So it seems James O'Keefe has gone to Vermont and made a stupid video. It's stupid because it does what James O'Keefe always tries to do -- exaggerates a problem in order to shame public officials into accepting his point of view. Only the only one who should be shamed is O'Keefe.
Just as he did in New Hampshire, he sent in "undercover" people with video cameras to ask for ballots in the name of voters, living and dead. In each case on the video, O'Keefe's minions ask whether they need to show ID, and in each case, poll workers tell them they don't.
One of the more interesting anomalies on the video are the dates. The first subject, "Mohamud" is dated March 9, 2009. The "John Adams" video is dated February 27, 2012, as is "Adam Berger." "Travis Houle" is dated March 8, 2009. "Evan Bean" is March 8, 2009. The date of the Vermont primary was March 7, 2012. None of these videos have that date. The 2009-2010 Vermont elections calendar does not have any elections scheduled for March 8-9, 2009, nor was anything scheduled for February 27, 2012. There was a very close mayoral election in Burlington, VT on March 3, 2009, which went to an instant runoff where a progressive was elected over the Republican candidate, knocking the Democrat out of the race altogether. But why would video referring to a city race be dated March 9th when the election was March 3rd? The ballots cast on March 3rd were used in the instant runoff voting, so there wasn't a new vote on the 8th or 9th.
Vermont does, however, permit voter registration until five days before the election. In the case of "John Adams" and "Adam Berger", it's possible they were requesting voter registration forms, which they would not need ID to request, but would need ID to submit.
In Vermont, a valid photo ID is required when one registers to vote. Applicants are also required to take the "Voter's Oath", which must be certified by an appropriate official before the registration is valid. Once those requirements are met, the voter's name is entered on the rolls.
All of this begs the question: Where were these videos filmed and for what elections? It would appear they weren't even filmed in Vermont! And if they were filmed in Vermont on those days and actual ballots were requested, then O'Keefe forgot about this:
While one can indeed register to vote (in most places) without showing an ID via third party, what O'Keefe fails to mention in his video, is that the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 already requires those who do not register in person to provide ID when voting for the first time at the polling place. In other words, if "Thomas Brady" registers to vote via the registration forms received via O'Keefe's video, he would be required, by federal law, to show an ID the first time he votes in person at the polling place.
He also evidently ignored this as he continues to push Voter ID laws with his highly suspect videos:
The only type of voter fraud which could possibly be deterred by such measures would be in-person, polling place impersonation, which is so rare that even George W. Bush's own Dept. of Justice was unable to find even a single instance of it, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast across the nation during the years from 2002 to 2005, when they placed unprecedented resources into ferreting out such instances of voter fraud.
The bulk of this video is O'Keefe trying to make false equivalences between showing ID to drink, get a hotel room, and complete a civil union, while completely ignoring the fact that yes, ID is required to vote, at the time of registration to vote rather than on Election Day. He also ignores the fact that voting is a Constitutional right rather than an optional act such as drinking, renting a hotel room, or entering into a contractual civil union with another person. What's truly laughable is that this particular line of thinking is one that's already been pushed on by conservatives, including J. Christian Adams. Via Media Matters:
Finally, don't fall into the silly and constitutional incorrect argument that you have to show ID to cash a check and get on a plane. Flimsy arguments like that are what the left wants from you. The 15th Amendment is in play when it comes to voting. It prohibits racial discrimination in voting, and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is passed to enforce that part of the Constitution. Cashing a check isn't found in the Constitution, and people who love the Constitution shouldn't equate a plane trip with the right to vote free from racial discrimination.
Still, that didn't stop Mr. Christian from appearing on Fox News this morning while they made that argument about the DOJ's recent decision to object to the Texas voter ID law.
As has been argued in many other posts here, elsewhere and in the courts, Voter ID laws are intended to do one thing, and one thing only: suppress votes of Latino, black, poor and elderly voters. Whether James O'Keefe likes it or not, the Department of Justice will continue to challenge laws which can be shown to do that.
If you google the term "Vermont voter fraud" right now, you will turn up page after page of the right-wing echo chamber sending their usual bat signals out to the right-wing Internet denizens who will righteously exclaim that they now have "proof positive" that voter ID is a necessary and good thing. After all, O'Keefe showed us, right?
Except he didn't. He can't prove the videos were even shot in Vermont and certainly can't prove ballots were cast in the names of dead voters or identity thieves acting on O'Keefe's orders. Who wants to bet on how long it takes Fox News to start shouting about all the fraudsters in Vermont? I'm sure they'll get to it right after they finish whining about Texas:
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