Our View: Voter fraud hunt a solution in search of a problem

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We would like to congratulate Toni Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina. Not counting actual voters themselves, Tabb and the VIP are doing more than anyone else to show why requiring voters to prove their identity at the polls with a photo ID just isn’t necessary.

During their recent investigation of Currituck County’s voter rolls, Tabb — who was acting as a volunteer for the Voter Integrity Project — uncovered and challenged the names of 62 dead people still on the county’s roster of eligible voters. It turned out that 12 of those voters were already in what’s considered “inactive status” — a designation given to voters who fail to cast a ballot in two consecutive general elections. The Currituck Board of Elections Office, whose job is to remove the names of the dead from voter rolls once their deaths have been confirmed, was in the process of removing one of the names on Tabb’s list.

As for the other 49, Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project’s detective work will help speed up the process of getting their names removed from Currituck’s roster of eligible voters. Knowing now where to look, Currituck Director of Elections Mary Etheridge and her staff will be able to zero in on those voters whose deaths otherwise would have taken some time to confirm, and remove their names from Currituck’s voter roster.

That will slightly improve Currituck’s voter turnout figures in elections to come, since voters who are deceased won’t be counted among the thousands of voters who fail to show up on election day.

Of course there was one other benefit to Tabb and the VIP’s detective work. They proved pretty conclusively that there’s been no voter impersonation fraud in Currituck. Despite looking for it, they found not one instance where someone tried to use the name of a dead voter to cast a ballot. Not one.

And Currituck’s not the only place where there’s been this apparently startling discovery. According to state elections officials, similar challenges of voter rolls in other counties by the Voter Integrity Project have turned up a similar result: no evidence of voter fraud. In fact, according to a recent report, North Carolina Elections Director Gary Bartlett says he knows of only one instance in 20 years where someone tried to vote using a dead person’s name.

Of course, proving that voter fraud is a non-issue wasn’t the goal of the Voter Integrity Project’s detective work. It’s goal was just the opposite: to prove that the potential for fraud exists, and that the only way to prevent it from happening is to have state lawmakers, like their brethren in dozens of other states controlled by GOP legislatures, adopt a voter ID law.

Lawmakers in this state did in fact adopt such a law last year but were unable to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto. Perdue vetoed the law for the same reason photo ID laws have been opposed everywhere else they’ve been proposed since Barack Obama entered the White House in 2009: their only purpose is to hurt Democrats’ chances of winning elections by suppressing the voting of poor and minority citizens. Both groups reliably vote for Democrats. They’re also less likelier than others to have a photo ID when they show up at the polls to vote, even when those IDs and other identifying materials are supplied free of charge by the state. Republicans know this sad truth; hence, they’ve pushed for voter ID laws, having them either enacted or at least considered in 37 states since 2010.

Proponents of voter IDs say they’re needed to stop voter fraud. But as Tabb and the Voter Integrity Project have discovered after matching voting records against the names of the dead, there is no fraud to stop.

In fact, a recent study has shown now that it’s ludicrous — ludicrous on the order of “the world is flat” ludicrous — to suggest that the lack of voter IDs has led — or could lead — to voter fraud. News21, a respected national journalism program headquartered at Arizona State University, recently completed an exhaustive database search of U.S. voter fraud cases dating back to 2000.

Their findings: Of the 2,068 alleged voter fraud cases nationally during that period, only 10 involved cases of voter impersonation. Because there were 146 million registered voters during those 12 years, that means there was one voter impersonation fraud case for every 15 million voters. It also means that for every 207 cases of other types of election fraud, there was one case of voter impersonation. By comparison, there were 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases of registration fraud, none of which would have been prevented by a photo ID.

The News21 project noted that the Republican National Lawyers Association released a survey in 2011 that purported to show 375 cases of voter fraud across the country. But when journalists with the News21 project bore down into the actual cases the RNLA group cited, they found most were taken from newspaper articles written about alleged fraud. The examination found very little evidence of in-person voter fraud in any of the cases cited by the RNLA.

It’s clear then that Tabb and the VIP — and efforts like theirs across the country — are engaged in trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. But why? Is it because they truly hope that by passing photo ID laws they can stop some people from voting? Or is it that they believe that by simply ginning up the prospect of mass voter fraud and stolen elections, they can energize more Republican-leaning voters to show up at the polls in November?

Whatever their purpose, one does wonder why they’re working so hard at it. It seems if Tabb and the VIP were truly interested in performing a public service, there are real volunteer opportunities out there — reading to school kids, ladling soup to the homeless, driving meals to shut-ins — where they could put their energies to better use.

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Comments

criminal intent

If you think I have a criminal intent for wanting the possibility of voter fraud eliminated you are sadly mistaken.

The whole country understands...

that this is about limiting Democrat turnout, NOT about preventing fraud in NC. Passing laws that intend to stop eligible voters from voting is criminal under the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Our own Republican legislature tried to ram this initiative through before anyone could raise public awareness of the problems that Voter ID will create, and address prevention. And they clearly did not want us to have time to contradict their lies. The Republicans simply keep beating the drum even though they can't prove their claim. You and I both agree that we don't want voter fraud in any form, and we also both agree that there is opportunity for this to occur. But where is it happening here? And what exactly will Voter ID prevent? And then there's the flip side of what new fraud will be enabled by Voter ID itself? Part of the problem with this is that there was no public discussion before the legislation materialized. No opportunity to really look at the whole picture. Zero critical thinking. And that was intentional. And now that Gov. Perdue has given us time to look at this, the problems created by voter ID outweigh the benefits. Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

News 21 respected?

This link provides some insight into News 21. http://www.groupsnoop.org/News21 The following is a quote. " In August 2012, News21 began publishing the results of its comprehensive report on voter fraud, titled, "Who Can Vote?"[12] Claiming to have created an "exhaustive" and "comprehensive" database, News21 asserted: "[d]espite the push for strict voter ID laws in a charged partisan and racial debate, the most extensive study ever of American election fraud reveals the rate is infinitesimal. Since 2000, a time when 146 million Americans were registered to vote, News21 found 10 cases of in-person voter fraud... That would be about once case for every 15 million eligible voters."[13] However, according to National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi, the News21 report is irreparably flawed. Calling the report "news that's not fit to print," Almasi pointed out that News21 simply sent out letters to state officials asking about voter fraud in their states, and that "[m]any states -- including Massachusetts, South Dakota and Oklahoma -- sent back nothing at all."[14] The study also contained a massive disclaimer that said in part: • "[I]t is possible that some jurisdictions which did respond failed to include some cases. • Despite the huge News21 public-records request effort, the team received no useful responses from several states. • Hundreds of officials responded with short notes -- some handwritten, even coffee-stained -- saying they had no cases of fraud. • Some jurisdictions insisted that their computer system lacked the capability to search for election fraud cases. • Dozens of jurisdictions flatly refused the requests. • For nearly all the data News21 received, there would be some vital piece of information that had been requested specifically but that was missing. • [T]here are cases in the database that contain so little detail that they cannot be properly categorized as one kind of fraud or another."[15] Almasi sarcastically noted that "[b]eyond that, it's still 'comprehensive,' 'exhaustive' and 'the most extensive collection of U.S. election fraud cases ever compiled.'[16] Almasi questioned the group's conclusions, saying, "they have a database that is riddled with incomplete and bad data, but they can apparently say with certainty that there were only ten real cases of ghost voters stealing away other people's votes nationwide?"[17]" Quoting from the introduction of the article. " News21 is an investigative journalism collaborative. Comprised of college students and led by academic advisors, News21 conducts in-depth investigative reporting. News21 provides its stories freely to the media. Liberal media outlets often publish work written by News21 students in a practice known as co-publishing. News21 work has been criticized for being sloppy and incomplete. Prominent liberal media outlets such as the Washington Post, MSNBC and the Center for Public Integrity have republished News21 reports.[1] The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation have provided millions of dollars to News21." News 21 "a respected national journalism program"???? ... College kids doing sloppy work.

Ridiculous

Your opinion caught my attention right up to the point when you used the word "ludicrous". Why do you care, and why is it such a big deal that someone is looking at the list of registered voters? If nothing else it puts everyone on notice that someone is watching. What's wrong with that?

Voter Fraud

Voter fraud is alive and well in Pasquotank County.

Mr. Lehmann, please..

...provide details. Some of us are interested to read about this. Would Voter ID have prevented the circumstances that you keep referring to? Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

Ok. You'v written about dead

Ok. You'v written about dead people not voting. How about people who vote claiming to be someone else who is alive but has no intention of voting?

What are you scared of in having a voter ID?

Why is this the only place I hear complaints about having an ID? Why are there no complaints on the dozens of other areas one must be ID'd to participate in?

No one is scared...

I don't think that anyone is scared of voter ID. Issuing IDs is easy. The first problem with voter ID is the lie that has been told and retold to create the issue in the first place. This basic dishonesty forces us to look for underlying reasons, the "real" reasons, for the initiatives across the country. This republican manufactured outrage is just so much self-serving hypocrisy. This lie in North Carolina is being proved county by county by the very people that told the lie in the first place. Their own searches and researches have revealed no voting fraud. There is much ironic justice in this. The second problem with voter ID is that it WILL disenfranchise some voters. No, we don't know how many, but one is too many. We CAN predict what they will look like: Democrats. But, what if some are also Republicans? And isn't this ironic too? Since the initiatives have been started by Republican legislatures everywhere, in apparent coordination for this presidential cycle? Now, here in NC we have a brave governor. Ms. Beverly Perdue. She had the gumption to veto our own attempted election hi-jack. The republicans have promised that we won't be this lucky if a Republican wins in November. And, I agree that electing a republican governor will not be lucky for voting rights in our state. The Republicans themselves have proved that their own claim of voter fraud is a lie. So tell me why should we trust and believe those very smooth and snaky assurances that everything will be fine if we will only just give everyone a nice new ID card? Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

Again, why do you not resist IDs

for the many other areas requiring an ID? One is too many you say, is one fraudlent vote acceptable?

Because they are ...

required for legitimate reasons. Don't you understand that you've been lied to? Doesn't this concern you just a teensy bit? The REASON given for voter ID is a lie in North Carolina. And the liars are proving this themselves. Regarding the one fraudulent vote - the answer is yes. I will accept the statistically meaningless single fraudulent vote when compared to the potential 700,000 to 1,000,000 disenfranchised NC voters that voter ID might create. This is according to the NC State Board of Elections. Then I would go after the fraudulent voter using procedures for this that are already in place. Look, Voter ID is doable. No doubt about it, if done with plenty of lead time to prevent ALL disenfranchisement. The problem is that last part - "prevent ALL disenfranchisement." I don't think this is possible, but maybe it is. The problem is THE LIE and the criminal intent of THE LIE. To me this is very simple. Do the right thing. Do not REWARD the LIARS. Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

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