Florida GOP chair says voting laws meant to reduce turnout

Two snakes fight each other.

In an interview with the Palm Beach Post, former Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said that laws his party introduced in the name of combating voter fraud were actually designed to reduce voter turnout. Also, Dracula has a startling admission about the blood drive he organized at your office. We all kind of new that ID laws and limitations on early voting were actuarially engineered to give Republicans an advantage; the clue was that only Republicans proposed them. But after months of pious declarations about fraud and the integrity of the system, it’s nice to hear Greer admit it. Quote:

The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates. It’s done for one reason and one reason only…They never came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud issue. It’s all a marketing ploy.

But God never opens a door without sending a mean dog to run around your living room. Complicating details after the jump.

Before you think that Greer told the PBP those things because he had an Ebenezer Scrooge-style reversal of conscience, you should know that he is currently under indictment. According to the Florida GOP, he siphoned approximately $200,000 in party funds to a fake campaign fundraising option. He is also countersuing, saying that his employers “knew what he was doing and voiced no objection.” So we are maybe looking at a sort of reverse prisoner’s dilemma, here, from the people who made a panacea of rational self-interest.

Still, Greer’s admission/false claim is satisfying. It is also backed by former governor Charlie Crist, along with campaign operative Wayne Bertsch, who told the Post that “when we started seeing the increase of turnout and the turnout operations that the Democrats were doing in early voting, it certainly sent a chill down our spines.” If Jim Greer is lying because he’s mad that he got caught stealing from the Florida GOP, a surprising number of his fellows in the party have come to his defense.

It seems more likely that he’s telling the truth we already knew. A number of studies found that the kind of voter fraud that ID laws and reductions in early voting were supposed to fight—individuals pretending to be someone else to cast ballots where they shouldn’t—simply does not exist. The same studies also tended to find that early voters and people without photo IDs were likely to vote Democrat. Republicans had an incentive to cast a wide net, because for every fraudulent voter they stopped, they were likely to get a dozen Democrats.

We knew this, and yet for more than a year, state Republican parties insisted that it wasn’t so. I personally got blocked from the Facebook wall of the Iowa Secretary of State—a high school classmate of mine—for asking how many instances of voter fraud were found in 2008. It was, as Greer put it, a massive marketing campaign. Across the country, Republican legislators, campaign operatives and commenters insisted that fraud was a huge problem, even when—if Greer is to be believed—they knew it wasn’t true.

And they did it to keep people from voting. Not since Jim Crow has a party struck directly at the root of democracy in order to win elections—and even then, they had the decency to also do it for racism. Southern Democrats after Lincoln were bastards, but they were bastards in the name of a (bigoted and stupid) ideology. In 2012, one party has proven itself willing to disenfranchise people not because it hates them, but because they ran the numbers and found it would give them a small statistical advantage.

From a cost-benefit standpoint, it was astoundingly petty. Yet what bothered me most about the phony fraud argument—and what makes Greer’s admission so satisfying—is the sense of vindication after all these months. No party in modern memory has enjoyed the sociopath’s advantage like the contemporary GOP. They have their own news network. They have more commentators and talk-show entertainers than the Democrats, and theirs are far more rigidly disciplined. They have the ability to repeat a lie—voter fraud was a problem in 2008; global warming isn’t real—long after it has been disproven, and their outlets for coordinated dishonesty are so multifarious that for political purposes they are not lying until they admit it.

So thank you, Jim Greer, for admitting it. We all knew anyway, but it’s good to have one of you back. The more I think about it, the more I think the contemporary Republican Party is broken. Their policy has been reduced to a single agenda—low taxes on the rich—and their politics has coalesced into three elements: propaganda, vote suppression and campaign finance deregulation. Even still, they didn’t win. Somewhere in the GOP is a core of honesty, hardworking people with useful ideas. Maybe this is the year they wake up.


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