Solution In Search Of A ProblemPosted: 24 July 2012
We have lots of politicians with their ideas for solutions to many of our problems…like the deficit, the budget, immigration, health care and even taxation….but there is one solution that has no ‘real’ problem…..and that is the problem of voter fraud.
I will admit that if there is truly a problem with voter fraud then yes it needs to be fixed…..the problem is that, as I stated before, it is a solution in search of a problem…..for instance, Texas law suit to uphold their voter thingy……out of the 39 million votes cast in 2008…there were 70 allegations of voter fraud and out of those only 5 cases were prosecutable……that percentage is so low that it is almost not worth the brain power to figure it out……but yet, state after state has passed laws to help suppress voter fraud….but is there a need of these actions?
From the Brennan Center For Justice……..Download the PDF
Is the alleged problem explained by undue reliance on faulty lists or a flawed list-matching process? Claims of voter fraud are often premised on attempts to compare lists of voters to lists of people ineligible to vote. However, the process of matching information from list to list is full of pitfalls. The following questions will reveal some of the more common ways in which fraud claims based on matching may be bogus.
Are the underlying lists accurate? Large databases are vulnerable to human error and other inaccuracies. For example, the Social Security Administration’s “Master Death Index,” often used to identify voters who are allegedly deceased, is known to have an error rate of more than 3%. Such errors are compounded over time: the leading expert on list-matching for the U.S. Bureau of the Census estimates that in a large California employment database, “[o]ver a period of twenty years, the records [associated] with each individual can expect to contain at least two errors where the [Social Security Number] has been mis-keyed or transcribed improperly.”
Does the proposed policy actually solve the problem? Some of those who support photo identification requirements indiscriminately cite examples of “fraud,” whether the cited anecdotes can be remedied by photo identification or not. In Wisconsin in 2005, for example, supporters of a restrictive identification requirement pointed repeatedly to voting by allegedly ineligible persons with convictions – even though requiring restrictive ID would not prevent voting by persons who are rendered ineligible by a conviction.
Would the alleged problem be solved by proper implementation of existing federal law? Many of the more commonly proffered allegations of voter fraud involve concerns that should be resolved by existing federal law, once new statewide voter registration databases have been fully implemented. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (“HAVA”) imposes an identification requirement on first-time voters who have registered by mail, as long as their registration information has not been externally validated. It also requires states to purge voters confirmed as deceased from the rolls, and to coordinate voter registration lists with computerized sources regarding the voting rights status of persons who have been convicted of felonies. In addition to the other list maintenance required by HAVA, these three simple requirements should eventually eliminate any significant threat caused by the most commonly cited sources of alleged voter fraud.
Does the proposed policy create more problems than it solves? Legitimate cases of fraud that could be addressed by a photo identification requirement are proven to occur approximately as often as Americans are struck and killed by lightning. Given the frequency of the problem, proposed solutions may be more harmful than helpful. Restrictive photo identification requirements, for example, will likely have an impact that far exceeds the negligible rate of voter fraud. Up to 10% of the voting-age population does not have state-issued photo identification.This rate is disproportionately higher among minorities, low-income populations, youth, and the elderly. A recent Wisconsin study, for example, found that 78% of black men aged 18-24 had no valid driver’s license.
Is there truly a voter fraud problem? Or could this be a political gimmick?
Fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare. Most citizens who take the time to vote offer their legitimate signatures and sworn oaths with the gravitas that this hard-won civic right deserves. Even for the few who view voting merely as a means to an end, however, voter fraud is a singularly foolish way to attempt to win an election. Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine – but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price.
Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic. There is no documented wave or trend of individuals voting multiple times, voting as someone else, or voting despite knowing that they are ineligible. Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.
Many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud. Although there are a few scattered instances of real voter fraud, many of the vivid anecdotes cited in accounts of voter fraud have been proven false or vastly overstated. In Missouri in 2000, for example, the Secretary of State claimed that 79 voters were registered with addresses at vacant lots, but subsequent investigation revealed that the lots in question actually housed valid and legitimate residences. Similarly, a 1995 investigation into votes allegedly cast in Baltimore by deceased voters and those with disenfranchising felony convictions revealed that the voters in question were both alive and felony-free.
Many of the inaccurate claims result from lists of voters compared to other lists – of deceased individuals, persons with felony convictions, voters in other states, etc. These attempts to match information often yield predictable errors. In Florida in 2000, a list of purged voters later became notorious when it was discovered that the “matching” process captured eligible voters with names similar to – but decidedly different from – the names of persons with felony convictions, sometimes in other states entirely. A 2005 attempt to identify supposed double voters in New Jersey mistakenly accused people with similar names but whose middle names or suffixes were clearly different, such as “J.T. Kearns, Jr.” and “J.T. Kearns, Sr.,” of being the same person. Even when names and birthdates match across lists, that does not mean there was voter fraud. Elementary statistics students are often surprised to learn that it is more likely than not that among just 23 individuals, two will share a birthday. Similar statistics show that for most reasonably common names, it is extremely likely that at least two people with the same name in a state will share the same date of birth. The ostensible “matches” may not represent the same person at all.
Other allegations of fraudulent voting often turn out to be the result of common clerical errors, incomplete information, or faulty assumptions. Most allegations of voter fraud simply evaporate when more rigorous analysis is conducted.
Voter fraud is often conflated with other forms of election misconduct. It is extremely rare for individuals to vote multiple times, vote as someone else, or vote despite knowing that they are ineligible. These rare occurrences, however, are often conflated with other forms of election irregularities or misconduct, under the misleading and overbroad label of “voter fraud.u201D Some of these other irregularities result from honest mistakes by election officials or voters, such20as confusion as to whether a particular person is actually eligible to vote. Some irregularities result from technological glitches, whether sinister or benign: for example, voting machines may record inaccurate tallies. And some involve fraud or intentional misconduct perpetrated by actors other than individual voters: for example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations or procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These more common forms of misconduct are simply not addressed by the supposed “anti-fraud” measures generally proposed.
Raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda. Voter fraud is most often invoked as a substantial problem in order to justify particular election policies. Chief among these is the proposal that individuals be required to show photo ID in order to vote – a policy that disenfranchises up to 10% of eligible citizens. But the only misconduct that photo ID addresses is the kind of voter fraud that happens as infrequently as death by lightning. Therefore, it suits those who prefer photo ID as a policy to lump as much misconduct in with “voter fraud” as possible, to create the impression that the problem is far more significant than it actually is. Moreover, to the extent photo ID is suggested as a solution to the perception that voter fraud occurs, it behooves those who prefer photo ID to reinforce the unsubstantiated perception that voter fraud exists.
Claims of voter fraud should be carefully tested before they become the basis for action. Researchers, reporters, public figures, and policymakers confronted with claims of potential fraud should carefully examine these claims before calling for action. Do the claims depend on matching information from one list to another? Is the matching process accurate? Does a match indicate an illegal vote, or is there a more plausible explanation? Is corroborating evidence available? If there actually appears to be a problem, can it be addressed by existing practices, or is a new solution necessary? If so, will the solution proposed – usually either a mass purge or photo identification – really solve the problem? Is the solution sufficiently burdensome that it becomes a greater problem than the problem itself? These basic questions are crucially important to evaluating claims of voter fraud, but are all too often unasked and unanswered.
In my opinion, there is NO evidence of the massive amounts of voter fraud that some are claiming….
But to my conserv friends, do not fret! Is will most likely go to SCOTUS and Roberts will most likely redeem himself with the conserv movement…..and then they can all make nice again and he will once again become the hero of the Constitution that all would like to think of him…..
Just thinking out loud!