Republicans are ramping up their efforts to make the case that Democrats are trying to steal the midterm elections, despite little evidence to support such claims. The strategy appears designed to fire up the Republican base, potentially depress Democratic turnout and set the stage for possible legal challenges to Democratic victories.
The Republican National Committee has launched a website called "No More Frankens" that is grounded in the notion that Democratic Sen. Al Franken essentially stole the Minnesota Senate election in 2008 from Norm Colman thanks to "lawyers, big labor, left wing shadow organizations and the illegal votes of convicted felons."
It took eight months of legal battles before Coleman
The "No More Frankens" site argues that "we have to win BIG" to overcome Democratic malfeasance, and requests donations of up to $5,000 to fund a GOP "get out the vote" effort.
A Tea Party movement supporter in Virginia named Mark Lloyd, meanwhile, has set up a site to argue that Democrats will use the votes of dead people to try to win the election.
"Stories of the dead voting have long been part of election reality even though many on the Left would have you believe that dead voters are part of election folklore and legend," the site says. "For years, evidence has been offered and then dismissed by the media and other supports of the big government Left. But with the rise of the Tea Party movement, another legend that the Left wishes were mythical, has been discovered."
The site encourages people to go to the Clerk of Court Office at their local courthouse and "Copy names of the deceased potential voters going back at least 2 election cycles."
"Upon completion of this project notify media that you are in possession of the names of all deceased potential voters in the area," it continues. "Provide a copy list to appropriate conservative representative and/or poll watchers, and instruct them of the legal process in your jurisdiction on how to challenge a fraudulent vote."
The site also includes a video that uses Night of the Living Dead as its inspiration to warn of the "Night of the Voting Dead," which you can see at left.
As the New York Times reported earlier this week, conservatives made claims of widespread vote fraud in 2006 that "turned out to be largely false." The notion that Democrats are trying to steal elections has nonetheless endured on the right; establishment Republican turned Tea Party backer Dick Armey suggested in September that Democratic voter fraud accounted for three percent of elections.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, "Allegations of widespread fraud by malevolent voters are easy to make, but often prove to be inflated or inaccurate."
The site says "these claims are frequently used to justify policies - including restrictive photo identification rules - that could not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters."
That's the argument of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who, as Politco reports, is asking the Department of Justice to investigate voter intimidation against black and Latino voters.
As Hotsheet reported Tuesday,on (and in some cases before) Election Day in what they say is an effort to ensure every vote is counted correctly. Critics say the groups are trying to intimidate Democratic and minority voters.
In a letter, Jackson Lee asked the Justice Department to send poll watchers to her district to keep an eye on the King Street Patriots.
"Many of these incidents of voter intimidation have been occurring in predominately minority neighborhoods and have been directed at African-Americans and Latinos," she said in the letter. "It is unconscionable to think that anyone would deliberately employ the use of such forceful and intimidating tactics in 2010 to undermine the fundamental, constitutional right to vote." (Her argument is bolstered by reports of misleading fliers being distributed in minority neighborhoods in Houston.)
Conservatives are not alone in charging electoral fraud, of course. Many liberals have argued that in 2004 presidential election was stolen in Ohio, for example, though some of the left have said the evidence does not support such claims.
Brian Montopoli is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.