Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 | 2:01 a.m.
The Nevada Republican Party on Monday sent the secretary of state a hefty letter claiming irregularities with early voting and asked for an investigation. And, as Jon Ralston reported Tuesday on the Las Vegas Sun’s website, the attorney for Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s campaign recently sent out a fundraising missive requesting money to “deploy” attorneys and poll watchers because, she said, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is “trying to steal this election.”
These are serious claims that cut to the heart of American democracy, and given the gravity of the complaints, they should be well-founded.
Secretary of State Ross Miller said the Republican Party’s complaint didn’t appear to be voter fraud. Instead, he said, what the Republicans found appeared to be the type of clerical errors that happen every election cycle. Miller said the complaints in the Angle fundraising letter, written by high-profile Washington attorney Cleta Mitchell, were based on “conjecture and rumor.”
Mitchell’s letter claims that Reid is violating the law by offering free food at early voting events, even though Miller, the state’s chief elections officer, says that’s legal. So Mitchell says Miller, a Democrat, is allowing “ACORN-style tactics,” referring to the liberal nonprofit group that was at the center of voter fraud allegations in 2008. But Mitchell’s hyperventilating rhetoric is ridiculous. It was, after all, Miller who spearheaded the investigation into ACORN’s dealings in Nevada, which ended in a successful criminal case.
The Republicans are desperate. They are using the baseless allegations to try to scare voters. It is a cynical attempt to get out the vote and pull in last-minute campaign contributions.
Voters should be insulted — and disgusted — by the Republican tactics. The Angle campaign apparently thinks that Nevadans are stupid enough to sell their votes for a hamburger or a cup of coffee.
And if Republicans want to look for people trying to game the system, they should start with a mirror. The Republicans have run a campaign of fear, trying to tear down opponents because they don’t have ideas of their own.
Instead of taking her own advice to “man up,” Angle has hidden from public view, attacked her opponent and tried to disenfranchise voters.
Remember that her attorney was involved in the failed attempt to get Scott Ashjian, the Tea Party of Nevada candidate for Senate, removed from the ballot because of the perception that he will take votes from Angle. As well, she had a secret meeting with Ashjian and offered him “juice” in Washington if he withdrew.
And then a group with strong ties to the Republican Party produced an ad urging Hispanics in Nevada, many of whom are likely Democratic voters, to stay home and not vote.
It’s one thing to go all out for votes, but the Republicans have gone too far.
Voting is supposed to be sacrosanct. These reckless and unfounded allegations about supposed voting irregularities will only serve to needlessly undercut the public’s faith in it. The fact that Republicans would raise doubts about the integrity of the system in an attempt to gain political advantage is shameful.