Those who have followed Fulton County politics for a long time will recognize the name Hans von Spakovsky. Back in the ’90s, as a local lawyer active in Republican circles, he started raising allegations of serious voting fraud that somehow never quite seemed to pan out.
Apparently, however, somebody somewhere recognized that the fraud allegation itself, even if merely a myth never bolstered by evidence, would be useful in justifying a push for more restrictive ballot laws that might tamp down Democratic turnout. It allowed von Spakovsky to take his schtick national, in time nailing a job in the voting rights section of the Bush Justice Department in which he tried — vainly, despite all the resources of the federal government — to establish that in-person vote fraud posed a clear and present danger to American democracy.
It might be too much to say that von Spakovsky singlehandedly created the mythology of voter fraud, but it clearly created him, serving as a hobbyhorse that he rode to prominence in conservative circles.
Jane Mayer, writing in the current New Yorker, tells his story well, along the way documenting multiple examples in which cases of in-person voting fraud cited by von Spakovsky seem to melt away like desert mirages upon closer inspection. His career is a great example of the power, and the danger, of a useful lie.
ADDENDUM: While we’re on the general topic, it might be useful to try to squelch early, fringe stirrings on the left alleging a conservative conspiracy to fix voting machines in Ohio. As the theory is spun at Truthout.org:
“Through a closely held equity fund called Solamere, Mitt Romney and his wife, son and brother are major investors in an investment firm called H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. in turn holds a majority share and three out of five board members in Hart Intercivic, a company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in swing state Ohio November 7. Hart machines will also be used elsewhere in the United States.
In other words, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, and his brother, wife and son, have a straight-line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall’s election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help decide who “owns” the White House.
The claim is nonsense and without backing in fact. If you’re going to make charges or even raise suspicions of that grave nature, you need much more than a knee-bone-connected-to-the-thigh-bone argument of the sort offered here.
Otherwise, you’re no better than the von Spakovskys of the world.
– Jay Bookman