Thursday, July 28, 2011

Voter Fraud? Really?

The Republicans are always so upset and worried about voter fraud. They see it happening everywhere.
The term "voter fraud," has broad meaning and many facets. "Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country." -Wikipedia
What Republicans always seem so worried about is the "illegal voter registration," cited above. They are very concerned that people who are not eligible to vote (felons, those who do not reside in the voting district, double voting, etc.), vote, thereby impairing the integrity of the election process. And we know how much Republicans stand for integrity.
Well... I hate to contradict my Republican friends (the miserable sons of bitches), but it appears that they are manufacturing this "crisis," possibly for purely political reasons, and maybe, just maybe, conjure a little voter fraud all on their own, masked behind their supposed concern for fair elections.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, at New York University School of Law: 1. Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare. Most citizens who take the time to vote offer their legitimate signatures and sworn oaths with the gravitas that this hard-won civic right deserves. Even for the few who view voting merely as a means to an end, however, voter fraud is a singularly foolish way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price.
Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.

2. Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud. Although there are a few scattered instances of real voter fraud, many of the vivid anecdotes cited in accounts of voter fraud have been proven false or vastly overstated. In Missouri in 2000, for example, the Secretary of State claimed that 79 voters were registered with addresses at vacant lots, but subsequent investigation revealed that the lots in question actually housed valid and legitimate residences. Similarly, a 1995 investigation into votes allegedly cast in Baltimore by deceased voters and those with disenfranchising felony convictions revealed that the voters in question were both alive and felony-free.

3. Voter fraud is often conflated with other forms of election misconduct.

4. Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda.

Ahh, there we have it. "Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda." Raising the specter of mass voter fraud (and the Republicans know how to raise it so well by turning on the Noise Machine. Over and over again they yak "voter fraud," "voter fraud," "voter fraud," "voter fraud," so many times in the media, well by golly, it must be true) may just mask actual acts of voter suppression, which in itself is an act of voter fraud. It may have happened before.
In 2006, seven U. S. Attorneys were fired by George Bush's Department of Justice (and pasty face Carl Rove) for being less than enthusiastic in investigating non-existent cases of voter fraud. In 2002, John Sununu won a close Senate race. On that election day, there were charges of "phone jamming" the Democrats’ get out the vote efforts.
In 2008 more than 50,000 registered voters in Georgia were removed from the rolls of eligible voters due to discrepancies in their identification information.
In 2004, 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous felony convictions. This form of vote suppression in the United States disproportionately affects minorities including African-Americans and Latinos, in other words, likely Democratic voters. Before the 2000 General election, the Secretary of State in Florida, Katherine Harris, working for the Republican candidates brother, Governor Jeb Bush, ordered 57,700 citizens identified as "ex-felons" be removed from the voters list, although about 8,000 names were erroneously placed on the exclusion list, 88% of these individuals were African American.
On and on and on. Just last Monday new evidence suggests the 2004 general election may have been hacked when there was a strange and unexpected shift in votes for George W. Bush.
If that is indeed the case then George W. Bush was never legitimately elected into office in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
As disturbing as that may be, the reason I'm discussing this issue today is because of the recent actions of the Governor of Wisconsin, the infamous Republican union buster, Scott Walker.
You may remember Mr. Walker from earlier in the year when he put into effect a law that attempted to gut public-sector unions of their bargaining power, break them financially and force workers to pay for the state budget deficit, while initiating draconian budget cuts, after providing rich tax cuts for big businesses, all of this just one month into his term. This caused 14 state Senators to leave the state in order to keep the law from being implemented.
Due to Gov. Walker's actions recall elections are now underway concerning the state Senate. Six Republicans who backed Walker's anti-union bill stand to lose their seats, and now two Democrats are being challenged by Republicans (one Democrat, Dave Hansen, has already retained his seat). We'll see on August 9th if the Democrats can regain control of the Senate, and things are looking good.
The voters want to recall Walker as well, but they have to wait until next January, after he's been in office a year to do that. So in the meantime the Gov is trying to do as much damage as he possibly can.
Last May Walker signed into law a bill requiring voters show a state issued I.D. in order to vote. He said it was "common sense reform" that would "go a long way to protecting the integrity of elections in Wisconsin."
He's not the first one to do this. Eleven states now require a photo ID to vote. Kansas also added a photo ID requirement this year, but it won't take effect until January 1st. Thirty three states have considered adding voter identification requirements this year.
So what's the big deal, you may ask. I have a California I.D. (they won't give me a drivers license... I don't know why), so I could vote if California initiated this type of law.
But some people think these photo I.D. laws are actually attempts to keep some people from voting. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio thinks so.
"Many of these bills only have one true purpose, the disenfranchisement of eligible voters - especially the elderly, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters," said a letter that Fudge sent to Attorney General Eric Holder last Monday with more than 100 House Democrats signing on.
She says that these people may not have photo I.D.s because they use the bus most of the time, like me, and thereby don't need a driver's license. Or the cost of getting a state I.D. may be prohibitive for many of these citizens.
"Not only does it cost money to purchase a license, but people must have required documents, such as a birth certificate and Social Security card or another form of identification to get a license," Fudge spokeswoman Laura Allen said "It also takes time, transportation and money to get these documents."
And most of these "elderly, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters," tend to vote for the Democratic ticket, thereby Rep. Fudge's assertion that photo I.D. laws are nothing but a rather blatant attempt to rig elections in favor of the Republicans.
What do the Republicans say about this? Why these laws are required to fight voter fraud of course... voter fraud that does not happen to exist in this, the real world.
The Attorney General's office state they are monitoring the situation.
That makes me feel so much better.
Hey, but wait. Gov. Walker isn't finished. Oh no. Now that he signed his bill requiring voters to have photo I.D.s into law, Walker is attempting to close as many as 16 Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, every one of them in districts that favor Democrats. Why? In order to expand hours in other offices, as required by the new law. And guess where these expanded hour offices happen to be located. Why in areas where Republicans are more likely to obtain their driver’s license or photo ID.
Blatant. Blatant. Blatant. This is nothing but a transparent, obvious, and blatant attempt to rig future elections (especially his own recall election coming next January).
This man is unconscionable. A true psychopath. He needs help. He needs to drop everything, lie down, and let the nice folks in their white coats come and take him away to the funny farm where he can play with chirping birds... and what not.
I'm sure the voters in Wisconsin, disenfranchised or not, will allow him to take a rest next January. I for one will be looking forward to seeing it happen.

Here's a copy of the letter Rep Fudge sent to the Attorney General and a petition concerning this very issue:

Dear Attorney General Holder,

Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote. New laws that have passed around the country, which restrict the pool of eligible voters and make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot, represent a step backwards in a decades-long struggle to end voter discrimination in this country. We urge you to exercise your authority under the Voting Rights Act to examine these laws so that voting rights are not jeopardized.

I am particularly disturbed by the voter ID laws that have now been passed in 30 states, and other voter suppression tactics, such as restrictions on third party registration and early voting. These laws do nothing to address the kinds of problems that are actually threatening the integrity of the voting process, such as improper purges of voters, voter harassment, and distribution of false information about when and where to vote. Instead, these laws serve to disfranchise eligible voters and, in particular, have a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly, low-income individuals, students, and voters with disabilities.

The Department of Justice has an obligation to fully enforce voting rights law. I urge you to aggressively scrutinize these laws for discriminatory impact, examine and object to pre-clearance submissions that have a discriminatory effect, and bring cases where necessary to stop these regressive voter laws.


  1. Well done on this insightful and comprehensive post. Strange, but vote quashing, voter discrimination and voter suppression all sound like the MO of all those dictatorships the UN 'monitors' to foster free speech and democracy. Ultimately, we will be left with no say in government, and of course, no place to 'hang' our chads.

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