Voter Suppression and Disenfranchisement, Not Fraud, Are the Real Issues

Two great resources for voter suppression and disenfranchisement information are the Brennan Center for Justice and Election Protection.

Their experts say the real issue is not fraud, but voter suppression and disenfranchisement.

Actual cases of voter fraud are minimal to non-existent. Here's a 2007 Demos report (pdf). [More...]

From an email I received from Brennan today (no link yet.)

Here is a quick update on voting rights and voter disenfranchisement stories from around the country. As voter fraud and ACORN stories have taken front stage the past few days, it is important to keep in mind that studies have consistently shown voter fraud (the actual voting more than once) incidents to be minimal to non-existent.

The issue is a diversion from the real issue of massive voter purges in which millions of voters could be disenfranchised. We need a system in which registration drives and the crush of new applications to be processed before Election Day are replaced by a more standard and logical process.

  • Michigan: Yesterday, a federal judge ordered Michigan Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land to restore over 1,500 Michigan voters to the rolls. The ruling was that the voters were illegally purged either as a result of their voter ID cards returned as undeliverable, or because they applied for a driver’s license in another state.
  • With early voting beginning across the country, officials are seeing record breaking turnout in Illinois and Montana, Washington State officials predict the highest Election Day turnout in 60 years, and Minnesota has seen new voter registrations skyrocket.
  • ACORN. Read some of the more level-headed responses to allegations of voter fraud here, here, here, and here.
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  • Display: Sort:
    Thank you for highlighting this (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by shoephone on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 12:51:12 PM EST
    The Brennan Center has done exemplary work on this issue. But all the studies show that suppression, not fraud, is the big problem.

    Though individual cases of fraud are rare there is a big push this year to remedy any irregularities. Voting irregularities, and vote counting irregularities in the 2004 WA gubernatorial election are the main reason there is a ballot intitiative to make the King County elections director an elected, rather than appointed, position. I expect it to pass by a large margin.

    And as the 2007 Demos report says in paragraph 4, sec.1, GOP attempts to paint voter fraud as the main issue may have led to the firings of some U.S. attorneys. There is ample evidence to show that John McKay was targeted for this very reason. The WA State GOP was in direct and constant contact with Rove's office by way of his western states representative, Glynda Becker.

    Thanks for this post, Jeralyn n/t (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by dutchfox on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 01:40:41 PM EST

    The terminology needs clarification... (5.00 / 4) (#5)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 04:18:20 PM EST
    It would appear that, at present, the definition of Election Fraud is being deliberately obscured to the advantage of the GOP. The focus on the ACORN voter fraud/registration controversy diverts attention away from the systemic Election Fraud the GOP has engaged in for the past eight years.

    By definition, Election Fraud encompasses instances of voters cheating the electoral system and instances of the electoral system cheating voters. However, in the current context, instances of the former are negligible compared to widespread evidence of the latter.

    By way of definition from Project Vote, see: The Politics of Voter Fraud, by Lorraine C. Minnite, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Political Science Barnard College, Columbia University.

    The Justice department defines election fraud as "conduct that corrupts the process by which ballots are obtained, marked, or tabulated; the process by which election results are canvassed and certified; or the process by which voters are registered."

    *Voter fraud is a sub-category of election fraud, or the intentional corruption of the electoral process by voters. This covers knowingly and willingly giving false information to establish voter eligibility, and knowingly and willingly voting illegally or participating in a conspiracy to encourage illegal voting by others....

    All other forms of corruption of the electoral process and corruption committed by elected or election officials, candidates, party organizations, advocacy groups or campaign workers fall under the wider definition of election fraud. [emphasis added]

    From other sources, these are a few various techniques of election fraud; whereby voters, and election outcomes, are manipulated by official and unofficial agents of the electoral system:

    • Voter suppression, which encompasses intimidation, coercion and anything that deliberately misinforms, confuses, or physically obstructs voters and thereby makes it more difficult for them to vote.
    • Physical tampering + Physical tampering with voting machines/equipment.
    • Inequality of election day resources.
    • Inflation or deflation of voters lists (i.e. voter caging; disenfranchising ex-felons).
    • Interference with Tabulation in the polling place
    • Interference with Central Tabulation of the results
    • Interference via Legislative Means (i.e. gerrymandering)
    • Smear Campaigns (i.e. swiftboating)

    Bingo, plus one more (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Lora on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 03:40:43 PM EST
    Voter suppression, voter disenfranchisement, and election fraud are the real issues.

    We may be unable to win IF:

    The voters cannot register.

    Their registrations are invalid.

    They are frightened away from the polls.

    They cannot vote once they get there.

    Provisional / absentee ballots are not guarded and counted, once validated, with as much care as any other ballots.

    Chain-of-custody of the ballots and all voting equipment is sloppy, inappropriately done, or missing altogether.

    The voting equipment is not accurate, error-free, and safeguarded against manipulation.

    Votes are counted in secret, via computer technology and/or away from the public eye.

    We cannot determine if our votes are counted as we intended.

    We cannot verify the count.

    Folks, at this late hour, I truly hope that BTD is right and that I am wrong about the dangers of our election system (the last 6 items of my list).  I don't think so, however.  As all of us vote, let us be aware of how we are voting, how the vote is being recorded, counted, and safeguarded, and what assurances other than "trust us" do we have that our vote, and every vote, is counted as we intended.

    Also in Ohio in 2004 (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by sallywally on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 05:07:11 PM EST
    when the Repub Sec of State Ken Blackwell tampered with every process up to and including the lack of voting machines, invalidation of valid voters, etc., etc., etc.

    John Conyers held hearing about this and the results were published in book format available at regular bookstores. Quite an amazing story.

    I voted early today, with a paper (absentee) ballot that I hope will be counted properly!

    I hope your vote is accurately counted... (none / 0) (#8)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 05:38:51 PM EST
    along with the votes of every other individual who goes to the polls in this GE.

    Thanks for the substance that you're bringing to this debate about the need to route out the systemic election fraud emerging from the Rovian wing of the GOP.


    what is the name of this book? (none / 0) (#13)
    by sj on Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 09:49:35 AM EST
    The problem is that perception (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Cream City on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 05:29:55 PM EST
    of voter fraud can be ammo for GOP legislators -- for example, in my state -- to finally win their long fight to inflict voter ID on us, take away same-day registration from us, etc.

    The result would be voter suppression next time, especially in the major Dem stronghold in my state.  The GOP are long-term thinkers.  

    And their tactics are subtle, compared to the flagrancy of the vandalism, the violations in voter registrations, etc., here.  So no matter the reality, the perception means we probably will lose this fight now.  

    In Minnesota (none / 0) (#1)
    by eric on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 12:45:35 PM EST
    we now have 85% of all eligible voters registered.  It is our goal to get 80% or all eligible voters (not just those registered), to the polls.

    What a difference it makes to have a Democrat as our Secretary of State.

    WOW (none / 0) (#9)
    by UnderCoverGuy on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 07:49:05 PM EST
    Voter fraud?  Already, 8 (eight) ACORN members have PLED GUILTY to voter fraud - you know, the same group that Obama gave $$$ to for "election services", as stated in Obama's discolure documents.  More charges are in the works.  Face it - they got caught and they got busted.  You can try to spin it any way you wish but the TRUTH (sorry - I don't live in your fantasy world) is that ACORN is guilty of voter fraud.  Simple - ACORN 800000 (go ahead - Google it).  The TRUTH is plain and simple.

    But, hey, (none / 0) (#10)
    by tootired on Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 11:00:04 PM EST
    they made sure that Mickey Mouse can vote in Orlando. We wouldn't want his vote suppressed, would we?

    what is the name of this book? (none / 0) (#11)
    by sj on Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 09:35:14 AM EST
    whoops (none / 0) (#12)
    by sj on Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 09:48:48 AM EST
    posted previous reply in response to the wrong comment.  

    To you, I meant to say that I will be exceedingly concerned about those invalid attempts at registrations when some one actually shows up to vote using it.  I also say that I'm looking for some backup to your allegations. A google search doesn't turn up anything more recent than 2007 regarding guilty pleas and reference only three defendents.

    Right now it appears that ACORN and the Obama campaign are victims of fraud and not the perpetrators.  

    Your search only turns up payment stories.  Big deal. But, you know, go ahead google it.  "ACORN Guilty Plea"

    See what actually turns up.


    Voter picture ID (none / 0) (#14)
    by diogenes on Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 07:08:54 PM EST
    You know, without voter picture ID laws one of the little old ladies manning the polling places in Nevada might have let "Terrell Owens" scribble his name and vote.  Why are you Democrats so afraid of picture voter ID if the ID is free?

    not sure what that has to do with my comment (none / 0) (#15)
    by sj on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 09:29:01 AM EST
    but whatever.