Though entirely unfounded, Republican anxiety over mass voter fraud is as much of a tenet of the American election cycle as cringe-worthy Jib Jab videos and Facebook fights with that some asshole you went to high school with. But this year Republicans have outdone themselves and expanded their concerns beyond devious Democrats voting multiple times or millions of undocumented immigrants heading to the voting booth. Now, they’re worried about Democrats getting their pets—both dead and alive—in on the voter fraud too, and even Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s beloved golden retriever, Bailey, is implicated in this new batch of insipid paranoia.
On Thursday, Warren joined Joe Biden’s senior advisor Symone Sanders and Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, for a run of the mill get-out-the-vote effort, emphasizing the importance of voting for Biden in November.
“This is our moment in history,” Warren said. “Our moment to restore the soul of our nation. Our moment to build back our economy and our government better than ever before.”
She added, “When your children and your grandchildren ask what you did to end one of the worst chapters in our nation’s modern history, you can look them squarely in the face and say, ‘I changed America.’”
It wasn’t these bold declarations that concerned Steve Guest, the Rapid Response Director for the Republican National Committee. It was Warren saying that her dog, Bailey, supports Biden. Arf arf?
“Just so you all know, Bailey is definitely going to vote in November and he’s voting Democrat, all the way,” Warren said as Bailey made a cameo. “Bailey for Biden!”
Guest, apparently, took Warren’s comment seriously, tweeting, “Elizabeth Warren endorses voter fraud, says her dog will be voting Democrat... Voter fraud is not a joking matter.”
Guest defended his humorless response to Warren’s obvious joke in a follow-up tweet.
“I hope Elizabeth Warren is joking... because dead cats getting voter registration in the mail is a real thing...” Guest tweeted, linking to an article about an Atlanta family’s long-dead cat receiving a voter registration application.
When Ron Tims checked his mail Wednesday he found something addressed to Cody Tims. Cody doesn’t get much mail. Cody is a cat. He died 12 years ago. The family keeps his ashes in a green container.
The Tims were surprised, and a bit amused when they saw what Cody received in the mail.
“We have a voter registration application for Cody Tims! How did this happen? It’s not reality, he’s a cat and he’s been dead for a long time,” said Carol Tims.
The Secretary of State’s Office says that the form didn’t come from them, and that third party groups often send out registration forms based on mailing lists. In a statement, the office expressed disdain toward the “out-of-town activists” they suspect sent the form and assured the public that they’re “dedicated to investigating all types of fraud.” They also noted that Cody the cat would be unable to vote anyway, due to Georgia’s voter I.D. laws.
Still, according to Cody’s owners, he was a “DemoCAT,” meaning that he would have been in cahoots with Bailey and other Democratic pets across the nation to dabble in a little voter fraud.
This would all be funny if this wasn’t an actual concern Republicans are fretting over. The Washington Post reports that Trump told conservative website Townhall that Democratic governors are sending millions of voter registration applications to dogs.
Of course, this is largely a fake problem used to justify racist voter I.D. laws. From The Washington Post:
Elaine C. Kamarck, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, which has studied the prevalence of voter fraud, says no. Of all the country’s problems at the moment, she said, “we do not have to worry about this.”
Kamarck said that pet-related voter fraud fears are another example of the ways Republicans are trying to suppress efforts to expand mail-in voting ahead of November, even though mail-in voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Kamarck pointed to a recent Brookings Institution analysis of Colorado as an example: Accessing the Heritage Foundation’s voter fraud database, Kamarck and colleagues identified just eight cases of mail-in-related voter fraud out of more than nearly 16 million votes in a 13-year period.
But this is par for the course for the Republican Party: Take an extreme example of just about anything and turn it into an epidemic... while ignoring the real one already upon us.