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Is Voter Registration Fraud Unavoidable?

ACORN is aggressively seeking to sign up new voters here in Ohio. In the process, they are also submitting many false, duplicative, or fraudulent registration forms — and there's nothing they can do about it, ACORN claims.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has turned in at least 65,000 cards to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in the last year. The board has investigated potentially fraudulent cards since August.

The group has faced similar inquiries in other large Ohio counties. And Nevada state authorities recently raided ACORN's Las Vegas headquarters searching for evidence of fraud, according to the Associated Press.

Local representatives of the organization told Cuyahoga board members that they don't have the resources to identify fraudulent cards turned in by paid canvassers who are told to register low- and moderate-income voters.

It can't be stopped? How about not paying canvassers based upon how many people they register? How about telling canvassers not to pressure people to register multiple times? How about telling canvassers not to offer bribes — cigarettes, booze, rides, etc. — in return for registration? Of course actual voter fraud is more important than registration fraud, but registered dead people do vote sometimes, and absentee voter fraud is facilitated by voter registration fraud.

Meanwhile, a federal court has ordered Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner to implement a system to verify voter registration information when it fails to match up in database checks, and Palestra.net's Tiffany Wilson wants to know how Brunner will combat potential voter fraud here in the Buckeye State.

UPDATE: The New York Post reports on one mean in Cleveland who registered 72 times:

"Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

"The ACORN people are everywhere, looking to sign people up. I tell them I am already registered. The girl said, 'You are?' I say, 'Yup,' and then they say, 'Can you just sign up again?' " he said.

Johnson used the same information on all of his registration cards, and officials say they usually catch and toss out duplicate registrations. But the practice sparks fear that some multiple registrants could provide different information and vote more than once by absentee ballot.

FantasiaWHT:
In Wisconsin, the attorney general (Republican) is attempting to have municipalities (or maybe it was counties, I forget) check all the newly registered voters since 2006 against their records. The governor (Democrat) is not too happy about that.
10.10.2008 12:52pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Always amused by the obvious party-line split on this issue...
10.10.2008 1:00pm
smitty1e:
@Daniel
I cannot see how to find amusement in the sodomization of our electoral process.
But thank you for the reminder to try.
10.10.2008 1:04pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
how about converting some of the registration canvasser positions to registration checker positions? I mean, that's impossible for ACORN to do, right?
10.10.2008 1:06pm
one of many:
To answer the title, yes. ACORN can, however, take many steps to minimize voter registration fraud but as currently set up the ACORN system almost seems to maximize it. Nothing new here, it's the same system ACORN has been using since the mid-1990s with the same problems.
10.10.2008 1:08pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
Maybe you should investigate how other countries maintain voter lists.
10.10.2008 1:09pm
Allan (mail):
I have a question: If one person submits 10 fraudulent voter registration forms, but no-one votes using the names, does the fraud affect election results?

Personally, I am more concerned about fraudulent votes than fradulent registration, at least as far as determining who won elections.

A caveat: Fraudulent registrations should not be condoned. These registrations cause an unnecessary strain on the system. In addition, they are a fraud on the people who pay the canvassers to collect registrations. Those whom we believe submit fraudulent registrations should be prosecuted.
10.10.2008 1:10pm
alkali (mail):
How about not paying canvassers based upon how many people they register? How about telling canvassers not to pressure people to register multiple times? How about telling canvassers not to offer bribes -- cigarettes, booze, rides, etc. -- in return for registration?

As to the first question, I'm not aware that ACORN does that. The article indicates that ACORN has quotas for canvassers, but that seems unavoidable ("Bob, register anyone this week?" "Nope." "Well, see you Monday then.").

As to the second and third questions, what is the basis for your understanding that ACORN doesn't so advise its canvassers? (Indeed, it presumably would be in ACORN's interest to avoid receiving duplicative registrations from its canvassers.)
10.10.2008 1:12pm
DangerMouse:
ACORN's entire purpose is to create voter fraud. Their goal is to delegitimize the entire electoral process itself, to make it that much easier for radicals to take over. Elections are just a numbers game to them like they are to any other mob - to be rigged so that they benefit.
10.10.2008 1:14pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I believe Juke was looking for specifics on this issue not very long ago.
I like Indianapolis' civic enthusiasm.
It's almost as laudable as some Philly precincts with 110% turn out a couple of cycles ago.
10.10.2008 1:15pm
AntonK (mail):
Jonathan Adler asks, "Is Voter Registration Fraud Unavoidable?"

With the current state and makeup of the Democratic Party, yes!
10.10.2008 1:17pm
Just Dropping By (mail):
How about telling canvassers not to offer bribes -- cigarettes, booze, rides, etc. -- in return for registration?

While it's typically illegal to offer someone something of value in exchange for voting in a particular way, I'm not aware of any state or federal law that would make it illegal to offer something of value to encourage someone to register to vote.
10.10.2008 1:18pm
CaDan (mail):

ACORN's entire purpose is to create voter fraud. Their goal is to delegitimize the entire electoral process itself, to make it that much easier for radicals to take over. Elections are just a numbers game to them like they are to any other mob - to be rigged so that they benefit.


And then at night, the ice weasels come.
10.10.2008 1:19pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CaDan.
So we can take it that you disagree.
Do you disagree because you don't believe it, or because you don't want others to believe it?
10.10.2008 1:25pm
bikeguy (mail):
Let's not be too hard on Acorn. After all, only nine states are currently investigating them. That's not even a majority. Since Obama's campaign has hired them to sign up voters, by definition they don't deserve any scrutiny.


Personally, I am more concerned about fraudulent votes than fradulent registration, at least as far as determining who won elections.

Hmmmm. Personally, I am more concerned about actual burglars than someone who is just casing my house.
10.10.2008 1:28pm
karrde (mail) (www):
What is troublesome about fraudulent registrations is that ACORN and company may have a list of such registrations in their own files.

It would be easy for a fraudster with access to such files to hire bums (or out-of-town people connected to a campaign or organization) to impersonate the fraudulently-registered people.

They could caravan from district to district, each casting a single vote in dozens of districts, under the fraudulent name.

Without ID-checking at the polls, it is absurdly easy for fraudulent registrations to become fraudulent votes.

With ID-checking at the polls, it is much harder. (Which is why I am in favor of both punishing organizations that submit fraudulent registrations, and checking ID's at polls. Because we don't know how many current registered voters were honestly registered...and a belt-and-suspenders approach is sensible here.)
10.10.2008 1:30pm
FantasiaWHT:

I have a question: If one person submits 10 fraudulent voter registration forms, but no-one votes using the names, does the fraud affect election results?

Personally, I am more concerned about fraudulent votes than fradulent registration, at least as far as determining who won elections.


You should be concerned because fraudulent registration makes fraudulent votes much much easier. The power of KNOWING what registered voters don't exist is enormous. Democrats are always pointing out that the other side doesn't have a long list of "caught" voter fraud - actual voters coming in and finding out that someone voted in their name (although it has happened occasionally). The reason is that ACORN has massive lists of registered, non-existent voters that they know will never show up at the polls to find their identities stolen. The same thing goes for absentee ballots sent in based off fraudulent voter rolls.
10.10.2008 1:35pm
FantasiaWHT:
Karrde was a little faster than me.


Let's not be too hard on Acorn. After all, only nine states are currently investigating them. That's not even a majority. Since Obama's campaign has hired them to sign up voters, by definition they don't deserve any scrutiny.


Clearly this shows that there is no national consensus in favor of investigating ACORN. It therefore must be unconstitutional to do so.
10.10.2008 1:37pm
John from Dallas:
karrde

"It would be easy for a fraudster with access to such files to hire bums (or out-of-town people connected to a campaign or organization) to impersonate the fraudulently-registered people.

They could caravan from district to district, each casting a single vote in dozens of districts, under the fraudulent name.

Without ID-checking at the polls, it is absurdly easy for fraudulent registrations to become fraudulent votes."

Have you actually thought about this? To get 1000 votes, you would need to drive around 100 people and get them to vote 10 times. And that is just for 1000 votes! Not only would this be very difficult as a practical matter (bums are bums for a reason, and it isn't their work ethic), but concealing such a scheme would be impossible. It would fall apart on day one.
10.10.2008 1:40pm
commontheme (mail):
Let's see, Mr. Adler's last post on the election was his inquiry into why SNL had or had not put up an edited or unedited version of some skit it did.

Now he's picking up the RNC talking point about all of that voter fraud out there. (Pssssst, a number of these stories suggest that there are, you know, black votes trying to vote.)

Mr. Adler has about as much credibility on these matters as Fox News.
10.10.2008 1:44pm
EH (mail):
DangerMouse:
ACORN's entire purpose is to create voter fraud. Their goal is to delegitimize the entire electoral process itself, to make it that much easier for radicals to take over.


Can you explain to me how the latter follows from the former? Seems to me that the existing political structures would consolidate in reaction to efforts to delegitimize the system. At least, I think that's as decent a conclusion to draw as yours from a canard about "ACORN's entire purpose."
10.10.2008 1:45pm
Money Mischief:
Jonathan: one correction - Acorn pays people by the hour, not by the registration, and even a cursory investigation will show you that they do manually review applications and flag those that appear fraudulent. They are required by law to submit all of them (remember a few years ago when people went around and registered people, only to throw out those that weren't of a particular party?), but they flag those that don't meet their own internal check.

In Nevada, the % was less than 0.1% - can you think of another voter registration group that has better percentages?
10.10.2008 1:52pm
The Other Ed (mail):
One thing that never gets reported in the anti-ACORN frenzy is that ACORN, like all people registering voters, must by law turn in all forms that they collect. Otherwise, Democrats/Republicans would throw out forms from voters they don't want in order to disqualify them. They are absolutely not allowed to take out the duplicates or Donald Duck/Hans Solo forms that are put in by either hourly contractors padding their numbers or by wisea## people saying, "Sure, I'll sign your form" and then putting a phony name down.

From what I understand, ACORN makes some attempts to flag suspicious forms so Election Boards can review them but they would be legally liable if they actually removed them from their submissions.

If someone attempts to vote under a false name, then you have election fraud but this "bad forms" fraud is a perjury that has not resulted in demonstrative voter fraud.
10.10.2008 1:57pm
gerbilsbite:
How about not paying canvassers based upon how many people they register? How about telling canvassers not to pressure people to register multiple times? How about telling canvassers not to offer bribes -- cigarettes, booze, rides, etc. -- in return for registration?

I thought, as a general rule, it was a good idea to stick to the facts of the case...none of which seem to be present in that statement.

If a ground-level operator decides to turn in fraudulent forms to the ACORN office, would you prefer they shred them instead of handing them over to the authorities? Because THAT sure seems like a great idea to prevent fraud.

The hard answer to your title question is: yes. A certain level of this stuff is unavoidable. The best that a registration group can do is flag potentially false forms for registrars to check out, and fire canvassers who seem to be faking them (both of which ACORN already does). The other option is to simply stop trying to register voters in an organized way. I'm sure there are plenty of Republicans (and republicans) who wouldn't mind that, but a lot of Democrats (and democrats) would.
10.10.2008 2:11pm
xx:
Isn't there a difference between "fraud" and "doing a really awful job?" It seems like ACORN is hurting itself if its registering people multiple times. The individuals still get only one vote, so ACORN is creating a huge number of new democratic registrations while generating minimal additional votes. It is at best inefficient and more likely going to screw with democrats' internal polling data by implying they will have better turnout than is actually possible.
10.10.2008 2:13pm
josh:
With full disclosure that I'm a democrat (Big D), I have an honest question that I'd really like to understand. How does registering someone multiple times end in voter fraud? That person can only vote once still, right? Is the allegation that the registration is of someone who won't vote and someone is going to go to the polls claiming to be that person? Since the Indiana law about requiring IDs was upheld, won't requiring proof of identity avoid this problem? I seriously would like a good-faith answer about this.

If the facts prove that a Dem-leaning group is engaged in malfeasance, I hope it gets investigated and prevented before Nov. 4. Seriously, the last thing I want to see is another "excuse" for why Obama wins (along with the media bias meme, Ayers, closet muslim, etc).

While the Constitution provides for voting mechnisms to be decided by the states, it seems the best fix, fairest for all, would be to set some national set of procedures. I know the accusations always seem to be directed toward the Dems (certainly on this site), but there have been complaints of Repubs seeking to purge the voting rolls of legitimate voters as well to gain an advantage.
10.10.2008 2:14pm
KeithK (mail):
Let's say that ACORN is innocent and is simply turning in all the forms that were submitted, including some by smart asses who thought it was funny to write down Han Solo. And lets say we agree that having the person collecting the forms filter is dangerous because it permits partisan chicanery. Then maybe the solution is to outlaw independant agents from running registration drives. Make registration only avaluiable at a government office on an individual basis. Hardly anyone is going to walk into a government office and reegister claiming to be Han Solo living at 1 Alderaan St.

With rights come responsibilities. Part of the exercising the right to vote is being responsible enough to register properly. If you can't be bothered to register you've chosen not to exercise your right to vote.
10.10.2008 2:20pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
josh.
Vote once? You kidding? Why the resistance to positive ID at voting places?
10.10.2008 2:21pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
ACORN is just another Democratic tool intended to help swing close elections by any means possible - especially including false voter registrations of all types. The point is not that they cause massive swings through illegal means. The point is that several thousand fradulent votes might be enough to swing just one critical state, and that might swing the entire Presidential election.

To argue that "It's only a little bit of fraud." says worlds, does it not? Or how about "They try really hard to be honest but..."? And then there is always "The Republicans do it too!" refrain. Such statement could only come from a morally corrupt Left - the same Left that supports a morally vacuous Obamapuppet.
10.10.2008 2:23pm
Constantin:
Yes, it is utterly unavoidable. Any problem that involves the intersection of racial grievance and public policy, no matter how tangential, is so poisoned in modern America that even trying to solve it is deemed out-of-bounds. Shelby Steele has it right.

See, e.g., Fannie Mae.
10.10.2008 2:35pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
Personally, I am more concerned about fraudulent votes than fradulent registration, at least as far as determining who won elections

How about DEAD people voting??
See Drudge for link

This election will be a long nightmare with lawsuits for years.
10.10.2008 2:38pm
Wayne (mail):
Paying canvassers for new registrations is inherently problematic. ACORN should discontinue that tactic, given the high potential for fraudulent registrations. The likelihood of voting fraud is lower. I don't foresee that the guy who registered 72 times is going to vote even once, much less multiple times.
10.10.2008 2:40pm
wfjag:

Always amused by the obvious party-line split on this issue...

You mean it's only voter fraud if they are registering dead people to vote for the other party?

Vote early. Vote often.
10.10.2008 2:40pm
Bad English:
"Part of the exercising the right to vote is being responsible enough to register properly."

Agreed. The best solution would be to restrict the registration process to a direct relationship with the relevant state authority, which must verify information stated in the registration form. Cut out corrupt and partisan middlemen entirely. They are not necessary to the process.
10.10.2008 2:41pm
voter (mail):
KiethK,

What right to vote? I thought it said in Bush v. Gore that there is no right to vote.
10.10.2008 2:41pm
David Warner:
Uncommontheme,

"a number of these stories suggest that there are, you know, black votes trying to vote."

Now there's a picture that would give Hanging Chad a run for his money. As for black voters, I was under the impression that not only have they been trying, but millions have actually succeeded. Going back nearly a century and a half. Hard to fathom, I know.

ScairdyMouse,

"ACORN's entire purpose is to create voter fraud."

Entire? That's an interesting theory. Just how big is this conspiracy again?


Where do I sign up if I like getting more people involved but also, you know, don't want our election system open to rampant fraud?
10.10.2008 2:42pm
gasman (mail):

The group blamed inefficiency and lack of resources for problems such as being unable to spot duplicate voter-registration cards or cards that may have been filled out by workers to make quotas.

On one hand they claim that there is nothing they can do to prevent the errors. But then they go on to point out why the errors occur, and simultaneously describe the solution. If the problem is inefficiency and lack of resources, then by implication, all they need to do is apply sufficient resource and efficiency.
If one wishes to maintain a fiction that a problem is insolvable, then at the least don't admit you know the solution.
10.10.2008 2:44pm
PLR:
Always amused by the obvious party-line split on this issue...

Only one of the parties is interested in a thing like a voter registration drive. The other party prefers voter purging drives.
10.10.2008 2:47pm
just me (mail):
Isn't there a difference between "fraud" and "doing a really awful job?" It seems like ACORN is hurting itself if its registering people multiple times.

Yes, but are you going to say the person that registered the entire Dallas Cowboys starting line up in Nevada didn't know what he was doing was fraudulent?

I honestly believe that the majority of fraudulent and multiple registrations have been done because of the pay and quota system of ACORN. I suspect that the majority of ACORN workers faked the forms for the pay check, not necessarily to hand Obama more votes.

But the problem is that all those fake registrations can create the perfect storm for actual voter fraud. All a campaign worker has to do is keep a list of the fake registrations and where they should vote, and round up some volunteers and go on a vote casting circuit. Without any way to verify these voters, nobody is going to know that there was a fraud committed, which is the beauty of it. I just don't think the ACORN workers are quite this sophisticated-my gut still says the majority of them faked the forms for the check and don't intend to do anything else with the names, but they should still be prosecuted fully, because of the potential for voter fraud.

I read an article on the investigation in PA, and they are actually looking into charging these people with forgery, which is a felony in the hopes of discouraging the fraud, since registration fraud is a misdemeanor in most cases.
10.10.2008 2:49pm
josh:
Richard Aubrey:

"Vote once? You kidding? Why the resistance to positive ID at voting places?"

No, I'm not kidding. That's why I asked the question. Can you answer with citation? I really would like to know.

If you read my comment, I'm not necessarily against positive ID at voting places. That would seem to deflect fake voters using registrations of people who wouldn't be voting.

But again, I'm still trying to figure out why multiple registrations for the same person leads necessarily to fraud. I mean it indeed. This question arises because I can never seem to figure out in my own home state whether my registration is current. Before I could call the local election board, some guy knowcked on my door and asked me to register. I did. Was that in error? I really would like to vote and don't want to show up and be told I can't b/c I missed the deadline to register ( I recall it happening once in my 20 years of voting).

So, no, I wasn't kidding.

Again, an answer with citations would be appreciated.
10.10.2008 2:51pm
josh:
And as to a requirement to show an ID at the polls, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, bt didn't the court uphold Indiana's law to do that just recently? So, isn't there an affirmative way (aside from my suggestion for some sort of federal rule) to avoid any claims of fraud via multiple registrations of the same person?
10.10.2008 2:53pm
Allan (mail):
Dead people have always voted. I would not be in support of disenfranchising someone just because he no longer breathes. Sheesh, the discrimination on this board is rampant. Next, you will be against Texans voting for the Oklahoma governor. Slippery slope, indeed.

That said, the dead are not partisan. There are surely cases of dead people voting for Republicans as well as Democrats.

The conventional wisdom is that we should "vote early and vote often." How, pray tell, can one do that if you limit the registrations to one per customer?
10.10.2008 2:54pm
FantasiaWHT:

How does registering someone multiple times end in voter fraud? That person can only vote once still, right?


First, that's not the major problem, it's registering non-existent voters.

Second, where multiple registrations by the same person becomes a problem is when those registrations aren't in the same ward/municipality/county/state/etc.
10.10.2008 3:08pm
Dick King:

Have you actually thought about this? To get 1000 votes, you would need to drive around 100 people and get them to vote 10 times. And that is just for 1000 votes! Not only would this be very difficult as a practical matter (bums are bums for a reason, and it isn't their work ethic), but concealing such a scheme would be impossible. It would fall apart on day one.


It's considered practical to offer legitimate voters a ride to their own polling place on election day. I laud these efforts and have done them myself in the past. I admit that I never checked ID, but I only brought people from a residence to the place where people living in that residence ought to vote and then back home.

To get 1000 honest votes, the get-out-the-vote volunteers have to transport 1000 people round trip to usually about 800 different residences [sometimes they come in couples]. They'll get 1000 votes, not necessarily for their candidate, and many of those thousand voters would have voted even without your effort but reasonably choose to use your service rather than, say, walking the 1/2 mile or getting up a tad early so they can vote before the sole family car takes the other spouse to work. 2400 trips [counting the trip from one legitimate voter's residence to the next] for a measly say 500 net votes for your candidate.

To get 1000 votes from bums, you need to go where bums congregate and pick up four [in a relatively normal-sized car], and bring them to 10 polling places, and do that 25 times, for a total of 275 trips plus a few more if the bum clusters are small and the bums mind being dropped off at a different cluster. Also, the bums are probably more likely to vote your way because it's part of the package deal, even though of course it's not possible to enforce this rule.

-dk
10.10.2008 3:09pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Josh.
Cite what?
Fraudulent registrations allow for fraudulent voting. IOW, if you register the starting lineup of the UConn fencing team of 1942, most of whom failed to live to 45, and if you don't have prove who you are at the voting place, then you can vote as one of those saber-wielding worthies who have long since passed from this vail of tears.
I did't say you were against positive ID. I said that the resistance to positive ID works with fraudulent registration to allow for fraudulent voting.
One guy can't vote twice at the same place under the same name. I hope.
But one guy can vote at four places under four different names. To avoid confusion with actual voters, it is prudent to pick those different names with an eye to their not actually having voted already. SO YOU FAKE IT.
10.10.2008 3:12pm
Dick King:
Richard, as an epee fencer I deeply resent you equating member of the UConn fencing team with saber-wielder!

-dk
10.10.2008 3:21pm
teqjack (mail):

"How about not paying canvassers based upon how many people they register?"


Actually, in Ohio that is illegal, unpaid workers can sign people up but paid people are not allowed to. Neither type is allowed to pay the person being registered, which is pretty much the norm everywhere. While ACORN pays registration workers in other States, does it do so in Ohio or only pay "persuaders" who suggest to prospects that they go somewhere and register?
10.10.2008 3:36pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
And as to a requirement to show an ID at the polls, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, bt didn't the court uphold Indiana's law to do that just recently? So, isn't there an affirmative way (aside from my suggestion for some sort of federal rule) to avoid any claims of fraud via multiple registrations of the same person?

Yes and no. First, the Crawford case was decided on a technicality; that the plaintiffs filed a facial challenge instead of an as-applied challenge. The actual merits of the case are still undecided.
Second, what was at issue in Crawford was having to show ID each time one votes. There was no challenge to the requirements under HAVA that a person, say Hans Solo, has to show ID at least once, either when they register or the first time they vote.
Third, there's a hearing the 14th on whether to enjoin Indiana's voter ID. I doubt the injunction will be granted. The judge is a republican with somewhat of a pro-government decision history, and the plaintiff is one of those pro se types. Disclaimer: I'm the plaintiff.
10.10.2008 3:44pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
For the record, according to Switchboard.com, an online telephone directory, there are 37 people in the U.S. named "Donald Duck," 2 named "Micky Mouse" and one named "Hans Solo."
10.10.2008 4:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
DK.
I did foil, myself. Found the sabreurs' interest in the edge was a handicap when I went to saber. They'd wind up and I'd puncture them.
Funniest thing to actually see a guy looking down at his chest with my point in it.
I haven't thought of that in years.
Thanks for the relief.
10.10.2008 4:15pm
BZ (mail):
The amicus brief for the American Unity Legal Defense Fund in Crawford has numerous citations and instances of actual voting fraud, as well as an explanation and citations to direct links to voter registration scams. And, yes, it deals with ACORN, and was submitted long before the current flap arose.

The brief was submitted in response to the plaintiffs' repeated claims, backed by "citations" and "studies," that such in-person fraud did not exist, and that fraud was limited to voter registration only. As the brief points out, if a tiny legal organization with no resources can so readily uncover and explain repeated instances of such fraud, how could the massive plaintiffs' effort not show it? It's a definitional difference.
10.10.2008 4:22pm
FantasiaWHT:
The problem with voter fraud is that it is ridiculously easy to prove that it exists and is occurring, and even, to some degree, how much it is occurring, but ridiculously difficult to actually catch someone doing it and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

In other words, its really easy to catch a fraudulent vote (hey, this address on this absentee ballot doesn't exist, and neither does anybody by this name), but really hard to catch a fraudulent voter (how do you track down who filled it out?)

Another example - I go into the polling place and I'm told that I have voted already. Bang - proof that voter fraud has occurred, but is a polling person going to remember, much less be able to identify and track down, the person who claimed they were me? Of course not. Even with a video capture you would have to find someone who recognized them.

The only voter fraud that gets regularly caught is voting by felons, because it's easy to compare a list of felons with the list of voters. I tend to think that most of those are accidental, however. A group hoping to secretly sway elections would be idiotic to make use of the one type of fraud that frequently gets caught.
10.10.2008 4:43pm
CaDan (mail):

DK.
I did foil, myself. Found the sabreurs' interest in the edge was a handicap when I went to saber. They'd wind up and I'd puncture them.
Funniest thing to actually see a guy looking down at his chest with my point in it.
I haven't thought of that in years.
Thanks for the relief.



Those fencing skills will be good to have when the ice weasels come.
10.10.2008 4:45pm
pete (mail) (www):
Multiple registration is bad, but the harm can be reduced if there are safegaurds in place to make sure the person casting the ballot is who they claime to be when registering. Requiring photo ID and requiring registering several weeks in advance with a valid residential mailing address can stop most of it.

The problem comes in from the states that do not require it. In Texas you have to show photo ID, postmarked mail (ultility bill, bank statement, or mail from the government) addressed to you and sent to your residential address as registered, or possess a voter registration certificate sent out each year to your mailing address that you are supposd to sign when you get it. Each year the color of the certificate changes to help out the people manning the polls. You also have to be registered 30 days before the election. This makes it much harder to register and vote multiple times.

The worst examples are places like Minnesotta which allow same day registration without any verifyable proof that you are who you say you are. All it takes in Minnesotta is the word of another registered voter from your precinct that you are who you say you are and you can then vote. So one registered voter can vouch for another person on election day and then that person can vouch for however many other people they want to and no one has to show ID. Repeat at each precinct.

Eliminating same day registration and requiring some form of ID fixes most of these problems.
10.10.2008 4:45pm
Crackmonkeyjr (www):
Voter registration is unnecessarily difficult in the US.

There should be a national database of voter registrations, linked to your social security number.

You should be able to go online, or call a toll free number, at any point, up to a week before the election, and give the government your name, address and social security number and be entered into the database.

The database should check to see if the name and social security number match, and, based on your social security number, make sure that you are a U.S. Citizen and to make sure you aren't already registered (if you are already registered, your registration should be moved at that point).

If there is a problem, you should be given instructions on how to appeal, probably by showing up at the local post office or county clerk with proof of identity and citizenship.

Before each election, a list of the people who should be voting at a given polling place should be distributed to each polling place.

When you go to vote, you should have to give your name and social security number, and that is it. The poll worker should then try to match this to a name and social security number on the list.

If your name is not on the list, or if someone has already voted using your name and social security number, you should be allowed to cast a provisional ballot, and have a reasonable period of time to go to your local post office or county clerk with proof of identity and residence.

This would seem simple, avoid pretty much all fraud, and probably be relatively cheap.
10.10.2008 4:46pm
pete (mail) (www):
<blockquote>
You should be able to go online, or call a toll free number, at any point, up to a week before the election, and give the government your name, address and social security number and be entered into the database.

The database should check to see if the name and social security number match, and, based on your social security number, make sure that you are a U.S. Citizen and to make sure you aren't already registered (if you are already registered, your registration should be moved at that point).
</blockquote>

Besides this part I agree with your suggestion. This makes it a little to easy to change someone's registration for them without their permission. I know when I have called the IRS in the past they have asked for a lot more personal information than this before they would help me with a question about the status of my tax return and that did even involve me making any changes. Requiring people to do make changes in person at the post office or county clerk might work or you would need better safeguards.
10.10.2008 5:03pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Not that I condone fraud (if in fact there's evidence of it occurring--50 of 65000 seems like almost statistical noise), but the voter intimidation that is going on in advance of the election is far more worrisome for democracy.

Bogus Fliers in Philly
10.10.2008 6:16pm
FantasiaWHT:
Not that I condone voter intimidation, but isn't the spectre of someone trying to discourage people from voting less frightening than people ACTUALLY casting illegal votes?

And likely democratic voters aren't the only group subject to efforts to prevent them from voting
10.10.2008 6:23pm
FantasiaWHT:
(Note that two of the people convicted of slashing the tires were the son of a Democratic former mayor of Milwaukee and the son of a Democratic U.S. Representative from Milwaukee)
10.10.2008 6:24pm
NickM (mail) (www):
False voter registration forms can also be used to make mischief in partisan primaries. Find your opponent's dedicated supporters (looking for lawn signs is an easy way) and send in falsified forms to reregister them into another party right before the close of registration. That way, they won't be allowed to vote for your opponent. This happened on a fairly large scale in a Democratic primary for Congress in a super-safe seat in CA (centered on Compton and Carson) in 1996. There, the Natural Law Party was the "beneficiary" of the garbage registrations, which at their peak (i.e., before the people were able to change back to Democrats) reached 5% of the electorate in Compton.

Nick
10.10.2008 6:56pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
Voter registration fraud is unavoidable. It's a corollary of an old computer science adage. This one runs: "If you have no voter registration fraud, you aren't registering enough people."
10.10.2008 7:37pm
pete (mail) (www):

False voter registration forms can also be used to make mischief in partisan primaries.


This can be solved in part by letting people decide which party to vote at the polls. Of course this is completely up to the parties on who they let vote in their primaries as California voters tried to force an open primary through proposition, but lost in the courts. I remember having to put what party I wanted to be a part of in California when I first registered to vote there, but here in Texas you declare what party you will be voting for the day you vote. You can only vote for races in one party each primary, but there is nothing stopping you from switching parties each year. I almost joined Operation Chaos to vote for Hillary!, but I wanted to help make absolutely sure Huckabee did not get the Republican nomination and could not bring myself to vote for Hilary! anyways.
10.10.2008 9:11pm
TruthInAdvertising:
I think I'm safe in saying that those who think that any kind of voter fraud scheme can have any impact at the Presidential level have little or no experience working on actual political campaigns. As was noted elsewhere, the amount of work and coordination required to even attempt to falsely register AND vote 1000 votes is mind-boggling. You would have to spend an extraordinary amount of money with no guarantee that the people you send into the polls would actually vote the way you want (or even vote at all). At the same time, all it would take is one person to slip up or be caught to bring the entire conspiracy down on its head. And assuming that you could pull that off, the likelihood of that effort having any material impact on the election are almost zero. Sure, Florida 2000 was decided by less than 1000 votes. But that's the very rare exception. In the real world of statewide politics, 1000 votes is a drop in the bucket. No sane person would spend that kind of money on fake voters when you can spend a lot less money to get people who actually want to vote for your candidate to the polls.

One other thing - I couldn't let this idiotic remark go by unpassed:

"As for black voters, I was under the impression that not only have they been trying, but millions have actually succeeded. Going back nearly a century and a half. Hard to fathom, I know."

I'm sure that would be news to the people like John Lewis who were beaten bloody on the Edmund Pettus Bridge for actually thinking they should be able to vote. That was in 1964, less than 50 years ago. Try learning a little US history before making such comments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches
10.10.2008 10:55pm
Francis Marion (mail):
Obama is going to steal this election.
10.10.2008 11:11pm
David Warner:
TruthinAdvertising,

It's amazing how often I come to the VC for a discussion and a history tutorial breaks out. It's like you've never had someone disagree with you who wasn't ignorant. That can't be the case, can it?

John Lewis was beaten half a century ago, therefore anyone concerned with fraud is a racist. Ironclad logic, there.
10.11.2008 12:13am
just me (mail):
I think I'm safe in saying that those who think that any kind of voter fraud scheme can have any impact at the Presidential level have little or no experience working on actual political campaigns.

Florida ring any bells? That race was close enough that some fraudulent votes could have easily swung the election.

In general I agree with you that voter fraud is unlikely to impact a national election, but in some of the close swing states it very well could. I think voter fraud probably benefits local or in some cases state wide politics more than national.

But in some of these states there are senators and congress members in very close races-even if Obama is winning by miles, some fraudulent votes could provide a greater majority for the DNC in congress which in the end could mean a lot-the closer to veto proof congress is, the more likely Obama is going to sign and advocate legislation that the GOP opposes but will be mostly powerless to stop.
10.11.2008 12:26am
TruthInAdvertising:
@just me:

"Florida ring any bells? That race was close enough that some fraudulent votes could have easily swung the election."

Nice that you ignore my reference to Florida 2000 in the same post that you quoted. But you failed to address the likelihood of someone successfully pulling off a voter fraud conspiracy that would even effect local or state level races. Is it impossible? No. But if you accept that as a plausible scenario then you're going to have to accept all of the, in my mind, equally unplausible scenarios involving rigging voting machines, tampering with ballots, etc. Possible? Yes. Probability of happening? Near zero.

@David Warner:

"John Lewis was beaten half a century ago, therefore anyone concerned with fraud is a racist. Ironclad logic, there."

Nice strawman. I never called anyone a racist. Idiotic? Yes - your comments displayed an amazing degree of ignorance. To imply that black Americans have had unfettered access to the ballot box for almost 150 years is so historically unsound that you can't defend it which explains why you turned to throwing in the accusation of racism. Whatever one thinks of groups like ACORN and their methods, voter registration efforts target at black Americans have been in reaction to the denial of black Americans of access to the ballot box, legally and illegally, going back to the founding of the country. You can pretend otherwise. I won't.


As for the attack on ACORN's methods, when I see conservatives willing to take their own astroturf groups to task for their pay-for-signature efforts in ballot petition drives across the county for various state and local initiatives, then we'll know that this is nothing more than partisan gamesmanship. But since I've yet to see a conservative critique of such methods, which present the same inducements to fraud that some claim exist with ACORN's methods, I can only assume that this is nothing more than posturing.
10.11.2008 1:12am
TruthInAdvertising:
It would be nice if we could edit our own comments.

"As for the attack on ACORN's methods, when I see conservatives willing to take their own astroturf groups to task for their pay-for-signature efforts in ballot petition drives across the county for various state and local initiatives, then we'll I'll know that this is nothing more than just partisan gamesmanship. But since I've yet to see a conservative critique of such methods, which present the same inducements to fraud that some claim exist with ACORN's methods, I can only assume that this is nothing more than posturing."
10.11.2008 1:25am
pete (mail) (www):

Nice that you ignore my reference to Florida 2000 in the same post that you quoted. But you failed to address the likelihood of someone successfully pulling off a voter fraud conspiracy that would even effect local or state level races. Is it impossible? No. But if you accept that as a plausible scenario then you're going to have to accept all of the, in my mind, equally unplausible scenarios involving rigging voting machines, tampering with ballots, etc. Possible? Yes. Probability of happening? Near zero.


Except for Wisconson in 2004. Most likely George W. Bush got more votes than Kerry in Wisconson if you only count the legitmate votes. But Kerry "won" the state. Kerry won Wisconson by only 11,000 votes. There were 70,000 same day registrants in Milwaukee alone with thousands of people across the city registering with false addresses, felons voting, dead people voting, etc. The prosecuters were unable to prosecute many people because the record keeping by the Milwaukee Election Committee was so poor that it was impossible to prove anything in court.

Here is the 67 page long PDF report from the task force of the Milwaukee Police Department with a quote that I think sums up the problems those of us who care about clean elections are faced with:

"It should be noted here that it was the intention of the Task Force to seek charges on many more of the felons that voted, however, both prosecuting units found that the poor quality of the records maintained by the Milwaukee Election Commission provided enough reasonable doubt to make it nearly impossible to obtain convictions, and further federal indictments or state charges were not pursued."

There are several other similar quotes about how frustrated the police were because they could not obtain the records they needed to figure out just what happened.

And in case your wondering, yes ACORN was very much involved in registering people to vote in Milwaukee in 2004.
10.11.2008 2:33am
MnZ:
Voter registration fraud is not a problem and cannot be used to swing electsions? Anyone who utters such a statement hasn't thought the issue through.

Let suppose that one wanted to suppress the vote of a certain party or a certain candidates supporters. In states with which I am familiar, one could go to the public records about campaign donations and then just register all those people in another place.* There was even a box that one can check that says "move my registration." As a result, the actual voter would show up on election day and be told that they were not on the voting rolls. The voters might protest and be allowed to vote on a provisional ballot (if the poll workers allow it), or the voter may become frustrated and leave. In other words, the potential for vote suppression is very real.

By the way, since when are Democrats so unconcerned with vote suppression?

*-Alternatively, one could switch the registrations of people who live in an area that is known to be a stronghold of support for a candidate.
10.11.2008 11:31am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CaDan.

The fencing skills were a big help with the bayonet, fixed or by itself.
I preferred lacrosse. Less finesse, more contact.
10.11.2008 12:08pm
NickM (mail) (www):
False voter registrations provide a ready opportunity for fraudulent absentee ballot voting. If you wrote out the registration form yourself, you use the same signature on the absentee ballot application, and then just have the absentee ballot sent to an address you control. Filled out 100 fake registrations yourself? It will take some time to fill out all the absentee ballot applications, but you can still do it yourself - and there's no one else to blow the whistle. You could even use false registrations across multiple states for this.

If you want to vote false registrations at the polls, it's easy for a political machine. If all the pollworkers at a particular polling place are your committed supporters, they have the power after the polls have closed for the day to cast votes on every unvoted registration in the precinct. Give them an extra hundred fake registrations in their precinct to work with, and you'll get an extra hundred votes.

Nick
10.11.2008 1:54pm
Opher Banarie (mail) (www):
Wouldn't much of this be resolved by requiring the voter to show identification at the polling place? Why is there so much push-back on this requirement?
10.12.2008 9:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Opher.
That's a rhetorical question, right?
10.12.2008 10:52pm
Greg Q (mail) (www):
Were I in charge of ACORN, here's what I would do (of course, I'm opposed to vote fraud):

1: Keep a list of everyone we had registered to vote, and who registered them.

2: Fire anyone who submitted an invalid registration. Turn their information over to teh police for possible prosecution.

3: Check all people's work against our database of previously registered voters. If someone submits the same person a second time, put them on probation, and warn the Sec of State when submitting the registration that it may be fraudulent.

4: Fire anyone who comes up with another invalid registration while on probation.

That's what yo udo if you don't favor vote fraud, and don't want your people wasting their time, and your money, on invalid registrations that "won't be voted".

Now, OTOH, if you're in favor of vote fraud, submitting invalid registrations is great, especially if you know they're invalid. Because then you can vote them absentee, with the sure and certain knowledge that no one else will try to vote those false ids.


Do you oppose forcing every voter to show valid ID before voting? Do you favor easy absentee voting?

Then you are a supporter of vote fraud, and therefore an opponent of democracy.
10.13.2008 10:35pm