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There have been numerous rumblings about possible voter caging exercises on the part of the GOP this election season – Clark, for instance, speculated about the possibility last September in a post here at SMP. Now that early voting is underway in several states, actual reports of possible voter intimidation efforts are beginning to surface. Additionally, TPM is reporting that in order to justify aggressive poll “monitoring,” groups like the Republican National Lawyers Association are attempting to scare the GOP kiddies with spurious claims that an ACORN  zombie has emerged from the grave just to trick-or-treat this election right out of their grubby little hands:

The community-organizing group ACORN has “absolutely” re-emerged since it was disbanded in the spring and there could be an “epidemic” of voter fraud problems this year to change the outcome of the midterm elections

Since Missouri does not have early voting, it is too early to know if we will see efforts to intimidate voters at the poll. We do know, however, that Ed Martin, who is running against Russ Carnahan for the 3rd district House seat, has attempted to ride the ACORN hobby horse in the past. At a How to Take Back America Conference workshop on “Voter Fraud, the Census, and ACORN,” held in St. Louis in September, 2009:

Martin bragged about taking on ACORN as chair of the St. Louis City Board of Elections and argued that voter fraud next year could be financed by federal stimulus money. One solution he offered was to get “tea party” activists to sign up as poll workers.

Federal stimulus money! What kind of idiots were at this workshop anyway? But I can just imagine that some of the belligerent, bellowing folks I have seen at Tea Party rallies would really relish the chance to throw their weight around at a polling site. One can only hope that the Missouri Democratic party has prepared for such eventualities – especially since the GOP scammers are about as bare-faced as they could possibly be about what they really want to accomplish with their monitoring activities. (And, let me be clear, I have no problem with legitimate monitoring activities as opposed to intimidation efforts.)

Of course, there is more going on here than possible intimidation of voters in the 2010 midterms. TPM quotes Slate’s Dave Weigel who posits more far-reaching effects:

Let’s say that no actual election fraud is captured, and no voters are scared away by aggressive Tea Partiers. The benefit of this sort of election-watching is enormous anyway, because it was exactly this — a videoblogger for the little-known Election Journal — that produced 23 months of scandal over two idiots from the New Black Panther Party skulking outside of a Philadelphia polling booth,” Weigel writes. “Expect numerous stories of “union thugs” or otherwise scary activists defrauding the vote on November 2; expect a new Republican Congress to investigate them.

And just like that, self-serving fantasy becomes the real story, unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud become the established narrative, and we have to dig ourselves out of another imaginary pit.