Breaking News (story will be continually updated throughout the day/week as information is uncovered.)

The rightwing blogs are all a twitter with a story on Fox “news” that “an SEIU (Service Employees International Union) employee, “Steve Caddle” (later corrected as “Sean Caddle”) was behind an attempt at rampant voter fraud, attempting to register “23,207” fraudulent voter registrations through his organization “America Votes”. The uncovering of the story is being heralded as a investigative victory by the Tea Party group “True the Vote, a citizen-based grassroots organization”, according to Fox News. As you might expect, the story is spreading like wildfire on the Right. Also, as you might expect, the story is full of holes and unanswered questions. Since I live in Houston and hadn’t heard a thing about this, naturally I felt compelled to investigate.

First thing I noticed was just how little information I could find on this “huge” breaking story. The SEIU website has responded, reporting that Caddle was NOT “an employee” of SEIU but instead a former member of the Colorado SEIU from 2005-2007, and that Caddle’s organization “America Votes” receives NO funding from the organization. I searched for a secondary source on the story other than Fox. The only local (Houston) source reporting the story was the local ABC13 affiliate (whose video on the story has been pulled). Not the local NBC-2, CBS-11 or even the local Fox-26 websites have any information regarding the SEIU or Caddle. Not even the city’s one major newspaper, The Houston Chronicle has anything on this story. Massive Left-wing media cover-up, or non-story? I certainly wouldn’t call the local newspaper or Fox affiliate “left wing”.

The ABC story does not even mention Caddle’s “SEIU connection”. The claim Caddle was “an SEIU employee” (rather than just former member) is an unsourced/unsubstantiated “addendum” at the end of the Fox story correcting Caddle’s first name. Also according to the ABC story, it was not Caddle himself, but “20-30 volunteers” who “were immediately fired” upon discovery they had submitted fraudulent registrations. Of the “25,000 submitted registrations”, it was found that “only 7,193 were actually for new voters”. Now, if you’re good at math… and even if you aren’t… you probably picked up that 25,000 – 7,193 doesn’t equal 23,207 (actual number: 17,807. Now, 25,000 minus 1,793 does however. Dyslexia: the Conservative reporter’s friend). And of those 17 thousand, nearly 1,600 had been registered more than once… including one person that registered six times in one day. Not the sign of a sophisticated operation going to great lengths to defraud the system.

I am immediately reminded of the stories of “ACORN submitting fake voter registrations” during the 2004 election. As it turned out back then, it was “volunteers” then as well who violated their signed pledges to sign up only eligible voters. The suspicion was (and still is) that it was Conservative infiltrators… mostly kids… trying to delegitimize ACORN as a corrupt partisan organization behind a massive voter fraud movement. But it wasn’t true, and after the story broke, ACORN tightened its restrictions on just who could volunteer to register voters.

ACORN no longer exists (thanks to a deceptively edited video by a Rightwing college student promoted by the same guy who gave us the deceptively edited Shirley Sherrod video), yet, “20% Of Americans (still) Think (the non-existent) ACORN Will Steal The (2010) Election“.

More updates to this story as they break. – Mugsy

UPDATE 1: The Tea Party group behind the claim, “True the Vote”, is the North Houston branch of the “King Street Patriots”, the group exposed by the Huffington Post three weeks ago for doctoring a video of Gore supporters in Florida during the 2000 presidential campaign for a political video they were making.

UPDATE 2: There is a question whether the charges being made by “True the Vote” are in response to to a recent filing by the Houston Democratic Party against the current Harris County Tax Assessor, Leo Vasquez, for rejecting some voter registrations based upon “duplicate and incorrect addresses” (eg: multiple people of voting age living in the same home and simple misspellings). Vasquez replaced Paul Bettencourt, who suddenly resigned in 2008 after falsely claiming 70,000 cases of “rampant voter fraud” prior to the Houston 2008 Presidential election.

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