New York Times reporter Michael Wines is back on his hobby horse of downplaying vote fraud and throwing accusations of bad faith and voter suppression at Republicans, on the front of Tuesday’s paper: “Republicans to Pursue a Crackdown on Voting.”
The jump-page headline told you what to think with “Using Debunked Premise, Republicans Plan to Crack Down on Voting”:
Six months before a presidential election in which turnout could matter more than persuasion, the Republican Party, the Trump campaign and conservative activists are mounting an aggressive national effort to shape who gets to vote in November -- and whose ballots are counted.
Its premise is that a Republican victory in November is imperiled by widespread voter fraud, a baseless charge embraced by President Trump but repeatedly debunked by research. Democrats and voting rights advocates say the driving factor is politics, not fraud -- especially since Mr. Trump’s narrow win in 2016 underscored the potentially crucial value of depressing turnout by Democrats, particularly minorities.
The Republican program, which has gained steam in recent weeks, envisions recruiting up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious....
Democrats who have been tracking the effort say the goal is not to limit fraud, but to make the supposed threat of election theft the tentpole of a coordinated campaign by Republicans and their allies to limit the number of Democratic ballots counted in November.
Wines dipped into anti-Trump paranoia, citing vaguely sourced “concerns”:
Fair Fight claims that the groups’ combined spending on lawsuits, election monitoring and spreading allegations of cheating will far exceed the $20 million announced to date. That message, blasted out, in particular by Mr. Trump, has stirred concerns that the Republican fraud drumbeat could lay the groundwork for Mr. Trump and his supporters to reject the election results should he lose.
The Covid-19 pandemic has raised the stakes further, leading Democrats and voting rights advocates to call for expanded voting by mail and Mr. Trump and some Republicans to claim with little evidence that it would invite fraud.
(Interestingly, his colleague Adam Liptak had the very opposite take on absentee ballots/voting by mail in 2012.)
Others say the Republican focus on vanishingly rare cases of fraud targets a politically useful phantom.
“It’s utter nonsense. This has been shown over and over,” said Kenneth R. Mayer, an elections expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The continued insistence that there are material levels of intentional voter fraud is itself a form of fraud.”
That pungent line made the paper’s “quotation of the day”: “But Democrats say the Republican focus on monitors and repeated allegations of fraud are part of a coordinated strategy to depress turnout, especially by minorities, by fueling anxieties among voters already suspicious of the authorities.”
In August 2019, Wines suggested Republican-drawn electoral maps were “dangerous to democracy.” In June that year he cited scholars (liberals ones, of course) who claimed “the Republican Party has embraced rule-breaking as a political tactic.”