Weird Internet Ideas: Voter Fraud and the dodgy Heritage Foundation ‘database’

I wanted to give some clearer numbers as a follow-up to the last post. So I tried to export the text from the PDF ‘database’ of voter fraud from the Heritage Foundation. The data isn’t very good and seems oddly cobbled together. Most of the entries are relatively recent examples but it goes back to the 1940s. Also, it is oddly heavy on examples from Minnesota.

This is the number of entries by year.


And this is the entries by state:


Putting aside the issue of a getting the data out of a PDF (grrrr) it was still quite a mess. I assume the PDF was generated from an actual database but whoever is managing it hasn’t put any effort into validating categories. Some entries had misspelt state names and inconsistent categories of offence.

Overall 83 cases of absentee ballot fraud – some only a few ballots but some many ballots. In total 142 cases of impersonation or ineligible voting – i.e. cases where voter ID might have made a difference – but these were mainly one or twos.

There is, though, evidence of an immigrant who crossed the US border from a neighbouring country and pretended to be a US citizen to vote:

Joshua Workman, a Canadian citizen who was one of the youngest delegates to the 2000 Republican National Convention, was charged by the Department of Justice with casting ineligible votes during the 2000 and 2002 primary and general election in Avery County. He allegedly made false statements claiming U.S. citizenship in order to vote in these elections. As part of a plea agreement, Workman pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of providing false information to election officials, and subsequently returned to Canada.

Although my favourite story is this one:

In the Donna School Board race, four campaign workers participated in a scheme that involved buying votes with cocaine, cash, beer, and cigarettes.

A lot of examples are actual fraud-fraud. The numerous ACORN cases were people were scamming the organisation for example with voter registration work. In other cases, it sounds like laziness or incompetence:

Adam Ward, an employee of the Gingrich presidential campaign, pleaded guilty to 36 counts of voter fraud, as well as perjury after admitting that he forged signatures during the drive to get Gingrich on the Virginia primary ballot. Out of 11,000 signatures collected by Ward, 4,000 could not be confirmed.

I doubt, as horrible as he is, that Gingrich would actually have needed to fake signatures to get on a ballot but clearly, this guy hadn’t got enough genuine ones.

Last observation: buying votes is cheaper in Virginia than Texas:

Former Appalachia mayor Ben Cooper and 14 others were convicted of voter fraud after conspiring to manipulate the 2004 elections in his town by buying the votes of residents, offering them cigarettes, beer, and pork rinds.

mmmmm, pork rinds. This is clearly where the Remain campaign went wrong in the UK – if only they’d offered bags of pork-scratchings

10 thoughts on “Weird Internet Ideas: Voter Fraud and the dodgy Heritage Foundation ‘database’

  1. Beer, cocaine, cigarettes, pork rinds – considering how cheap it is to buy votes in the US I’m not surprised they have a lot of voter fraud.

    The Canadian dude who voted is clearly a case of incompetence. That’s why it normal to check the IDs of voters except in small villages where the poll workers know the voters personally.

    Regarding petitions, when you sign one over here, you always have to give your name and address, so it can be verified. Nonetheless, most petitions have a certain number unverifiable signatures. These are simply deducted from the rest. I also agree that Gingrich probably wouldn’t have needed the help.

    Also, a lot of these cases are both sad and funny. I mean, pork rinds.


  2. Actually buying votes is a fifth type of voter fraud, if you want to call it that. The paid-off person is an eligible voter, only votes once, and votes as required by law. In-person and absentee fraud involve people voting more than once or ineligible people voting, while election-machine fraud involves nonexistent people voting. Malicious purging is really a form of voter suppression, and I’m not sure it belongs on this list.


    1. I don’t see any moral difference between voter suppression and election fraud. The aim is the same, there are laws against it (in so far as voter suppression can fail legal challenges). The difference is that the individual is not prosecuted.


  3. With buying votes, I wonder how the buyers make sure that the voters vote as instructed rather than taking the money or the pork rinds and voting however the hell they want. The only way to make sure would be to make them apply for absentee ballots and look over their shoulder, while they fill them out.


  4. I hope and trust the right-wing Canadian was polite while violating US election laws. 🙂

    We had a robocall voting scandal up here a couple of cycles ago and one of the operatives used the pseudonym “Pierre Poutine”, which encapsulates the nature of Canadians and Canadian politics quite well.


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