GOP Crying Wolf on Voter Fraud?

| Mon Nov. 8, 2010 10:32 AM EST

Despite conservative fear-mongering that illegitimate voters would steal the midterms, there's been little, if any, evidence has surfaced to support these claims. But some GOPers won't to give up the ghost. Dave Weigel points out that Ed Martin, Republican candidate in Missouri's 3rd district, has refused to concede to his opponent Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan despite having lost by a significant 4,418 vote margin. Instead, Martin insists that electoral fraud messed with the results. From the St. Louis Beacon:

Among other things, Martin has alleged irregularities in the city's votes and in the hiring of a security firm at the city Election Board headquarters to help out on Election Day. Martin particularly has raised questions about the final bloc of city votes that went heavily for Carnahan.

On Wednesday, a group of Martin allies picketed outside the downtown Election Board headquarters, shouting that vote fraud had been committed.

Local and state Republican officials have declined to back Martin's claims of voter fraud, urging him to concede in the long-Democratic district. As the Beacon notes, even the St. Louis Tea Party admits "that there appears to be 'no smoking gun' that the group can immediately target as a culprit in Martin's narrow loss."

But given the hysteria surrounding voter fraud on the right—amped up by the tea parties and legitimized by the GOP—it's not surprising that Republicans would use voter fraud as an excuse for a close loss. Given the degree of fear-mongering, I'm surprised that there haven't been more allegations of fraud since Election Day. In Nevada, for instance, Sharron Angle had claimed that Harry Reid wanted "to steal this election" and accused him of buying off union votes in the final stretch of the race. But such accusations almost immediately evaporated after she lost to Reid, and even Fox News cancelled a segment about voter fraud in Nevada that it had originally planned to air.

If such dirty tricks had actually happened in Nevada or elsewhere, you'd expect that the tea party right would be up in arms about the results. But instead, the deafening silence suggests that there wasn't much there in the first place. It's not surprising, then, that Missouri Republicans want Martin to shut up and concede that he lost already. In the build up to the election, Republicans were deftly able to amplify voter fraud allegations to whip their base into a frenzy. But after the fact, when it's clear that few such shenanigans actually took place, candidates like Martin make it appear that the right was just crying wolf in the first place.

*Update: Martin finally conceded the election to Carnahan on Monday morning but continues to allege there was "misconduct by the chair of the St. Louis City Board of Elections," claiming that there were widespread "irregularities" and claiming the Board "refused to take responsibility for compelling local boards of election to purge voter rolls of ineligible registrants." Martin promises that he "will continue to seek to highlight the importance of protecting our voting system and will ask you to assist me in this effort."