In Why Voter ID Failed, Minnesota Majority executive director and Protect My Vote chair Evil Dan McGrath serves up a buffet of raw meat for his critics. Already Outstate Politics and Jeff Rosenberg at MPP have gone for the self-pity beating at the heart of McGrath's analysis, but there's much more to digest in this feast.
That self-pity? That photo ID went down in part because of voter fraud. McGrath writes:
Initial post-election research now being conducted by Minnesota Majority indicates that voter fraud likely played a role, but voter fraud is only effective in a close election. It shouldn’t have even been close.
All Minnesota will wait to see how McGrath justifies that one.
But there's much, much more whine left in the bottle McGrath uncorked. For instance, McGrath proclaims himself the victor in public forums:
. . . We went toe to toe in debates against the opposition and every observer said we crushed them on facts. After nearly every debate, our opposing advocate refused to debate us again because of the embarrassment they suffered. They sent new representatives and lost the debates again and again, but even all of that wasn’t enough. . . .
That McGrath and Kiffmeyer met with a rotating cast of opponents reflected the strength and depth of the bench in the Our Vote, Our Future coalition. "All observers" said what?
The Rochester Post Bulletin sponsored a forum between Mary Kiffmeyer and Gil Guknecht and Arne Carlson and Rochester mayor Ardell Brede. The paper's Answer Man concluded that Photo ID was irrevelant to solving the issue of felons voting, then the paper endorsed a No Vote. Hardily a victory.
Watch the debate between McGrath and Tom Horner:
McGrath's claim is as solid as those of voter fraud itself.
His own claims of fact, whether that a registered voter could vouch for another's identity under current law, or that the petition for variance for a state-issued ID was free, were simply not true. Claims of voter fraud in Harris, MN, simply didn't withstand scrutiny.
Moreover, time after time, the arguments and visibility that the voter restriction people conducted failed to convince editorial boards and voters themselves. But McGrath writes:
We developed messaging and directed resources according to scientific polling and demographic analysis, targeting groups and regions according to need. We participated in county fairs and parades across the state, staffed an extremely busy free-standing booth at the State Fair, organized town hall meetings, established local coordinators, distributed over 25,000 lawn signs and bumper stickers, participated in local forums, engaged the press, met with editorial boards, published op-eds, gave presentations, organized letter to the editor campaigns, made numerous TV and radio appearances and ran a 72-hour campaign before the election. We organized door-to-door literature drops, developed and broadcast over $1 million in tested radio and TV ads.
With the exception of the Fairmont Sentinel, the editors of the state's newspapers rejected McGrath's arguments. Forum Communications, which endorsed Romney and Chip Cravaack, recommended a "No" vote.
And while the Our Vote, Our Future coalition out-hustled McGrath on fundraising, Bluestem thinks that that money served to pick and amplify objections we started reading and posting about before the polling numbers began to shift and the money flowed. Individual county and township officers--and election judges--were raising questions about cost and process.
The origin of their concerns can't be laid at the feet of George Soros or the long-defunct ACORN, which McGrath accuses of supplying money from beyond its institutional grave.
At the Minnesota Farmers Union convention this weekend, I had a chance to listen to farmers from across the state discuss how the amendment would have cost their townships--and many were township officials--and perhaps more importantly, radically changed their own experience of voting, either by mail or in their rural township halls.
Throughout their campaign, McGrath and their allies simply labeled the concerns of folks like these high-information voters as "lies" or "fearmongering," without supplying answers to legitimate concerns. Argument by assertion without answering questions isn't persuasive, and the rural voters in counties across Southern and Western Minnesota who voted no are no fools.
Neither are their local newspaper people.
McGrath seems unable to take personal responsibility and recognize that his side quite simply lost a battle of ideas. Moreover, as Javier Morillo-Alicea has pointed out, the money that McGrath so demonizes began to come in only as people across Minnesota--from the local League of Women Voters volunteers, the local officials, the activists--started to win the battle of ideas and that progress was measured in polling.
That McGrath choses once more to damn his loss by pointing to mysterious, undetectable voter fraud is silly stuff. Moreover, its silliness is underscored by the split in many rural counties in those who voted "Yes" on the marriage amendment but "No" on voter restriction. Voters weighed arguments for both amendments against their own values, not on the amount of cash thrown at the questions.
Ultimately, McGrath is evading personal responsibility, while telling voters that they're chumps, far more than he's claiming fraud. In the end, this insult to voters' intelligence is the real fraud in the debate.
Image: Dan McGrath, cartoon by Ken Avidor.