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Thu Oct 1, 2020, 03:23 AM

How President Trump's false claim of voter fraud is being used to disenfranchise Americans.

Source: New York Times

The Attack on Voting in the 2020 Elections

How President Trump’s false claim of voter fraud is being used to disenfranchise Americans.

By Jim Rutenberg
Sept. 30, 2020

On an October morning four years ago, eight young staff members at the Indiana Voter Registration Project in Indianapolis were planning their final steps before a closely contested presidential election. In recent weeks they had registered 45,000 new voters, most of whom were Black and Latino, and they were on track to enlist 10,000 more before Election Day. Their work had gone smoothly for the most part, but several canvassers had submitted applications with names that appeared to have been made up or drawn from the phone book, most likely to create the appearance that they were doing more work than they had actually done. That was illegal — submitting a false registration is a felony under Indiana law — and also frustrating. A made-up name was not going to help anyone vote. The staff members stopped using the suspect canvassers, but they couldn’t simply trash the faulty registrations: State law required them to file every application they collected, even if they had false names or serious mistakes. So they carefully identified all the applications with potentially false names, along with several hundred more with incorrect addresses or other simple errors, so that local election clerks would know they might present a problem.

Despite their efforts at transparency, though, Indiana’s secretary of state, Connie Lawson, used these faulty registrations as evidence of wrongdoing. She warned all the state’s county elections clerks that a group of “nefarious actors” who were going “by the name of the Indiana Voter Registration Project” had “forged voter registrations.” It was a gross exaggeration, but the project hired a lawyer to visit local election board offices and assure registrars that they were following the proper procedures. Craig Varoga, a longtime Democratic operative who runs Patriot Majority USA, which funded the Indiana project, told reporters that the fraud claims were false. Lawson was a close ally of Mike Pence, the state’s former governor who was then Donald Trump’s running mate. “We believe she is using government resources,” Varoga said, “to discredit and impugn the entire process.”

But the staff members did not expect anything like what came that October morning. Around 10:45, five unmarked state police cars and a mobile cybercrimes unit quietly approached their building. A staff member heard a knock on the back door. Within minutes, troopers were rounding up the staff members inside the office, announcing that they had a warrant to search all their computers, cellphones and records. When one staff member, a young Black man, refused to give up his phone, the troopers handcuffed him — for “acting like a hoodlum,” he later said in a sworn affidavit. Within a couple of hours, the police were heading out the door with computers and phones as a television news crew captured the scene.

Pence seized on the investigation in interviews. “Voter fraud, Dana, is real,” he told the CNN correspondent Dana Bash. “We’re dealing with it in the state of Indiana right now. We have literally thousands of instances of fraudulent voter registration.” This claim was a misrepresentation, but it was of a piece with similar claims circulating around the country. The Pennsylvania State Police raided a Democratic firm that it said was suspected of producing fraudulent registrations. Conservative activists released a report titled “Alien Invasion in Virginia,” claiming that more than a thousand “noncitizens” there were poised to vote illegally. A video from Project Veritas’s right-wing video ambush artist James O’Keefe III caught a Democratic operative seemingly discussing a hypothetical “huge, massive voter-fraud scheme” in Wisconsin, as Sean Hannity described it. Some of the claims were simply nonsensical. Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime adviser, tweeted a fictitious document that purported to reveal a Democratic plan to attack American voters with mind-controlling “pulsed ELF electromagnetic emissions” and impose martial law, adding only, “If this is real: OMG!!!”

None of these stories held up under examination: ...


Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/magazine/trump-voter-fraud.html

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