Rachel Maddow Claims Voter Registration's 'Impossible' in Kansas, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Whacks GOP for Vote-Rigging

On Monday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a new voter-identification law the requires photo identification of all in-person voters at every election, as well as requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration beginning on January 1, 2013. The state House passed the bill by a margin of 111 to 11. Naturally, liberals like Rachel Maddow think these simple rules are rigging the system. On Tuesday night's show, a very hyperbolic Maddow claimed "it's going to be almost impossible to get registered to vote now in Kansas." Her guest was Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the incoming chair of the Democratic Party, who was lobbing bombs at Republicans.

MADDOW: Is making it harder to register to vote, which many Republican-controlled states are pursuing right now -- is that a partisan tactic?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well, I think it's sending a very strong signal that Republicans don't think they can win elections in a fair fight. So, they need to go systematically state-by-state rigging it so that it makes it much more difficult for all voters, regardless of political party affiliation or philosophical approach can get to the polls.

I mean, just to give you an example of a bill that's going through the legislative -- the legislative session right now in Florida. I mean, this is particularly offensive to women voters, there's actually a provision in a bill that's been introduced and pushed by the House speaker in Florida that says that a newly married woman cannot actually vote without bringing her marriage certificate to a polling place, and at that point, she can only vote a provisional ballot if her voter registration hasn't officially been changed to her newly married name.

I mean, those are the kind of outrageous tactics, the intimidation -- and the thing that has been much more prevalent, Rachel, voter fraud has been proven time again in the last few years not to be rampant. What is rampant is the intimidation tactics that have been used by Republican supervisors of elections, Republicans secretaries of state, and that the policies used across the country by Republicans overseeing elections has really been outrageous in terms of getting in the way of voters who simply want to go to the polls.

Maddow wanted to return to her hyperbolic claim that requiring a photo ID or a passport made voter registration "essentially impossible," and that the new Kansas law somehow means the end of new voter registrations in the Sunflower State, and Democrats are too wimpy in fighting it: 

MADDOW: We're looking at an extreme version of this in Kansas -- Kansas making it essentially impossible to register to vote unless you have your birth certificate or passport with you. Given the proportion of Americans with passports that we know of, and I don`t know how many people where their birth certificate is, it`s hard to imagine many new voters will be registered in Kansas. But it`s not just Kansas. We`re seeing this in a lot of states. The Kansas secretary of state is an activist Republican secretary of state. He says he wants this to be model legislation across the country.

I feel like the defense on this has, in many cases, been left to civil rights groups who worry about the disproportionate impact of these sorts of things on minority voters, say, or elderly voters or the poor. What about the Democratic Party institutionally sort of taking the other side of this fight?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Oh, gosh, no. I mean, institutionally, the Democratic Party has been very aggressive. I mean, I sit on the House Judiciary Committee, as you know, Rachel, and, you know, particularly when President Bush was still in office, and there was hearing after hearing with the -- with the Republican Department of Justice employees coming before us and literally maintaining that voter fraud was rampant, we called them out under the leadership of my colleague, Jerry Nadler, who`s been the chairman of that subcommittee, and, you know, really pushed back hard on them. Democratic legislators across the country have pushed back hard and have tried to flush out that voter intimidation practices by Republican elected officials are much more prevalent than the supposed voter fraud that they really haven`t been able to turn up just about anywhere in the country.

Then DWS really dropped a bomb -- comparing the Republicans to Moammar Qaddafi and Arab dictators, while the Democrats and their activists are like the rebels:

And, you know, what's more outrageous about this whole effort by Republicans to get in the way of Americans who just want to go and cast their vote is look at what's going on in the Middle East and North Africa right now. You have literally, you know, hundreds of thousands of people who are risking their lives and dying to be able to have the franchise, to be able to actually vote and choose their leaders.

And here we are, we have people who pull the levers of power in the Republican Party who are trying to do the opposite and disenfranchise Americans because they don't like the outcome of an election in a fair fight.

The incoming DNC chairwoman added:

Voter intimidation has been the M.O. of the Republican Party, unfortunately, for many years now. They don't like the outcome of elections when everyone from every walk of life gets to actually go to the polls and cast their vote. They certainly don't like when we have record turnout of young people, record turnout of first-time voters. They don`t like the outcome of those elections.

So, instead, their goal now is to get in the way of those folks being able to cast their vote. And, you know, hopefully, if they can rig the election with the right makeup of voters that they prefer, then their candidates will be successful.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis