Nessy, Bumble and the Myth of Voter Fraud


I know that lots of people believe they exist. They have blurry photos of the Loch Ness Monster. They saw footprints made by the Abominable Snowman in the mountains. Some talk endlessly about voter fraud, the fabled practice of voting twice by impersonating another voter, putting false information on registration forms. or absentee ballots. or voting when you are not eligible to vote. To prevent this, the GOP has been on a multi-state campaign to pass voter ID laws and laws making it harder to register to vote.

There’s a couple problems with that:

1) While the world is full of suspicious incidents of election fraud, especially in the variant that involves voter suppression, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Believe you me, if it existed the GOP would have made sure we knew of every instance.

No, “voter fraud” is a dog whistle to reactionary portion of their base telling them that if we let people other than whites vote, ……..well you know. When you see the phrase voter fraud, think “Viva le Jim Crow”.

2) It’s already a crime, so when you have a rare case of it, there’s all ready a law in place to deal with it.

3) Government issued voter ID laws disproportionately impact poor people who can least afford to take a day off from work to go stand on line at the Board of Election or Dept. of Motor Vehicles to get such an ID card. Do I hear that dog whistle again? I think I do. Yet more than 2/3s of the states are currently trying to pass voter ID laws.

In a recent editorial, the NYTimes revealed

A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.

4) These new laws are costing or will cost a flipping fortune!

In the four years since Indiana passed the nation’s first such requirement, it has spent more than $10 million to provide free state ID cards. The Institute for Southern Studies estimated that a similar ID law in North Carolina would cost $18 million to $25 million over three years — money that could be used to keep cops on the street or teachers in the classroom.

Here we are in the middle of a depression, states and municipalities are laying off workers and threatening to lay off even more. The GOP wants to slash Medicaid and Medicare (and don’t think they’ve given up hope of taking down Social Security as well) all in the name of their professed love of austerity in public spending — and what are they busy doing? They are creating make-work programs that waste millions of dollars and don’t do a single thing to make voting more secure.

I’ve been doing election monitoring for over a decade now. I’ve taught continuing legal education classes in election law and election monitoring, I’ve been in the polling places, in the call-in help centers and in the courtroom on the issue of clean elections, and the single biggest problem I see —and I see it over and over again— are ever more ingenious ways to suppress the vote, ways to manipulate the vote count, and ways to knock candidates off the ballot. What I have never witnessed in all that time is a single instance of voter fraud.

Now as to the Bumble, I have video proof!

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