Friday, August 01, 2008

Swing Voter: Movie Fraud Perpetrates Fraud About Fraud

I got a little queasy when I read in a review of the new movie Swing Vote that a component of the plot is an act of voter fraud -- not the well-documented mass disenfranchisement at the hands of conservative operatives, voting-system vendors, and our antiquated system that has corrupted the last two presidential elections, but the largely apocryphal kind that involves unregistered/ineligible voters or false identification.

Hey, there are lots of movies made about things that almost never actually happen -- it's the fantasy business, right? There is almost certainly a higher incidence of people thinking they are Spiderman than the 0.000225% (nine possible, but never proven incidents out of 4 million votes cast) rate at which the conservatives' version of voter fraud happens. And yet those are the scenarios that the recent rush to pass voter ID laws is meant to prevent -- the actual result being the ultimate disenfranchisement of mostly Democratic voters.

I wouldn't care so much about the plot of some throwaway Kevin Costner vehicle, but America today finds itself in that strange little place at the intersection of "anecdote trumps statistical fact" and "life imitates art". I just hope this doesn't do for the voter ID card hysterics what Jack Bauer and 24 did for our torture policy.