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Armey’s Absurd “I See Dead People Vote” Theory

One of the ways that conservatives always try to invalidate elections, at least rhetorically, is to comfort themselves with the idea that the other side cheated. Liberals occasionally dabble in this, although the evidence is far stronger on their side. But conservatives have invented an entire cottage industry out of “voter fraud” claims. It drove a purge of US Attorneys who refused to prosecute it under the Bush Administration, it drove a community organizing group named ACORN, which engaged in a series of voter drives, out of business, and it drives received conservative wisdom about elections to this day.

So Dick Armey’s theory about voter fraud is different only that he quantifies the extent of the so-called “theft.”

Armey bashed Barack Obama and Democrats even harder – the former economics professor said the president was “economically ignorant” and accusing Democrats of widespread voter fraud, saying it bad votes accounted for 3 percent of elections.

“I’m tired of people being Republican all their lives and then changing parties when they die,” quipped Armey, 70.

Basically conservatives refreshed a dubious data point about the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election and ran with it for 50 years. I’m surprised Armey low-balled it so much; you’d think he’d get into double digits.

One thing I’ll say for this is that Republicans aren’t typically the ones calling for a voter-verified paper trail for elections. They make a lot of noise about fraud but nothing that ever is provable, and then they take no steps to verify votes. Instead, they try to cut off people’s Constitutional rights by inventing all sorts of verifications and voter ID checks and the like. The entire gambit is to suppress the vote, and the ferocity of their rhetoric over vote-stealing can only be matched by the ferocity with which they try to stop others from exercising the right.

But if Armey wants to start a mass movement to stake out cemeteries and stop the dead from voting, I’ll go along with it. Or, he can join in for a national election standard for federal races.

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David Dayen

David Dayen