The Rossi campaign and their cheerleaders at (un)Sound Politics need to get together and iron out a consistent message. While Rossi spokesperson Mary (Matalin-wannabe) Lane has adopted the Democratic mantra of “Count Every Vote”, the unSounders are warning us that too many votes have already been counted.
The unSounders are at least consistent. They apparently prefer to count votes the way Princeton University plays basketball: score first and then run out the clock.
Okay, maybe that isn’t fair. (To Princeton.) But by consistently arguing for tougher standards on voter registration and signature matching — and by ridiculing the notion that imperfectly marked ballots should be reviewed by humans when they don’t register on machines — the unSounders have made it clear that they believe the risk of fraud far outweighs any harm from voter disenfranchisement. I think it is fair to say that they would like to make it harder to vote. Unless you’re in the military.
The Rossi campaign has been more equivocal. They were apparently comfortable with the standard practice that canvassing decisions not be revisited… at least while Rossi was ahead. But now we’re hearing passionate pleas that a simple signature matching problem (you know… like not having signed one) should not be used to disenfranchise an otherwise legitimate voter.
The problem with a PR campaign that emphasizes these two competing messages — “count every vote” vs. “beware of fraud” — is that they represent two sides of the same cost-benefit equation. Apart from administrative convenience, the only reason King and most other counties adhere to such strict deadlines and signature matching procedures — the reason we require voter registration at all — is to prevent and deter fraudulent votes. To argue that signature matching requirements should now be loosened not only contradicts the Rossi campaign’s prior position, it contradicts the argument that there is a significant risk of fraud. And to argue fraud, undermines GOP efforts to recanvass rejected ballots.
At the risk of providing free advice to the opposition (or of feeding Stefan’s ego), I think the unSounders have the sounder media strategy. Dishonest and deceptive… but strategically sounder. Out of 3 million ballots cast, I’d be surprised if the R’s couldn’t turn up evidence of at least a few suspicious — if not downright fraudulent — votes.
Thus I think we’ll shortly see the GOP give up its quixotic attempt to reopen canvassing decisions on rejected ballots, and instead, narrowly focus their legal and media arguments on voter fraud. They won’t necessarily allege corruption by election officials, but rather, negligence and incompetence that led to widespread voter fraud. And presumably, the argument goes, only Democrats commit voter fraud.
Not that I believe this will carry the day in court. But skillfully argued, the court of public opinion apparently requires a substantially lighter burden of proof.