Misleading Headlines

by Dave Schuler on April 3, 2014

When I saw the caption “Tillis, Berger Issue Joint Statement on Newly Discovered, Alarming Evidence of Voter Error and Fraud”, I presume I should be forgiven for expecting evidence of voter error and fraud. I was disappointed. What was actually presented were warning flags. Here’s an example:

765 voters with an exact match of first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in N.C. and the other state in the 2012 general election.

That’s not evidence of actual fraud. I do think it suggests that more investigation is warranted.

Some of the numbers presented were actually pretty alarming:

155,692 voters with the same first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state – and the latest date of registration or voter activity did not take place within N.C.

765 votes would not be enough to swing North Carolina’s statewide elections in 2012. They might have been enough to influence the House elections.

However, 765 votes would have been enough to change the outcome of the Minnesota election for the U. S. Senate, for example, which could have made the difference between the PPACA’s being passed or not.

I honestly don’t understand why progressives pooh-pooh claims of widespread vote fraud. It’s not like Bigfoot. There have been enough convictions in the courts that its existence can’t reasonably be disputed and in very close elections a few votes one way or another can make a difference.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Piercello April 3, 2014 at 10:57 am

Dave, the link to the actual report is here, if you are interested.

Slide 34 (of the 58 slides) indicates that voter data was shared by only 28 other states (excluding most of the Northeast), suggesting that the potential problem could be significantly larger.

Dave Schuler April 3, 2014 at 11:08 am

I took the liberty of correcting your link which was malformed.

As I say, it still doesn’t constitute proof of fraud, just a warning flag that deserves further investigation.

Interestingly, the largest states in the union (California, New York, Florida, etc.) didn’t take part. My intuition is that the largest volume of fraudulent registrations and voting is among those states, particularly between New York and Florida.

Piercello April 3, 2014 at 11:21 am

Thanks for the correction, Dave.

And I agree with your “warning flag” status. I brought up the lack of data from the Northeast specifically because North Carolina seemed to be a popular anecdotal winter/retirement destination for New Englanders when I lived among them.

jan April 3, 2014 at 11:52 am

I honestly don’t understand why progressives pooh-pooh claims of widespread vote fraud. It’s not like Bigfoot. There have been enough convictions in the courts that its existence can’t reasonably be disputed and in very close elections a few votes one way or another can make a difference.

I agree and think it warrants being repeated — questioning the validity of indignant progressive responses in downplaying voter irregularities, as they prime the contentious pump of racial discrimination being the end result of adding any corrective measures.

However, when you consider the hearings going on now in DC regarding GM flaws, accounting foronly 13 deaths out of the millions of cars sold, why should scattered voter discrepancies not be enough of a threshold to provoke looking into and then strengthening voter authenticity laws? After all, poll after poll indicates over 70% of the public supports voter ID laws — provisions that are consistently maligned by social progressives, and then augmented by our AG’s dedicated efforts to legally thwart and dismantle any state laws attempting to establish their own voter ID remedies.

... April 3, 2014 at 12:18 pm

My intuition is that the largest volume of fraudulent registrations and voting is among those states, particularly between New York and Florida.

A consortium of the local (Florida) papers did a review of voters records from the 2000 election, I believe it was. (THe analysis was done a few years later, as I recall.) There was a LOT of overlap in voting records. Lots of those liberal snowbirds in NY vote up there by absentee ballot and vote down here in person. Oddly enough, the Dems didn’t complain about the thousands (probably more) of extra votes Gore got because of that. But that is certainly why the Gore team only wanted the votes recounted in four counties in Florida that didn’t have that much of a problem with snowbirds double votes.

This, along with more and more immigrants (both legal and not) voting down here (soon to be followed by Chinese nationals voting no doubt), is why Florida is now a blue state in Presidential elections.

I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me how the Republicans are supposed to win a Presidential election when they’re losing California, New York and Florida before the election even gets held, although the Dems still have to work for it down here. (Get out the vote efforts and such. I fully expect that by no later than 2024, and possibly as early as 2020, the Democratic Party will have to do no more work to win the state’s electoral college votes than they do to win the votes of NY or CA.)

... April 3, 2014 at 12:20 pm

However, when you consider the hearings going on now in DC regarding GM flaws, accounting foronly 13 deaths out of the millions of cars sold, why should scattered voter discrepancies not be enough of a threshold to provoke looking into and then strengthening voter authenticity laws?

Well, duh. There isn’t a fortune to be made from wrongful death suits by trial lawyers in the cases of voter fraud. Convince the trial lawyers that they can make a killing from it and you might start getting some action. But probably not, as the ambulance chasers love Democrats more than they love anything other than money.

... April 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

There ought to be national voter ID laws, and there should be a national clearinghouse of information to ensure that voters aren’t voting in more jurisdictions than allowed at one time. Surely there must be some way of setting such a system up that doesn’t step on state toes too much.

... April 3, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Also, there should only be paper ballots, no early voting, and absentee voting only in cases where great hardship can be shown. The current increasingly lackadaisical system invites cheating.

jan April 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Also, there should only be paper ballots, no early voting, and absentee voting only in cases where great hardship can be shown. The current increasingly lackadaisical system invites cheating.

Those are brutal suggestions for social progressives and their game plans to win elections!

Nonetheless, Ice, I agree with most of them. Paper ballots seem less susceptible to fraud than rigging computers. I think early voting should be significantly shortened, rather than going on forever, like is being pushed by the dems. Ironically dems are against leniency or leeway for counting military ballots, but are always stretching the front end of time for people having far fewer excuses/obstacles to vote and have it count. Absentee voting should be monitored more closely, that’s for sure. With the population aging, though, it will probably only grow in it’s usage. As for that word “lackadaisical,” it’s a vulnerability that seems to be promoted by social progressives over proactive encouragement and opening up genuine opportunity for all.

Dave Schuler April 3, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Paper ballots seem less susceptible to fraud than rigging computers.

You’re kidding, right? I think it was one of LBJ’s political operatives who said “give me five minutes with it [one of the old voting machines] and I’ll have it playing Dixie”. In the U. S. nobody is using completely manual paper ballots any more. When they use paper at all they’re mark sense and they’re read using computers.

Using paper ballots in a completely manual system will be much more prone to fraud than the machines being used now. All it will take is cooperative election judges.

Here in Chicago we use a combination of paper ballots that use mark sense and a fully electronic system. In my polling place only two people used the electronic system.

jan April 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Ice,

I’ve heard the same thing said about computer voting from IT experts.

jan April 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Sorry, last post to dave, not ice…

Dave Schuler April 3, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I’ve heard the same thing said about computer voting from IT experts.

Maybe it’s time for me to mention again that I was a member of the design team for an award-winning design for an electronic voting machine. One of the skills I brought to the task was my understanding of the process.

There’s no such thing as a fraud-proof system for voting. Studies conducted by MIT have found that the old punched card systems were actually less fraud-prone and less error prone than the mark sense that’s now the dominant approach. And less hackable than completely electronic systems.

Since I insist on a fully auditable systsem, I oppose completely electronic voting. Even the electronic voting machines used here in Chicago include a paper trail, something not part of their original design but insisted upon by our election officials.

There’s a trade off between a secret ballot and vote fraud. If every voted ballot had the inked fingerprint of the voter and was read by a completely honest fingerprint expert, you could come pretty close to a fraud-free system. There would also be no such thing as a secret ballot. IMO such a system is impractical for anything larger than a village.

TastyBits April 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Everything that can be opened physically, virtually, or electronically can be broken into. The question is how much money are you willing to spend to increase the difficulty of the person trying to break in.

If electronic voting machines are networked, you can expect them to be compromised, and if they are exposed to the internet, Chinese hackers will be deciding elections.

Testing the electronic voting machine is simple. Create 100 dummy voters. Vote 100 times using these dummy accounts. Verify the results. The machines are either correct or not.

I would suggest caution about these claims. They may be well meaning, but the Y2K folks were as well. The problem was the Y2K folks worked in base-10, but the computers they were fixing worked in base-2. It was a difference worth billions of dollars.

... April 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Re: paper ballots: I’m not looking for a completely manual system. Preferably it would be a system along the lines of the scan-tron devices used for standardized testing. Such machines CAN be rigged, but the paper trail means that an audit process can exist.

Back when I was a TA, I was a party to thousands of tests going through scanning devices. (Not just my own students, but those in the same course that would be tested at the same time, etc.) In the years I was there, we only had one problem: a card got mangled. And you know what? That card was still readable, and we were able to grade it by hand. It had been years since anyone remembered that problem having happened. You were more likely to have a student die than get an incorrect grade.

Again, this doesn’t mean a system can’t be rigged. All human systems can be rigged. (This is one reason why economics can never be a truly predictive science: Every system set up will get gamed by someone eventually, thus changing the rules. You’d have to be able to predict the basic nature and timing of the CHANGES to get any where with the predictions on anything other than the short term. And that’s the optimistic viewpoint.)

But a paper trail makes it possible to correct errors down the line. All electronic ballots don’t have that option if someone fucks with the machines. (To screw an election with the paper ballots you’re going to have to mess with the machines and the paper ballots. And every extra thing the crooks have to do to rig the system is some other way they can get caught.)

Andy April 3, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I like redundant systems with audit features.

There are many kinds of voter fraud – I think voting in two states is probably pretty common and its probably one of the easier methods to get rid of.

But neither party is really interested in improving the process.

steve April 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Almost all of the voter fraud that has been found has occurred with absentee ballots, very well documented, and problems that occur at the voting machines. I would heartily support efforts to do away with that kind of fraud which we know actually exists in any kind of significant numbers. The kind of fraud that could be stopped by voter ID is so rare that here in PA they didnt even bother trying to cite the very rare cases as a reason to institute voter ID. Spending a billion a year to stop 5-10 fraudulent votes a year seems like a bad idea.

Steve

Guarneri April 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Do Chicago’s dead voters find paper, or electronic, more convenient?

Dave Schuler April 4, 2014 at 7:22 am

By and large they vote absentee.

matt bernius April 4, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I honestly don’t understand why progressives pooh-pooh claims of widespread vote fraud. It’s not like Bigfoot. There have been enough convictions in the courts that its existence can’t reasonably be disputed and in very close elections a few votes one way or another can make a difference.

Arriving a little late on this one Dave, but I need to take some issue with this — or rather the use of “widespread.”

Without a doubt, voter fraud does take place. But without understanding what you mean by “widespread”, there’s no way I’d use that term.

As for swaying votes, if we find out that all of those 765 votes were fraudulent AND all took place in the 7th district (the only district where they would have actually mattered), then you have a point.

Arguably, the place where these matter the most are on more local elections.

And finally, as is often pointed out, when we actually get to *how* voter fraud currently takes place, the fact is that all the evidence suggests the majority of it occurs via absentee ballots. Which current Voter ID laws rarely address.

Dave Schuler April 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Perhaps “commonplace” might be a better word. I think it happens frequently and in lots of different places. Where it really counts is in close elections particularly in close local elections.

I’ve worked as an election judge for more than 25 years. I’m pretty confident that there’s at least a little vote fraud going on in every precinct in which I’ve worked and a lot of vote fraud going on in certain precincts.

matt bernius April 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Fair response.

steve April 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Why does it never get caught? Heaven knows, every red state has the motivation to catch it so they can have proof to justify voter ID.

Steve

Dave Schuler April 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Why does it never get caught?

It sometimes does get caught. Just google around for “vote fraud” a bit. There are dozens, maybe scores of convictions for it. I’d assume that those were just the tip of the iceberg.

Why are there so few prosecutions for tax fraud? There are probably millions if not tens of millions of cases of it every darned year. Do we infer fromthe relatively small number of prosecutions that the American people are punctiliously honest? I certainly wouldn’t. The reason is that you’ve got to have the motivation and the resources.

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