Who Are the Vote Fraudsters Artur Davis Warned Us About?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 24 2011 4:32 PM

Who Are the Vote Fraudsters Artur Davis Warned Us About?

Artur Davis, a former congressman from Alabama who ran for governor in 2010 and lost, has kept a fairly low profile since then. He's written articles; he's commented on legal issues. Last week, though, he made big news: He wrote a column defending the Republican-run Alabama legislature's passage of a new voter ID law. Yes, the first credible African-American candidate for governor in Alabama was saying this.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

The big hook that got national attention was Davis's apology. By claiming that voter fraud wasn't an issue, and that anti-fraud laws were racist, "I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician." Later in the piece, he got more specific.

Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights -- that's suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.
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Who were the peddlers? Who asked him for the money? I asked Davis, and found that he wanted to avoid going there.

"I choose not to make allegations regarding specific individuals in the media," Davis told me, via e-mail. "As you might guess, the purpose of my editorial was to voice an opinion and to state the foundation for it, not to engage in name calling. Anyone who is even a casual observer of Alabama politics, however, knows quite well the frequency of absentee ballot charges and convictions within counties in the congressional district I represented, specifcially Hale, Greene, Lowndes, Perry, and the Bessemer areas within Jefferson County."

We don't have to take his word for it. Alabama has been the site of voter fraud accusations in the counties he's talking about -- voter fraud that would benefit certain black candidates. One case in Greene County is Exhibit A for some conservative arguments in favor of voter ID laws. Davis hasn't yet taken his own case further than the op-ed.

"Law enforcement authorities in Alabama are well aware of many of the most notorious practitioners of absentee ballot fraud," he said. "Should they build a case they have every ability to contact me or any other candidate so that they can weigh for themselves the value of the information." Anyway, why not start with the evidence already out there? "I am a little mystified as to the point that no one is prosecuted for manufacturing ballots; it is a relatively common event in Alabama and has produced a number of cases and convictions, as well as guilty pleas: you can ascertain this for yourself by running a search eangine for the last decade on voter fraud in Alabama."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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