Over the past few weeks, conservative news outlets have attempted to gin up controversy about dogs and dead people supposedly tainting American elections.
Their evidence: the fact that a mailing list used by a voter registration group contained a handful of out-of-date or incorrect entries. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more:
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign is asking Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to launch an investigation into voter-registration forms that are being sent to Virginia residents and addressed to deceased relatives, children, family pets and others ineligible to vote.
The errant mailings from the Washington-based nonprofit group Voter Participation Center have befuddled many Virginia residents, leading to hundreds of complaints.
The group, which has helped register more than 1.5 million people since 2004, sent out nearly 200,000 registration forms to Virginia addresses last month. Because their list of recipients is culled from a number of different sources, a handful of them were indeed addressed incorrectly.
If someone were to actually register their dog or their dead relative to vote, that would be illegal. If someone were to actually try to impersonate a dog or a dead relative at the polls and cast a ballot, that would also be illegal.
But actual voter fraud like this is extraordinarily minuscule, both in Virginia and everywhere else, and it’s far different from simply mailing out registration forms. There is nothing nefarious about sending people reminders to register to vote.
If mailing inadvertent forms were illegal, by that same standard, most political organizations like the Republican National Committee would be committing a “crime” every time they accidentally send out a campaign contribution solicitation to someone who has recently died. After all, it’s illegal for political parties to raise contributions from dead people.
Mitt Romney’s campaign is now trying to use the issue to disenfranchise people who have registered in the past two months. If he succeeds, more than 15,000 Virginians could have their registrations annulled.