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Life after birtherism: Sharon Meroni

Sharon Meroni (aka Chalice Jackson) was an early birther who through lawsuits in Illinois and her Patriots Heart Network, challenged Obama’s eligibility. Even back then, Meroni claimed massive vote fraud in Illinois in the 2008 election.

These days, she runs the web site “DEFENDtheVOTE.com” that focuses on election fraud issues, and again invokes the legal process, most recently a complaint under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Her latest article is “SUCCESS! New Early Voting Procedures in Chicago.”

The integrity of elections is an important issue, and proper audit trails (which Meroni says were not in place for early voted ballots) are essential to public confidence in the voting process.

I had a haircut today, and my barber thanked me for serving as a poll manager in his precinct during the November 4 election. He expressed concern about whether his votes were counted properly, and I was able to tell him how the audit trails worked in our state and I think he was assured after that—but the other barber then said, “so we really elected Obama twice?” That was a landmine I didn’t want to step on, so I just replied: “not in South Carolina.” This anecdote reinforces the idea that some segment of the population doesn’t trust vote tabulation.

I only scanned the Defend the Vote site quickly, and wouldn’t want to characterize it, but some of the things I did see were what I would describe as “unscientific.” While I share concerns over the integrity of voting systems, I think that those concerns will not be answered by the level of expertise we see in the birthers. I think the best minds can solve the problems, but the worst minds can foul it up if they get to make the laws.

Election fraud

One of the Obama conspiracy theories is that Obama won the presidency through election fraud. Election fraud conspiracy theories are making the rounds again, and an email forwarded to me by Arnold Carl Tapp pointed me to the article, “Illegal Votes could Decide Election” on a website called Patriot Update.1 The article opens up with this statement:

It is sad that liberals fight so hard to enable voter fraud.

In a way this is true. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, is challenging voter ID laws, laws that help to prevent voter fraud due to someone impersonating a registered voter at the polls. Conservatives argue that in a close election, even a few fraudulent votes could change the result. The problem with that idea is that the actual number of cases of verified voter impersonation is vanishingly small. Before voter ID laws, there were only a handful of cases of proven impersonation cases, for example 4 in the last ten years in Texas, a state with more than the national average, according to the ABC News article “Voter Fraud: Non-Existent Problem or Election-Threatening Epidemic?” Nationwide the number of convictions for impersonation fraud comprise .00000013% of votes.

Various estimates of the number of registered voters without a valid photo ID are put forward. States get these estimates by attempting to match voter registration and DMV records.2 The exact numbers can be questioned, but they are certainly large. For example, North Carolina determined that 138,425 persons participated in the 2012 election who did not have a photo ID, and would have been unable to vote had there been a voter ID law in place. Compare 138,425 real voters in one medium-sized state with 26 fraud convictions nationwide.

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My state of South Carolina has a very permissive voter ID law that says that if you have a reasonable impediment to getting an ID, you can still vote (on a paper ballot) after signing an affidavit as to the reason. The voter gets to decide what is reasonable. The problem is that the pamphlets on the new voter ID law say on the front: “VOTERS WILL BE ASKED TO SHOW ONE OF THESE PHOTO IDs BEFORE VOTING IN PERSON.” That’s true—voters will be asked that. But you have to turn the card over to see that you can vote anyway if there’s something that prevents you from getting an ID.

It becomes abundantly clear that liberals would prefer millions of legitimate registered voters to be able to cast their ballots, even if it means tolerating 26 impersonators. So I say:

It is sad that conservatives fight so hard to prevent eligible voters from voting.

I will be serving as a poll manager next Tuesday in a precinct that has about 1,3oo voters. On the morning of the election I will take an oath that says:

We do solemnly swear that we will conduct this election according to law and will allow no person to vote who is not entitled by law to vote in this election, and we will not unlawfully assist any voter to prepare his ballot and will not advise any voter as to how he should vote at this election.

That means that I will be enforcing the South Carolina voter ID law, and I am going to make darned sure that there is no detectible fraud in my precinct, and darned sure that every qualified voter gets a chance to vote.3


1I’m on the mailing list for this guy named Arnold Carl Tapp and most days I receive one or more forwarded RWNJ articles from him (some written in large red letters). I don’t pay much attention, except that the other day I noticed Tapp as a commenter at Birther Report. My view is that Obama won through a grass roots effort to get people likely to vote for him to the polls, and to get new voters registered.

2I have worked extensively in the records matching field, and I know that most efforts are poor.

3It is extremely unlikely that anyone will show up without an ID (according to the county elections commission). Is that because everybody has an ID, or because those without an ID think they cannot vote?

I wrote an article back in June, “Voter Fraud (or the lack thereof),” that talked about the Cochran/McDaniel primary runoff race in Mississippi. McDaniel lost by 7,700 votes and claimed that voters, largely African-American, voted for his opponent. McDaniel alleged that these voters had previously voted in the Democratic Primary, making them in eligible to vote in the Republican runoff. While McDaniel made a big deal of this charge including examination of massive numbers of ballots, he waited 41 days to file his official challenge, after the deadline. The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected his appeal of a lower court decision refusing the challenge because it was late. See Reuters, “Mississippi Supreme Court rejects McDaniel Senate primary challenge.” Part of the controversy involved the actual and alleged errors by poll managers in recording which party a voter had selected in the primary election. I think such issues could be sorted out easily in South Carolina because the voter signs a list under the party heading where they vote (so they will spot an error) in addition to the poll manager recording the party on the electronic voter registration list. An out of sequence page and line number on the EVRL would be easy to spot in an automatic scan.

Voter fraud (or the lack thereof)

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The “facts” depend on what side you’re on

My own opinion is that the stability of American society stems from a widespread belief that if we don’t like something, there are peaceful ways to effect change. Obviously not everything is fair and the playing field is not level, but folks think they have a chance. Some disagree and are all for storming the White House, at least they are when writing on the Internet, exemplified by such graphics as the one shown above.

These days birthers are among those who believe that elections are not fair, that there is massive voter fraud. Many birthers believe that Barack Obama didn’t really win his elections. Orly Taitz alleged a stunning number of fraudulent votes in her California Senate race in 2012, although she never identified anyone who voted illegally.

It is in the nature of the conspiracy theorist to suspect a conspiracy behind every unusual event, and we see that in a recent article from Orly Taitz about the Cochran/McDaniel runoff Senate race in Mississippi. Thad Cochran is the long-term incumbent US Senator from Mississippi who received 0.5% fewer votes than state Senator Chris McDaniel in the Republican Primary. (I wrote about this race briefly in my article, “Cloward and Piven were from Manchuria?”) In the runoff election, things were reversed with Cochran the winner by 6,693 votes out of almost 400,000 votes cast. The runoff election was marked by an unusually high voter turnout (20% more votes in the runoff than in the primary election). There is a detailed analysis of the election results in this paper, “Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014: Republican Primary Election Runoff, Cochran (i) v. McDaniel” from the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. Continue Reading →

Life in the emergency lane

imageOrly Taitz did a much better job redacting the account number on the image of the check for $710 she sent to the California Supreme Court than she ever did redacting President Obama’s social-security number in her court filings. The check was for an “emergency” petition [Link to Taitz web site] to the Court to stay the election. The title of her article is:

Emergency petition for STAY of certification of election results filed with the Supreme Court of CA. I don’t believe they will do a thing, but from here it goes to Anthony Kennedy at SCOTUS. He is rather mad at what is going on in the last 4 years, particularly Obamacare, he might grant a stay, we’ll know soon enough. I need people to look through their statutes and seek emergency stay provisions in their Supreme Courts. We need to send similar Applications for stay up to Alito, Thomas and Scalia

The plaintiffs are Orly Taitz, Edward Noonan and Keith Judd.

Orly is clearly deluded on two points. The first is her allegation that:

Plaintiffs have uncovered one and a half million invalid voter registrations in the state of California

That’s based the State’s registration database not having valid dates of birth for many registrants. That said, some state voter registration databases are out of date, not having removed people that moved away. (One of the things we worked on in the vital statistics software business was providing interfaces between death registration systems and voter registration systems to remove deceased voters.) This is why sometimes there are more registered voters than there are adults in the population. It’s especially true in small towns with large universities. But voter registration is not the same thing as voting, and these ineligible voters (moved away or died) don’t vote and they don’t effect the outcome of the election. What Orly would need to show, and she obviously cannot, is that enough ineligible persons voted in the elected to change the outcome.

The second thing Orly is deluded about is the belief that all the government officials, state and local, know she’s right and they only say otherwise because of corruption or cowardice. The believes that there is a judge out there somewhere who will grant her wishes and rewrite history to make her the heroine and the scary black man in the White House the villain.

Other recent Taitz emergencies (links to Taitz web site):

Ineligible president elected by illegible voters

On a new twist in denying the results of the 2012 Presidential Election, Michael Savage says the Barack Obama was elected “illegal aliens,” so reports Orly Taitz on her blog.

Savage claims a background in epidemiology, but doesn’t actually do any analysis; he just says that the polls were wrong because they didn’t count illegals. There are two problems with that. First, most polls were right, and second it’s really hard for an undocumented person to register to vote lacking, uh, documentation.

It’s a theory designed to play well to right-wing prejudices,  attractive to those who fear undocumented persons and know that Latinos voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

BTW, I saw a cute cartoon yesterday. Two Indians were talking and one asks the other what a Pilgrim is. The other says “undocumented immigrant.”

The election fraud that almost happened?

This story is pretty far out there, and I’m not inclined to believe it, but it’s worth thinking about the possibility that election tabulation systems in states could be hacked. State governments do get hacked; the South Carolina Department of Revenue was a recent victim and the SC Elections Commission was dumping sensitive security information on the Internet this past election day.

Here the hacker group Anonymous allegedly claims to have stopped Karl Rove’s minions from changing the vote in Ohio to make Obama lose that state. It is also alleged that Rove successfully stole the 2004 election by hacking Ohio.

The reason I find these particular stories implausible is that the individual precinct totals are published and individual precinct workers somewhere might check the the published totals and note a discrepancy at which time the scam is blown. It’s the recording of individual votes where the magic happens (meaning that it’s less likely for fraud to be caught).

Here’s the report from the Thom Hartmann program:

Continue Reading →