In the last election the Tea Party movement complained, often to deaf ears, that Democrats were trying to qualify “faux” tea party candidates on third party ballot lines in order to siphon votes away from the real thing.
The purpose behind such an effort was to split the votes of the center-right between the “faux” tea partiers and real ones running on the Republican line, thus allowing Democrats to slip through to victory.
The national political media largely scoffed at the idea, attributing it to the kind of general paranoia they believe to be omnipresent among conservatives.
Now comes news out of Detroit that those raising the red flag were not just blowing smoke. In a story appearing in Thursday's Detroit News, reporter Mike Martindale writes that “Two former high-ranking members of the Oakland County Democratic Party are facing various election corruption charges in a bogus tea party scheme.”
Oakland is a Michigan county just northwest of Detroit. According to the paper, former Democratic County Chairman Michael McGuinness and ex-operations director Jason Bauer “face charges related to Independent Tea Party filings, false affidavits and forged documents that occurred between July 23 and July 26 last year.” [See top 5 winners and losers in the 2010 election.]
In announcing the charges against the two former Democratic operatives, Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper, a Democrat, and County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, a Republican, were scathing in their criticism of the two men’s activities.
Bouchard, the paper reported, said 23 questionable election filings across Michigan--eight of them in Oakland County--involved an effort to create the illusion of an independent Tea Party and its candidates on November's ballot. In several instances the activities allegedly even included putting people up for political office without their involvement or, in at least one case, without even their knowledge, a criminal act under Michigan law.
In total McGuinness and Bauer are, the paper said, “charged with three counts of forged records, uttering and publishing, a 14-year felony; three counts of election law, false swearing, a felony punishable by five years in prison; and one count of election law, false swearing-perjury, also a five-year felony. Bauer is also charged with three counts of notary public violation, a one-year misdemeanor.” [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the 2010 campaigns.]
The investigation, Bouchard added, is ongoing and includes, the paper reported, “an unnamed ‘party leader’ in Lansing.
The news, while not necessarily enough to justify a congressional investigation into the national Democratic Party’s activities in the last election, nonetheless should be enough to give everyone pause. The issue of voter fraud in U.S. elections does not get enough attention--unless it is to further a partisan political objective. Real election reform is still needed to guarantee the integrity of the American ballot, not the “faux” reforms that were forced through in the wake of the 2000 election that really did nothing to address the problem. [See editorial cartoons about the Democrats.]
There are things that can be done--like the abolition of same-day voter registration, the requirement that voters produce photo IDs before they can cast ballots, making voters renew their registration after a fixed period of time just like people have to do with driver’s licenses and easing the laws that place restrictions on poll watchers. Mostly, however, the people who are supposed to watch these things carefully need to pay closer attention to what is going on.