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Voter fraud

Here’s  a comment from ★FALCON★ at Birther Report (29-Nov-2015)

Trump will lose by pandering to Obama’s 22 special-interests groups. Trump needs to focus on getting the Conservative Bloc out – when that happens he wins in a landslide.

Also, remember you need to add in about 10 percent Communist voter fraud. So Trump needs about 85 percent of the Conservative bloc to show-up.

While it’s not something you hear every day, part of the birther denial of Obama’s presidency is to attribute his election to fraud, and to tie this idea to undocumented alien residents in the country.

I got to spend some extended time with a right-wing fellow this week, and he commented that he expected Hillary Clinton to win the next presidential election, and that win would be buttressed by voter fraud. I told him that I worked election in our state and that we didn’t have problems with voter fraud. He countered with “900 dead voters.” (More on that in a minute.)

There is a liberal/conservative divide around elections. Conservatives say that there is widespread voter fraud and that the laws have to be strengthened to prevent it. Liberals say that voter fraud is an insignificantly tiny problem and that the new laws to prevent fraud are actually ways to lower the turnout of minority voters. (Being a progressive-leaning person, I agree with the latter position.)

It turns out that the South Carolina “dead voter” story is not new; I just missed it the first time around. The story relates to elections between 2005 and 2010. Our esteemed Republican governor had appointed another esteemed Republican to head the S. C. Department of Motor Vehicles, and that individual for reasons one might suspect relate to justifying the new S. C. Voter ID Law, decided to match voter participation records against DMV records, and discovered what appeared to be 953 persons who voted in elections, but were in fact dead. Rather than go to the Elections Commission with this result, he went to the newspapers. It appears that the esteemed Republican head of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division referred the result to the Department of Justice. The story even made it to Fox News (which is probably why I didn’t hear about it).

Indeed the SC Elections Commission had some difficulty getting the list of 953 Communists in the State Department deceased voters flagged by the DMV, but when they did, they focused on the 207 cases related to the most recent election (2010) and found no instance of fraud, not one, nada, zip.

The reasons for the “false flag operation” by the DMV are perhaps technically interesting, and those would like to read the details can find them in the Election Commission press release from 2012, “SEC Releases Findings on ‘Dead Voters’ Investigation.” (As a poll manager in the state, I was certainly interested.) As an aside, there is a legitimate situation where a deceased person can vote: if a voter mails in an absentee ballot and dies before the election, their vote on election day still counts.

On those occasions where I have researched a “massive voter fraud claim,” I found the reports not much different from the South Carolina story. It is mostly bad data, or misunderstood results. If you want to read more on the issue for the country at large, I offer this from the Washington Post in 2014: “7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly a myth.”

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28 Responses to Voter fraud

  1. avatar
    Sluffy1 January 2, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    I’d be interested in the views of the “right-wing fellow” now that you’ve showed him the reality of the matter….

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 2, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    When I first talked to him, I didn’t have any information. I talked to him again today, and gave him a paper copy of the Elections Commission report. He didn’t have a chance to read it then, but his general response was that the claim must have been true because it was “in the papers.” I don’t know if I will have another opportunity to discuss it with him.

    Sluffy1:
    I’d be interested in the views of the “right-wing fellow” now that you’ve showed him the reality of the matter….

  3. avatar
    W. Kevin Vicklund January 2, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    I know of at least two instances where I voted and the clerk checked off my father instead (once while he was live, and once after he passed away). My father and I share our first and last names with my grandfather, but we each have different middle names. By the time of the first instance, my father had moved overseas but used my address as his home address (mainly to maintain his PE license). There are at least two other elections where it might have happened but I didn’t know to look for it. I moved five years after he passed away, and haven’t had to worry about it since.

  4. avatar
    Rickey January 3, 2016 at 12:56 am #

    As I recall, Orly claims that there was voter fraud in California because they found the names of dead people in the voter registration rolls. But that happens because the Board of Elections isn’t always notified when a voter dies, and it doesn’t rise to voter fraud unless someone actually impersonates a dead person at the polls.

  5. avatar
    Lupin January 3, 2016 at 1:42 am #

    The one logical argument that defeats the notion that voter fraud is real or at least significant in the US is that, if it were, Republicans would have mastered it a long time ago, and its corollary is that, were the Democrats using it as well (as claimed) then the two would likely balance each other, hence producing no effect.

  6. avatar
    Lupin January 3, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    I’ll add that, unsurprisingly, trying to delegitimize popular elections is a well-known method employed by fascists to justify their seizing of power.

  7. avatar
    Notorial Dissent January 3, 2016 at 5:22 am #

    The question is not if there are names of dead people on the voter or DMV rolls, reality just says that there will be, probably a significant number, but if those “dead” people did in fact vote, a simple cross check that the elections commission should be done periodically, and I am quite sure isn’t, time and money, the usual excuses. That is the simplest way of determining voter fraud. Our former GOP Sec of State was all up in arms about voter fraud and wanting to toughen the registration process, for the usual GOP reasons. When pressed, he finally admitted that his office had found 1 or possibly two cases where someone ineligible had voted. A really significant evidence of voter fraud. Hasn’t been anything said at all about it lately.

  8. avatar
    bovril January 3, 2016 at 6:08 am #

    The current flavour of this meme, since there is no actual evidence of systemic physical voter fraud is to move the goalposts.

    Now it’s all how Ebil Regime Demonrats perpetuate voter fraud via voting software manipulation.

    After all zillions of Republican votes were changed from Republican to Democrat candidates RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES…!!!!

  9. avatar
    Paul January 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    This is one of my great fears. Trump supporters are convinced he’s going to win in a landslide. When he inevitably does NOT, they’re going to claim voter fraud. And they are just the types who would turn to militias and other domestic terrorist organizations to make themselves heard.

  10. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm #

    I was in the vital records software business for many years, and one of the standard outputs from electronic death registration systems (EDRS) is a list of deceased persons for voter registration. This was happening decades ago in some states.

    There’s really no excuse for leaving dead people on the voter list, even if they apparently do not attempt to vote.

    Maybe it was because SC bought their EDRS from a competitor of ours 👿

    Notorial Dissent: a simple cross check that the elections commission should be done periodically, and I am quite sure isn’t, time and money, the usual excuses.

  11. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 3, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    I saw this once when the son came to vote, and he was already marked off as having voted, but it was his father who had voted. Here, and I guess everywhere, poll managers are not trained clerical workers, but volunteers who have either never done it before, or who only do it every few years. It is to be expected that the error rate would be high.

    W. Kevin Vicklund: I know of at least two instances where I voted and the clerk checked off my father instead (once while he was live, and once after he passed away).

  12. avatar
    Notorial Dissent January 3, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    You’d think, but somehow some of them never seem to get around to it. Although I have to admit that one time recently when one of our large city registrars was talkign about doign a purge BOTH parties set up a considerable howl. Locally though, if you don’t vote in three, I think it is, major elections, then they purge the registration, which I think cuts down on the issue considerably, adn they are required to do this. Still, it would seem that CA has major problems with their voter rolls, or at least according to reports, so not everywhere does that.

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I was in the vital records software business for many years, and one of the standard outputs from electronic death registration systems (EDRS) is a list of deceased persons for voter registration. This was happening decades ago in some states.

    There’s really no excuse for leaving dead people on the voter list, even if they apparently do not attempt to vote.

    Maybe it was because SC bought their EDRS from a competitor of ours

  13. avatar
    Rickey January 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:

    There’s really no excuse for leaving dead people on the voter list, even if they apparently do not attempt to vote.

    The problem, as I understand it, is that there is no uniform procedure for reporting deaths to all of the government agencies which need to know. For example, a significant number of deaths are never reported to the Social Security Administration, which is why we occasionally read stories about relatives of dead people continuing to cash Social Security checks which should have been stopped.

  14. avatar
    tek January 3, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

    Lupin:
    I’ll add that, unsurprisingly, trying to delegitimize popular elections is a well-known method employed by fascists to justify their seizing of power.

    Key point, in few words. You’ll never make it on the internet 😉

  15. avatar
    Lupin January 4, 2016 at 2:46 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: There’s really no excuse for leaving dead people on the voter list, even if they apparently do not attempt to vote.

    My understanding is that the proto-fascists in the GOP are not agitating about dead uncles or grandmas (allegedly, we used to have a lot of that going on in Corsica), but boogaboo hordes of unregistered brown furriners casting ballots.

    At least dead grandma is (or was) on the electoral rolls; how the brown-skinned horde allegedly made it on there is never properly explained. It is all part of the sikrit konspiracy.

  16. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) January 4, 2016 at 4:59 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy: his general response was that the claim must have been true because it was “in the papers.”

    That’s pretty much how RW propaganda works. Get the false message out and rely on people not caring about debunking, retractions or corrections. With people for whom “I remember reading somewhere…” equates “fact”, that’s easy.
    Basically the same reason why extremist parties (or dictators) have it easy in countries where access to information is restricted (though precisely this RW behaviour proves free access to all information does not change the situation much).

    Paul: Trump supporters are convinced he’s going to win in a landslide. When he inevitably does NOT, they’re going to claim voter fraud.

    We all remember the “Romney landslide” myth from 2012…

    Paul: And they are just the types who would turn to militias and other domestic terrorist organizations to make themselves heard.

    I’m still convinced most of them aren’t (they’re just armchair warriors like the birthers); and those who do have a tendency to radicalize would likely have done so before, or would do so regardless of Trump (being convinced there is no-one to represent you is worse than being convinced your representative got cheated, simply because the latter scenario still leaves you some chances to win anyway, whereas the former simply equates to desperation).

  17. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) January 4, 2016 at 5:00 am #

    Lupin: how the brown-skinned horde allegedly made it on there is never properly explained

    I think one of the “explanations” from RW’s goes along the lines of “illegals get driver’s licenses and that’s all that is required to vote”.

  18. avatar
    Lupin January 4, 2016 at 7:12 am #

    Paul:
    This is one of my great fears. Trump supporters are convinced he’s going to win in a landslide. When he inevitably does NOT, they’re going to claim voter fraud.And they are just the types who would turn to militias and other domestic terrorist organizations to make themselves heard.

    OTOH they’re killing themselves in droves.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americas-self-destructive-whites/2015/12/31/5017f958-afdc-11e5-9ab0-884d1cc4b33e_story.html

  19. avatar
    RanTalbott January 4, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Paul: When he inevitably does NOT, they’re going to claim voter fraud.

    I suspect that they’ll claim it’s a “GOPe conspiracy” (the RWNJ media has spent years conditioning them to see conspiracies by those in power). And, while I agree that there won’t be any significant “militia”-type events, it’s very likely that there will be a small number of incidents of one or a few locals getting violent. Maybe some actual shooting, but more likely armed demands for recounts under their “citizen vigilance”.

  20. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy January 4, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

    In South Carolina, only US citizens can vote, but the only proof of citizenship required is a statement given under the penalty of perjury by the registrant.

    Lupin: how the brown-skinned horde allegedly made it on there is never properly explained. It is all part of the sikrit konspiracy.

  21. avatar
    RanTalbott January 5, 2016 at 1:02 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): (though precisely this RW behaviour proves free access to all information does not change the situation much

    Not for them, but it changes the overall situation a great deal. In a repressive society, someone like Doc would be repressed, and resources like this one snuffed out.

    The free flow of information means that we don’t have to rely on samizdat to get the truth to a limited audience, and can easily and conveniently direct anyone to it. So at least one side of the debate is well-informed, and only the laziest and most gullible fully believe the nonsense and lies.

    So, even though we still get demagogues, their ability to grow followings and build power is constrained by the ready availability of the the truth.

  22. avatar
    Lupin January 5, 2016 at 4:10 am #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    In South Carolina, only US citizens can vote, but the only proof of citizenship required is a statement given under the penalty of perjury by the registrant.

    That does seem rather lackadaisical.

    FWIW, in France, you of course have to be listed on the rolls (usually at your place of residence, but you can elect to vote elsewhere) and prove your identity by showing with your national id card, passport or electoral card (which does not have a photograph on it).

    We use paper ballots, one for each candidate; you place the ballot of the candidate of your choice in envelope and after being checked, drop that envelope inside a clear-plexiglas box.

    t the end of the night, we open the envelopes & count the ballots. Easy and relatively fool-proof, unless one mucks around with the electoral rolls themselves.

  23. avatar
    ZixiOfIx January 5, 2016 at 4:42 am #

    Both of my parents have died in the last 12 years. We never informed anyone that they were dead outside of family and required financial concerns (when bank accounts were closed, home sold, etc.).

    I’m not even sure what the process is to inform the Board of Elections. Is it a requirement? If so, we didn’t manage to do it. Is it customary? I don’t recall anyone saying that they canceled their spouse’s or parent’s voter registration.

    Thinking about it, I’ve never canceled one when I moved, either. We always just register in the new state and that has been that. I’ve lived in six states as an adult where I was registered to vote. My husband has an equal number. Our adult children can add four more states to the list.

    Wondering if we are close to the norm, or if we’re leaving a wide swath if open records across the nation as a family.

    I suspect, and hope that when we don’t vote for a year or two, they cancel our registration, but don’t know.

    Rickey:
    As I recall, Orly claims that there was voter fraud in California because they found the names of dead people in the voter registration rolls. But that happens because the Board of Elections isn’t always notified when a voter dies, and it doesn’t rise to voter fraud unless someone actually impersonates a dead person at the polls.

  24. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) January 5, 2016 at 4:44 am #

    Lupin: FWIW, in France, you of course have to be listed on the rolls (usually at your place of residence, but you can elect to vote elsewhere) and prove your identity by showing with your national id card, passport or electoral card (which does not have a photograph on it).

    We use paper ballots, one for each candidate; you place the ballot of the candidate of your choice in envelope and after being checked, drop that envelope inside a clear-plexiglas box.

    Same in Germany (except for the box which is opaque and the fact that we use one ballot for all candidates).

    They do random samples where a voter has to show his (photo) ID in addition to his electoral card (haven’t been asked to do that for quite some time now) – the latter being a piece of paper you get mailed a few weeks before the election.

  25. avatar
    Lupin January 5, 2016 at 6:40 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): we use one ballot for all candidates).

    How does that work? You check / tick a box with a pen?

    I like the one ballot-per-candidate, because it removes one more layer of potential controversy.

    When we open the envelopes on election night, the case scenarios are:
    – a ballot, which gets counted
    – an empty envelope, which gets counted as a blank vote
    – a defaced ballot, or any kind of rubbish someone slid inside the envelope, which gets counted as a null vote.

    (Blank votes mean none of the above; null votes are treated as meaningless.)

  26. avatar
    The Magic M (not logged in) January 5, 2016 at 9:50 am #

    Lupin: You check / tick a box with a pen?

    Yes. Depending on the election, you even have to check mutiple boxes.
    Usually one for the candidate of your choice plus one for the party of your choice. Half of the seats are filled from the direct choices, the other half from the party lists depending on the party’s result.

    [The process by which the final result is tallied is a little complicated in the case a party gets more direct candidates than its party share (usually when a small party wins direct seats but the party misses the 5% cutoff), then the other parties get additional seats to restore the relative difference (“Ausgleichsmandat”, “Überhangmandat”). This leads to an increase of 10% in the number of seats in the Bundestag.]

    In some local elections, you get more than one vote which you can distribute to different candidates, or all on one candidate, as you wish).

    Lupin: I like the one ballot-per-candidate, because it removes one more layer of potential controversy.

    Indeed that would be better in some scenarios. My hometown had to postpone the last election for mayor because not all names were printed in the same size on the ballot. *duh*
    However if you have multiple ballots (one per candidate), how do you cope with people claiming that they didn’t get all the ballots? Some of these cases, real or not, and the integrity of the election gets questioned. When all get just one paper, it becomes harder to claim irregularities since the ballots could still be checked after they were handed over.

    What exactly is the difference between null and blank votes in France? Aren’t they treated the same, i.e. counted as invalid?

  27. avatar
    Lupin January 5, 2016 at 10:41 am #

    The Magic M (not logged in): Indeed that would be better in some scenarios. My hometown had to postpone the last election for mayor because not all names were printed in the same size on the ballot. *duh*
    However if you have multiple ballots (one per candidate), how do you cope with people claiming that they didn’t get all the ballots? Some of these cases, real or not, and the integrity of the election gets questioned. When all get just one paper, it becomes harder to claim irregularities since the ballots could still be checked after they were handed over.

    All our various elections are scheduled on different days: presidential, legislative, regional, local, etc, so we never have more than one contest at a time.

    The only instance where you have to tick boxes is for local (city councils) elections and only in towns of under 1000 people. For larger towns, you have to vote for an entire slate as is, ie: a single paper ballot.

    The Magic M (not logged in):
    What exactly is the difference between null and blank votes in France? Aren’t they treated the same, i.e. counted as invalid?

    I explained in my earlier post what they meant; both types of votes are counted separately, for statistical purposes i suppose, but obviously serve no practical purpose.

  28. avatar
    Rickey January 5, 2016 at 11:50 pm #

    ZixiOfIx:

    Thinking about it, I’ve never canceled one when I moved, either. We always just register in the new state and that has been that. I’ve lived in six states as an adult where I was registered to vote. My husband has an equal number. Our adult children can add four more states to the list.

    I have been registered to vote in New York, Arizona, California, and Colorado. Every time I registered to vote I was asked where I was previously registered to vote. I assume that in each case the new state told the old state that I had moved.

    It is a little different with a driver’s license because most states require you to surrender your old license, and then send you old license to your prior state’s DMV. However, some states are lax about that, and I’ve seen a number of cases of people who concurrently have New York and Florida driver’s licenses.