When Michigan Republicans talk about the need for keeping democracy pure by protecting against election fraud, the irony is dripping thicker than maple syrup in August.
State lawmakers this year tried to pass a package of laws that they said was necessary to prevent voter fraud. As is the case with Republican legislatures across the country, the laws are at best a cure for a disease that doesn't exist. Proponents are unable to provide evidence of voter fraud, while opponents charge the effort is a thinly disguised effort to suppress votes among the poor, the elderly and minorities who generally vote Democratic.
The Michigan package was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder. But that didn't stop Secretary of State Ruth Johnson from ordering that one of the provisions — a check box in which voters are asked if they are really a U.S. citizen — to be presented to all voters.
Meanwhile, in the midst of this false show of concern, leading Republicans literally from one side of the state to the other were making a mockery of fair, honest and open elections. At best, they treated elections as a game to be manipulated. At worst, felonies were committed. Clearly, the participants — including a former member of Congress and the leading Republican in the House — showed incredible disdain for the electoral process.
Both stories get more sordid as more facts emerge.
There is the bizarre, sad and possibly criminal saga of the copied and cut-and-paste petitions filed on behalf of Thad McCotter, the Livonia Republican and one-time presidential candidate who has resigned in disgrace from the U.S. House because of the scandal.
The news was shocking enough earlier this year when the secretary of state's office announced that McCotter failed to qualify for the ballot because his petitions contained duplicate and otherwise invalid signatures.
Subsequent reports show that these invalid signatures were a habit going back at least to 2006. That could mean that for at least the last six years, every vote cast for McCotter was invalid because he shouldn't have even been on the ballot. Although McCotter so far has escaped criminal charges, four members of his staff — including a Howell-area resident — are charged with felonies.
Over in Grand Rapids, House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, conspired with Roy Schmidt, a state representative who was elected as a Democrat but who agreed to secretly switch parties and run as a Republican.
In a plot that the Keystone Kops would surely applaud, Schmidt waited until the last minute to file for re-election but as a Republican. Crossing up his former party wasn't enough. He also recruited a friend of his son to file as a fake Democrat to make his re-election earlier.
All of this was done with the knowledge, encouragement and active support of Speaker Bolger. Bolger's deputy chief of staff even filed the paperwork for the fake Democrat who, as it turns out, wasn't even a resident of the district.
So Republicans are desperately afraid that somehow, somewhere a resident of, say, Mexico might cast a ballot, but they have no problem with a ruse that includes a nonresident running for office.
State police attempts to investigate this fiasco were hampered when the secretary of state's office failed for two months to produce a tape from a surveillance camera that showed Schmidt talking to the fake candidate. That was important because Schmidt repeatedly claimed that he had never met the guy he was filmed talking to.
The secretary of state's office said it wasn't trying to hamper the investigation; it just wasn't able to handle the file. Perhaps it feels incompetence is a lesser offense than conspiracy.
As for Schmidt, he's made it clear that truth is no barrier if it gets in the way of his election plans. For Bolger's part, he has made it clear that the quality of the candidate is of as little concern to him as the sanctity of an honest election.
These are more than antics. They are possibly criminal acts of people who care about winning, not about the core values of a fair and honest election. With actions like these, it's much easier to believe the claims that Republicans election reform efforts are nothing more than attempts to further fix election results.
They should be ashamed.http://www.livingstondaily.com/article/20120819/OPINION01/208190331/Michigan-Republicans-worries-about-election-fraud-ironic?odyssey=mod