My headline exaggerates slightly. Video provocateur James O'Keefe has not proven that a Democratic congressman from Virginia was conspiring to commit vote fraud this fall, but a video O'Keefe shot clandestinely shows the pol, Rep. Jim Moran telling a volunteer campaign operative to "look into" a plan the operative suggested to cast votes in the names of registered but inactive citizens. Moran can say that he only meant to blow off the operative, who turned out to be O'Keefe's operative within the Moran campaign, but in this day and age all that excuse will get you is an Idiot of the Week nomination. If you're a public figure of any sort, you ought to assume that a recording device might be anywhere near you at any time. On that assumption, if you're a politician, the only acceptable response when someone, no matter how trusted, suggests electoral dirty tricks is zero tolerance. Moran should have booted the operative from his campaign. In fact, given the current partisan environment, it would be wise for a Democratic to assume that someone proposing dirty tricks is a plant from O'Keefe or someone like him. Not to assume that is almost to concede, despite all public denials, that fraud is a common topic of discussion among campaign strategists. Moran deserves to lose just for being dumb, whether you decide he was dishonest or not. If his district doesn't have another candidate for liberal voters to rally around, whose fault is that?
Meanwhile, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports a request from Virginia's board of elections for an investigation of an employee of a firm contracted by the Republican party to register voters after the employee, one Colin Small, was reportedly seen throwing completed registration forms in the trash. Whatever the motives of the man, the contractor or the GOP, that's literal vote suppression. Small may have acted entirely on his own eccentric initiative; I don't know who saw him dump those forms, or where, and for all I know a fellow employee may have ratted him out. At some point Small will have to tell a court what he was doing, if not what he thought he was doing. Unless he can prove that the forms were faulty and invalid, he's as much evidence for the case against Republican vote suppression as Rep. Moran is for the case against Democratic fraud. My attitude on the whole subject remains bipartisan: the fact that one side may be cheating doesn't prove that the other is innocent.