Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The REAL Voter Fraud

If you ask people about voter fraud, most will admit it's a serious issue, and it IS. People casting votes they're not entitled to is a serious problem around the country, and something needs to be done about it. What's currently being done is NOT the solution though. Current Voter Fraud proposals don't address the issue, they just disenfranchise people, and that's not only bad, that's utterly unacceptable.

In states across the US, an attack on the ability to vote is ongoing. New laws requiring certain types of photo ID in order to vote are being proposed and passed all over the country to prevent voter fraud, but there's a major problem. A lot of people, particularly the poor, don't have suitable photo ID (or the documentation to get one), so these laws could potentially disenfranchise people (take away their vote)
CC-BY-NC U.S. Army Garrison - Miami
So what's the up side? Well, you won't be able to turn up and claim you're someone to vote. Great, you've stopped voter fraud then? No. Because that kind of fraud just doesn't happen.

In a op-ed piece earlier this month, Congressman Charles Gonzalez (D-Tx20) pointed out all these reasons in detail. To recap it, upto 11% of Americans don't have suitable ID and could be disenfranchised, in order to prevent a fraud rate of... 0.00002% So let's put toms figures to that, shall we?

The voting eligible population (that's the number of people who could vote) in 2010 was, apparently, around 217Million. By Gonzalez's figures, 11% don't have ID, which is 23,870,000 people. Let's assume that 99% of those have the ABILITY to get a suitable ID, which leaves 238,700 disenfranchised.
Now, what's the fraud rate work out to? 43.4 people.

Voter ID laws are being passed because of the POTENTIAL for UPTO 44 invalid ballots being cast, and to prevent those 45 fraudulent ballots, they're going to disenfranchise over a quarter-million people. In Wisconsin, for instance, there have been ten cases of voter fraud since between 2004 and 2011, none of which would be prevented by these laws (mostly they're cases of felons voting, which isn't allowed)

However, there's another issue. The cases of voter fraud are only on those that vote, it's not 0.0002% of the voting population, that's just the worst case. It's 0.00002% of the votes cast, which has been between 40-50% typically. So it's actually 22 fraudulent votes.

There are cases of voter fraud, don't get me wrong, but the majority is NOT dealt with via voterID laws, because they are conducted with absentee ballots. And despite the gleeful videos of propaganda maker James O'Keefe (a completely different James O'Keefe to the head of the Massachusetts Pirate Party, and HIS thoughtsrack on ballot access laws.) and his heavily edited videos, attempting to show how easy it is to file an absentee ballot, the fact is it's already illegal, and wouldn't have worked anyway, as this analysis shows. What's more, on at least one occasion, he was thwarted entirely and had to flee before police arrived.

So, what about the other side of the coin? Well, Newt Gingrich, who last year was pushing hard for criminal sanctions against the ACORN organisation, with only the odd case actually having enough evidence to bring to trial (mainly for compensating people for registering legitimate voters), and two independent investigations, one by former Mass. AG Scott Harshbarger, and another by the Congressional Research Service, found NO instances of voter fraud by ACORN. 

The same couldn't be said for vocal ACORN critic, and Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich who is potentially looking at 1500 cases of the same kind of voter fraud he accused ACORN of not that long ago. Of course, in ACORN's case, the 1.5% of registrations believed to be fraudulent were flagged by ACORN prior to being submitted (by law they have to submit them, even if they are fraudulent) which most of those being duplicates; meanwhile Gingrich's campaign did not flag or vet the names, and had a potential fraud rate of 13%.

Of course, it's just 'a mistake' in Gingrich's case, right? He's like you to think so.

The reality is that voter fraud such as this is an INCREDIBLY rare thing. There is, however, a much grater potentially for election fraud when it comes to the types of machines now in use in a lot of places around the world have significant security and integrity problems.

The biggest voting fraud, though, comes AFTER the elections. It has been caught on at least three separate occasions over the last few years, and involves fraudulent casting of votes on bills by state houses.

This video was released in 2008, showing the Texas Legislature having a free-for-all, with representatives casting not only their votes, but other representatives votes as well.

Not good, but earlier this month, Wisconsin, already in the midst of a huge partisan political battle, emerged as another state that practices voter fraud as part of their standard business practice.

As this video (taken illegally on Feb 21st 2012, since video recording is not permitted in the chamber, for reasons that are now clear) shows, is that while representatives in the state legislature are so concerned with voter fraud, that they had to pass a special law to deal with the non-existent problem, they have themselves committed voter fraud, and were caught on tape doing so.

When confronted by a local reporter over the topic, the representative claimed 'everyone does it' and that 'he was targeted', while adamant that it was NOT fraud. Nor was it the first time this has come up; it was an issue 16 years ago, and Governor Walker, then a State Rep wanted the practice dealt with, as detailed in this video report by WTMJ.

So while there is voter fraud, it needs to be dealt with, by addressing the real problem, and source of the fraud; career politicians (including those starting out). This is why we need transparency and accountability of our elected representatives, because it's through these kinds of criminal, undemocratic actions, that the laws which erode and destroy our freedoms are passed.

Yet, just as James O'Keefe-the-fraudster wasn't punished severely for breaking into the office of a US senator (getting two years probation, 75 hours of community service and $1,500 fines for attempting to tamper with a Senator's office phone is a very light sentence) the Wisconsin lawmakers will probably not face any significant punishment, if any.

So what hope for the US then, when voting ability is taken away for a crime that rarely occurs outside the chambers of those passing the laws. None at all, unless people start waking up quickly, and demanding accountability in their lawmakers. Else it's a case of “He who has the gold, makes the rules”, and that's NOT democracy, not at all.

This piece was originally published at Falkvinge.net and is released under a CC0 license.

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