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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Twelve GOPers defect, choose ACORN and political expediency over ballot integrity, principle

    By Nick, Section News
    Posted on Fri May 01, 2009 at 07:37:02 AM EST
    Tags: House, 2010, ACORN, No Reason AV, RINO Hunting (all tags)

    And on the same day I said something nice about the caucus here on RightMichigan.  

    It was just yesterday that I praised the House GOP for having the stones and the urgency to recognize the severity of a $1.32 BILLION budget crisis and to try (at least) to take some immediate action to right-size the size of our state government.  Then twelve of them follow up that great move with this bone-head play?

    No GOP legislator interview today.  I'm frustrated personally but I don't think I'm going to be alone.  This is the kind of nonsense that makes it tough for the GOP to build an effective brand.

    Yesterday in the Michigan House of Representatives, twelve Republican members unnecessarily joined the overwhelming Democratic Majority in approving "No Reason Absentee Voting."

    Representatives Justin Amash, Darwin Booher, Brian Calley, Bill Caul, Cindy Denby, Kevin Green, Goeff Hansen, Matt Lori, Pete Lund, Paul Opsommer, Tory Rocca and Sharon Tyler chose political expediency over the integrity of the ballot and secure elections.  

    I, for one, couldn't be more disappointed.

    Please read on...

    No Reason AV is the top item on the wish list of groups like ACORN and the Michigan Democratic Party.  It is a solution looking for a problem and a tool that enables those without scruples to dilute the integrity of the ballot box in big ways.  Never mind the fact that it might as well be a green light for voter fraud.

    Voter Fraud is on the rise across the country.  Milwaukee's top election official has asked for criminal investigations of 49 voter registration workers for a registration scam that would involve absentee voting.  Federal and state authorities are looking into widespread voter fraud in parts of Alabama including the abuse of absentee ballots.  In a June primary in one county the number of people voting was six times the state average.  Federal officials said some people voted six times in the election.  Federal officials raided the offices of ACORN, a leftist community action group, in Nevada and found evidence of widespread fraud in voter registration in preparation for an absentee ballot voting drive.

    But we don't have to go to Milwaukee or Alabama.  In Macomb County the Warren City Clerk conducted a random check of 10 new voter registrations turned in by the same organization, ACORN, and found all 10 to be false.

    In a state whose biggest city has 200,000 non-existent voters on the official voter lists, these groups are out there registering Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and 15 year old kids and their aim is to win elections even (or especially) if it means stuffing the ballot box.  

    Even if that weren't the case... even if everyone in the state were a saint, No Reason AV would be a rotten idea.  And I'm not the only one who thinks so.  The patron saint of the loony left, President Jimmy Carter, said so himself, several years ago, via a big fancy national election panel.  

    The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, which he co-chaired with President Ford before his passing, found and argued that voters should always vote alone and in secret, a right and a degree of ballot integrity that is impossible to protect with NRAV.  

    Further, they argued that Citizens should vote with a common base of information about candidates.  If they vote over a period of weeks before Election Day, they vote based on knowledge available on a scattering of different dates.

    Then there's that whole "voting is a responsibility, not a right" argument.  Ease of voting cannot and should not supersede ballot integrity.  

    There are legitimate times and situations when folks cannot make it to their polling place on Election Day.  We have a mechanism in place that enables them to cast an absentee ballot when they provide that legitimate reason.  

    Giving far-left groups like ACORN the power to effectively take hundreds of thousands of ballots, secure votes from non-existent voters and influence, cajole and extort votes from others without an ounce of supervision by election officials doesn't just blow a hole in the concept of ballot integrity, it borders on lunacy.

    And twelve Michigan Republicans helped make it happen.  

    So a big "gee thanks" goes out this morning to Representatives Justin Amash, Darwin Booher, Brian Calley, Bill Caul, Cindy Denby, Kevin Green, Goeff Hansen, Matt Lori, Pete Lund, Paul Opsommer, Tory Rocca and Sharon Tyler.

    The fringe left and the groups who won't stop at much to steal your jobs are one step closer to winning their dream prize.  Hopefully, for their own sakes, they won't learn the hard way via ACORN next November that in the end you typically get what you vote for.

    < Friday in the Sphere: May 1 | The Weekend in the Sphere >

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    Kudos to these legislators (none / 0) (#1)
    by Brady on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:17:50 AM EST
    Justin Amash and Paul Opsommer are far from the Mike Nofs liberal wing of the Republican Party.  Amash and Opsommer are the two most conservative legislators in the House.  Kudos to them for actually representing what their constituents want rather than representing the narrow interests of a political party establishment.  It's refreshing to see this display of independence from a broad range of Republican legislators.  There's going to need to a be a lot more of it or Michigan's quickly going to become a one party state.

    The Limits of Libertarianism (none / 0) (#3)
    by K Smooth on Fri May 01, 2009 at 09:02:15 AM EST
    I don't know anything about Dem staffers, but in the case of Amash and Opsommer this is a good example of taking Libertarianism too far.  My guess would be that their thinking was that this was their way to liberate voters from the horrible oppression of having to go around the block and stand in a line in order to vote.  They completely missed the importance of ballot security, or the extent to which the ACORN crowd is willing to cheat to win elections, or the way this makes it easier for them to stuff the ballot box.

    The temptation of doctrinaire libertarians is to think that the fair administration of government isn't really all that important.  A lot of dumb things have been done in the name of fairness, mainly by the left but sometimes by the right as well, so it's an understandable mistake, but a mistake nonetheless, especially in this case.

    I happen to like Amash (less familiar with Opsommer) so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he just wasn't briefed on this well.  But I'm counting on the Senate to sit on this one.


    Your Guess (none / 0) (#5)
    by dsheill on Fri May 01, 2009 at 09:30:16 AM EST
    "My guess would be that their thinking was that this was their way to liberate voters from the horrible oppression of having to go around the block and stand in a line in order to vote."  

    That's exactly what it is "a guess" and a pretty dumb one at that. My advice is to learn a little more about political philosophy before you feel entitled to speak on behalf of what others may have been thinking.

    "The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, which he co-chaired with President Ford before his passing, found and argued that voters should always vote alone and in secret, a right and a degree of ballot integrity that is impossible to protect with NRAV."

    This quote seems to suggest that AV voting should be eliminated period. For example, in 2005 Jackie Curry, the former Detroit City Clerk, was rumored to have visited several nursing homes where she "helped" a number of elderly and incapacitated people vote AV. The current extension of AV voting would have little if any effect on exacerbating a pre-existing problem enabling under the current exemptions for AV voting. To be fair, the lines to vote in Detroit are notorious for being significantly longer than those in the suburbs. And even I believe this an unequity that should be remedied. However, the AV process is not neccessarily the best way to remedy this problem.

    I think straight-ticket voting continues to be the bigger threat (pro-Dem remedy).

    Confused (none / 0) (#6)
    by Rougman on Fri May 01, 2009 at 09:38:14 AM EST
    I am confused by this vote.  I wish these 12 could explain here on Right Michigan why they voted the way that they did.  I hate to continue to speculate because at this point my speculation ends with an ugly vision wherein they all wear frilly undergarments and sing lumberjack songs.  

    Milquetoast Republicans may lose gracefully, but they will always lose.

    I'm having a hard time understanding... (none / 0) (#10)
    by KG One on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:01:52 PM EST
    ...why absentee voting is such a hard thing?

    When I knew that I would be out of town, I went down to my city clerk's office, showed them my ID, three minutes later and voilà, I was walking out of my local city hall with a ballot in hand.

    Not a difficult concept.

    And certainly, absolutely no justification for "No reason" absentee voting.

    Sigh... (none / 0) (#12)
    by AdrienneKH on Fri May 01, 2009 at 01:20:54 PM EST
    Seriously..Voting for NRAV is voting for FRAUD.

    Even though fraud through shady programs like ACORN exists already, why further contribute to it?

    And certainly its not because of a lack of briefing!

    Whats next? Voting online?

    • Half valid by chetly, 05/02/2009 01:59:05 AM EST (none / 0)
    Well, if nothing else, (none / 0) (#13)
    by thejmfc on Fri May 01, 2009 at 02:04:29 PM EST
    I think the question "Why did you..." would make a great addition to the next Legislator interview involving one of these 12.  The softball questions are fine, but I for one would love to see their most questionable recent action brought up as well.

    This was a tough issue, and the attack unfounded (none / 0) (#17)
    by chetly on Fri May 01, 2009 at 04:04:03 PM EST
    The attack by Nick on the 12 is completely unfounded.  Questioning the conservative bona fides of the likes of Opsommer, Amash, or Lund for this vote baffles me (those are just the three I'm most familar with, I'm not saying the others don't have equal bona fides).  You have fallen into a nasty trap the Dems tried to set here - the irony is a I agree with your position (I think) and disagree with the 12.

    I personally support no reason absentee voting (with ID) though I personally would have voted against this bill because it was flawed badly. Everyone here should agree with me, I'd hope. I'll elaborate momentarily.

    This is a tough issue and I know many Republican legislators thought about it closely.  

    Here's the DIRTY TRICK PART BY the Dems:

    Introduced version:

    Substitute version:

    For those preferring to just let me tell them the dirty trick, here's the difference - in bold, two added phrases:

    The elector shall apply in person, or by mail, by facsimile, or by electronic mail with the clerk of the township, city, or village in which the elector is registered.

    The bill allows individuals to apply by e-mail or fax!  But not the original proposal - a devious substitute amendment to do it.  So someone could request an AV ballot for dead relative by e-mail, fill it out, and it would be nearly impossible to catch. That's just the micro levelo. Sure, that's possible today with mail (a federal felony though, email not) but I'd propose harder for a number of physical reasons.  An ACORN type of targeted effort could send out hundreds or thousands of false e-mails to live voters who didn't ask for AV ballots - the requests would be targeted demographically to influence the outcome and while the vote might be real the sender would have an advance ability to target those voters with mail or worse with groups of known dead voters, mail interceptable in group homes, etc.

    I'd like it to be easier to vote.  Indeed, I'd like to see 100% turnout of individuals vote as easily as possible - but I'd also like to see it done 100% securely.  There's a disconnect between the two parties on that point.

    I'd support true no-reason absentee voting that had the same protections as live voting, and I suspect a number of other Republicans would have too.  So do I think the 12 you criticize made the wrong vote?  Yes, but not for "political expediency" - I think they probably weighed some tradeoffs (less regulation on the voter as to the forced incrimination of the absentee reason statement versus identification) and they accepted the bad with the good. You've taken 12 (seemingly) good Republicans to woodshed unnecessarily here.

    That doesn't mean the ideal can't be passed by the Senate though. And that's how we should combat it - instead of "no" to easier absentee voting, "yes" to more secure and easier absentee voting!

    The issue is not ease of voting or absentee voting - its security and identification that those voting are the correct person voting.  If we lose with higher turnouts so be it - turnout has never scared me and I'd rather have the endorsement of 100% of the population on a ballot issue or as a member of any party than some smaller number.

    Chetly Zarko
    Outside Lansing & Oakland Politics

    A recent article in the Jackson Citizen Patriot .. (none / 0) (#18)
    by MichWolverine on Fri May 01, 2009 at 06:04:47 PM EST
    .. featured a mentally challenged couple who were recently married. The article was accompanied by a photo of the mentally challenged young man's father 'helping' him vote via absentee ballot in the November election.

    Did that mentally challenged couple truly understand the issues and cast their own votes according to their knowledge, or was that 'helpful' father allowed to cast three votes instead of just one thanks to the absentee ballots he obtained for his son and daughter-in-law?

    My Reasoning (none / 0) (#19)
    by Justin Amash on Fri May 01, 2009 at 06:25:15 PM EST
    I can't speak for the 11 other Republicans who voted "yes," so here's my personal take:

    First, I never vote "yes" on any bill unless I have a detailed understanding of the bill. To claim that I vote based on political expediency is laughable. Take a look at my voting record at michiganvotes.org; it speaks for itself.

    Second, I agree with Leon that this bill has nothing to do with libertarianism. I did not vote "yes" because I thought the bill was libertarian.

    I voted "yes" because we already have "no reason absentee voting" in Michigan. When someone wants an absentee ballot, the person simply claims that he's going to be out of town on Election Day. No election official stops by that person's home to make sure he's out of town. Same reality applies to the request for an emergency absentee ballot.

    The fact that you can now apply for a ballot by fax or e-mail doesn't change the equation. An applicant still has to fill out an official form and sign it. The form then has to be scanned through a machine and sent (fax or e-mail). If anything, it is easier to detect application fraud through fax or e-mail than it is through ordinary mail.

    In the end, people who argue against this bill remind me of those who argue against eliminating the gun-free zones. The gun-free zones only prevent those who have no intention of committing a crime from exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Our current absentee voting system only prevents those who have no intention of committing fraud from voting. Those who want to commit fraud already do so freely.

    Unfortunately, too few Republican legislators actually read the bill. I'm hardly surprised.

    Instead of getting worked up on an issue like this, perhaps RightMichigan.com could spend a little more time asking why most Republicans vote "yes" on the vast majority of the bills that come through the Legislature.

    It's time for Republicans to stop blaming everyone else for a government that is out of control.

    A few notes: (none / 0) (#29)
    by Nick on Sat May 02, 2009 at 09:10:05 AM EST
    1. Props to Representative Amash for coming online and explaining his vote.  That's the beauty of the blogosphere.  Open and free exchange.

    2. Apparently I am (and remain) much... MUCH... more worried about the potential for expanded fraud should this bill become law.  

    I remember back in 2004 working election day in Detroit we had teenage guys working the poll circuit, delivering meals to our poll challengers.  After leaving one precinct in Detroit they were followed by a pair of large men in a truck.  The men pulled up behind them at a stoplight, drove into their rear bumper and forced their smaller car into oncoming traffic where they were T-Boned.

    The next time WE saw those poll workers, they were being discharged from the hospital.

    The Left in Michigan will LITERALLY stop at nothing to steal elections and stuff ballot boxes.  

    As for the argument that this bill won't make it substantially easier to vote absentee, away from the supervision of elections officials?  If it isn't EASIER then why does anyone think we need the law in the first place?  

    1. Chet- You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on this one.  Opening even the SMALLEST new window for the Left, the Right or the Center to attack ballot integrity is a big freaking deal and something that I'm going to sound an alarm about.

    2. Gillman- Thanks and...

    3. You're right.  I tend to think the world of Representative Amash, Reps, Booher, Lund, and the whole team.  Great public servants who I agree with much much much much (much) more often than I don't.  And given the opportunity I'd vote for them over their Democratic opponents 100 times out of 100.

    That does NOT mean that a guy can't (and that I won't) call a FOUL when he sees one.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#32)
    by Justin Amash on Sat May 02, 2009 at 01:06:16 PM EST
    Thanks to everyone who has participated in this discussion. It's unfortunate that the same level of debate didn't occur among our legislators before the vote.

    I would just reiterate that faxes and e-mails are inherently more traceable than postal mail or even in-person delivery of the application (none of which require an ID). Everyone knows that in-person (non-absentee) voting has the most safeguards; that's not in dispute.

    Unfortunately, the fraud potentially perpetrated by individuals or groups doesn't depend on submission method in this case. If people choose to fill out false request forms, they will get those forms to the clerk one way or another. The hard part is filling out the form, which (again) doesn't depend on submission method.

    The real beneficiaries of this legislation are not the fraudsters but rather the clerks, who will have less paper sorting to contend with thanks to the increased use of electronic submissions. Is that the primary reason that the Democrats pushed this bill? Probably not. But in Lansing people push a lot of things for political benefit (e.g., making it appear easier for a group to "deliver" the votes), even if they know the legislation won't have that effect.

    • This thought by chetly, 05/02/2009 10:02:24 PM EST (none / 0)
    voter fraud (none / 0) (#42)
    by goppartyreptile on Sun May 03, 2009 at 10:07:17 AM EST
    I agree with Chet for the most part concerning the actual legislation, but want to point out a trap that we are entering to make ourselves feel good...

    Do we have evidence of voter fraud?  Several weeks ago, Nick put up an article about how many more voters there were in the city of Detroit than actual people in the city of Detroit.

    And, while that is potentially disastrous, do we have any evidence that massive voter fraud is going on?  Or is this a problem across the state, because of bureaucratic inertia and Federal voting laws?

    Or is this a safety blanket for us?

    Yes, loosening voting requirements shows a potential to cause problems, but is there any evidence, you know, of problems?  In this state?

    Are the Democrats bussing over illegal Mexican voters and giving them five bucks, and then telling them at gunpoint who to vote for... like they did to win LBJ's Senate race?

    Are the Democrats going to Chinatown and paying off the guys to vote repeatedly?

    We do ourselves no favor in this state, when every Democrat win is treated as "they stole it!" without evidence.

    Jewish industrialists did not stab the Germans in the back and cause them to lose WWI.

    And fraudulent Democrat voters didn't put the MI GOP in the situation it's in, either.

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