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Wednesday | December 18, 2002

SD GOP busted for fraud

Sen. Tim Johnson won the tightest Senate race this season, and the GOP has yet to "get over it".

As is typical when the GOP loses a close race, they point their fingers at minority districts and scream "Fraud!". In SD, the target was the state's Native American community, which voted heavily in favor of Johnson (Lott and the GOP, two sides of the same coin).

Josh Marshall has been following the story closely (you'll have to scroll down to follow the postings, which span several days). To set the stage:

Back during the South Dakota Senate campaign we devoted lots of space to trumped-up Republican charges that Democrats had turned the state's Indian reservations into hotbeds of voter fraud ... Republicans made a series of wild-eyed allegations of 'massive voter fraud.' Those charges were then amplified by a number of local reporters who turned out to be working in embarrassingly close coordination -- in one case, cohabiting -- with the Republican operatives who ginned up the accusations in the first place.

The whole thing was a rather shameless attempt to stymie efforts to get more people to exercise their legitimate right to vote -- and stir up politically-helpful racial animosity too. The 'massive fraud' charges eventually collapsed under the weight of their own ridiculousness, though this didn't stop Republican candidate John Thune and the RNC from a series of scurrilous ads and mailings accusing Democrat Tim Johnson of having a hand in the fraudulent voting.

After Johnson's improbably win by an impossibly tight margin (524 votes), GOP candidate Thune graciously conceded, but his party cried foul. GOP operatives fanned out through Indian reservations to gather affidavits claiming voter fraud.

Those affidavits were submitted to the SD attorney general, a Republican, which promptly dismissed them. They were also submitted to conservative publications which have since written pieces about the Dems "stolen election". But back in SD, it seemed the issue was dead.

But now it turns out that there was fraud, just not by Democrats. As Marshall wrote Monday:

As we noted yesterday, South Dakota's Republican Attorney General Mark Barnett said that two of the three affidavits that alleged anything illegal turned out to be "either perjury or forgery." The signer of the third affidavit could not be located.

Now it turns out, according to an article by David Kranz in today's Argus Leader, that those affidavits were "pre-worded" by Republican lawyers involved in the RNC's voter fraud investigation.

The chairwoman of the Tripp County Republicans apparently just went through the reservations with pre-written 'I was in on voter fraud' affidavits to see if she could get anyone to sign.

So, what will the National Review's Byron York have to say about that? My guess is nothing.

But aside from the GOP's fraud, it's important to focus on the other key issue here: the GOP's efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. Southern blacks don't get all of the GOP "love", that love is shared by every Dem-leaning minority group. Ousting Lott or Ashcroft won't change that fact. It's institutional -- burrying to the very core of the GOP's soul.

South Dakota is just another example in a long line of many.

Posted December 18, 2002 09:32 AM | Comments (13)


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