Projecting the Vote

There’s so much fabrication floating around the internet, it’s hard to trust anything you read–especially as the election draws closer. So when a Facebook friend posted an article from a source I didn’t recognize, my first inclination was to categorize it with the various paranoid fantasies of “dirty deeds” and “voter fraud” that have grown thicker than ragweed this election cycle. The article claimed that Mitt Romney’s son Tagg, and other members of the Romney family, are part owners of Ohio’s voting machines–specifically, those supplied by Hart Intercivic.

A search of Snopes turned up nothing, pro or con. Google, however, was more accommodating, as were a few Facebook friends. The story was corroborated by several sources, among them Politifact and that noted left-wing publication, Forbes. Forbes reported that Hart Intercivic is largely owned by H.I.G. Capital, that H.I.G. Capital employees hold two of the five board seats–and both of them have made direct contributions to Romney’s campaign. Tony Tamer, the firm’s founder, is a major bundler for Romney, as are three other directors of H.I.G. In fact, H.I.G. is Romney’s 11th largest contributor. And to top it all off, H.I.G. has shared business interests with Solamere Capital, owned by…Tagg Romney.

Election experts have long warned that electronic voting machines are vulnerable to hacking; that’s one reason many jurisdictions have begun insisting on a paper trail. (I’m told some European countries have recently gone back to paper ballots in order to reassure voters of the legitimacy of election results.) There are all sorts of reasons why this latest bit of news is disquieting: the centrality of Ohio in our electoral vote system, the persistent accusations of irregularities in that state’s vote in 2004, and the increasingly brazen efforts by Republicans to suppress minority votes.

It began with so-called “Voter ID” laws, purportedly aimed at in-person voter fraud, a largely imaginary problem. As some unguarded comments by GOP operatives have confirmed, the real aim of such laws is to suppress the votes of elderly, poor and minority Americans–those most likely to lack the documentation, transportation and/or resources needed to obtain the necessary ID.

The Voter ID efforts have been accompanied by persistent measures to restrict voting–to limit early voting periods, and refuse to authorize satellite voting sites, and generally to make exercising ones franchise as inconvenient as possible, again on the theory that such measures would be most likely to discourage lower-income voters who tend to skew Democratic.

In the past week or so, there have been reports from swing states of other shenanigans: in Florida, Republican operatives were caught trashing registrations; in several other localities, robo-calls have been made to minority voters “reminding” them to vote–on November 8th. (The election, of course, will take place on November 6th.) Then there were the billboards in minority neighborhoods, featuring a judge’s gavel and the text “Voter Fraud is a felony—up to 3 1/2 years and a $10,000 fine.” Those appeared in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee. (Clear Channel has now responded to community outrage and begun taking them down; however, much of the harm has been done.)

I’m sure there must be places where the Democrats are engaging in similar tactics, and they certainly have done so in the past, but reports of Democratic chicanery  haven’t surfaced in this election cycle. My sense is that these are the sort of tactics used by folks who smell defeat–who realize that winning will require a bit of “fudging” here and there, and for whom winning is more important than playing fair and square. This year, despite the close national polls, that best describes the Romney/Ryan team.

Their faux concerns about voter fraud are an example of what psychologists call “projection.”


  1. I lived in Florida when Bush was NOT elected; day after day there were reports of votes being negated for many bogus reasons. I have always questioned why, if the presidential vote was so close, was Florida the only state to do a recount, the state where Bush’s brother Jeb was governor. This article about the Romney connections to attempted voter fraud does not surprise me at all. Sheila, you and I have both wondered what happened to the Republican party we worked for during the Hudnut administration. I have been FORCED by Republican actions, distored views and blatant lies to vote straight Democrat the past few years. I do not like doing this but, if we get a few weakling Democrats elected, it is worth it to keep out any and all questionable Republicans. A political activist friend and I noticed during the 2008 presidental election that only Republicans sent out ugly, unfunny, racist cartoons and professional appearing so-called newsletters filled with lies about Barack Obama and other Democrats. Democrats seemed to have better things to do that spew vicious rumors which could ruin careers and lives. This current Democrat spent much time on line researching facts and figures behind these rumors; I not only wanted to refute the ugly lies I received but more important, because I do support Barack Obama I WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH. Your research shows me you also are a truth seeker and you report your findings, pro and con on all issues. One reason I voted for you in your Senatorial bid years ago was your direct approach and your truthful campaigning regarding your views. We lost a good Senator when you were not elected and today, more than ever, we need politicians of your caliber on all levels. Thank you for keeping us enlightened; your work is of utmost importance in these frightening times we live in today.

  2. JoAnne–Thank YOU for your comments on this blog, all of which are thoughtful and enlightening.

  3. We know that George Bush was never elected to national office. They stole FL the first time and OH the second time. The only way they can win this one for Romney is to steal another one. They will if the can. And voter supression is but one of their tools. Sad.

  4. Last week-end I learned of a company John McCain and the Republican National Committee had hired to suppress votes. The company was asked to change its name because its image had become tarnished. The company obliged and was hired.

    Besides the vote suppression efforts you described, the antics included calling voters to tell them their vote could be taken over the phone so that they didn’t have to worry about going to the polls on election day.

    These folks have no shame.

  5. Sorry patmcc, George Bush was elected — by a 5 to 4 vote.
    Whether his reelection in 2004 was due to vote count tampering in Ohio we will probably never know, so we should accept the results.

    It is only the Birthers that refuse to accept the results of an election. We shouldn’t mimic them.

    Sheila – another great post – thank you.

  6. Sheila; I copied and pasted this Daily Kos post on Facebook. Some mistake!

    “It was “just a mistake,” according to the deputy director of the Republican-run Ottawa County Board of Elections in Ohio. And, you know, I’d really like to believe her. But it’s Ohio. The board sent a mailer to 2,300 voters in three northwestern Ohio precincts on Lake Erie near Toledo informing them that their voting location had been moved to a building on the east side of Danbury High School. The actual location is on the west side. Voters were also told Election Day was Nov. 8. It is, of course, Nov. 6.”

  7. Brad Friedman runs the best and most thorough voter fraud, voter disenfranchisement and suppression news on the web. BradBlog dot com

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