With the election only days away, a few single-minded patriots have decided to take on the biggest problem bedeviling our political system: election fraud! Yes, a problem so huge, only 95 people were charged with it between 2002 and 2005.

The New York Times reports from the front lines of the Tea Party & Friends' brave war against the scourge of voter fraud:

In 2006, conservative activists repeatedly claimed that the problem of people casting fraudulent votes was so widespread that it was corrupting the political process and possibly costing their candidates victories.

The accusations turned out to be largely false...

Ah. So, that's that, right? Well, not quite! The sentence continues "...but they led to a heated debate, with voting rights groups claiming that the accusations were crippling voter registration drives and reducing turnout." False accusations leading to a heated debate! What an amazing description of American politics. And so, even though no one seriously believes voter fraud is a problem in this country, the Tea Party is gunning for the completely made-up bad guys with tactics like:

  • In St. Paul, Tea Partiers are "organizing volunteer 'surveillance squads' to photograph and videotape what it suspects are irregularities, and in some cases to follow buses that take voters to the polls."
  • In Milwaukee, an anonymous person or group posted "large billboards throughout the city that show pictures of people behind jail bars under the words 'We Voted Illegally.'" (You can check them out at One Wisconsin Now.)
  • And this one is my personal favorite:
  • During a meeting, [Tea Partiers] the King Street Patriots had shown a picture of the [voter registration group] Houston Votes office and stated its address before adding that this was the new location of the Black Panthers.

  • Hiram Sasser, a lawyer for the Liberty Institute who represents the King Street Patriots, denied the claim but when presented a video of the incident, he said that his client had actually made a mistake and did not realize the office was tied to Houston Votes.

You know, 30 years ago, you'd have assumed this was all disingenuous—just a dressed-up strategy to deny traditionally Democratic voters the chance to vote. But now? I think a lot of these guys actually believe the New Black Panther Party is stealing elections. And honestly, I don't know which is worse!

[NYT; image by Robert Doeckel via One Wisconsin Now]