Aug
22

The Voter Fraud Frauds

By

“We think that voting actually is not just a private vote for the person who gets the vote, but a public good, and that the more people who vote, the more legitimate the elected officials are, and that they represent the actual values of the electorate.”

– Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon (D-Denver)

On the other hand, some people really don’t want you to vote. Every couple of months, their agents (figuratively) fling smoke bombs into newsrooms and yell “voter fraud.” By the time the smoke clears and reporters realize there’s no fire — and no fraud — all viewers remember are hearing the words “voter fraud” over and over again, and the eye-popping crawlers on the news at six about dead people voting. Thus is spread an urban legend.

This urban legend is brought to you by the same people who warned Americans about Iraqi aluminum tubes and yellowcake uranium, about mushroom clouds and mobile bio-weapons labs and stockpiles of WMDs, people who looked America in the eye and said, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” They were lying then. They are lying now.

Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine names names behind the voter fraud lie for Talking Points Memo in The Fake Voter Fraud Epidemic and the 2012 Election. Susie Madrak at C&L presents this handy video on the subject from The Young Turks. One name in particular stands out: Hans von Spakovsky, the Republicans’ point man. Spakovsky is the GOP’s Professor Harold Hill — a traveling Voter ID salesman — and just as good at conning innocent townspeople. He’s successfully duped almost three-quarters of Americans into believing the voter fraud crisis he’s ginned up is a real problem. Like The Music Man, he’s arrived to sell you a solution to your imaginary problem. Never mind that his solution aims at disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of American voters so his party can hold onto power.



Hans von Spakovsky, one of the charter members of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad, claimed that there was such “recent” evidence of a problem with impersonation fraud, and he cited to a grand jury report issued in 1984 by the Brooklyn (N.Y.) district attorney’s office. (Put aside the fact that 1984 is not so recent.)

I asked von Spakovsky for a copy of the report. I heard nothing from him, even though he had contacted me in the past pitching items to include on my Election Law Blog. I wrote to the president of the Heritage Foundation, where von Spakovsky works, asking for the report, and noting that good scholarship requires that scholars make their data available for verification. Silence. TPM ran a story on it. Silence.

A law librarian at UC Irvine finally was able to track down a copy of the report from the district attorney’s office. And guess what? The grand jury found lots of shenanigans by election officials and party officials (including party officials hiding in the ceiling of the men’s room of the Brooklyn Board of Elections to change voter registration after dark). But virtually no cases of voter impersonation fraud and nothing done without the collusion of election officials.

This is consistent with subsequent studies such as the ones Cenk Uygur mentions, including one just out from News21, an investigative reporting project of the Carnegie Corporation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (emphasis mine).

A News21 analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent.

In an exhaustive public records search, News21 reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of fraudulent activity including registration fraud, absentee ballot fraud, vote buying, false election counts, campaign fraud, casting an ineligible vote, voting twice, voter impersonation fraud and intimidation.

Analysis of the resulting comprehensive News21 election fraud database turned up 10 cases of voter impersonation. With 146 million registered voters in the United States during that time, those 10 cases represent one out of about every 15 million prospective voters.

“Voter fraud at the polls is an insignificant aspect of American elections,” said elections expert David Schultz, professor of public policy at Hamline University School of Business in St. Paul, Minn.

“There is absolutely no evidence that (voter impersonation fraud) has affected the outcome of any election in the United States, at least any recent election in the United States,” Schultz said.

News21 even filled in gaps in its database with citations from a Republican National Lawyers Association report that cites over 300 cases of voting irregularities, with scant evidence of in-person fraud, the only kind Election Day voter ID laws might prevent.

Not that stops voter-fraud activists. You have to give to them — they are relentless. This Spakovsky surrogate stormed out of a Wake County, North Carolina Elections Board hearing yesterday after kicking the doors open and throwing a “temper tantrum”:

Earlier this year, DeLancy brought the Wake Elections Board some 550 challenges to voters he says are not legally entitled to vote in the US – proven, he says, by DMV and jury duty records that say they’re not citizens.

Elections board investigators and voting-rights advocates who looked into the allegations say DeLancy used old DMV records and mismatched names, and failed to understand how the county collects data.

Only 18 challenges rose to the level of further investigation. All 18 were dismissed today.

Like vote Terminators, they’ll be back.


Comments

  1. Gordon Smith says:

    WRAL:

    It’s not every day that a Wake County Elections Board hearing is the setting for a temper tantrum.

    That’s what happened today when the Voter Integrity Project’s Jay DeLancy snatched his microphone off the board’s table mid-meeting, kicking glass doors open in front of him as he stormed out of the meeting room in the Public Safety Center.
    [...]
    Earlier this year, DeLancy brought the Wake Elections Board some 550 challenges to voters he says are not legally entitled to vote in the US – proven, he says, by DMV and jury duty records that say they’re not citizens.

    Elections board investigators and voting-rights advocates who looked into the allegations say DeLancy used old DMV records and mismatched names, and failed to understand how the county collects data.

    Only 18 challenges rose to the level of further investigation. All 18 were dismissed today.

    One voter was removed according to state law. Several others requested their own removal. About half supplied evidence of their eligibility to vote. Most of the rest were registered but had never voted.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  2. When the voter ID law in Pennsylvania got a court challenge:

    The state signed a stipulation agreement with lawyers for the plaintiffs which acknowledges there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”

    Additionally, the agreement states Pennsylvania “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue “that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.”

    via TPM

    Thus far challengers failed to get an injunction to stop the law and are continuing through appeal.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  3. Gordon Smith says:

    Excuse me for the redundancy. I really should’ve read to the bottom of the post.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  4. Tom Sullivan says:

    Pennsylvania Refuses to Comply with U.S. Dept. of Justice Photo ID Document Request

    Federal lawsuit to prevent mass disenfranchisement may be imminent…

    Pennsylvania has refused to turn over documents that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had sought in order to determine whether the state’s new polling place Photo ID restriction law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and other federal laws.

    More at the link above.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  5. TJ says:

    Okay, it’s been a long night with little sleep, but I couldn’t help it.
    This is for you, David Cohen ;-) (concise).

    “I fear for our election,” DeLancy added.”

    Yeah. God forbid someone from another country recognize the insanity of the U.S., and vote for someone who actually makes our country a better place.

    The nerve!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  6. Tom Sullivan says:

    For voters they won’t let near the machines, that’s only a theoretical problem.

    Thumb up 6

  7. Tom Sullivan says:

    Limbaugh: Republicans Think Dems Are Stupid, So They Try To Trick Them Into Voting On The Wrong Day

    when Republicans put ads out in Democrat neighborhoods saying they should vote on the wrong day, you know what kind of hell that unleashes. “What, do you think our voters are stupid?” Yes! That’s why we try to trick ‘em. It doesn’t take much.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  8. Davyne Dial says:

    Kinda like how they “trick” their own Republican constituents into thinking they’re the “God-fearing, real American party” out for the Joe & Jane sixpacks of the nation???? All the while laughing on the way to the bank.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  9. Wiley says:

    I haven’t seen anyone speak to the recent identification of voter fraud in Minnesota. I’d be curious to hear your all’s thoughts.

    “Group Claims $1,000 ACLU Bounty for Finding Voter Fraud”
    http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/141590563.html

    “Is Minn. #1 for Voter Fraud”?

    …”McGrath says that Minnesota has had some razor-thin elections, and we’ve had reason to look for evidence of fraud. That’s not true in every other state….”

    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/08/14/good-question-is-minnesota-1-for-voter-fraud/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  10. Gordon Smith says:

    Seems like it’s essentially a question of whether we want to disenfranchise millions of voters because there is an occasional, less frequent than lightning strikes or ufo sightings, mistake or ne’er-do-well. The article you link above notes:

    The woman, Barbara Nyhammer of Andover, told the judge in her case that she filled out her daughter’s absentee ballot — with her daughter’s line-by-line instructions — because she believed her daughter was not going to be able to vote in person. The judge told her it was a mistake in communication, not an attempt to intentionally vote twice. He issued a stay of adjudication, basically resolving the charges with one year of probation and $200 in costs.

    For this we want to disenfranchise millions of voters? Come on. Voter ID looks like a voter suppression tactic to me. A solution in search of a significant problem. A GOP leader in PA said that it would be the tool that would help Romney win there.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  11. Tom Sullivan says:

    Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, produced court records from an Anoka County case involving voting in the 2008 election. The records concern an Andover woman who was charged with three felonies. According to the records, prosecutors alleged she voted in person in her own name, and by absentee ballot in the name of her daughter, who was away at college. The daughter also voted near her college in the same election.

    Per the reporting, Barbara Nyhammer cast a ballot in her own name at her own voting place. That’s not fraud. The judge called the absentee vote in her daughter’s name “a mistake in communication, not an attempt to intentionally vote twice. He issued a stay of adjudication, basically resolving the charges with one year of probation and $200 in costs.”

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  12. Tom Sullivan says:

    Fraud fraudster are — and/or they think the rest of us are — gullible enough to believe that, unlike Us, each Election Day hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people (you know, Them) go to the polls, not to do their patriotic and civic duty like “real Americans,” no, but to commit felonies punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense. All so they can cast a single extra vote.

    The Skeptics Society has a handy aphorism it applies to such claims, as well as to dowsing, pyramid power, conspiracy theories, and to belief in Bigfoot and the lost city of Atlantis: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    The fraudsters are relentless, but keep coming up empty.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  13. mule says:

    Interesting report on voter suppression:

    http://www.salon.com/2012/08/25/undercover_at_true_the_vote_salpart/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0