Voter Frauds

One of the most pernicious tactics employed by Republican political operatives is voter suppression masquerading as protection against “voter fraud.” As proponents of Voter ID are well aware, such fraud as exists almost never happens during the in-person vote process that Voter ID laws target.

Virtually all of the “Voter ID” measures being pushed by Republicans are thinly-veiled efforts to intimidate poor and minority voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic. This year, the suspicions fostered by these ungrounded accusations of voter fraud have been further inflamed by Donald Trump’s insistence that, if he doesn’t win, it will be proof that the election is “rigged.”

Here in central Indiana, the media has been reporting on an investigation that newspaper and broadcast outlets have labeled “voter fraud”–but that should be called “registration fraud.”

Interestingly–at least from the somewhat garbled news reports–they are investigating what appears to be an effort to disenfranchise legitimate voters, rather than provide phony credentials to illegitimate ones. Easily detectable inaccurate information is apparently being coupled with the names of actual voters, who may not check to be sure they are properly registered, and won’t realize  they aren’t until they appear at their precinct voting place and are rejected.

Until more details are released, it’s hard to tell precisely what scheme is being alleged. Whatever the actual scam turns out to be, the labeling of any dishonesty focused on the franchise as “vote fraud” simply confirms the public’s belief that there’s justification for Voter ID laws–even though people getting hit by lightning occurs more frequently  than in-person vote fraud.

Illegal voting behaviors include such things as double voting (ballot stuffing), where one individual casts more than one ballot in the same election; dead voting, where the name of a deceased person remains on a state’s official list of registered voters and a living person casts a ballot using that name; felon voter fraud, where a convicted felon who is for that reason not eligible to vote does so; vote-buying,  where someone pays voters to vote a certain way; and fraud by election officials: where dishonest officials toss out ballots or cast ballots using the names of registered voters who didn’t show up at the polls.

As anyone who has worked at the polls can tell you, the best guarantee against these efforts to “rig” the system is competent management of the state’s voter rolls–purging dead and otherwise ineligible voters, ensuring that poll watchers from both major parties are present and similar safeguards. Vote buying is by far the most difficult to detect, and Voter ID would do nothing to prevent it.

The election fraud we see most frequently, ironically, is voter suppression, defined by Ballotpedia as  “A variety of tactics aimed at lowering or suppressing the number of voters who might otherwise vote in a particular election.”

During this election cycle, a new concern has arisen: the possibility that an election dependent upon electronic voting machines might be hacked. As the Brennan Center has noted, however,

There are over 10,000 election jurisdictions in the United States. This means in a federal election, there are essentially more than 10,000 separate elections being run, with different voting machines, ballots, rules, and security measures. One clear benefit of this system is that it is not possible to attack the nation’s voting machines in one location, as might be possible with a statewide voter registration database or campaign email server.

Bottom line: no one is going to “steal” or “rig” this election. If the results are–to coin a word–“deplorable,” American voters will have only ourselves to blame.


  1. My question is what really caused the Indiana State Police to undertake this investigation?

  2. An 8/24/16 Rolling Stone article explained a “CrossCheck” program promoted by the Kansas Secretary of State to find name duplication in multiple states’ voter rolls. This is alleged to be sufficient evidence of fraud necessary to void registrations of thousands of voters nationwide.

  3. Thank you for pointing out the sloppy reporting on this! I have been so annoyed at the media referring to this as “voter fraud” and then not clearly explaining what has happened–all leading to perpetuating the myth that voter fraud is widespread. I am so disappointed in what passes as journalism today!

  4. While I understand the duplicity of Republican claims of “voter fraud” rather than concentrating on voter registration, having watched the so-called recount in 2000, I don’t understand the reasoning behind the public not having photo ID to protect themselves. I do not mind, in fact I prefer, being asked for ID to vote, cash checks, to use my medical care provider and wish it was required for credit and/or debit card use. Would have saved me months of legal and financial problems after being attacked and robbed. Identity theft is a major problem in this this country; this is being used as part of the reason for Republicans continuing their “voter fraud” claims to their advantage.

    The states should provide ID cards for those who do not need or want a Drivers License; there are millions of people in this country who do not own, need or want vehicles and do not drive. This was one of the claims against victims of Katrina and the levee collapses which left thousands in the Gulf Coast area with no way to evacuate when all bus service had been shut down. We NEED valid identification today for more reasons than voting; Republicans are taking full advantage of that national criminal action to “gerrymander” voters as well as districts.

  5. Voter fraud is rare because there is no monetary gain from it. Of course one could vote using their ex-wife’s address so they could run for a particular office that would lead to a higher state office. And that higher office we all know leads to a run for a US House or Senate seat, and one could make lots of money doing that. But I am sure no one in Indiana has ever done that.

  6. Theresa Kendall; a big LOL on that one. I remember Charlie White with no home but three addresses and at times living in his car. Could he have used his license plate number as a legal residence? Is he completely gone from the Indiana political scene yet???

  7. If India, with per capital income about $125 per month can have a voter ID law, I don’t see the problem. Suggesting that voter fraud is not happening because government can’t find it is like husbands do not commit adultery unless they get caught.

  8. When a political party no longer has sound ideas for solving civic problems; when they have lost any semblance of integrity; when they have sold out to special interest and thus created more problems for the citizenry by doing so; and when they then realize that they cannot hold onto their power in an honest election, why of course they turn to voter suppression.

    I fear that the use of the Indiana State Police in this matter is the first step toward using force against the people in order to maintain their hold on political power.

  9. The only problem with our voting is that the media wants to have results within a few minutes of the polls closing. If we all used paper ballots, hand counted until we had actual numbers, we will have voter issues. Let’s go back in time on this one. One person, one vote, hand written and hand counted. Period.

  10. I have no problem with voter ID, if the state makes an active effort to make certain everyone can GET the ID needed. What is happening in Wisconsin now is an example of what has happened in most staes where ID is required. People are showing up to get ID and those working at the license branch are unaware that such a process exists.

    I have seen numerous talking heads tell me that ID is needed to board a plane, so everyone must already have it. I think of the 90 year old woman born at home in the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina. She has never flown anywhere. It wasn’t so long ago in our history that births were recorded in the family Bible. Where does that woman go to get a birth certificate?

    Most of the voter registration fraud I have read about is being done by Republicans.

  11. Regarding voter registration – FL gov Scott has refused to extend registration in light of the dire issues brought on by the hurricane. There is no excuse for that!

  12. Theresa Bowers; Nancy is correct about your post, you did indeed hit the nail on the head. Republicans cannot find solutions to civic, or any other, problems because they ARE the problem. I wish they at least make an attempt to explain why – or how – they SUPPORT Trump but DISAGREE with everything he says and so many, including two former Republican presidents and their wives, have stated they will NOT vote for him. It is like the scene from “The Wizard of Oz”. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

  13. For those who think that getting a valid photo ID is a cake walk, lack of imagination and working knowledge of lives lived in a much different world than they occupy is evident. Alabama (yes, again) is an example where the state required strict documentation to get an official state issued photo ID to vote then promptly closed offices where those ID are issued in places most likely to have poor, prominently African American citizens in need of said ID. Something similar happened in Northwestern Indiana counties, if memory serves.
    If you are poor, raised in foster care or are orphaned, often work in seasonal jobs, rent from a landlord, live off and on with a relative, do not own a vehicle or have no means to buy one or ability to drive one or are homeless, you still have the right to vote. And those are just a few of the possible scenarios that make these “reasonable” requirements anything but. Add the state as actively working to make sure it is as difficult as possible, state actors who are either ignorant or willfully ignorant of the laws as they apply and you have a “rigged” system, only not the one the current Republican candidate would have you believe exists.

  14. The transparent motivation for Republican State legislators to suppress voting with required paintings by Michelangelo and other such requirements could not be clearer, and the reason why clear as well. Their electorate is dying off and their only hope in retaining political power is to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters. I read of one woman in one such state who had been voting for 40 years in the same precinct and knew all of the poll workers on a first name basis but who was denied her right to vote because she did not have the required photograph. This is democracy at work? Hardly. What will be the next atrocity emanating from right wing legislatures? One must be 55 to vote? Male? White? Constitutional problems that would confer jurisdiction to the feds? A question of standing to sue? It didn’t work in Bush v. Gore, where the court inexplicably found standing and triggered my resignation from the Supreme Court bar, but who’s to know how such issues would fare today? Parenthetically, the coming appeals will be held before a full court – another good reason to vote for the appointing authority, Hillary.

  15. No question that people worried about survival feel that their best chances lie in stealing an American election by voting as often as they can get away with.

  16. Republicans have simply painted themselves into an existential corner by courting deplorables of every stripe as their base. Maybe that’s how parties always go extinct. Their base didn’t even choose a Republican as their Presidential candidate this year.

    I personally am very anxious to witness the next steps and believe that there is some chance that this election could shorten the process of their demise. We’ll see.

    The real question though is what will rise from their ashes?

  17. The best way to solve this? Do away with registration all together — the idea being “if you’re here, you have an interest in the election”.
    Simply go where ever you want to vote, vote on a paper ballot, and before you put it into the ballot box the workers will make sure your thumb is dipped into indelible black ink.
    You can’t vote again — at least for a week or so.
    No problems.

  18. If the government is going to require ID to vote, the government needs to provide a reasonable source to obtain ID. Yes, I know, I know; how naive of me. But, we have neighborhood IMPD offices and those township offices Dems have wanted to get rid of. What about Post Office branches? Presidential elections are federal level. There are also schools in most neighborhoods. Just askin’

  19. Pete – I have been blogging for months about the coming descent of the Republican Party into Whigdom as such party has allowed itself to be bullied into nominating a candidate who cannot and will not win. As you know with your “ashes” suggestion, what’s to come of the Republican Party after their coming defeat at the polls? They have no choice if they wish to survive as a political entity – they have to start catering to millennials and minorities (soon to be majorities) or else they will go the way of their predecessors, the Whigs. As to what will survive with their essential return to more Ike-like reforms (or else), let’s not forget that the Republican Party arose in 1854 from the ruins of the Whig Party, and elected a former Whig (Lincoln) to the presidency only 6 years later. The new party was a breath of fresh air arising as it did from the ruins of the Whigs; the Whigs could not agree on the issue of slavery, hence their descent into political oblivion. I would have been a Republican in those days as the Democrats were old guard and pro slavery, but the parties have exchanged positions since then and I am a lifelong liberal Democrat as one of many results. The Republican Party today has no substantive positions on the real issues of the day (Putin, wage inequality etc.) but rather serve as an ATM machine for the rich and corporate class. Whether we can save our tattered democracy in view of its purchase by the wealthy is up for grabs, though Jimmy Carter told Oprah just a day or two ago that our democracy has been replaced by the oligarchy. I hope that is not yet the case. I am opposed to the loss of our democracy purchased by the blood of patriots in favor of making the super-rich the incredibly-rich. Money vs. Valley Forge? Iwo Jima? The Battle of the Bulge? What happened to the necessary base underpinning our Jeffersonian-Madisonian heritage? Are we so easily bought? I hope not. My greatest fear is that the rich and corporate class will come to control every vestige of American life, i.e., economic, political and even social. When and if that happens (unless it is already a fait accompli and I haven’t noticed), then, retrospectively, Carter may have been proven right in his assessment, and when that day comes, if it does, I see no reason to have a country with two classes; Wall Street and serfs. The noble experiment in democracy we call America will, as Rome and other great powers have done, become just another footnote in history and I, for one, do not care to participate in such a charade. Democracy, of course, cannot survive such a takeover by any class whereby the powerful overwhelm the powerless and the “one man-one vote” mantra is meaningless propaganda, so what form of government can we expect to see from the oligarchs and their fellow money-changers? I don’t know, but it will not be based on Athenian democracy since once they have the power to decide the fates of individual citizens from the top down they are not likely to voluntarily relinquish such powers to the demos since such a choice is not to be found in their ATM handbook.

  20. Gerald,

    Democracy, of course, cannot survive such a takeover by any class whereby the powerful overwhelm the powerless and the “one man-one vote” mantra is meaningless propaganda, so what form of government can we expect to see from the oligarchs and their fellow money-changers?

    A “gentle” theocratic/neo-fascism, at least for the short term. Trump represents the neo-fascism and his partner Pence the theocracy. This is what the Koch Brothers/John Birch Society combo is attempting to deliver for their fellow oligarchs if they can win the Presidency in November.

  21. Marv – You are on to something, but in their heart of hearts they know better. Religion and Trump’s passion for profit are fronts, of course, designed to keep voters’ attention diverted from the substantive issues of the day and the ATM sector’s interests booming, but as I have frequently blogged, we don’t mind the rich getting richer so long as they take us along for the ride. They aren’t. Our total wealth is unparalleled in history; only its division is out of whack for the relative contributions of the actors. This can be corrected by major changes in the internal revenue code and a bankruptcy code that allows corporations to go bankrupt, but not really, since the court can void worker contracts, adjust what is owed to creditors etc. all with a view toward saving the corporation but with the same management that drove the company into bankruptcy in the first place. I would take a long look at Chapter 11 and adjust the equities beyond stiffing of workers and creditors so that in the future the firms would look at another Chapter such as individuals seek in a “wipeout” under Chapter 7. However, all this is nitpicking in lieu of a general overhaul of current statutory and regulatory language if we are to retain our democracy while providing for prosperity for all. What we really need is an undergirding philosophical view followed by action affirming that we are all in this together and that we have the wealth to end poverty, and then do it. The French Revolution was fought for reasons that do not match our current state of affairs, but guillotines are not the answer. We can instead undo the damage done via legislation and regulation, buy we best hurry.

  22. BSH,

    Thanks for caring. I’m safe. I live in the old Junior High School which was converted into condos, 16 foot ceilings and all glass double windows to the outside. If the glass should blow then, I’ll have to re-treat to the well-protected hallways. Others are not so lucky. It’s the beaches that are in real danger. St. Augustine is already flooded. Our beaches, Ponte Vedra, Neptune, Atlantic, and Jacksonville are facing the possibility of a catastrophic ocean surge. The good new is that the hurricane has been reduced to a Category Three and the eye of the storm probably will stay off shore.

    I feel like a combat reporter. Our enemy is NATURE.

  23. Marv; relieved to see you on the blog and know you are as safe as possible in an unsafe part of the world right now. Keep your powder dry!

  24. JoAnn,

    Thanks. I’m going to sign off now before I lose power. An outage is inevitable. I’m fine. But it might take some time before I regain power. The full brunt of the storm is still a few hours away. I’m safe. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky.

  25. Typo – the last four words of my response to Marv should have read “but we best hurry.” Mea culpa.

Comments are closed.