erik lundegaard

Hans von Spakovsky and the Voter-Fraud Myth

“You are hereby notified that your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector. The Hamilton County Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing regarding your right to vote on Monday, September 10th, 2012, at 8:30 A.M. . . . You have the right to appear and testify, call witnesses and be represented by counsel.”

--Notice that Teresa Sharp, 53, received from The Hamilton County Board of Elections, as recounted in the article ”The Voter-Fraud Myth: The man who has stoked fear about imposters at the polls“ by Jane Mayer, in the Oct. 29 issue of The New Yorker.

Mayer's piece is scary and worth reading. The Voter ID laws are the new Jim Crow. They target African-Americans and the elderly without saying they target African-Americans and elderly. Meanwhile, the man behind this targeting, Republican lawyer Hans von Spakovsky of Atlanta, Ga., can't cite much evidence of voter fraud given his almost preternatural interest in the subject.

A recent study by the Pew Center found that more than 1.8 million dead people were registered to vote, and 2.5 million people were registered to vote in more than one state (I might be one of those, since I voted in Minnesota in 2006 and in Washington state since 2008), but von Spakovsky has no idea how many of these cases led to actual voter fraud. He cites a 2000 investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which, in the previous two decades, 5400 dead people were recorded as voting; but he doesn't cite the limp follow-up in which the Georgia Secretary of State's office indicated that most of these were clerical errors. ”Upon closer inspection, the paper admitted, its only specific example of a deceased voter casting a ballot didn’t hold up. The ballot of a living voter had been attributed to a dead man whose name was nearly identical,“ Mayer writes.

So from 1.8 million potential cases of voter fraud to 5400 actual cases of voter fraud in Georgia to ... zero actual cases of voter fraud in Georgia.

Later von Spakovsky gives Mayer the names of two experts who would confirm the peril of voter fraud: 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. Neither did. The opposite. “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem,” Pastor said. 

Yet since 2011, pushed by von Spakovsky and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-sponsored, right-wing organization, 37 states have enacted or proposed some form of voter ID law.

Other quotes from the piece:

  • “This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.” — Pres. Bill Clinton
  • “[Von Spakovsky] is trying to create a cure where there is no sickness.” — Rep. John Lewis, (D-GA)
  • “You can't steal an election one person at a time. You can by stuffing ballot boxes—but voter I.D. won't stop that.” — Robert Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Legal Network
  • “It makes no sense for individual voters to impersonate someone. It's like committing a felony at the police station, with virtually no chance of affecting the election outcome.” — Lorraine Minnite, Rutgers professor and author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud”
  • “I think they are trying to stop as many black people as they can from voting. I won't even know until Election Day if I got the right to vote. But if they tell me I can't vote—it is over. They are going to have to call the police.” — Teresa Sharp, citizen, Ohio

Voter ID demographics: Who doesn't have a government issued ID?

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Posted at 11:15 AM on Sun. Nov 04, 2012 in category Politics  


Mister B wrote:

To your own registration experience, Erik:

1) Being registered in more than one state — or district — although not ideal, isn't illegal. It's VOTING in more than one place during the same election cycle that's a felony.

2) If/when you re-register in a district where you used to be registered — or register in a new district — it would be helpful to everyone involved if you mentioned on your new registration form where you used to be registered. That information is then sent to the previous district and eventually they will cancel you there. If you don't give that information, your old registration info will eventually be cancelled, but there is no uniform consistent length of time as to how long that will take.

3) There is no national voter ID database. Washington state didn't create a statewide database until sometime in 2006, I believe. That has helped take care of a lot of registrations where people who were registered in more than one county. Potential registration issues are flagged first, researched in more detail and then cancelled in the older county if/when necessary.

4) During my three years working for Voter Services at King County Elections, I processed over 8,000 duplicate voter registrations in King County. Of those 8,000, I found maybe 20 instances over nine years (1999-200 where people voted twice during the same election. In those cases, the age of the voter is taken into account. If it's an individual of retirement age and they voted once at the polls and once by absentee for example, it's assumed that the voter mailed in a ballot and then as the election neared, they weren't sure they voted and went to the polls to make sure. In those cases, only the ballot cast first counts. Now that there are no polling places, this possibility of voter fraud has disappeared. And of those 20, I believe only one person tried it more than once.

Hardly the kind of thing that would change the outcome of any election or required a change in voter ID laws.

Comment posted on Sun. Nov 04, 2012 at 10:34 PM
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