Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Voter Fraud Dog Not Barking

In all the talk of voter fraud, there is one obvious absent sign of rampant voter fraud that we don't see much discussion of:  Voters complaining that someone else voted for them.  In particular when we are talking about in-person voter fraud, the kind that requiring photo ID could actually solve, if voter fraud was common, you should have voters complaining that they showed up to vote, and the polling worker informing them that someone using their name had already voted.  Similarly, if voter fraud was common, you should see lots of poll workers commenting that multiple people had showed up trying to vote using the names of people who had already voted.

The recent much-noted New Yorker piece eviscerating Hans Von Spakovsky touches on this topic:
Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name.

When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted—it was just a mistake.” He added, “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem.”
If this was a serious problem, there should be many living voters arriving at the polls to discover someone else had stolen their votes.  In fact, even if absentee voting fraud was common, the same sort of thing should happen.  Now, you might claim that the reason this doesn't happen is because there are all sorts of dead and imaginary voters registered, so that there's no risk of a real honest human asking for their legitimate ballot and being denied because "Mickey Mouse" had already voted or whatever, but that's a voter registration problem, not a polling place problem. 

Anyway, I know no amount of rational examination of this issue is going to make it go away (Chris Hayes compared voter fraud believers to climate deniers this morning on his show, and I think the comparison is apt - both groups deny reams of evidence to continue believing in improbably large secret conspiracies to rig systems toward some desired outcome) but at least it's one more bullet to fire.  

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