Sunday, January 15, 2012

New James O'Keefe Hoax Video Purports to Detail Fraudulent Cases of 'Voter Fraud' in New Hampshire

Long ago discredited, federally convicted criminal, Rightwing con-artist, pretend journalist, and accomplished liar James O'Keefe is pimping another secretly-taped and selectively-edited video sure to be a sensation on Fox "News" and at other Republican propaganda venues. It purports to show several voters showing up at polling places during New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday and giving the names of recently deceased voters to poll workers before procuring ballots to vote under those names.

The video, about which O'Keefe lies on his own website, is certain to add more phony fuel to Republicans' long-unsupported claims that people are regularly impersonating dead people at the polling place in order to vote illegally, an allegation which has absolutely no evidence to support it. The aim of the video is clearly is to shore up GOP attempts to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, meant to do little more than disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as the elderly, minorities and student voters, under the fraudulent guise of curbing "voter fraud."

As New Hampshire does not require a Photo ID before one is allowed to cast a legal vote, O'Keefe uses the video to try and create the impression that voting under the name of a recently deceased person is both simple and regularly done. As usual, O'Keefe's video looks as if it represents something that is damning. The video was released Wednesday morning at the website of O'Keefe's ironically named Project Veritas organization. Naturally, the websites of Andrew Breitbart, a fellow professional liar, as well as O'Keefe's employer and a co-conspirator on his phony ACORN "Pimp" Hoax videos, quickly followed suit in publicizing the same misleadingly-edited version of the video.

At the Project Veritas site, O'Keefe lies about the video, claiming at the end of his short article accompanying it, that "the unedited videos from part one of the Voter Fraud investigation" have been made available as well. Moreover, as several other sites reported on Wednesday, it's possible that O'Keefe and his band of merry fraudsters have also broken both federal and state laws.

The videos are meant to buttress the Republican push to implement polling place Photo ID restriction laws in states across the county, in the name of curbing massive "voter fraud" (only by Democrats, apparently, because in last week's GOP Iowa Caucuses, where Republicans set all of their own rules, they chose not to require photo ID of their own voters, even of those registering and voting for the first time on the same day).
By Republicans' own evidence, polling place impersonation by voters --- the only crime that could theoretically be prevented by such laws --- is exceedingly rare, if it even occurs at all. In all, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast across the nation during that period, the DoJ successfully convicted just 23 people for "voter fraud." None of them were for polling place voter impersonation.

While there is almost no evidence that polling place voter fraud occurs, where it does, it is usually a case of election fraud, not voter fraud --- cased where election insiders, who would not be deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions, carry out the crimes, as in the infamous example of ballot box stuffing that is said to have occurred in Chicago in 1960.

In fact, by way of just one example underscoring how rare actual polling place voter fraud is, in South Carolina, where the state recently attempted to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, the state has been unable to point to a single case of voter fraud which has ever occurred in the state that might have been prevented by a polling place Photo ID requirement. Furthermore, underscoring the lack of effectiveness of such laws in preventing voter fraud, even after Indiana disenfranchised voters with their law in 2008, the state's own Sec. of State, Charlie White (R) is now facing 7 felony charges, 3 of them directly related to voter fraud as he allegedly voted in 2010 in a precint where he did not actually live. The state's draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions did nothing to keep even the man running for Secretary of State from committing voter fraud in the contest where he was, himself, was elected to the position of the state's chief election official. If, however, what O'Keefe stages in his video was actually being done, it should be quite simple for proponents of polling place Photo ID restrictions to prove. Voting rolls are public records, as are records of who voted. Given the amount of money that has been put into the GOP propaganda efforts to create an illusion of a mass epidemic of "voter fraud", it would be a rather simple job to simply cross-check voter records against death records to show how many "dead people" have cast votes at the polling place in any given state.

While it has reportedly happened, from time to time, most often via absentee voting, it is almost never done at the polling place. Notably, polling place Photo ID laws do nothing to prevent absentee voter fraud, which is, far and away, the most common type of voter fraud (versus insider Election Fraud in which insiders manipulate the results in any number of ways, from stuffing ballots, to manipulating electronic voting machines and tabulators, etc. --- all of which are far easier ways to effect the results of elections.)
For one, state and federal laws can be improved to assure that those with death certificates are immediately removed from the voter registration rolls. Problem solved. Can the process for removing deceased voters from the rolls be improved? 

In commenting on O'Keefe's latest scam video, UC Irvine law professor, election expert and publisher of the Election Law Blog, Rick Hasen quipped to Talking Points Memo by suggesting that O’Keefe’s and his pals should "next show how easy it is to rob a bank with a plastic gun."

Hamline University law professor David Schultz told TPM's Ryan J. Reilly there is "no doubt" O’Keefe’s accomplices violated the law. The New Hampshire state law, however, as highlighted by Think Progress' Scott Keyes, could present more of a legal problem for the O'Keefe Bunch if they are charged for having violated it during their scheme.

The videos clearly show that O'Keefe's secret video-tapers did exactly that on a number of occasions. For example, in one instance highlighted by Keyes, at the 12:30 mark in the supposedly "unedited" video above, the poll worker asks O'Keefe's man: "Now, give me your name again?" O'Keefe's man responds directly: "Yes."

That's just one instance where O'Keefe's scammers appear to have violated the NH Election Code by making false material statements and giving a false name and answer under examination, as to his qualification as a voter before the supervisor of the checklist. Keyes also points out that O'Keefe's henchmen may have violated New Hampshire's Wiretapping and Eavesdropping provisions by secretly video-taping the poll workers. The page then goes on to detail the privacy and wiretap laws in various states, as far as where both parties to a conversation must consent to being taped, and states where only the consent of one party to the conversation is necessary.

New Hampshire is a "two party" state. O'Keefe's page notes that New Hampshire is a "two party" state, but it then goes on to summarize the applicable law here --- which is N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §570-A:2(1-a)--- by explaining the law (though not actually quoting it):
Perhaps, since this polling place scam didn't involve any telephone calls, the secret video-tapers felt the provisions against secret wiretapping didn't apply in this case. However, what the law actually says is quite different from O'Keefe's summarized version [emphasis added]:

Finally, since O'Keefe often lies about this part of his scams, let's be clear: Despite his claims to the contrary O'Keefe does not release "full, unedited versions" of his so-called "investigations" on his website, or anywhere else. In his ACORN "Pimp" Hoax, O'Keefe only released unedited versions of his highly edited tapes (which showed no crimes by anybody at ACORN, though it showed his own) to the California Attorney General as a bargaining chip to avoid criminal prosecution for having violated the state's privacy laws. In the latest case, O'Keefe offers this lie on his website, at the bottom of the article accompanying Wednesday's release:
(Unlike the establishment media, Project Veritas works to release full, unedited versions of its investigations and stories. To see the unedited videos from part one of the Voter Fraud investigation,click here.)
We tested more than a dozen polling places, simply walking up and stating the name of the deceased, and in all but one instance --- where an alert poll worker actually knew the recently deceased ---we were handed ballots.
This morning, the Boston Globe's Joe Battenfeld ran a story about a "mystery man trying to vote in the New Hampshire primary using a dead man’s name," who "got caught by an eagle-eyed voting supervisor in Manchester, then disappeared before police could corral him."
The video picks up in the middle of the conversation with Bullock, yet there is absolutely no footage at all of him in the supposedly "full, unedited version" of O'Keefe's so-called "Voter Fraud investigation".