In an apparent remake of a Simpsons sketch, Republican National Committee chief counsel John Phillippe sent a letter to the top elections officials in Nevada, Ohio, Colorado and three other states claiming that “in a significant number of cases, voting machines in your states have populated a vote for Barack Obama when a voter cast his or her ballot for Mitt Romney.” The letter does not provide any evidence that this is actually occurring. Nor does it name a single voter who experienced such an error.
Nevertheless, Fox News did not concern itself with this lack of evidence, instead running a interview this morning with top Republican voter suppression attorney Hans von Spakovsky about the “disturbing story” of early voters trying to vote for Mitt Romney “but the check went to Obama.” If anything, however, this segment did more to undermine Republican fears of machine-induced voter theft than to justify them. Despite host Eric Bolling’s repeated attempts to suggest that “deliberate” election fraud might be at work, even von Spakovsky was forced to admit that if any machine malfunctions are actually occurring “it’s probably a glitch.” Watch it:
This is not the first time the GOP raised these exact same allegations. In 2010, Republicans raised similar complains that voting machines were somehow stealing votes from Nevada GOP senate candidate Sharron Angle. In a letter responding to the GOP’s most recent allegations, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) explains that the Republican Party’s 2010 fears were entirely unwarranted:
[M]y office investigated similar complaints and rumors in 2010 with the assistance of the FBI and the Nevada Attorney General’s office and concluded that claims that our voting machines were pre-programmed, malfunctioning, or in any way preventing any voter from casting a ballot for the candidate of his or her choice were without merit. At the conclusion of that investigation, Nevada’s multi-jurisdictional Election Integrity Task Force concluded: . . .
My investigation reveals no evidence of voting machine tampering or voter fraud. It does reveal the presence of occasional human error in the election process, which cannot be avoided as long as humans are part of the process.
It should go without saying that if machines are actually malfunctioning, they should be fixed immediately. But claims of such malfunctions have been investigated before and found completely lacking. Indeed, Nevada already has numerous checks in place to prevent malfunctions from occurring. Many of the interventions the GOP requests to address so-called machine problems, such as recalibrations of the voting machines and a notice to voters to ensure their votes are being properly cast, are already policy in the state.
According to Nevada journalist Jon Ralston, there’s likely something other than real concerns about machine problems motivating the GOP’s complains — “I have no doubt the RNC is laying the groundwork for a challenge should the presidential race be close here or in some of other states where these ‘significant’ number of instances have occurred.” As America learned in 2000, President Obama doesn’t just have to win his reelection, he has to win it by a Scalia-proof majority.