Monday, April 30, 2012

More on Voter Fraud and ID's

Democrats tend to pooh-pooh the problems of voter fraud.  This is because their ox is not being gored.  An example of this naive head-in-the- sand attitude is the following.
“Despite many instances of electoral fraud internationally, in the U.S. a major study by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 showed of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and of those few cases, most involved persons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility. This rarity of electoral fraud in the U.S. follows from its inherent illegality. Harsh penalties aimed at deterring voter fraud make it likely that individuals who might perpetrate the fraud correctly fear that they will be discovered by election officials carefully examining voter identification.”

This excerpt from Wikipedia is typical of the na├»ve, sloppy thinking about voter fraud.  The rarity of prosecutions says more about prosecutor policies and connections and reports of the crime than about the actual occurrence of the crime.  Federal prosecutors are political appointees and probably have bigger fish to fry than voter fraud.  Local politicians also serve political interests and it is unlikely that a state or local prosecutor from Party X who is beholden to  the X political machine is going to rock the boat.  The paucity of prosecutions arguably weakens any deterrent effect.  Many poll watchers are politically-connected volunteers.  Election officials are politicians.  I have been voting for 40 years, and I have never seen any people at the polls “carefully examining voter identification.” Until states got serious about domestic violence, rape and DWI, most of the crimes were not reported or never made it to the point where they could be counted.  Finally, deterrence tends to be overrated.  Overall, the effect of most laws on behavior is over-rated.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana's voter ID law in Crawford v. Marion Cty Elec. Bd., 128 S.Ct. 1610 (2008).  As the Court notes, all the Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly voted for voter ID.  All the Dems who voted voted against it.

Although not involving voter ID, the Court added this footnote:
13 See Pabey v. Pastrick, 816 N.E.2d 1138, 1151 (Ind. 2004) (holding that a special election was required because one candidate engaged in "a deliberate series of actions . . . making it impossible to determine the candidate who received the highest number of legal votes cast in the election"). According to the uncontested factual findings of the trial court, one of the candidates paid supporters to stand near polling places and encourage voters—especially those who were poor, infirm, or spoke little English—to vote absentee. The supporters asked the voters to contact them when they received their ballots; the supporters then "assisted" the voter in filling out the ballot.

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