A Reminder: The Main Kind of Voter Fraud is GOP Voter Suppression

In 2016 I wrote this post https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/weird-internet-ideas-voter-fraud-and-the-dodgy-heritage-foundation-database/ when I was attempting to look at Republican beliefs about voter fraud.

Revisiting the post recently I discovered a key link was broken. Famous conservative think-tank The Heritage Foundation had shifted the location of their voter fraud database. If you recall, this ‘database’ was a hodge-podge of incidents of voter fraud that sounded impressive in volume but actually demonstrated what experts have confirmed: voter fraud by individuals is rare, largely inconsequential and a what there is often postal ballot fraud that would not be impacted by voter ID measures.

The real fraud is voter suppression, illegitimate and often illegal attempts to create barriers to voting to skew elections to one side. This is overwhelmingly done by Republicans.

Luckily (?) the Heritage Foundations voter fraud database has only moved rather than gone. https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud/search and it is more of an actual database. It is still a shoddy piece of work (putting aside any partisan issues) but it is at least more accessible now. The purpose of the database seems to be to just try and get as big a number as possible and hence there are cases from 1948 to 2018 but with really only the past couple of decades properly surveyed. Interrogate the database and a clear picture resolves: voter fraud is rare. The category of ‘Impersonation Fraud at The Polls’  has THIRTEEN cases. Let me re-state that: the best evidence that a conservative think tank can put forward has only 13 incidents of impersonation fraud at the polls in all the years they have gathered data from dating back to 1948. Now to be fair to the conservative case, that’s probably an under-estimate caused by incompetence but it does demonstrate that actual cases are hard to find.

Ineligible voting has more cases (226 by my count) scattered over multiple years and elections. Taking a range of 1998 to 2018 for when the data seems more comprehensive that’s about 11 cases per year across all US states and all levels of elections. Again, as measured by the people CLAIMING voter fraud is a massive problem (i.e. this isn’t my data, it’s the Heritage Foundations), the numbers indicate that voter fraud is rare and largely inconsequential in impact but with heavy punishments for those caught.

Anyway: if you are American and can vote it would be a smart idea to vote 🙂 There is a political party who, more than any other political party in Western nations, is actively trying to prevent people voting. That alone is sufficient reason for any person of principle to vote them out.

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22 thoughts on “A Reminder: The Main Kind of Voter Fraud is GOP Voter Suppression

  1. Starting at 3:00 PM PST tomorrow (2300 GMT 6-Nov-2018) we’ll start to get results when polls close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky. There cannot be any meaningful results before this, other than exit polls.

    By 6:30 PM PST (0230 GMT 7-Nov-2018) we’ll probably have a really good idea how it’s all going to go down. Enough states will have reported enough results that the biggest uncertainty will be answered: how many of the people who don’t usually vote actually turned out.

    By 9:00 PM PST (0600 GMT 7-Nov-2018) we’ll have results from all but Alaska. Close races, recounts, and mail-in ballots may mean that some races are uncertain for as much as a few weeks. (There may even be a couple of runoff elections.)

    The biggest things to look for are:

    1) Will Democrats beat the odds and take the Senate? This is a longshot, but it would make the biggest immediate difference, since it would put an end to the Republicans appointing conservatives to lifetime positions in the court system.

    2) Will Republicans beat the odds and hold the House? That’s even more of a longshot, but it would be a disaster in that it would amount to public approval of Trump and the Republicans. It would guarantee no meaningful checks on his behavior. Alternatively, if (as expected), they lose the House, it guarantees serious critical investigations of Trump’s behavior–and we’ll finally see his tax returns.

    3) How many state governorships will Democrats get? This matters a lot because it’ll affect how much gerrymandering can be done after the 2020 census. Right now, most states have Republican governors and man have Republican majorities in both houses as well, giving Republicans total control so they can gerrymander themselves near-permanent majorities. Electing Democratic governors now and in 2020 is the best way to break that.

    4) How many state legislatures will Democrats win? Gerrymandering works against the Republicans if the Democratic wave is big enough. That’s because it’s based on the theory that you can control a lot more districts if you only have a small majority in each rather than a big majority.

    FiveThirtyEight.com has a detailed summary (using EST, not PST).

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  2. If voting weren’t important, the Repugnant Party wouldn’t be spending so much time and effort in cheating to keep people from voting.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I haven’t been this nervous about another country’s elections since, oh, at least 2016.

    Fingers crossed that Trump has done enough damage that the Blue Wave is real and his ability to fuck everything up is at least somewhat curtailed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. On the topic of photo forward, here’s something which I think is right up your alley Cam
    https://www.iwr.ai/voterfraud/index.html
    It’s a report detailing what the authors think is an influencer operation taking shape on Twitter, using the hashtag voter fraud tag, suggesting that it’s being manipulated to spike and fall at certain times.

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      • And setting polling stations out of town, or the one polling station that had just three machines because “they just weren’t ready in time”, or Calvert (county?) that shut down their public transportation today. Or Wisconsin Gov calling out the National Guard to monitor for voter fraud. They aren’t even trying to hide the suppression.

        I’m fortified with a snuggly blanket, jam doughnuts and good friends on auto-dial tonight. It’s not even my country, but these US elections are stressing me out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Friend just reported someone handing out pro-R “sample ballots” at his polling station with bubbles filed in already. That surely isn’t legal.

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      • @Regular Commenter —

        IANAL, but I suspect it’s legal as long as the person handing them out stays more than 100 feet away from the entrance to the polling site. That’s the typical distance restriction for campaign-related activities.

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      • Interesting. In Canada, there can be no campaigning or interference/influence of any kind on the day of the election itself so that seems strange to me. I know that there are lists published ahead of time by various interest groups, but I’m pretty sure that showing up and handing them out on the spot or on it approaches is not legal.

        This business of registering and checking and checking and purging and re-registering (while obviously designed as a suppression tactic) is also very strange to me. I cannot even remember when or how I registered to vote. Just get a reminder paper in the mail, turn up at the polling place (where our names are in these giant print out books), the convenor crosses your name off with a ruler, hands you a ballot and points you to the station where your surname is assigned, you fill it out, put it in the ballot box … and done. Never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for the box to be free.

        I also really liked how our elections used to be parliamentary-style, non-fixed date so we only had 6 weeks of campaigning — which keeps the money issue out to a large degree and also is all thatis really necessary to get one’s message out. The US-style big money perpetual campaign structure seems like it is a big part of the polarization problem. It’s always on and thus becomes part of an identity-making machine that needs to be stoked constantly, like some sort of fury furnace.

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      • @Regular Commenter —

        “Interesting. In Canada, there can be no campaigning or interference/influence of any kind on the day of the election itself so that seems strange to me.”

        I don’t know the official limits on what activities are or are not accepted here, but in the US on election days there are always crowds of volunteers demonstrating for various candidates and wall-to-wall campaign signs just outside the 100-foot limit of every polling station.

        “I cannot even remember when or how I registered to vote.”

        I was very saddened to read the other day that Tennessee (my state) ranks 48th out of 50 on voter-suppression-related laws. I never have trouble, but I’m white and reasonably affluent. My one big kvetch is that a few years ago they moved my polling place to several miles away, which irritates the heck outta me, but since I’m in a rural-ish area that’s not really a surprising event.

        And you must not have moved very recently! We have to re-register every time we move!

        “Never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for the box to be free.”

        I felt very old and decrepit when I voted in the primaries. Loooooong lines moving very slooooowly. There was a 70 or 80 year old lady with a cane standing a few people in front of me, but I was the one who had to go ask for a chair to sit in! My knee just won’t put up with that standing around any more!

        “I also really liked how our elections used to be parliamentary-style, non-fixed date so we only had 6 weeks of campaigning”

        Yeah, if only we’d re-institute campaign restrictions (both financial and chronological) here. Not holding my breath, though!

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      • @Contrarius:
        In Canada, there’s a checkbox on your income tax forms that says you authorize the Canada Revenue Agency to share your address with Elections Canada and the equivalent provincial agencies, and thus automatically register you. This was added to the forms… I’m not sure exactly when, early 1990s? It’s been there most but not all of my working life. There has to be a formal request for this, because the general law is that even different departments of the same government can’t share your information without some form of consent.

        https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/about-your-tax-return/tax-return/completing-a-tax-return/personal-address-information/elections-canada.html

        The end result of that is that most people don’t have to worry about registering to vote, unless they either don’t file a tax return (and even people with no income often file tax returns to get the GST/HST credits) or they’ve moved between the time of the tax return and the election.

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  5. Polls have been closed in some areas for an hour now, so the first results are trickling in. Nothing significant yet. We’re probably two to three hours from having a really clear idea how it went, although exit polls have been promising.

    Of more interest is how smoothly things have gone. Some had speculated that a Russian attack on the system would involve messing up the voting registries so that masses of people would be told they weren’t registered and couldn’t vote. Clearly that hasn’t happened. A few places will have to stay open later due to various sorts of problems, but that’s normal.

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  6. Apropos of nothing much —

    I live in a rather conservative county, which distresses me in some ways, but in other ways I’m quite fond of it. One thing I appreciate at every election: we have lovely electronic voting machines that print out paper ballot receipts, so we get both the ease of the electronic vote and the backup of the paper ballot. I smile every time I use them.

    And if I do early voting, I get to go vote at the County Election Commission building, which is a nice old building that used to be the post office. And those ladies really know what they’re doing!

    On the bad side, TN elected Marsha Blackburn to the Senate. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh, oh heavy sigh. But at least we didn’t get Diane Black for governor! She was **my** representative when she was in Congress, and I hated her so much that I actually voted in the Republican primaries just to vote against her. Our new governor, Bill Lee, is sadly Republican — but on the up side, he seems to be a Good Guy in a general way. And he’s not Diane Black!

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