Progressive Review - Although the poddle press continuous to play into the hands of the GOP on the issue, it is clear that fraud by a voter is a miniscule part of overall election corruption and mismanagement. For voter fraud to work on any scale, you need a large number of people who are not qualified to vote engaging in a conspiracy with a campaign or election officials. Since it is extremely difficult in America to get even registered voters to cast ballots, the idea that there are mass of illegal voters lining up to sway the polls falls on its face. In this election what has been called vote fraud involving ACORN has actually been fraud against ACORN, i.e. registrants who fill up sheets with false names to make their quotas. The idea of one of these non existent voters - let’s say Mickey Mouse - actually showing up at the polls is absurd.
Admittedly, once you could find some heavy manipulation going on in places like Chicago in the time of ward leaders like Hinky Dink Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin. That era produced anecdotes such as the one in which a voter identified himself as William Croswell Doane, a prominent member of the Episcopal clergy. “Come off it,” said an election official, “You’re not Bishop Doane.” Replied the incensed voter, “The hell I ain’t, you bastard.”
The era also produced short pencil men - ward heelers who would go the polls early, but not cast their ballot. Rather they would take it outside and with an inconspicuous short pencil mark it and give it the first loyal member of the machine to come up. That voter would cast the marked ballot and bring another unmarked one back to the short pencil man and so on throughout the day.
But these cases did not involve false registration but rather false poll identification or voter ballot control by the machine, neither of which are among the current allegations.
What is happening today is not voter fraud by ACORN but election fraud by the Republican Party.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT JOINS VOTER SUPPRESSION EFFORT
Two senior law enforcement officials have told a national reporter that the FBI is conducting an investigation into ACORN’s voter registration effort. The release of the story is a violation of Justice Department regulations that forbid the announcement of investigations still underway and particularly right before an election. It is an obvious attempt by the Bush regime to suppress voter turnout.
Steve Benen, Washington Monthly - Consider this piece that ran in the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page:
Allegations of fraud have tainted Acorn voter drives across the country. The good news for anyone who cares about voter integrity is that the Justice Department finally seems poised to connect these dots instead of dismissing such revelations as the work of a few yahoos.
The date on the editorial? November 3, 2006. The Justice Department has always had standing policy of avoiding election law prosecutions shortly before voters head to the polls, but just days in advance of the midterm elections two years ago, as part of the politicization of the Justice Department, Bradley Schlozman apparently rushed ACORN indictments for maximum political benefit to Republicans.
History, I’m afraid, may be repeating itself. The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. . .
Let’s be clear: the Bush administration’s politicized Justice Department pulled a scam, got caught, suffered through a massive scandal that forced an Attorney General to resign in disgrace, and now appears to be pulling the exact same scam just two years later. As Josh Marshall put it, “This is a big deal. It may be their last gasp to use the DOJ to help mitigate the scale of Republican defeat on November 4th.”
D-Day also had a good item on this: “The Justice Department is using its law enforcement arm to stir up doubt about a legitimate community organization as a means to delegitimize this election. This is designed to sap voter confidence in the process. It’s also designed to harass and intimidate low-income and minority voters.”
ROLLING STONE: IT’S ALREADY STOLEN
Rolling Stone - Republican secretaries of state of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls. Over several months, the GOP politicos in Colorado stonewalled every attempt by Rolling Stone to get an answer to the massive purge - ten times the average state’s rate of removal.
- While Obama dreams of riding to the White House on a wave of new voters, more then 2.7 million have had their registrations rejected under new procedures signed into law by George Bush.
- Digging through government records, the Kennedy-Palast team discovered that, in 2004, a GOP scheme called “caging” ultimately took away the rights of 1.1 million voters. The Rolling Stone duo
- Since the last presidential race, “States used dubious ‘list management’ rules to scrub at least 10 million voters from their rolls.” Among those was Paul Maez of Las Vegas, New Mexico - a victim of an unreported but devastating purge of voters in that state that left as many as one in nine Democrats without a vote. For Maez, the state’s purging his registration was particularly shocking - he’s the county elections supervisor.
THE MYTH OF VOTER FRAUD
Michael Collins, ACLU - We’re having our quadrennial encounter with the menace of voter fraud. We are to believe that gangs of undocumented aliens and the unemployed will vote illegally or, if registered, on multiple occasions. They’ll do this to capitalize on the fraudulent registrations secured by paid operatives who can’t make money in any other way. We’re told that this alleged pattern is a menace to democracy. . .
Given the danger proposed, here’s some important evidence. The U.S. Department of Justice has voter fraud at the top of its agenda. With their clear emphasis on law enforcement prerogatives, the goal to shut down alleged voter fraud produced next to nothing. [Between 2002 and 2005]: Three years, 38 cases, 11 guilty pleas, and 13 convictions. It is the best outcome the Department of Justice could get. They’ve been at it 30 years so you’d think they would have learned a trick or too. Yet, voter fraud has been a major focus of the department.
Here is the conclusion of an exhaustive review of voting evidence:
“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.” - Brennan Center for Justice
In 2005, two major studies were commissioned by the Election Assistance Commission. One was on voter intimidation and the other on polling place fraud. The results were in line with the Brennan Center and others: there is virtually no election fraud and voter suppression is a major problem.
The simple truth is that voter fraud is so rare that it has no relationship with our elections. Yet millions of dollars and countless hours are devoted to this legendary menace to democracy.
There is one obvious question from all of this:
How do you work in a system with people who deny the reality of what happens on Election Day? What does it say about an elections system that perseverates on the “voter” fraud fiction for decades in the repeated absence of any evidence to substantiate that fraud?
There are serious problems with elections in the United States: voter suppression; felon disenfranchisement; unsecured computerized voting on invisible ballots; vote counting conducted in secret; a billion dollars spent on campaigns; and few if any real issues discussed in a serious fashion. These and other manifest problems should be the focus, not a contrivance based on a fiction.
Lorraine C, Minnite, Bernard College - Voter fraud is the “intentional corruption of the electoral process by the voter.” This definition covers knowingly and willingly giving false information to establish voter eligibility, and knowingly and willingly voting illegally or participating in a conspiracy to encourage illegal voting by others. All other forms of corruption of the electoral process and corruption committed by elected or election officials, candidates, party organizations, advocacy groups or campaign workers fall under the wider definition of election fraud.
Voter fraud is extremely rare. At the federal level, records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. The available state-level evidence of voter fraud, culled from interviews, reviews of newspaper coverage and court proceedings, while not definitive, is also negligible.
The lack of evidence of voter fraud is not because of a failure to codify it. It is not as if the states have failed to detail the ways voters could corrupt elections. There are hundreds of examples drawn from state election codes and constitutions that illustrate the precision with which the states have criminalized voter and election fraud. If we use the same standards for judging voter fraud crime rates as we do for other crimes, we must conclude that the lack of evidence of arrests, indictments or convictions for any of the practices defined as voter fraud means very little fraud is being committed.
Most voter fraud allegations turn out to be something other than fraud. A review of news stories over a recent two year period found that reports of voter fraud were most often limited to local races and individual acts and fell into three categories: unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.
The more complex are the rules regulating voter registration and voting, the more likely voter mistakes, clerical errors, and the like will be wrongly identified as “fraud.” Voters play a limited role in the electoral process
There is a 200-year history in America of elites using voter fraud allegations to restrict and shape the electorate. In the late nineteenth century when newly freed black Americans were swept into electoral politics, and where blacks were the majority of the electorate, it was the Democrats who were threatened by a loss of power, and it was the Democratic party that erected new rules said to be necessary to respond to alleged fraud by black voters. Today, the success of voter registration drives among minorities and low income people in recent years threatens to expand the base of the Democratic party and tip the balance of power away from the Republicans. Consequently, the use of baseless voter fraud allegations for partisan advantage has become the exclusive domain of Republican party activists.