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May 22, 2007

Comments

Depressingly, I can think of only one way of beating back this nonsense - insisting equally stringent requirements be applied to absentee voting as are applied to in-person voting. If we're going to have partisan vote-suppressing security theater, it at least should cut both ways.

Yeah, that's pretty bad; It's not like the Democratic party doesn't create it's own phony front organizations, (The AHSA, for instance.) but generally they try for a little more plausiblity. Sounds like this one was a real rush job.

The best arguments in favor of voter ID, IMO, are that due to the lack of ID requirements, we don't know how much of this sort of fraudulent voting actually occurs, (You can't find what you're determined not to look for.) and that it's not really that much of an imposition. The arguements for going after other forms of ballot fraud are indeed much stronger, but it has never, to my knowlege, been a constitutional requirement that the government attack problems in decending order of seriousness.

Brett: we don't know how much of this sort of fraudulent voting actually occurs, (You can't find what you're determined not to look for.)

Is it your contention, then, that though for years Republicans have claimed that fraudulent voting is a big problem, they have in fact been determined not to look for it? Why do you feel this is?

Interesting. Apparently someone has picked up the rights to that website.

No, it's my contention that, after years of Republicans complaining about fraudulent voting, Democrats are still opposed to any measure which would make it possible to verify whether or not it's happening. Not quite the same thing.

For the record, I think in person, impersonation based vote fraud is probably a lot less common than, say, absentee ballot fraud. It's so labor intensive, after all... But since when have legislatures been obligated to attack problems in a sensible order?

Brett Bellmore | May 22, 2007 at 07:00 AM

Brett, I'm sure that even you can understand that the formation of this American Center for Voting Rights, complete with web page and PO Box, was merely for the purpose of giving undue credibility to the person testifying on behalf of the "organization" when its representative testified before Congress.

No, it's my contention that, after years of Republicans complaining about fraudulent voting, Democrats are still opposed to any measure which would make it possible to verify whether or not it's happening.

And it's your contention that during the years in which Republicans controlled Congress, the Senate, and the White House, they held off from instituting measures to verify small-scale polling place voting fraud because... Democrats opposed such measures? Why do you feel Republicans so held off instituting such measures until they could obtain bipartisan support, when they do not appear to have bothered with bipartisan support for any other measure that they could push through against the will of the minority party?

Incidentally, had you read this from April?

Brett, the author of the linked piece argues that the sort of vote fraud you're talking about is highly unlikely - it's an extremely inefficient method of affecting an election. Do you dispute this? It seems to me that as there is no evidence that significant polling-place vote fraud actually occurs, and that there is no real reason to to expect it to occur, there also isn't much reason to be looking for it.

Unless, of course, the aim is not to actually find anything, but rather to tar Democrats with accusations of vote fraud and give cover to efforts to supress the minority vote. Call me suspicious, but that seems to be a much more likely motive to me.

Brett, if there has to be a constitutional requirement for something before we can complain about politicians failing to do it, then we'd better shut down most political blogs. You of all people shouldn't be arguing that everything that's a good idea must be constitutionally mandated.

There are some jobs that really make me wonder: how can the person who takes them look him- or herself in the face?

Can't you just hear the weaselly excuses, though, if you were to sit them down and ask them how they could do it? Day after day?

I put 'em in the same class as the guy who makes land mines, something that has just as beneficial a purpose.

The moment you accept that you are the Good Guys and the other party is composed of Bad Guys, a world of behaviors is opened to you. Being Bad Guys, the other would obviously cheat, lie, steal, kill, and destroy to beat YOU. And since you're the good guys, gloves have to come off.

That style of rationalization characterizes the Republican party's current mindset.

Brett, which of these are Democratic phony front organizations "(The AHSA, for instance.) "?

American Horse Show Association (wasn't this Brownie's gig?)
American Hunters and Shooters Association
American Hampshire Sheep Association
Association of Homeschool Attorneys
African Horse Safari Association

These are from the first page of Google results. Not trying to be snarky, I really don't know what you mean.

"But it is not a serious problem if it doesn't exist, or if it occurs only rarely, as the NYT reported that a federal panel studying the issue found."

I still haven't seen any study design which could reliably detect it when you steadfastly won't allow verification. Everything comes up as 'irregularities' instead of 'fraud' because by design we can't find the people who did it. There were massive 'irregularities' in Wisconsin and Washington of precisely the type you would expect to find if people were double voting. But since ID verification is not required, none of those can be registered as verifiably 'fraud'. They are just 'mysterious'.

Of course you don't call unsolved cases elsewhere in the criminal world 'irregularities'. A woman who is raped was still a victim and a crime still took place even if the rapist is not actually caught.

Democrats win the game in the definition. It isn't 'fraud' until you catch the physical person. If it is a voter whose registration leads to a false or uninhabited address that is an 'irregularity'. If there are more votes than registrations, that is an 'irregularity'.

And from a Congressional point of view, Democrats are uncurious about these types of irregularities.

Democrats win the game in the definition.

i'm impressed that how you know that Republicans aren't using the exact same tactics that you say Democrats are.

"It seems to me that as there is no evidence that significant polling-place vote fraud actually occurs, and that there is no real reason to to expect it to occur, there also isn't much reason to be looking for it."

I have always found this a very odd objection. We know for a fact that this type of voting fraud took place in the past. Furthermore, socalled 'retail' fraud isn't the only thing made more problematic by voter ID. When fraud occurs on the 'wholesale' level, an ID requirement will make it easier to see whose votes were stolen, how and why by making the 'irregularities' more transparent.

When fraud occurs on the 'wholesale' level, an ID requirement will make it easier to see whose votes were stolen, how and why by making the 'irregularities' more transparent.

when unscrupulous campaign worker Z flips 500 anonymous votes in an electronic voting machine by running a SQL UPDATE command, the voter IDs of those 500 people will help detect and correct this... how ?

"i'm impressed that how you know that Republicans aren't using the exact same tactics that you say Democrats are."

Actually I tend to think that they are. I suspect that the major reason we haven't had any kind of serious election reform is because both sides think they play the cheating game better than the other side.

I'm perfectly willing to provide every legal voter in the United States a tamper resistent card. I would consider any fee for these cards to be illegal under the Voting Rights Act and any method of disenfranchising anyone because the prospective voter couldn't afford to gather proper documentation to be a further violation of the Voting Rights Act. If the Republicans are willing to pay for such a program, I'll support them. If not, they should shut up.

Brett, which of these are Democratic phony front organizations "(The AHSA, for instance.) "?

Odd. Google hit the jackpot for me, second hit.

Not sure that's the direction Brett was going in, though.

when unscrupulous campaign worker Z flips 500 anonymous votes in an electronic voting machine by running a SQL UPDATE command, the voter IDs of those 500 people will help detect and correct this... how ?

Once again, I've long been a huge anti-fan of purely electronic voting. Squared, if you run Microso~ products on it, including (but not limited to) OS.

Speaking of which, I recently ran into a case where a version of Windows is flying around on military aircraft, performing mission-critical functions. The WTF index of that is very, very high, although possibly not quite as high as if I'd come across a Windows-run nuclear power plant.

Imagine lining up for a weapons delivery, though, and having the airplane go BSOD on you.

Sounds familiar, Slart.

Some lessons we have to learn in increments, if at all, apparently.

There were massive 'irregularities' in Wisconsin

Yes, that was pretty neat trick. The Republican legislature cuts the funds needed to conduct proper elections, and then alleges "massive irregularities" when the system failed to cope with an influx of voter registration.

Kvenlander, it's the "American Hunters and Shooters Association"

Domain name originally registered by the DNC's public relations firm, offices in the same building as the DNC, board consists of known anti-gunners... It was a little bit less obvious than the American Center for Voting Rights, but not that much, and was exposed for what it was almost immediately. If you'd googled the words, "Democratic front" in addition to AHSA, you'd have found the evidence as the first return.

And I've already said I don't think there's a lot of in person voting by people pretending to be other people. Which isn't the same as none, of course. I'd rather they went after absentee ballot fraud, instead.

BTW, both sides correctly think they cheat better than the other side... In the areas where they dominate the system. Since this makes incumbants more secure, why would incumbants want to do anything about organized ballot fraud?

From my link:

But wait. Other residents of 600 Pennsylvania Ave SE include the College Republicans, Republicans Abroad International, and the bistro Sizzlin' Express. Ergo, a really weird conspiracy.

I'm not normally any sort of fan of Kevin Drum, but this gave me a chuckle.

There were massive 'irregularities' in Wisconsin and Washington of precisely the type you would expect to find if people were double voting.

You cannot have a reasonable argument with someone who posits such junk as a premise.

Funny how for years the Republicans have not been able to bring any criminal cases anywhere to combat this alleged fraud, even though they had complete control of the applicable legal machinery and made it the highest priority to pursue such cases, no matter how bogus. And they did manage to bring related cases in Wisconsin, which were then thrown out on appeal as substantively without merit (one of the rarer grounds for a successful appeal).

It does no good to whine that it is the "lack of evidence" that allegedly prevents prosecution. If this type of voter fraud is occurring to any degree at all (at least hundreds of episodes so that it has some tiny chance of making a difference), it is nonsense to suppose that no instances of it can be detected and prosecuted.

Believing in massive double voting fraud in Wisconsin or Washington has about the same intellectual rigor as believing in UFOs.

"BTW, both sides correctly think they cheat better than the other side... In the areas where they dominate the system. Since this makes incumbants more secure, why would incumbants want to do anything about organized ballot fraud?"

Right, and it is the same way you can predict which party will be talking about gerrymandering at any given point. The winners have incentives to use the corruption rather than fix it. See also the return of earmarks. (And I'm not saying that earmarks are the very worst thing ever, just that you can accurately predict which party will say what about them by noticing which party is in power.) The only time to change such things is right after an election if you can catch the new winners when it is too embarassing to immediately flip-flop and the old winners need something to protect themselves. (This worked for about 6 months in the Newt House of Representatives for instance).

"I'm not normally any sort of fan of Kevin Drum, but this gave me a chuckle."

Top of the entry: "Guest: Christina Larson"

Bottom of the post: "
—Christina Larson"

Although I sporadically disagree with, or have a different take from, Kevn, I find him to be a nice, easy-going, sensible, thoughtful, guy, who is occasionally a bit funny, myself.

Brett: "Domain name originally registered by the DNC's public relations firm, offices in the same building as the DNC, board consists of known anti-gunners..."

Might want to look a little more closely at the initials you're citing, Brett. Oopsie.

Looks like it's time for another caffeinated refreshment.

"Believing in massive double voting fraud in Wisconsin or Washington has about the same intellectual rigor as believing in UFOs."

What is this 'massive'? 50 people doing it only three times would have been enough in Washington. 25 people 4 times would have been enough.

The 'irregularities' in Wisconsin were well above the margin for the winner.

You get dismissive with "massive" when there is no need for "massive" in the argument that the fraud can and does effect the actual outcome of elections.

See also Florida 2000 where the margin and winner depends entirely on which rules you follow for counting. (Which is the single most important reason why it is crucial to make those rules BEFORE the recounting begins, so that what the rules ought to be isn't clouded by how they will effect the result).

dmbeaster,
Please, you're insulting UFO believers everywhere. As someone who saw, well not actually saw a UFO, I object.
I was doing my Weston imatation and making senic photographs of the California Coast many years ago. As I discovered while making enlargements, a UFO made an appearance in one photo. I do not claim it was an alien craft, but I surely have no explaination. Which makes it an Unidentified Flying Object. On that basis I believe in UFOs, I'm not gullible enough to take the Republican voter fraud stalking horse seriously.

Seb: "I still haven't seen any study design which could reliably detect it when you steadfastly won't allow verification."

One might, however, accept the Justice Department's failure to find much of anything despite five years of efforts in lieu of studies, however:

"Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.

Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.

In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.

In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting.

One ex-convict was so unfamiliar with the rules that he provided his prison-issued identification card, stamped “Offender,” when he registered just before voting.

A handful of convictions involved people who voted twice. More than 30 were linked to small vote-buying schemes in which candidates generally in sheriff’s or judge’s races paid voters for their support."

There were no massive irregularities or fraud or whatever in Washington. There was a Republican prosecutor who got fired by the Bush administration because he refused to indite innnocent people in order to create the false impression of widespread problems.


There is evidence of the Republican party faking the existance of vcter fraud. There isn't evidence of an actual problem, just the insistance that it must exist because it must, it must, it must.

Any approach at voting reform cannot but be considered partial that does not consider a fraudulent vote as strictly equal to a suppressed vote.

In making this equation, of course we have to distinguish between a suppressed vote (i.e., a legal voter who took all the required steps yet was not permitted to vote, or his/her vote was not counted), and a discouraged vote (i.e., one who would have voted but for the marginal hoops through which he/she was required to jump to be able to vote).

However, discouraged votes are bad, too, and though they aren't as bad as fraudulent votes, the latter is not infinitely worse than the former. Thus surely an enforcement regime that discouraged 1000 voters but only prevented 1 fraudulent vote would be a case of the costs outweighing the benefits.

What is this 'massive'? 50 people doing it only three times would have been enough in Washington. 25 people 4 times would have been enough.

The 'irregularities' in Wisconsin were well above the margin for the winner.

Two points:

1. Of course those sneaky Dems knew the margins would be razor thin, and did just enough vote fraud to tip the scales while remaining below the radar. They also wisely did not use the tactics in areas were the could not overcome the margin without much more detectable frauds. Such masterful planning. And somehow the Republicans slipped up and did not match the Dem double-voting with their own dirty tricks.

Or else raging paranoia about what is allegedly going on. Which is it?

2. Since you believe in fairness and state above that this type of fraud is bipartisan, please identify the elections swung in favor of Republicans by improper double voting.

What, none?
_________________

The phony vote fraud meme from Republicans is so odious and merits scorn because it serves as cover for truly bad voter suppression efforts that do in fact make a big difference in voting -- caging (for which the Republicans entered into a criminal consent decree to stop doing it, but it continues anyway); schemes to selectively purge legitimate voters from the rolls; unnecessary alleged anti-fraud measures whose real purpose is to suppress voter turnout.

That is the scandal -- not bogus nonsense about the alleged problems of double voting.

Vote fraud in Wisconsin? When? How many? Why did they only find one person who voted illegally even after a huge effort by state and federal folks in Wisconsin?

Sebastian: See also Florida 2000 where the margin and winner depends entirely on which rules you follow for counting. (Which is the single most important reason why it is crucial to make those rules BEFORE the recounting begins, so that what the rules ought to be isn't clouded by how they will effect the result).

And it's also crucial not to permit the state government to change the rules or disregard them, as happened in Florida, in order to ensure the state governor's brother gets all the state's electoral college votes.

Sadly, the Republican government of Florida did not agree with your clear statement of principle, and that's how Bush got appointed even though Gore got elected.

Hilzoy, the NYT conclusions don't match the findings.

"about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year."

is certainly not the same as "virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections".

That would be like saying that a low rate of convictions meant that a very large percentage of rape victims were lying.

Considering the lack of ID requirements, I can't really imagine how you would get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt on the 'retail fraud' level without physically following someone from one polling place to another and watching them vote. How would you ever prove that any particular person was the one who was responsible for registrations to an abandoned lot? You don't have an ID. You don't have a functional address. You can't have eyewitnesses. Of course there is no conviction. But that isn't the same as NO EVIDENCE at all. There is evidence of a very large number of same day registrations in Wisconsin that can't actually be tracked to any real person. A very large percentage of those were 'vouch for' registrations which required no proof of residency other than a registered voter vouching for the voter. Pre-registration required no ID. So there are a large number of votes and registrations which are not connected to any real person in Wisconsin. That is evidence of fraud. Not evidence that will get any particular person convicted--the Wisconsin registration makes tying the evidence of fraud to a particular person almost impossible.

But failure to catch and than convict a rapist is not proof that no rape occurred. Nor would it support a 'finding' that no rape occurred.

Seb: "Hilzoy, the NYT conclusions don't match the findings.

"about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year."

is certainly not the same as "virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections"."

Actually, considering that the convictions (which is all that matters) were all individuals disparate from each other, there is virtually no evidence of any ORGANIZED effort. The key word being organized.

Seb: you could easily prove that someone was the person who voted using the address of the abandoned lot.

As far as the NYT story, 86 convictions does not indicate the existence of an organized effort, especially when you read about some of those convictions. For instance (from the story):

"Ms. Prude’s path to jail began after she attended a Democratic rally in Milwaukee featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton in late 2004. Along with hundreds of others, she marched to City Hall and registered to vote. Soon after, she sent in an absentee ballot.

Four years earlier, though, Ms. Prude had been convicted of trying to cash a counterfeit county government check worth $1,254. She was placed on six years’ probation.

Ms. Prude said she believed that she was permitted to vote because she was not in jail or on parole, she testified in court. Told by her probation officer that she could not vote, she said she immediately called City Hall to rescind her vote, a step she was told was not necessary.

“I made a big mistake, like I said, and I truly apologize for it,” Ms. Prude said during her trial in 2005. That vote, though, resulted in a felony conviction and sent her to jail for violating probation."

And:

"Mr. Ali, 68, who had owned a jewelry store in Tallahassee, got into trouble after a clerk at the motor vehicles office had him complete a registration form that he quickly filled out in line, unaware that it was reserved just for United States citizens."

He was deported as a result. Also:

"In Alaska, Rogelio Mejorada-Lopez, who manages a gasoline station, had received a voter registration form in the mail. Because he had applied for citizenship, he thought it was permissible to vote, his lawyer said. Now, he may be deported to Mexico after 16 years in the United States. “What I want is for them to leave me alone,” he said in an interview."

And the one I cited earlier:

"One ex-convict was so unfamiliar with the rules that he provided his prison-issued identification card, stamped “Offender,” when he registered just before voting."

These four examples are around 5% of the convictions in the DoJ's 5 year effort. I don't see any organization here at all.

cross-posted with John Miller; sorry.

Sebastian: the NYT conclusions don't match the findings. "about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year."
is certainly not the same as "virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections".

If a special panel was appointed to investigate rape cases, and discovered that out of 76 million cases of rape, 120 charges of false testimony had been brought resulting in 86 convictions, that would, in fact, be good evidence that the low rate of conviction in rape cases is not because of false testimony on the part of the chief witness.

As someone else pointed out, there's a parallel between your insistance that despite there being no evidence of any significant number of late-term abortions in the US, that doesn't mean there aren't lots and lots of them and people are covering it up: as you now insist that there could be an awful lot of small-scale unqualified voters/double vote fraud only people are somehow covering it up. (Also, it has singularly failed to do the Democratic Party any damn good.)

Cross-posted with Hilzoy and john miller. Sorry.

"Seb: you could easily prove that someone was the person who voted using the address of the abandoned lot."

How are you going to find that person? Tell me what proccess you have in mind when you don't know their name or where they live. It may just be a lack of imagination, but I don't see an easy way to get there.

"as you now insist that there could be an awful lot of small-scale unqualified voters/double vote fraud only people are somehow covering it up."

Look at rape statistics from the 1940s and 1950s with the huge spike in REPORTS coming around then and after. The large reason for underreporting them was not an ORGANIZED effort to cover them up or under report them. It was hundreds of cops deciding not to follow up on certain types of cases. It was an inability to collect certain types of what would later be very useful evidence. It was a society and government which tolerated or did not focus on rape. It wasn't ORGANIZED, but lack of organization is not the same as "did not exist".

Sebastian: Look at rape statistics from the 1940s and 1950s with the huge spike in REPORTS coming around then and after. The large reason for underreporting them was not an ORGANIZED effort to cover them up or under report them. It was hundreds of cops deciding not to follow up on certain types of cases.

And the reason the women's movement found this disturbing was because, when women got together and talked to each other, they discovered that in any group of a dozen women, there would be two or three who had been raped. Studies suggest still that far more women are raped than ever report it to the police: that far more men commit rape than are ever convicted of it.

If any significant number of people were voting more than once and routinely getting away with it, we would know about it the same way that we know that so many men commit rape. Your notion that there could be a vast cover-up with no evidence at all and no one talking has a better parallel with the people who think the WTC was brought down by demolition charges or the moon landings were faked.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Seb: well, the DoJ probably has a better imagination than I do, but if it's in a state with computerized voter rolls, one could flag it, the way they do with names on the TSA watch list. Try to vote with that name and address, end up in jail.

It's much easier to catch people who actually have to walk in, sign their names as living at 101 Vacant Lot (or whatever), and cast a ballot, if you've already identified 101 Vacant Lot as a fraudulent address.

And of course for non-computerized districts, just have some law enforcement person hanging around the relevant precinct waiting for the "voter" to appear.

I mean, it's really not that hard. And by all accounts, the DoJ has been trying.

"It's much easier to catch people who actually have to walk in, sign their names as living at 101 Vacant Lot (or whatever), and cast a ballot, if you've already identified 101 Vacant Lot as a fraudulent address."

With same day or near same day registration, how do you do all that in advance? These fraudulent addresses don't (and really can't with the current registration system) come to light until after the election. But they sure do come to light after the election. So it isn't as if they aren't happening.

"I mean, it's really not that hard. And by all accounts, the DoJ has been trying."

I know of zero accounts of DoJ hanging around polling places and I rather suspect the Congressional Black Caucus would add that to its list of Voter Rights violations if it did. You seem to be envisioning a system in which someone goes to each registered house to check on it before the vote. That isn't what happens--the window between registration and vote is too narrow for that. Furthermore, if you are ok with that, we might as well have ID cards, it would be cheaper, more comprehensive and less intrusive.

And don't even get me started with absentee ballot fraud. (Though that is an area I suspect Republicans might be better at than Democrats).

What is this 'massive'? 50 people doing it only three times would have been enough in Washington. 25 people 4 times would have been enough.

And if the moon were made of green cheese, we could eat it.

After all this time, you are STILL presuming your conclusion before the facts.

I would take accusation of voter fraud in Washington more seriously if there was a smidgen of evidence for it. I don't accept as evidence the challenges done by Republican activists which were 30-40% incorrect (i.e., actual, verified legal voters). If you're alleging voter fraud, you HAVE to do better than that.

Seb: not really. This would only work in states that don't have same-day reg., but there are enough of those that some conspiracies should have been catch-able. Maryland, for instance, closes off registration about a month before elections.

Second, I don't think you need to have people go to each registered house. I think this is one of the reasons why God created phone books, and reverse phone directories.

Third, I can't see how anyone could make a plausible case against people hanging around polling places waiting for someone with a fraudulent address to come in, so long as: (1) they had already identified the address as fraudulent, and (2) you hadn't done something loathsome like checking only voters in predominantly black neighborhoods. (I'm assuming, based on your invocation of the CBC, that you're imagining both that the complain would be about discrimination and that the polling place in question would be black. The second assumption is somewhat odd. In any case, though, I would have thought that documented checking of all different kinds of precincts, plus documented sending of people to all (or: some randomly chosen subset of) the fake addresses, would provide a good response to such a complaint.

"Seb: you could easily prove that someone was the person who voted using the address of the abandoned lot."

How are you going to find that person? Tell me what proccess you have in mind when you don't know their name or where they live. It may just be a lack of imagination, but I don't see an easy way to get there.

If these are 'vouch for' registrations, why not follow up the person who vouched for them? This doesn't seem difficult at all, even after the fact.

I mean, Seb: we're talking about a crime, and one that people have to show up at a predesignated place and time in order to commit. How can it be harder to catch these people than it is to catch, say, rapists, who can strike anywhere?

You don't have to show intent to alter the outcome of an election or conspiracy or anything, as the pitiable examples in the NYT story show. So why is this supposed to be so very, very difficult?

What is this 'massive'? 50 people doing it only three times would have been enough in Washington. 25 people 4 times would have been enough.

By the way...if you were to do voter fraud..why on earth would you only do it at this low of a number?????? You'd have to know that the actual margin would be that close, and ahead of time, you'd be very stupid to count on it being that low...you'd make sure you had a margin, in case a few people got caught.

Doing voter fraud this way HAS to be massive, or it's not going to work or be worth it.

I'm also not sure what your basis is for saying that there were large numbers of votes cast in Wisconsin from fraudulent addresses -- when I google for it, I get a lot of blog posts making vague accusations, but I'm not finding my way to anything substantial. Link, if you would?

I'm also not sure what your basis is for saying that there were large numbers of votes cast in Wisconsin from fraudulent addresses -- when I google for it, I get a lot of blog posts making vague accusations, but I'm not finding my way to anything substantial. Link, if you would?

Silly LB, the accusation is the only thing that really matters here. Evidence is a technically and indicative of post-1776, pre-9/11 thinking.

"If these are 'vouch for' registrations, why not follow up the person who vouched for them? This doesn't seem difficult at all, even after the fact."

Sure it is. The vouch for's have to be registered voters, but if they registered more than a specified time (I'd have to find the old Wisconsin rules again to refresh exactly how long but I believe it was either two or four weeks ahead of time) they didn't have to show an ID then either. Furthermore due to a non-shocking clerical error, almost none of the names of the people doing the vouching were recorded. So yes, it actually is difficult to follow up on the vouch for's.

"By the way...if you were to do voter fraud..why on earth would you only do it at this low of a number?????? You'd have to know that the actual margin would be that close, and ahead of time, you'd be very stupid to count on it being that low...you'd make sure you had a margin, in case a few people got caught."

I think you are confusing Jesurgislac's X-Files level conspiracy theory with what I'm talking about. Like the rape reporting problem, there isn't and wasn't some massive conspiracy. Just lots of little things adding up to a systemic tilt.

And frankly I think this talk about the need to 'prove' (and with CONVICTIONS AS THE ONLY STANDARD OF PROOF no less) blatantly ORGANIZED fraud before fixing completely obvious loopholes is silly. Surely no one would argue that we actually have to wait for someone to proveably hack in to DieBold voting machines before we decide to make darn sure that is difficult to do?

Both parties have a demonstrated history of trying to use dead or otherwise ineligible voters to swing elections. Very rarely does this lead to massive convictions. Very rarely is proveable to an iron-clad level that they succeeded in changing the outcome of elections. That doesn't mean that we should just ignore extremely obvious loopholes. Requiring IDs to vote is NOT antithetical to democracy as practiced in other nations. Making sure that non-citizens don't vote is practiced almost everywhere. Using IDs to keep people from voting twice is practiced almost everywhere. That fact doesn't definitively close the question, but it certainly means that it is not utterly ridiculous to suggest it--as seems to be hinted at here.

Seb: I'm in favor of a national ID, fwiw. I'd also be in favor of requiring IDs as things stand now if it was a no-cost, no-disadvantage proposition. However, it isn't. The more ID you require, the more people who are actually entitled to vote, but who for whatever reason don't show up with the right number of IDs, you end up preventing from voting. And that is extremely serious -- more serious, I think, than fraud (other things equal.) I mean, at non-massive levels fraud dilutes everyone's vote by a tiny amount; voter suppression, by contrast, takes away someone's right to vote altogether.

I do not agree that both parties have a proven recent history of using voter fraud. I really don't. I would be interested in seeing the evidence. I think that technology has made a real difference here -- voter fraud would have been a lot easier when you had no easy way of checking what on earth was going on (i.e., no computers), and so with enough completely corrupt districts, in which the voting officials were prepared to let people vote over and over, and the ordinary citizens were unlikely to complain, you could to some extent get away with it. That's not true now. So I don't accept Tammany Hall as a relevant precedent here.

There's also the fact, mentioned in the article (and by me a month or so ago) that if you want to affect an election now, voter fraud is a staggeringly labor- and time-intensive, risky, and stupid way to do it.

So I look at the fact that I am not aware of the "demonstrated history" you describe (at least, not during the last thirty or so years), and the whole idea of using this as a tactic to alter the outcome of elections makes no sense, and a concerted effort to find it has not uncovered any such attempt, and requiring ID would in fact suppress the votes of people who are entitled to vote, and say: nope. Not without further evidence that this is an actual problem that actually needs to be fixed, and that the proposed cure is not worse than the disease.

Using IDs to keep people from voting twice is practiced almost everywhere.

Wha? My state requires that we show IDs to vote, thanks to legislation passed by the voter-suppressing Republicans who control the General Assembly, but ID's are absolutely unnecessary to keep anyone from voting twice.

When you show up to vote, the officers of election cross through your name in the poll book. It would be impossible to vote twice in that precinct.

And it would be impossible to vote in another precinct because the double registration would long since have been revealed (voter registration applications include social security numbers and date of birth).

So how does the ID come into it?

I'll agree with Nell. My state (PA) requires that the voter sign his name in the registry book, next to a copy of the signature on file. Once a person signs, it becomes impossible to have another person vote under the same name in that precinct. No ID is required on voting day, but substantial ID is required as part of the registration, including DoB and driver's license info. So put me in the camp of not seeing substantial benefit where there is no same-day registration in requiring ID, and, as has been pointed out before, substantial harm to the significant number of people who do not have good ID but are eligible to vote.

Seb: "I think you are confusing Jesurgislac's X-Files level conspiracy theory with what I'm talking about. Like the rape reporting problem, there isn't and wasn't some massive conspiracy. Just lots of little things adding up to a systemic tilt."

However...

" There were massive 'irregularities' in Wisconsin and Washington of precisely the type you would expect to find if people were double voting."

"is certainly not the same as "virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections".

"So there are a large number of votes and registrations which are not connected to any real person in Wisconsin. That is evidence of fraud."

So the reason people were talking about massive and organized is because you brought it up.

I'm not going to try to hyperlink all of these because the filter will explode, but:

www.jsonline.com/news/state/oct04/271150.asp

The newspaper asked the city's Election Commission for a list of all voters who had registered to vote since April 6. The city on Friday provided a list of 16,408 names and addresses.

Using the city's database of property tax records, the Journal Sentinel identified about 3,300 addresses that appeared to be suspect. From that list, the newspaper randomly selected 200 addresses to check.

Each of those addresses was individually checked with city property records and other online databases to determine whether they were valid. The newspaper narrowed the list of suspect addresses to 60 and then had staff members drive to where those addresses should have been.

A total of 20 addresses - or 10% of the sample of 200 - were verified as non-existent. In addition, on the initial list of 16,000 voters, the newspaper found five voters registered at addresses that are listed on city records are vacant lots.

www.jsonline.com/news/metro/jan05/294960.asp

The meeting comes after questions about thousands of registration cards filled out on election day that the city cannot process. Election officials estimated that 84,000 people registered that day, but acknowledge that only 73,079 could be sent confirmation cards.

City officials say the other cards may be illegible, lack a signature or other information, or may be duplicates.

Critics have cited the gap of more than 10,000 voters as evidence of potential fraud, with some declaring that invalid votes determined the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin. Days after the number surfaced, city officials now question it, noting that the 84,000 figure was an estimate.

The 84,000 estimate was reported to the state, where officials say accurate numbers - not estimates - are supposed to be submitted.

In any case, city officials have been unable to provide an exact number of voters who registered Nov. 2.

A Journal Sentinel review shows that the city's records list 269,212 people - those with confirmed addresses or who could be sent verification cards - as voting, while 277,535 ballots were cast. That suggests a gap of 8,323 voters who cannot be sent the cards.

www.jsonline.com/news/metro/jan05/296408.asp

Meanwhile, a separate state audit that is to include a focus on Milwaukee's election problems could be put into place as early as today. Those problems ranged from registration cards that weren't processed before the election to absentee ballots that were not counted until weeks after the election.

And a new Journal Sentinel review of the city's voting records shows the system is so flawed that more than 300 people are listed as voting twice from the same address, even though each apparently was given only one ballot.

That increases the size of a gap, already at more than 8,300, between the number of ballots cast and the number of people who can be identified as voting in the presidential election, which in Wisconsin was determined by about 11,000 votes.

Lisa Artison, executive director of the city Election Commission, blamed a computer "glitch," in which some already-registered voters who reregistered were listed twice, since the new card was not flagged as a duplicate when it was entered into the system.

She said in these cases the person received one ballot, and that ballot was counted once.

The problem surfaced as the Journal Sentinel tried to check whether anyone voted twice in the election and hundreds of potential duplicates popped up, in contrast to four years ago, when the paper found no one who voted twice in the city.

...

McCann's announcement comes after a series of revelations by the newspaper that have left critics worrying that the problems signal either bureaucratic blundering or widespread fraud, though they can't determine which because the system itself is so messed up.

This week, the newspaper reported finding that more than 1,200 votes Nov. 2 came from invalid addresses, with nearly 75% of those coming from people who registered at the polls. Of those, a sample showed about 20% could be explained by data entry errors, such as transposed digits.

www.jsonline.com/news/metro/feb05/298205.asp

Record-keeping surrounding the Nov. 2 presidential election in Milwaukee is so flawed that in 17 wards there were at least 100 more votes recorded than people listed by the city as voting there.

In two wards, one on the south side and one on the north side, the gap is more than 500, with fewer than half the votes cast in each ward accounted for in the city's computer system, a Journal Sentinel review has found.

Such gaps were present at different levels in nearly all of the city wards and could hamper the investigation launched last week by federal and local authorities into possible voter fraud by giving an incomplete or inaccurate picture of who actually voted.

They also raise questions about the level of oversight of how the city records who voted in each ward - an important safeguard that, properly done, can be used to spot double voting and other problems.

www.jsonline.com/news/metro/feb05/300449.asp

A review of Milwaukee polling-place logbooks by the Journal Sentinel shows vote-to-voter discrepancies at dozens of wards, meaning gaps found earlier run deeper than a problem with post-election recordkeeping cited by officials.

On election day, each voter given a ballot is assigned a number that corresponds to the person's place in line. At the end of the day, this number - which should match the ballots cast - is recorded in the logbooks. This functions as a safeguard against any future adjustments to the books or ballots.

But the newspaper's review found 24 cases where there is a discrepancy of at least 5%, with more ballots than voters listed in a ward. Logbooks for another 20 wards showed no entry for the last voter counted.

"You have got to have that number (written down)," said state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale). "You have to have it to stop any other votes from entering the system (after the fact)."

...

The review of the voter logs found gaps that are generally smaller than those revealed when the newspaper compared the number of votes counted in each ward to the number of people listed in the city's computer records as having voted Nov. 2 - an effort to identify the source and nature of the 7,000-vote gap citywide.

The smaller ward-by-ward gaps suggest that a smaller number of votes is truly unaccounted for.

But since the gaps also are reflected at the ward level, it indicates the problem is deeper - and potentially more troubling - than poor quality-control in the computer scanning of votes in the weeks after the election.

The DOJ investigation found neither direct proof of fraud NOR any good explanation for why this happend systemically throughout the city.

John Miller, I have no idea how 'organized' it was. I know that Wisconsin had a system which was very open to fraud, which had very few checks on fraud, which checks did exist were ignored on a regular basis, and which had a very high number of problems when checked after the fact.

Hilzoy, "I mean, at non-massive levels fraud dilutes everyone's vote by a tiny amount; voter suppression, by contrast, takes away someone's right to vote altogether."

I don't understand the mathematical difference here. Insofar as voting balances votes against each other and then declares the one with the largest heap "winner", suppressing a vote has precisely the same incremental effect as adding a fraudulent vote. In the first case it is subtracting a vote from your opponent and in the second case it is adding a vote to your side. It still is a net gain or loss per voter of one vote.

I don't understand this.

TPM has this about the linkage between the DOJ and ACVR.

None of those links add up to much of anything, SH. The first seems to say that the newspaper was unable to confirm the existence of what a sample would suggest to be 300 addresses -- given that you'd expect some incorrectly filled out cards in the absence of any fraud, and that there's no indication that more investigation wouldn't have resolved some of those addresses as well, this doesn't look like anything.

Everything else looks like overblown reporting of sloppy recordkeeping -- bad, but neither directly indicative of fraud, or more importantly having anything to do with polling-place fraud by individual voters. If this sort of sloppiness is concealing fraud, the problem is with election workers, not with individual unauthorized voters.

What LB said. I am completely in favor of having more training and more resources available to poll workers. But that's not at all a problem whose solution is requiring ID. (I mean: especially in the case of the vote/record discrepancy. This can't be straight voter fraud, as might be the case if WI didn't have same-day registration. It has to be something more like: people showed up and voted, but the poll worker didn't write it down. How this failure on the part of the poll worker would be rectified by requiring something unrelated of voters, I don't know.)

Sebastian's links re Milwaukee remind me of the similar stories that came out of Ohio 2004 concerning irregularities in record-keeping and tabulations. There was recently a criminal conviction of the registrar somewhere near Cleveland because of fraud in conducting an audit of the vote.

It is important to note that even if you cannot convict someone of the crime of double voting (or other irregularities), it is easy to spot the irregularity after the fact, and therefore determine whether or not there is a problem. No one has even established that it is a problem -- forget whether or not there is also enough evidence to start convicting people. More importantly, that there is a problem such that the normal background error rate is favoring one party or the other.

One of the lessons of Florida 2000 was the screw-ball nature of so much of voting procedures, and that there is a basic error rate of 1 to 3 percent depending on the quality control in place. It is not proof of fraud by any means. For the most part, these errors rarely break in a partisan manner. The litigation in Washington concerning the alleged voting irregularities in the 2004 governor's race resulted in a finding of more improper votes for the Republican, and a net gain in legal votes for the Dem candidate.

Somehow Sebastian remembers that episode as an alleged example in which the Democrat was favored by improper votes.

There is always room for improvement in voting practices, but the Republican voting fraud claim remains entirely fictional, and a cover for odious Republican voter suppression strategies. Those do result in significant partisan skewing of results, and are a far greater evil than the alleged sin they address.

Back when the GEnie network was a going thing, writer Michael Flynn would often post fascinating pieces about his day job, which is statistical analysis and instruction in the same for quite high-powered audiences, like UN arms inspectors and regional trade organizations. One of the things that took me a long time to learn, and I'm not embarrassed about this because it seems to take everyone a long time to learn, is that you can't perfect counting. Absolutely every means available makes some errors, and the very best methods applied multiple times to the same data will simply generate about the same number of errors in different places. It's not that Flynn is a radical subjectivist who believes there is no actual answer, it's just that methodology makes it clear that we can never achieve a perfect knowledge of it.

So yeah, a general error rate of 1-3% sounds unsurprising to me, and not an indication of malice or even incompetence. Bringing it down would likely require national standards and substantial investment in training and material resources, for which I see no howling general demand.

"It is important to note that even if you cannot convict someone of the crime of double voting (or other irregularities), it is easy to spot the irregularity after the fact, and therefore determine whether or not there is a problem. No one has even established that it is a problem -- forget whether or not there is also enough evidence to start convicting people. More importantly, that there is a problem such that the normal background error rate is favoring one party or the other."

Easy? I don't even conceptually know how you check for double voting among the people you can't find in Wisconsin. In theory it is quite possible that all 8,000 or so of those votes could have been from the same single person for all the evidence that could be marshalled either way. It isn't likely to be just one person only because he or she would have had trouble getting to that many polling stations.

"So yeah, a general error rate of 1-3% sounds unsurprising to me, and not an indication of malice or even incompetence."

1-3%? You can easily get in to the .5% range for simple counting. And for non-existant same day registrations, it appears to be closer to 10%. That is way out of line.

Also... Using ONLY CONVICTIONS as a guide, how many voter supression cases do we have by Republicans?

who's the party of vote suppression? let the Republicans speak for themselves:

    Among Republicans it is an "article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections," Masset said. He doesn't agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote. (emphasis added)

who's Masset?

Royal Masset is the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas.

(h/t LB)

Seb: I wasn't meaning to imply that ONLY CONVICTIONS counted as evidence; just replying to your earlier point (about studies) by noting that there weren't any successful cases either.

That said, one reason I think it's notable is precisely because the DOJ was trying to find them for five years. If the last five years had been years of shocking neglect of voter fraud charges, I wouldn't conclude anything at all from a lack of convictions.

And it's also crucial not to permit the state government to change the rules or disregard them, as happened in Florida, in order to ensure the state governor's brother gets all the state's electoral college votes.

No idea what you're talking about, here, Jesurgislac, but I suspect it's lather, rinse, repeat. Jane, stop this crazy thing!

Hilzoy: I mean, at non-massive levels fraud dilutes everyone's vote by a tiny amount; voter suppression, by contrast, takes away someone's right to vote altogether.

Sebastian Holsclaw: I don't understand the mathematical difference here. Insofar as voting balances votes against each other and then declares the one with the largest heap "winner", suppressing a vote has precisely the same incremental effect as adding a fraudulent vote. In the first case it is subtracting a vote from your opponent and in the second case it is adding a vote to your side. It still is a net gain or loss per voter of one vote.

I don't understand this.

Here's my comment from an earlier thread on this topic:

One question I've never heard addressed adequately by proponents of stricter voter ID requirements is how you balance the harm of a fraudulent vote against the harm of an eligible voter being unnecessarily turned away from the polls. In past discussions it's been claimed that the harm is equal, since a fraudulent vote cancels out a legitimate vote.

But this isn't correct. A legitimate vote isn't canceled by an opposing fraudulent vote; it and all like votes are diluted by the fraudulent vote in much the same way that legitimate votes for one side are strengthened by the disenfranchisement of an opposing voter.

So, in one scenario (assuming a 2-way race) everyone's rights on one side are weakened a tiny bit, and someone wrongly exercises rights he does not have. In the other scenario, everyone's rights on one side are strengthened a tiny bit, and someone is wrongly stripped of rights he ought to have. Supposing we agree that the damage to the legitimacy of the outcome of the election is roughly equal in each case (i.e. the dilution and concentration of all the opposing votes more or less affects the outcome in the same way in each case), I would argue that the additional harm of stripping an individual of his rights as a citizen, of wrongly telling a voter that he cannot exercise his right to participate in the democratic process, far outweighs the harm of allowing an individual to exercise rights he does not have.

This is not to say that we have to shoot for absolute perfection, that one disenfranchised vote represents more harm than, say, ten thousand fraudulent votes. I'm just saying that the relative harm is going to be represented by a ratio much, much greater than 1:1. How much greater, I'm not entirely sure, and we can certainly debate the actual numbers, but this ratio needs to be front and center in this debate: how many fraudulent voters will a policy deter, how many legitimate voters will it bar from the polls, and just what balance are we willing to strike? Without having some actual figures to consider, it's stupid to even consider sweeping changes to our voting laws.

The difference isn't mathematical. It's moral. This is the equivalent of "better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be imprisoned". The franchise shouldn't be viewed as a disposable right. It's the most basic right we have as citizens of a democratic republic, because all our other rights flow from our ability to shape our own government.

Of course, we know that the expectation on both sides of this discussion is that strict voter ID laws will reduce legitimate voter turnout by some amount. As far as I'm concerned, unless enough voter fraud is uncovered to offset this harm, the discussion ends there. What I don't understand is the proposition that we should disenfranchise law-abiding, flesh-and-blood voters for the sole purpose of chasing phantom fraudsters.

There was recently a criminal conviction of the registrar somewhere near Cleveland because of fraud in conducting an audit of the vote.

To be specific, it was actually the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections -- Cleveland is the largest city in Cuyahoga County -- where two elections workers were convicted of several negligence charges and sentenced to 18 months in prison. My understanding is that the were really made the scapegoats for something the head of the BOE and the prosecutor's office told them to do. In any case, the Ohio Secretary of State followed up by firing the CCBOE.

The DOJ investigation found neither direct proof of fraud NOR any good explanation for why this happend systemically throughout the city.

You realize that this kind of puts the kibosh on your theories, right?

"You realize that this kind of puts the kibosh on your theories, right?"

No it really doesn't. They should have been able to identify the systemic reasons for the unusually high levels of problems. They couldn't.

They should have been able to identify the systemic reasons for the unusually high levels of problems.

This presumes, however, that unusually high levels of problems were actually found, which is sort of my point. I freely admit I haven't read the DOJ investigation but it doesn't, AFAIK, support that claim. [Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'd hate to be more of a jackass than need be :) ] What you're doing is privileging the JS investigation over the DOJ's and while there might be good reasons to -- basic issues of competence, for example -- you haven't offered any.

And let's not forget who was pushing the voter fraud allegations in Wisconsin either. Doesn't mean that there wasn't any -- even Steve Biskupic can be correct/uncorrupt twice a day, I'm sure -- but I'd be very reluctant to push this any harder.

I have no idea what "X-Files level conspiracy theory" Sebastian Holsclaw is ascribing to me. JFTR, though, I do not believe that aliens are attempting to change the course of US politics.

Slarti, Sebastian brought up the Florida 2000 election, not me.

Suppression of a vote vs. adding extra votes does have a mathematical difference because the totals change. In other words the weight of the single vote changes. This has of course a greater effect in proportional representation sytems but with a mixture of solid and volatile voting segments it can also influence majority systems (always assuming that cheating is not completely one-sided).

Anarch: This presumes, however, that unusually high levels of problems were actually found, which is sort of my point.

I assume Sebastian means: unusually high numbers of voters were voting for the Democratic candidate(s), which, to a Republican, is a problem.

What Anarch said. Certainly, the sort of sloppiness the JS found is enough to deserve investigation, but the DOJ investigated it, under a lot of pressure to find something suspicious, and didn't. I'm not sure what "should have been able to identify the systemic reasons" means in that it further excites Sebastian's suspicions -- what is he relying on that excludes poor training and sloppiness as an explanation?

But most importantly, say everything the JS is saying is evidence of genuine purposeful skullduggery. It all involves misconduct (or screwups) by election workers. If the election workers are crooked, then tightening the voter ID requirements isn't going to do you any good.

I am ecstatic at the prospect of increasing funding for training election workers -- hiring more of them to check on each other, improving systems generally. All of that is great, would solve the problems discovered by the JS whether they are nefarious or only incompetent, and wouldn't discourage a single voter. Using this as evidence that we need higher standards for voter ID, on the other hand, is nonsense.

There are some jobs that really make me wonder: how can the person who takes them look him- or herself in the face?

Like most things, it makes me think of a Simpson's line, "How do you sleep nights?" "On a big pile of money surrounded by beautiful women."

"Certainly, the sort of sloppiness the JS found is enough to deserve investigation, but the DOJ investigated it, under a lot of pressure to find something suspicious, and didn't."

No, the DOJ found the same things, couldn't find systemic explanations for it (for example they didn't find a mistabulating computer, a confusing form, or a misaligned column). The only systemic explanation which they found was that Wisconsin had a registration system which allowed same-day registrations that if gamed properly have no way to tie back to any individual. But that explanation could not have actually led to the vote totals without fraud. Since the SYSTEM kept any particular person from being found, this didn't lead to any arrests or convictions. But that doesn't show a lack of fraud. That strongly suggests fraud that couldn't be tied to a particular wrongdoer. The DOJ found the same circumstances the the JS found. It didn't lead to arrests or convictions because the nature of the fraud completely obscures individual names and addresses. But the existance of the large number of fake names and addresses (in the 10% range) from same day registrations, is evidence for fraud. We just don't know who committed the fraud. And really we don't even know that it was Democrats who committed the fraud, it could have been Republicans.

But I don't understand how you attribute that to the poll workers. It is certainly possible that the poll workers were to blame, but it isn't necessary at all. Systemically in 2004, you could register before the election with no ID and then act to vouch for other people with no ID for same day registration. That type of fraud requires no poll worker mistake or negligence and creates a paper trail that leads to no one.

"Suppression of a vote vs. adding extra votes does have a mathematical difference because the totals change. In other words the weight of the single vote changes."

Not really, adding 1 vote to 100 is a +1% change to the total. Subtracting 1 vote from 100 is a -1% change to the total. If the natural vote totals would be 48 for A to 52 for B. I need to make a total change of 5 votes to swing the election the other way. I could do that with 5 fraudulent votes. The vote totals would then be A-53 B-52. I could do that with 5 supressions. The vote totals would then be A-48 and B-47. I could do that with 3 fraudulent votes and 2 supressions. The vote totals would be A-51 and B-50. In ALL cases, I need to swing 5 votes. There is no 'fractional' or 'dilution' or other difference in fraud by adding votes when compared by supressing votes.

I see no 'moral' difference in the two cases either. In both cases you are attempting to change the otherwise legitimate results of elections. Where the 'moral' issue comes in is apparently what counts as 'suppression'. I will agree that telling people that they should vote on the wrong day is suppression. I will not agree that making minimal identification requirements which need to be fulfilled some time in the next 18 months counts as suppression.

That is a difference in political philosophy. A citizen who is informed enough to vote, even a very poor citizen, can find some time in the 24 months between elections to get properly registered. And if we had even a moderately good ID system (which many here vehemently oppose) it would be even easier to find some time in the 24 months between elections to get properly registered.

Sebastian, the idea that opposing votes can cancel each other is something of a fallacy. Those votes still add to the total and influence the margin. If opposing votes canceled one another, then, to use an extreme example, there would be no appreciable difference between an election that is won 51,000,000 to 49,000,000 (2% margin) and an election that is won 4,000,000 to 2,000,000 (100% margin), since only the votes that pass the post are not nullified.

Much more importantly, though, there is a dramatic difference between voting for a losing candidate and not voting at all. But if you truly believe that a vote cast for the losing candidate is necessarily canceled by one on the opposing side, and is thus cast in vain, then we do have a very stark difference in political philosophies.

That is a difference in political philosophy. A citizen who is informed enough to vote, even a very poor citizen, can find some time in the 24 months between elections to get properly registered.

How is this different than saying that folks who are easily discouraged from voting don't deserve to vote anyway? We know that Democrats and Republicans alike expect stricter (not minimal, stricter) identification requirements will decrease turnout among Democratic voters. If you mean to suggest that this isn't, in fact, a harm after all, you'll need to go into more detail than this.

And if we had even a moderately good ID system (which many here vehemently oppose) it would be even easier to find some time in the 24 months between elections to get properly registered.

Possibly. But are you arguing for strict ID requirements in a hypothetical future world in which such a policy wouldn't suppress turnout, or in the world as it exists today, when these ID requirements are actually being pushed through legislatures?

Oops, change "100% margin" to "50% margin" above. Editing error.

"If opposing votes canceled one another, then, to use an extreme example, there would be no appreciable difference between an election that is won 51,000,000 to 49,000,000 (2% margin) and an election that is won 4,000,000 to 2,000,000 (50% margin), since only the votes that pass the post are not nullified."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but for almost all purposes in the US system there is in fact no appreciable difference between those even in the extreme case. Especially for federal elections, the 'percentage margin of win' is irrelevant.

"How is this different than saying that folks who are easily discouraged from voting don't deserve to vote anyway?"

It depends upon your definition of 'easily discouraged'. Some people will be discouraged from voting unless someone picks them up from their house, takes them out to lunch, delivers them to the polls, waits with them in line, and drives them home. (This is not a hypothetical, some GOTV efforts actually do this). This does not create a government obligation to pick them up from their house, take them out for lunch, wait with them in line and drive them home.

I do not in fact believe that a standardized Voter ID issued by the federal government would IN FACT discourage any appreciable number of actual eligible voters who would have actually voted--Democratic or otherwise. Additionally I don't believe that it would effect eligible Democratic voters MORE than Republican voters. Rural voters are much more likely to be adversely effected than urban ones, and we all know how the urban/rural split works out.

Now I'm perfectly willing to believe that it will discourage Democratic voters who are not in fact citizens or eligible to vote, but that isn't a legitimate criticism.

Systemically in 2004, you could register before the election with no ID and then act to vouch for other people with no ID for same day registration. That type of fraud requires no poll worker mistake or negligence and creates a paper trail that leads to no one.

SH - This you haven't shown any support for. A same-day registrant should have a record of who vouched for them -- if there is no such record, that's a poll worker mistake or negligence (and while you've claimed that there's often no such record, you haven't linked to anything supporting it, unless I missed it in your earlier links). In the absence of such poll worker mistake or negligence, one could follow up a registrant who gave a bad address by tracking down the registered voter who vouched for them.

If you found a significant number of same-day registrants with bad addresses vouched for by registered voters also with bad addresses, so that the vouching voter couldn't be contacted, that would be evidence of a problem. But it would be evidence, clearly visible in the standard records that are kept (and if they aren't, again that's election worker misconduct). This election was investigated by the DOJ -- I'm not seeing anything that claims that any identifiable occurance of a same day registrant vouched for by a registered voter who couldn't be located happened, much less that it happened in any significant numbers.

But the existance of the large number of fake names and addresses (in the 10% range) from same day registrations, is evidence for fraud.

Are you basing this on the article that said that out of ~16,000 same day registrations, the JS decided ~3000 were suspicious, and of a sample of the ~3000 were able to confirm only 90%? Because 300/16,000 isn't 10%, it's less than 2%. And there's no indication that further research wouldn't have resolved more of those 300.

Brett, the author of the linked piece argues that the sort of vote fraud you're talking about is highly unlikely - it's an extremely inefficient method of affecting an election.

Voter impersonation would indeed be a bit of trouble. But this is really a rather inane objection to make here, isn't it? After all, Democrats (and Republicans) already spend lots and lots of time and money sending around volunteers, vans, buses, etc., to gather up real voters -- which is terribly inefficient, except for the fact that if one side doesn't do this and the other side does, the other side will have a marginal advantage.

So sending out a few volunteers to vote more than once could be relatively more efficient than sending the same volunteers out to various neighborhoods to give other voters a ride. Oddly enough, there are several dozen reports of Democratic activist groups having created just the perfect conditions for someone to vote twice (i.e., they submitted voter registration forms under false names).

So it's the perfect setup, without an ID requirement. Register a John Smith at 123 Main St; a Jack Black at 234 Elm St.; and a Joe Blow at 345 Oak St. Have the same volunteer show up at all three precincts to vote. [Again, yes this is inefficient; but not as much trouble as coming up with three additional independent voters from those precincts.]

If there's no ID requirement, there's no way for a poll worker to check on whether he's really John Smith or any of the other identities. Then what will happen? Maybe, if we're lucky, a news report after the fact will point out, "We identified three voters whose registration forms didn't match property ownership records for the named addresses." And then the Democratic party hacks will proclaim in unison, "But that's not proof of fraud. It could just be an election worker that recorded the wrong address. It could be a typographical error. It could be that the voter moved or changed addresses."

And so forth. There's always an excuse.

It's interesting -- the scenario that I described above could just as easily be pulled off by Republicans as by Democrats. The fact that Democrats seem to have zero interest in preventing such a scenario [except for wildly unrealistic suggestions that the DOJ should identify all problematic registrations ahead of time and have someone posted in each precinct] indicates what they really believe about which party does it more.

So sending out a few volunteers to vote more than once could be relatively more efficient than sending the same volunteers out to various neighborhoods to give other voters a ride.

Actually, no. One guy with a van can give say, a dozen people a ride at a time, and can do that, say, ten times a day. The same guy, assuming all the fraudulent paperwork is in, can vote, to be generous, twenty times a day, what with travel time to different polling places and all. Six to one advantage, efficiency-wise, for the legal volunteering there.

And you know? It's easier to find volunteers to do legal, public spirited work like giving people rides to polling places, than it is to find volunteers to commit crimes.

"Actually, no. One guy with a van can give say, a dozen people a ride at a time, and can do that, say, ten times a day. The same guy, assuming all the fraudulent paperwork is in, can vote, to be generous, twenty times a day, what with travel time to different polling places and all. Six to one advantage, efficiency-wise, for the legal volunteering there."

That is only true if all those people weren't going to vote anyway.

John Doe: It's interesting -- the scenario that I described above could just as easily be pulled off by Republicans as by Democrats. The fact that Democrats seem to have zero interest in preventing such a scenario ..... indicates what they really believe about which party does it more.

In Florida in 2000, instead of trying to get small numbers of voters to vote twice, Republicans purged hundreds of thousands of voters demographically likely to vote Democratic from the rolls, and systematically fought against a recount that would have ensured more votes for the Democratic candidate could be legally counted. Republicans have shown zero interest in preventing this from happening again: instead, in 2004 and 2006, the same tactics were used - unsuccessfully in 2006 to turn a Democratic landslide into a Republican victory, successfully in 2004 to turn a narrow Democratic victory into a narrow Republican victory.

Why should Democrats fear that Republicans will mess around with penny-ante electoral fraud when Republicans have a successful track record of actually swinging elections with massive electoral fraud?

My college Republican club would use the Democrat shuttle to take our fraudulent voters to various polling places. That way we could displace the other voters in the van, plus save the gas money for beer. A total win win.

The fact that Democrats seem to have zero interest in preventing such a scenario... indicates what they really believe about which party does it more.

No, it indicates what they really believe about the likelihood and severity of such a problem.

Republicans purged hundreds of thousands of voters demographically likely to vote Democratic from the rolls

Sorry. That should be "tens of thousands": 57,700 voters purged from the rolls by Katherine Harris before the 2000 election. Vanishing Votes, 2004.

Sebastian: No, the DOJ found the same things, couldn't find systemic explanations for it (for example they didn't find a mistabulating computer, a confusing form, or a misaligned column).

Could you provide a link to these findings then, because everything I've read has said that the DOJ didn't find "the same things", whatever that might mean. Again, not trying to be snotty, I really don't know what you're talking about here.

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