Sunday, April 15, 2007

Karl Rove Talks Out Of His Ass

And this time it’s about Portland. This time it’s personal.

Posted on TPMmuckraker yesterday morning is a post called “Rove on Voter Fraud,” which includes a lengthy transcript from a speech and Q&A Karl Rove held with the Republican National Lawyers Association one year ago. In the Q&A, Rove attempts to build a case that voter fraud is rampant (Hey Rove! Where were you in Florida and Ohio in 2000?) across the country.

Toward the end of the transcript, Rove starts picking on Portland to outline his disdain for vote by mail:

I remember in 2000, that we had reports of people—you know, the practice in Oregon is everybody gets their ballot mailed to them and then you fill it out.
And one of the practices is that people will go to political rallies and turn in their ballots. And we received reports in the 2000 election — which, remember we lost Oregon by 5000 votes — we got reports of people showing up at Republican rallies and passing around the holder to get your ballot, and then people not being able to recognize who those people were and not certain that all those ballots got turned in.

On Election Day, I remember, in the city of Portland, Multnomah County—I’m going to mispronounce the name — but there were four of voting places in the city, for those of you who don’t get the ballots, well, we had to put out 100 lawyers that day in Portland, because we had people showing up with library cards, voting at multiple places.

I mean, why was it that those young people showed up at all four places, showing their library card from one library in the Portland area? I mean, there’s a problem with this.

And I know we need to make arrangements for those people who don’t live in the community in which they are registered to vote or for people who are going to be away for Election Day or who are ill or for whom it’s a real difficulty to get to the polls. But we need to have procedures in place that allow us to monitor it.

And in the city of Portland, we could not monitor. If somebody showed up at one of those four voting locations, we couldn’t monitor whether they had already cast their mail-in ballot or not. And we lost the state by 5,000 votes.

I mean, come on. What kind of confidence can you have in that system? So yes, we’ve got to do more about it.

As you might have guessed, Rove’s relationship with the facts is more than a little tenuous. Multnomah County Elections Director John Kauffman explains why after the jump.

"There were no voting locations in the county in 2000," he explains. "It was all strictly by mail. This was the first election after vote-by-mail passed, and everything was mailed in. People could go into the county elections office to pick up their ballot if they didn't receive one, but there weren't other locations to drop them off."

As for the bizarre library card claim, "I have no idea what he's talking about. A library card has nothing to do with people being able to vote."

Further, Kauffman says, vote-by-mail makes it harder, not easier, for fraud to take place. "Every signature on the back of the mailed-in envelope is checked against signatures on registration cards," he explained. "In the old days, you'd just sign in at the polling place, and your signature was never checked against anything else. Those places have their own means of identification, but those have problems too, which we're saved from by having vote-by-mail."

Even the registration process has safeguards. First time voters have to show state ID or write in the last four digits of their social security number in order to register--and the elections offices are linked to the DMV and social security system for verification.

Plus, he added, vote-by-mail eliminates the opportunity for things like polling place intimidation--based on things like, you know, race--which this country has a not-so-shining history of.

John Lindback, the State of Oregon's elections officer, is also confident that Oregon's vote-by-mail system is set up to stop fraud, and has extended an invitation to Rove to stop in while he's in the area to get a lesson on how vote-by-mail actually works.

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