Using Nonexistent Voting Fraud to Dismantle Voting Rights

Martin Bashir of MSNBC pushed Reince Priebus, who heads the Republican National Committee, hard on his support for the anti-voting rights legislation that the House passed today. The bill abolishes the Election Assistance Commission — which exists to address and prevent precisely the kind of voting fraud that Priebus and his fellow Republicans claim to oppose — and ends public financing for presidential campaigns. Here is the portion of the exchange that is quoted in this Think Progress post (emphasis is in the original):

BASHIR: Just last night Republicans in the House voted to dismantle the Election Assistance Commission, the sole purpose of which is to make sure states meet voting standards that prevent fraud. Why would Republicans do that if they’re honestly concerned about preventing fraud? […]

PRIEBUS: Well listen, I don’t want to get into the specifics here, but let me tell you something. I come from a state in Wisconsin that was absolutely riddled with voter fraud, okay? They had the smokes-for-votes exchange in Milwaukee. This is something that has nothing to do with constitutional rights of the people who are committing the fraud, it has to do with the constitutional rights of people under our Constitution that one person gets one vote, not two or three or four or five, by not having reasonable voting standards in this country to make sure that fraud doesn’t occur.

That claim, in bold, that Priebus made is entirely false, as TP also points out:

The problem? A recent study by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found just seven cases of voter fraud out of three million votes cast in Wisconsin during the 2004 election, a fraud rate of0.0002 percent. All seven of these cases involved persons with felony convictions who weren’t eligible to vote after being released from prison.

More evidence, if it’s needed, that the freedom and fealty to the Constitution Republicans claim to be all about, in reality is the polar opposite of what they are about.

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