It's not even a question. The Republicans, acting in concert across state governments, show clear intent to steal this election, by hook or by crook. (God knows, Romney can't win it on his own.) That's what Republicans do when they want something: They lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, and otherwise take voters' rights away and work it to their own advantage.
I don't expect we'll see a repeat of 2004. As many criticisms as I have of Obama and his policies, I don't think his campaign will simply fold their tents and fade into the night as John Kerry did after they stole Ohio. But I wonder whether they're setting things in place for the legal fight if the Republicans successfully pull this off.
Dan Froomkin writes about the Republican plan to keep college students from voting:
In Tennessee, a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls explicitly excludes student IDs.In Wisconsin, college students are newly disallowed from using university-provided housing lists or corroboration from other students to verify their residence.
Florida's reduction in early voting days is expected to reduce the number of young and first-time voters there.And Pennsylvania's voter identification bill, still on the books for now, disallows many student IDs and non-Pennsylvania driver's licenses, which means out-of-state students may be turned away at the polls.
In 2008, youth voter turnout was higher that it had been since Vietnam, and overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This time around, the GOP isn't counting solely on disillusionment to keep the student vote down.
In the last two years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed dozens of bills that erect new barriers to voting, all targeting Democratic-leaning groups, many specifically aimed at students. The GOP's stated rationale is to fight voter fraud. But voter fraud -- and especially in-person fraud which many of these measures address -- is essentially nonexistent.
None of the new laws blocks student voting outright -- although in New Hampshire, Republican lawmakers almost passed a bill that would have banned out-of-state students from casting a ballot. (The leader of the State House, Bill O'Brien, wascaught on tape explaining how the move was necessary to stop students from "basically doing what I did when I was a kid: voting as a liberal.")
And in some states, education officials are trying to limit the damage. In Pennsylvania, for instance, many universities are either reissuing IDs or printing expiration stickers to make current cards valid, according to a survey by thePennsylvania Public Interest Research Group.
But every additional barrier makes a difference to students, said Maxwell Love, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "It's the little things that make voting harder that are going to affect apathetic students ... This is like literally slamming the door on youth engagement."
However, here's a glimmer of hope in Pennsylvania. Some counties are exploiting a loophole in the state's new voter ID law:
A voter-ID mutiny launched by Democratic-controlled Montgomery and Allegheny Counties showed signs of spreading across the state Friday, as Philadelphia and a handful of other local governments said they, too, would consider issuing poll-ready identification cards through county-run nursing homes and colleges.
Despite the bitter partisan debate surrounding the controversial Pennsylvania law, state Republicans voiced little opposition Friday to the counties' new plans.
"I don't think anyone contemplated the possibility of a county nursing home becoming an issuer of an identification document that could be used to satisfy the voter-ID requirement," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), a key force in enacting the law last March. But he added, "I am not against the principle of other entities having the ability to issue cards, as long as we have uniform standards and safeguards in place."
On Thursday, Allegheny and Montgomery Counties said they would begin issuing their own ID cards through county-run facilities.
The move exploits a loophole in the new law that allows both colleges and senior-care centers to provide such cards to anyone who lives in the county - not just to the people who attend those colleges or reside in those centers.
The counties' officials explained their decisions by citing complaints from residents who had run into trouble obtaining the required photo ID through the state's preferred route, the Department of Transportation.
Some said PennDot workers turned them away for failing to bring sufficient proof of identity, while others were rejected for bringing documents with slightly mismatched names.
"This does not solve the problems across the Commonwealth," Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman, Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said of his county's plan. "But it is an important step in the right direction for our constituents."