You Think You Know But You Don’t! The Real Goal of the Republican Super PACs
While we think the big threat of Mitt Romney-affiliated Super PACs is to blanket the airwaves with 20 hours a day of negative advertising telling voters why President Obama is such a horrible guy and Mitt Romney is such a great one. As most marketers understand, in today’s overly stimulated media environment advertising has limited (if any) impact on voters decisions. Especially in this election where less than seven percent of those polled have been identifying themselves as undecided for months now. Most people are dug in and a 30 second ad isn’t going to change anything. No, the media advertising numbers are a distraction to something much more sinister and problematic – full scale and coordinated voter suppression in key battleground states.
Several weeks ago we wrote a post that argued that Democrats had a significant advantage in eligible voters because the pool of voters who are now just becoming eligible to vote and, or in the past chose not to vote is massive and predominantly young, minority, and lower income. What the Obama campaign did so effectively the last election was to identify, register, and get a significant percentage of this group to the polls to vote for Barack Obama. Karl Rove and Republican Party leadership saw and understood this as well.
Since they know there is little chance in increasing the numbers that vote for them. Republican voters already vote consistently and reliably, and the numbers of whites in the country is shrinking, not growing. The ONLY avenue left is to stop those voting for the other side. Looking at voting laws in all the states this is what we find.
Thirty-nine states allow private citizens to challenge voters at the polls. According to a Brennan Center for Justice, study, election officials in those states are “under immense time pressure to decide challenges quickly in order to avoid voting delays.” The Republican Super PACs are aware of this, but they put it differently, saying at a recent poll watcher training, that election officials are “under immense pressure to do the wrong thing”—namely let undocumented immigrants vote, and let people vote multiple times.
Scarier, of the thirty-nine states that allow random people to challenge voters inside polling places, only fifteen of them require the challengers to prove that the person they’re challenging isn’t an eligible voter. Which means that in twenty-four states people can wage all kinds of frivolous accusations—that a person is an “illegal alien,” or that they are using a dead person’s identity to vote—to burden if not intimidate voters. In these states, the poll challenger statutes can be abused and used for racial profiling, when not sending a chill effect to others who might be vulnerable for no other reason than having a Latino surname.
In those states, people can make up a reason to challenge a voter’s rights without any evidence backing them up, and do so with impunity. It’s the same as when people drum up charges of voter fraud to pass voter ID bills and go unpunished when it’s revealed that no such fraud exists. You can’t fabricate a police report by saying you were mugged if you weren’t; you can’t file a false claim saying you lost possessions in a disaster. In both cases, you face jail and fines for bearing false witness, but not if you fabricate voter fraud or voter ineligibility in many states.
So, the ultimate strategy is not to change the "what" (minds) but to change the “who” (young and minority voters).