The Daily Devil’s Dictionary: “Rampant” Voter Fraud

Kris Kobach, the Republican candidate for governor of Kansas, has led the campaign to keep minority voters off the voter rolls across America, a fact apparently unnoticed by The NYT.

The New York Times, like many other news outlets, picked up an Associated Press story about the Republican primary race for governor of Kansas, featuring a high-profile Republican, Kris Kobach. Not only did The Times pick it up, it also got extra mileage out of it by running the same story with two datelines, first on August 10 in the run-up to the vote, then again on August 15 after Kobach’s victory in the primary.

The article focuses on the image of Kobach as a tough guy, highlighted by the title, “Kobach’s Take-No-Prisoners Style at Forefront in Kansas Race.” It turns into a rambling biography of the man that, as we shall see, curiously skirts the key factor in Kobach’s national fame, where we learn, in two separated paragraphs, that his defining issue has something to do with his obsession with voter fraud.

In one paragraph we are told, “And many election experts say voter fraud is extremely rare.” Then we jump to another paragraph: “But many GOP leaders across the country agree with him that it is rampant and requires tough ID laws.” So, is it “extremely rare” or “rampant”? Alas, the article never really gets to that point.

Here is today’s 3D definition:

Rampant:

Barely existing, existing just enough for politicians to claim combating whatever it is to be a priority

Contextual note

If ever proof was needed to show why being content with what The New York Times and other “newspapers of reference” publish can be dangerous for one’s political intelligence, this one should seal the case. And if ever proof was required for the need to consult independent publications such as Fair Observer, this example should remove all doubt.

An attentive reader would have recognized that the article originally came from an AP feed, meaning it was not original reporting by The New York Times. The Associated Press is a dependable news agency. But presumably The Times editors are aware of major issues in the news, and Kobach himself is an issue not just because of his “take-no-prisoners” attitude, but because of his deep involvement in voter suppression. The Times may have forgotten this story from less than two months ago: “Federal Judge Strikes Down Kansas Proof Of Citizenship Law. The judge said the law championed by the Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach violated federal law and the 14th Amendment.”

The New York Times and AP should also know about the work of investigative reporter Greg Palast who, since 2000, has done in-depth investigation of voter fraud but whose reporting is only published by The Guardian, the BBC and Rolling Stone. He has uncovered the existence and examined the functioning of Kobach’s infamous Crosscheck program, which The Washington Post recognized in 2017 “gets it wrong over 99 percent of the time.” But unlike Palast, The Post cites a few states that have rejected Crosscheck, but it doesn’t bother to look at how the many states that haven’t rejected are using it to purge minority voters.

This week’s AP article never even alludes to the major scandal that Crosscheck represents as documented by Palast in this article in Rolling Stone. Instead, it makes this mild assessment of Kobach’s initiatives: “Kobach’s voter ID efforts have taken some recent hits, though. In June, a federal judge found the Kansas law unconstitutional. And the commission found no evidence to support [Donald] Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.”

Historical note

Voter suppression and other forms of manipulation (such as phantom ballots) have been a staple of US democracy, at least since the Tammany Hall days. In investigating the way Crosscheck plays out, Palast describes how easy it is for states to weed out minority voters and prevent them from voting, not because they were guilty of “double voting,” but because they didn’t know how to respond to the requirement to prove that they weren’t another person with the same name in another state.

Palast writes: “The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were “canceled” from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.”

The Electoral Integrity Project, in early 2016, informed us that the US had, as reported by The Washington Post, the “worst elections of any long-established democracy.” The truly “rampant” trends we’ve seen recently, which correlate strongly with the semi-official racism of the Trump administration, are the exclusion of minorities thanks to practices exemplified by the brainchild of the Crosscheck system.

In November 2018, all eyes will be on Kris Kobach in Kansas (can we abbreviate that as KKK?), who all alone symbolizes a deeply corrupt and racist electoral system.

*[In the age of Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain, another American wit, the journalist Ambrose Bierce, produced a series of satirical definitions of commonly used terms, throwing light on their hidden meanings in real discourse. Bierce eventually collected and published them as a book, The Devil’s Dictionary, in 1911. We have shamelessly appropriated his title in the interest of continuing his wholesome pedagogical effort to enlighten generations of readers of the news.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy. 

Photo Credit: Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock.com

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Author: Peter Isackson