This week, liberals have been repeating their frequent claim that voter fraud doesn’t exist. A recent Salon article argues that “voter fraud just isn’t a problem in Pennsylvania,” despite evidence to the contrary. Another article argues that voter fraud is entirely in the imagination of those who use voter ID laws to deny minorities the right to vote.
Yet as the election approaches, more and more cases of voter fraud are beginning to surface. In Colorado, multiple instances were found of dead people attempting to vote. Stunningly, “a woman named Sara Sosa who died in 2009 cast ballots in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.” In Virginia, it was found that nearly 20 voter applications were turned in under the names of dead people.
In Texas, authorities are investigatingcriminals who are using the technique of “vote harvesting” to illegally procure votes for their candidates. “Harvesting” is the practice of illegally obtaining the signatures of valid voters in order to vote in their name without their consent for the candidate(s) the criminal supports.
These are just some instances of voter fraud we know about. It would be silly to assume cases that have been discovered are the only cases of fraud. Indeed according to a Pew Research report from February 2012, one in eight voter registrations are “significantly inaccurate or no longer valid.” Since there are 146 million Americans registered to vote, this translates to a stunning 18 million invalid voter registrations on the books. Further, “More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters, and approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” Numbers of this scale obviously provide ripe opportunity for fraud.
Don’t Let Data Contradict My Narrative
Yet in spite of all this, a report by the Brennan Center at New York Univeristy claims voter fraud is a myth. It argues that North Carolina, which passed comprehensive measures to prevent voter fraud, “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.” However, this faulty reasoning does not point to the lack of in-person voter fraud, but rather to lack of enforcement mechanisms to identify and prosecute in-person voter fraud.
The science of criminal justice tells us that many crimes go unreported, and the more “victimless” the crime, the more this happens. The fact is, a person attempting to commit voter fraud is very unlikely to be caught, which increases the incentive to commit the crime.
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We have no reason to believe that the low number of prosecutions means only that exact amount of voter fraud is happening. Rather, it could mean a lack of enforcement is failing to reveal the bulk of the violations that are occurring. Thus, as with many types of crimes, especially victimless crimes, the real number of cases is likely significantly higher than the number reported.
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What are some solutions to this problem? States like Michigan have Poll Challenger programs, where observers from both parties may be present at voter check-in tables at precincts. They check each voter’s ID against a database of registered voters for that precinct to ensure the person attempting to vote is actually legally qualified to vote in that precinct. If there’s a discrepancy, the poll challenger may officially challenge the ballot. Other states should implement similar programs.
States should sponsor initiatives to remove dead voters and correct the registrations of people registered in multiple states (make them choose just one state). Since many local jurisdictions are reluctant to clean their voter rolls, federal or state oversight with teeth may be necessary.
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So let us not believe false claims that voter fraud doesn’t exist. It’s real, and we must work to stop it, while making sure those who are eligible to vote but without proper ID are accommodated fairly.
If you are already signed up to work the polls, or act as an observer, etc., you’re doing your bit. What can others do at this late stage of the game? One thing is to spot check voter registrations in your own family. We know a lot of dead people are never purged from the rolls. So it occurs to me that the parent who died within the last several years might still be registered to vote. I can go to the BOE and check out that one in person; it probably helps if you have the photo ID, the death certificate, and (at least in my case) standing (power of attorney or documentation as executor).
I can also check my own; I’ve been a registered voter my entire life, but for two recent elections, the signature facsimile in the sign-in book was not even close to my own signature. I wonder if that meant my details were also registered in another precinct. So I can check that as well.