Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s latest kooky fantasy

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest

North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest has a record of giving voice to bizarre fantasies. In the past, Forest has, among many other strange things, accused Raleigh’s News & Observer of placing hidden message in its news headlines and helped found a group that accused the giant retailer Sears of promoting pornography because its catalogs included lingerie sections.

Now, Forest is at it again with a new video in which he purports to show how “an organized group” could commit fraud in this fall’s election. As WRAL’s Laura Leslie reported yesterday:

The video, titled Voter Fraud 101, was promoted on Facebook and paid for by the NC Republican Council of State Committee, a political action committee chaired by Forest and largely funded by Greg Lindberg, a major political donor currently under federal investigation….

In the slickly produced animated video, Forest goes on to describe an elaborate process by which a group could scrape the names, addresses and voting status of infrequent voters before Election Day, then go to their polling places, claim to be those voters, which is a crime under state law, and cast fraudulent ballots….

There is no evidence or record of any such operation having been conducted anywhere in the country, said Tomas Lopez, an analyst with left-leaning voting rights group Democracy North Carolina, which opposes the voter ID amendment.

“The scheme depicted in this video is extremely elaborate and would require a really high level of organization, coordination and execution on the part of the perpetrators and a commensurate level of incompetence on the part of election officials and systems.” Lopez told WRAL News in an email. “[N]ot even the incidents used to justify voting restrictions include something like this.”

Kareem Crayton, interim executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which fought North Carolina’s previous voter ID law in court, was more blunt in his assessment of the video.

“The scheme that he dreamt up in that clip is not something actually that is workable,” Crayton said.

The data scraping would be complex – and traceable – and it would require hundreds of people willing to commit a felony and keep it a secret, he said.

“That you’re an elected official and that you make an argument that is intended to undermine the election system that actually got you in office, let alone could throw you and a bunch of other people in jail for felony convictions, is unprecedented – and, to me, sad,” Crayton said.

Forest and state Republican Party boss Dallas Woodhouse claim the video constitutes a legitimate effort to support the voter photo ID amendment that appears on the fall ballot, but as Lopez and Crayton point out politely, this is crazy talk. The video is, rather, just the latest effort of a slick and ambitious politician to gussy up yet another kooky fantasy designed to mobilize gullible voters.

Forest ought to be embarrassed, but given his past record, that seems extremely unlikely.

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