Voting Rights Watch: New Senate Judiciary report reveals fight over 'voter fraud'

The Senate Judiciary Committee has released a report [pdf] on its investigation into "the unprecedented mass firings of Federal prosecutors" by the Bush Administration.

Much of the controversy behind the U.S. attorney firings centered on the Bush team's zealous pursuit of "voter fraud;" in many cases, the dismissed attorneys were viewed as not aggressive enough in pushing for a harder line on voter registration and access.

As a result, the "voter fraud" debate makes its way into the final report [pdf]. First, here's a quote from the Democratic Majority:
The evidence shows that senior officials were apparently focused on the political impact of Federal prosecutions and whether Federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud) and corruption cases.

The minority views filed by Senators Kyl, Sessions, Brownback and Coburn repeat partisan talking points from the last election equating voter registration fraud with in-person voter fraud. Only the latter threatens to affect the outcome of an election. As both this Committee and the Senate Rules Committee have demonstrated in numerous hearings, the myth of in-person voter fraud is just that.

In their recent amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court a number of present and former Secretaries of State from Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and Vermont noted that "in Federal elections between 1996 and the present, in which more than twenty-four million votes were cast" not a single case of voter impersonation fraud occurred at the polls. The Federal Judge who reviewed and dismissed a Justice Department suit against Missouri concluded: "It is ... telling that the United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote... [n]or has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred."
There is also the view of the Republican Minority:
Perhaps the most Orwellian aspect of the Majority report is its repeated insistence that there is no vote fraud in this country that is ever worth investigating. At one point, the Majority even places scare quotes around the term, lest anyone receive the impression that the Majority believes that voter fraud could ever be a real problem. Yet during the federal elections just concluded, the American public saw numerous examples of serious attempts to commit voter fraud in this country.

Most of these incidents involved the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a group that actively promotes voter registration in many cities across the nation. ACORN tends to target areas where it believes that it can register Democratic voters, such as parks, public-assistance agencies, and liquor stores, ACORN's history is littered with claims and convictions of fraud. and generally hires part-time workers who are paid for each registered name to canvas these areas. In this election cycle, many different groups, from journalists to the GOP, strongly criticized the integrity of the organization's registration methods. As early as September, state officials reported fraudulent voter registrations submitted by ACORN, and as of October 6th, the New York Times reported that about 400,000 ACORN filings had been rejected by authorities as duplicates, incomplete, or fraudulent. After comparing their voter registration rolls, Georgia, Florida, and Ohio found 112,000 duplicate voters registered in two states, and authorities have rejected ACORN applications attempting to register such "voters" as Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys' offensive line.
The Majority seems to have the facts on their side. Nowhere in the Minority report do the Republicans answer the charge that they are conflating attempted voter registration fraud with actual voting fraud -- i.e., fraud that results in a significant number of fraudulent votes being cast.

(H/T Rick Hasen)