This strategy was orchestrated by the Rovian machine, with the backing of the Republican National Committee. But what did they hope to accomplish? Again, Marshall is pretty clear:
"Republican party officials and elected officials use bogus claims of vote fraud to do three things: 1) to stymie voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts in poor and minority neighborhoods, 2) purge voter rolls of legitimate voters and 3) institute voter ID laws aimed at making it harder for low-income and minority voters to vote."In other words, it's all about keeping potential Democrats away from the polls. Remember those stories of posters plastered around black neighborhoods giving the wrong day to vote? Remember the stories of too few voting machines in minority areas, along with surpluses in Republican-leaning enclaves? Remember the New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, in which Republicans were indicted for deliberately sabotaging the Democrat's get-out-the-vote campaign? And remember John Thune's narrow victory over Tom Daschle in South Dakota, that came on the back of massive intimidation of native American voters as Republicans harped on and on about voter fraud on the reservations? And, of course, who can forget the ur-scandal that opened the eyes of Republicans to the voter suppression potential, the 2000 voter debacle in Florida?
So, this strategy works. But the Republicans need compliant legal officials to keep pressing these bogus claims. And, as Marshall diligently points out, the US attorneys scandal leads back directly this strategy. As he puts it:
"Only most of the relatively non-partisan and professional US Attorneys simply didn't find any actual fraud. Choosing not to indict people on bogus charges got at least two of the US Attorneys (Iglesias and McKay) fired. And we are seeing evidence that others may have been nudged out less directly for the same reasons. In turn they've been replaced by a new crop of highly-political party operative prosecutors who, in the gentle wording of the Times, "may not be so reticent" about issuing indictments against people who have committed technical voting infractions with no intent to cast a fraudulent ballot."Welcome to the Banana Republic...