’s pal is demonstrating is one that rarely occurs in the real world, yet O’Keefe and his Conservative Disinformation Society would have you believe that it happens with such frequency that it is necessary to enact laws that could prevent more than 20 million legitimate citizens from voting. The last time O’Keefe embarrassed himself with a similarly dimwitted video I posited this analogy:
This phony exercise by the O’Keefee is something like walking into a convenience store, pulling out a banana and demanding all the cash from the register, then posting the video of the “robbery” online along with a conclusion that holdups at banana-point are a serious national problem and that laws must be enacted to prevent them. Of course, to the best of my knowledge, there are very few banana-related crimes, and the act of pretending to commit one is not an argument for stricter law enforcement to protect innocent citizens from felonious fruit.
After the prior incident when the O’Keefee attempted to acquire the ballot of Attorney General Eric Holder, the District of Columbia Board of Elections correctly responded to news of O’Keefe’s antics by announcing that they would investigate O’Keefe:
Deborah Nichols, Board Chairwoman: The District of Columbia Board of Elections today condemned a video circulating on the Internet that shows a person misrepresenting his identity at District polling places on Election Day. [...] I have directed our attorneys to conduct a thorough investigation and refer all evidence to law enforcement authorities for appropriate action. Our polling places are open to the media and observers who want to legally document our procedures for checking in voters. There is never any justification for disrupting the voting process with fraudulent activity.
Stephen Danzansky, Board Member: In our democracy, the voting booth and its immediate surrounds are sacrosanct and to be kept free from politics and electioneering. [...] We will protect the integrity of that space from political pranksters and advocates who attempt to usurp that ground for their own political positions or causes.
Devarieste Curry, Board Member: What is troubling is that someone who purports to be concerned about the integrity of the voting system would in fact perpetrate a fraud. [...] We want every voter to know that no vote was cast in any of the incidents depicted in this video, that we condemn this stunt, and that we will thoroughly investigate it.
Clearly the actions of O’Keefe’s henchman went far beyond observation into potentially unlawful interference and disruption. It is high time that he be held accountable for his actions, just as he was in Louisiana where he was convicted for crimes in the office of a United States Senator, a crime for which he is still on probation.
One new wrinkle in O’Keefe’s M.O. in this video, is that he sent his flunky to a polling place in New Jersey where they have recently enacted strict voter ID laws. When he was turned away for not presenting an ID O’Keefe concluded that it was evidence that such laws are effective. That, of course, is nonsense. Why didn’t the O’Keefee simply show a fake ID as any actual voter fraud offender would do? All he would have to have shown was something like this:
Easily obtainable membership cards to retail stores and easily fabricated student IDs are sufficient identification to receive a ballot in New Jersey. Anyone with an intent to commit the sort of voter fraud depicted in O’Keefe’s video would have had no trouble producing an acceptable ID.
Therein lies the fallacy of this entire issue. First of all, there is no crisis of fraudulent voting occurring. Secondly, if there were, these laws would have no effect on that crime whatsoever. And finally, the only people for whom these laws would be an impediment to voting are legitimate citizens. And that is, in fact, the purpose sought by conservatives who push these laws. They know they can’t win honestly, so they plot to steal elections by preventing people from voting. And some of these rightists are candid enough to admit it:
John Stossel (Fox News): “Let’s stop saying everyone should vote.”
Matthew Vadum: Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country.
Rush Limbaugh: “If people cannot even feed and clothe themselves, should they be allowed to vote?”
Judson Phillips (Tea Party Nation): “If you’re not a property owner, I’m sorry, but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than not property owners do.”
Steve Doocy (Fox News): “With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?”
Get the picture? There is a concerted effort on the part of Republicans to disenfranchise politically those who are already disenfranchised economically. These laws are specifically crafted to impact Democratic constituencies (i.e. the poor, minorities, seniors, and students). And the sooner we can expose this, the sooner we can repair our democracy.