If so, how coordinated are their attempts?
What means are used to keep citizens from voting, having their vote counted, or having their vote influence the outcome of an election?
Are these methods, when successful, reversible?
Can voter suppression reach a tipping point where they can't ever be reversed?
The main concern is that in three of the last four presidential elections, in 2000, 2004, 2012, with the single exception of the 2008 election, there was reason to suspect widespread vote distortion, since exit polls and official results were not aligned to the degree that historically they used to be aligned. This leads one to suspect that there was vote distortion through shady means, and in all cases in recent elections, it has favored the Republicans.
In 2000, the vote skewing in Florida was large enough that a network had to reverse it's Gore victory, predicted by exit polling, to match the uncertain result that came out of the official tally. Still, even with all the uncertainty, the suppression of African American votes, the butterfly ballot, the skewed election commission, the result would still have come out in Gore's favor had the supreme court not stopped the recount.
One could say the 2000 election was a one-off event, but the problem was that one of the shadiest stars of that shady election, Kathleen Harris, was immediately rewarded with a Congressional seat. When a political party rewards operatives who distort the vote, the predictable result is that more operatives will strive to gain power by distorting the vote. So I consider the selection of Kathleen Harris to higher office the indication that the Republican party rewarded efforts at vote distortion. This is tantamount to the party sanctioning vote fraud, since vote fraud does not need to be coordinated at the highest level, it happens on the local level, county by county.
From this point on, you get several unsettling events, at least they were unsettling to me:
In 2004, electronic voting machines with no paper trail gave Ohio to Bush. The results of polling and the results of voting were not in line, and did not settle the mind of a suspicious person. This doesn't mean fraud occured, but I am not confident that it didn't. You need an auditable election to give people confidence in the fairness of the vote.
The 2008 election wasn't close, and fraud would have been impossible given the lopsided outcome. I am sure that there was no vote fraud, as it would have been a waste of time.
In 2012, however, the Republicans were under the impression that the vote was going to be closer than it actually was. In this case, you had the suspicious end of tallying in Florida, when the results looked like they were going to favor Obama as the vote count proceeded. The election talliers took a holiday until the next day! This is unprecendented, and it suggests that there was politcal pressure there to make the results favor Romney. The results from other states were sufficiently overwhelmingly for Obama that it didn't matter in the end, but I am very disturbed by what was going on in Florida in 2012. Thankfully Obama was also disturbed by this, and made straightening out the election process a priority after reelection.
From this suspicious pattern, although it doesn't prove anything, it seems that there has been some minor movement in the lower ranks of the Republican party to skew voting. This is in both voter ID laws, and in voting machines and tallying procedures that are susceptible to political meddling. This used to happen in the other direction in the 1950s and 1960s, to favor democrats, with several suspicious elections at the time being influenced by mystery ballot boxes and strange activities by unions and democrats.
I think that these types of things must be eliminated, and can be, with a good exit polling institution, and with careful independent poll-monitoring and public release of exit poll and county-by-county and ballot-location by ballot-location voting tabulation data. I don't want the voting process to unfairly favor either party, as it produces terrible consequences, because of the rewarding ot shady operatives, and the consequence can be corruption which engulfs the whole government.
Wow, I've never seen so much conspiracy theory and innuendo in one place without any facts to support any of it. The notion that a particular person being selected to fill a congressional seat means there was voter fraud is preposterous.
Your call for independent supervision of elections would be a serious degradation from the current system. At least in my county (Clark County, WA) elections observers from both parties are in place to keep the process honest. This is similar to the adversarial approach to trials in courts where there are strong advocates for both sides rather than a single impartial supervisor.
The notion that exit polls get different results from actual vote counts should not surprise anyone. Polls are an approximation of a whole "Universe" made be sampling a tiny portion of that universe. They are expected to be wrong by a certain amount, but that is not a guarantee of any sort of accuracy.
I really get tired of these conspiracy theories. It would be different if there were some facts to back them up. Election fraud is a serious crime and if there were a shred of evidence there should also be prosecutions to put the criminals away. In the absence of prosecutions I must conclude it is all a matter of fantasy rather than fact.
I didn't come to the conclusion that voter fraud happenend. Although I strongly suspect it did, my confidence is just not at the level of certainty. But exit polls and actual vote counts were in lock-step agreement until 2000, and I don't think anything changed in that year that should make statistics stop working. Calling something a conspiracy theory does not make it wrong, but in this case, you don't even need a conspiracy--- it could Kathleen Harris working independently, and the party rewarding these machinations after the fact.
I am not asking for a centralized organization to do vote monitoring, rather for independent pollsters to post results online in a database, and the election results of each polling place to be published and independently compared to the results of the polling so that fraud or mistakes can be statistically detected with very little effort by any independent party that wishes to verify the election.
Rewarding Kathleen Harris with a congressional seat is unacceptable behavior for any political party, and this fact alone should, in a just world, lead to the marginalization of the Republican party for a generation or two, long enough for them to get rid of the poison.
Election fraud is only a serious crime when it is done by individuals. When it is done by sending insufficient voting machines to cities, by altering or confusing the ballot, by purging voter rolls, then it is not a crime in the Republican party, but a path to congress.
This must stop.
No. I don't think this is true.
I do believe some Republicans are concerned about illegal votes being cast. This focuses particularly on illegal aliens who MIGHT be able to register and vote even though this is a privilege of citizenship. I personally think this is very unlikely and still have never seen even a single case where an illegal alien voted and was caught. I'm sure any such person would be prosecuted and put in prison for the felony before being deported.
I think most people want everyone who can legally vote to do so in every election. Our form of government requires an informed electorate to make democratic decisions.
The fact that a political organization emphasizes a wholly imaginary problem--- vote fraud--- it itself an issue. If I were running the election rules, I would require sneakers and baseball caps as a requirement for voting, because you know, the people who are not in sneakers could slip and fall on the slippery floor, and the ones without a baseball cap might be blinded by the sun, and in their sun-blindness, they might accidentally vote for the candidate they didn't intend. The fact that the voters in sneakers might favor my party has nothing to do with it. Really.
when the resolution they propose would block their opposition from casting ballots, is itself evidence of purposeful suppression, no matter how sincere and earnest the people who you talk to sound. The low-level people you talk to would have no idea. The people who make the decisions calculate the likelihood of winning and try to maximize it by any means.
I'm afraid you are applying logic that would work for Democrats to Republicans where it doesn't work. Republicans tend to make up their own minds on issues rather than following the positions of their leaders.
There certainly are Republicans who believe in conspiracies and also in hoards of illegal aliens voting for Democrats who pay them with hand outs to justify their votes. I personally think this is all nonsense, but I am not in charge. For Republicans nobody is really in charge.
"Republicans tend to make up their own minds on issues rather than following the positions of their leaders"
What is going on is that Republicans use a mechanism of mind up-making which is derived from collective wisdom and recieved authority, and this gives them the illusion of making up their own minds, while at the same time coming to the same conclusion as their peers. All political parties are guilty of this, it is the mechanism of politics. "Making up your own mind" is a much more difficult process, that requires kicking out all the little thetans that live in your head, and reviewing the evidence from scratch, with as little political influence as you can.
The democrats will go to street corners and tell homeless people to vote, agree to drive them to to the polls, given them coffee and sometimes a shower. That's the closest thing to "vote fraud" you will find, it happens regularly. But, you see, the fact that people sleeping on the streets mostly vote in one direction itself tells you something. The street people are the only ones who are like the physicist in their mentality, so I am very partial to this community, the lumpen-proletariat as Marx called it, it is the only community where people are able to think for themselves.
Yes, Republicans do pay attention to collective wisdom. That is different from your first attack which was about following the leaders. At each juncture, the thinking part of a Republican must accept the group wisdom as rational rather than just swallowing it whole as the Democrats tend to do.
Some people make the effort to learn as much as possible about an issue before forming a firm position. This is the way most Republicans (at least the moderates) go about it. Others look for an expert (or perhaps a school professor) to tell them what to think. That is the approach taken by many on the Left side of the spectrum.
I do think (as I tried to say above) many Republicans get confused over the difference between what might happen and what has actually happened.
"Following the leaders" can be arranged by the leaders using collective wisdom, by simply choosing which part of the collective wisdom to emphasize for any particular issue, since there are different things that will support different positions. If you go by what feels right from social consensus, rather than what is right from the evidence, you can be easily steered to support whatever position someone would like you to promote.
Looking to an expert is not really what people on the left should be doing, and I don't think they do this all the time: the left has steered academic thinking many times from outside. Economics is and always was very conservative, as is philosophy, because the mechanism of position apportionment is politically controlled by people who have money, indirectly, by choosing who is influential. So even sensible market policies with very solid records of success, like Keynsian redistribution, or anti-trust enforcement, were and are opposed in economics departments. The quantitative sciences don't have these problems as often, and I think that leftists defer to scientist type academics more than in the softer fields. But the left kept on hammering away against the consensus in economics departments, and they were more often right than not, at least in the case of what are the best fixes for market failures, perhaps not on the need for very specific regulations.
There are other cases where the left stuck it to academics, other than economics, for example, in the supplanting of the Western canon in the 1980s with a multicultural canon. That was a hard sell, it was opposed by a huge number of people, because the multicultural works were recent, and the canon-classics were old and established. But it did expand the range of voices students were exposed to. But I agree that the left generally does tend to pay more attention to research, simply because the major thing academics do is persuade people of the correctness of certain arguments, while in the wider world, the mechanism is market driven--- who made the most money. Sometimes the market-driven stuff is more correct, the people who actually designed successful operating systems were more accurate regarding how they should be designed than the academics who theorized about it. But "who mademore money is not the best way to determine the accuracy of something like relativity theory or comparative genetics.
I have noticed that people on the right have, on rare occasions, promoted difficult scientific truths, abiogenic petroleum comes to mind. But when this happened, the mechanism didn't look so much like independent mindedness, but just that it happened to support some political agenda that was pro-market, like looking to expand oil-drilling, something like this, and this has no impact on the most important question for academic things, which should always be "is it true? Is it the best hypothesis supported by the evidence?"
I think in academia, in a majority of cases in scientific fields (although not in all the cases, unfortunately) the hypothesis that is best supported by the evidence is also the dominant hypothesis in a field. This is only because of the selection in previous generations, as hypothesis battled it out. So ignoring the expert opinion is not such a great act of independent mindedness as it sounds, because if you review the reasons for the expert opinion, often you find it is justified. If it is justified, you should independently figure out why, and come to agree with the expert.
I don't see how a person in a position of authority, or with a great deal of money, could possibly review evidence objectively, because there is always the nagging worry "will this help me maintain my position?" If an idea will hurt a person, it requires just a little bit more evidence to accept, and by using these biases, and amplifying them, you can suppress an entire truth. This is less of a problem for poor people who have no power, so it is easier to be honest when you have no money.