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Books by Rick
The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown (Yale University Press, 2012)
The Voting Wars Website
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Election Law--Cases and Materials (5th edition 2012) (with Daniel Hays Lowenstein and Daniel P. Tokaji)
The Supreme Court and Election Law: Judging Equality from Baker v. Carr to Bush v. Gore (NYU Press 2003) NOW IN PAPER
Table of Contents
Order from Amazon.com
Order from BarnesandNoble.com
Journal of Legislation Symposium on book
The Glannon Guide to Torts: Learning Torts Through Multiple-Choice Questions and Analysis (Aspen Publishers 2d ed. 2011)
Remedies: Examples & Explanations (Aspen Publishers, 2d ed. 2010)
Election Law Resources
Blogroll/Political News Sites
All About Redistricting (Justin Levitt)
American Constitution Society
Ballot Access News
Brennan Center for Justice
The Brookings Institution's Campaign Finance Page
California Election Law (Randy Riddle)
Caltech-MIT/Voting Technology Project (and link to voting technology listserv)
The Caucus (NY Times)
Campaign Legal Center (Blog)
Campaign Finance Institute
Center for Competitive Politics (Blog)
Center for Governmental Studies
Doug Chapin (HHH program)
Equal Vote (Dan Tokaji)
Federal Election Commission
The Fix (WaPo)
Initiative and Referendum Institute
Legal Theory (Larry Solum)
Political Activity Law
Summary Judgments (Loyola Law faculty blog)
Talking Points Memo
UC Irvine Center for the Study of Democracy
UC Irvine School of Law
USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics
The Volokh Conspiracy
Votelaw blog (Ed Still)
Washington Post Politics
Recent Newspapers and Magazine Commentaries
Big Money Lost, But Don't Be Relieved, CNN Opinion, Nov. 9, 2012
A Better Way to Vote: Nationalize Oversight and Control, NY Times, "Room for Debate" blog, Nov. 9, 2012
Election Day Dispatches Entry 5: Black Panthers, Navy Seals, and Mysterious Voting Machines, Slate, Nov. 6, 2012
Behind the Voting Wars, A Clash of Philosophies, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 4, 2012
How Many More Near-Election Disasters Before Congress Wakes Up?, The Daily Beast, Oct. 30, 2012
Will Bush v. Gore Save Barack Obama? If Obama Narrowly Wins Ohio, He Can Thank Scalia and the Court's Conservatives, Slate, Oct. 26, 2012
Will Voter Suppression and Dirty Tricks Swing the Election?, Salon, Oct. 22, 2012
Is the Supreme Court About to Swing Another Presidential Election? If the Court Cuts Early Voting in Ohio, It Could Be a Difference Maker in the Buckeye State, Slate, Oct. 15, 2012
Election Truthers: Will Republicans Accept an Obama Election Victory?, Slate, Oct. 9, 2012
Wrong Number: The Crucial Ohio Voting Battle You Haven't Heard About, Slate, Oct. 1, 2012
Litigating the Vote, National Law Journal, Aug. 27, 2012
Military Voters as Political Pawns, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 19, 2012
Tweeting the Next Election Meltdown: If the Next Presidential Election Goes into Overtime, Heaven Help Us. It’s Gonna Get Ugly, Slate, Aug. 14, 2012
A Detente Before the Election, New York Times, August 5, 2012
Worse Than Watergate: The New Campaign Finance Order Puts the Corruption of the 1970s to Shame, Slate, July 19, 2012
Has SCOTUS OK'd Campaign Dirty Tricks?, Politico, July 10, 2012
End the Voting Wars: Take our elections out of the hands of the partisan and the incompetent, Slate, June 13, 2012
Citizens: Speech, No Consequences, Politico, May 31, 2012
Is Campaign Disclosure Heading Back to the Supreme Court? Don’t expect to see Karl Rove’s Rolodex just yet, Slate, May 16, 2012
Unleash the Hounds Why Justice Souter should publish his secret dissent in Citizens United, Slate, May 16, 2012
Why Washington Can’t Be Fixed; And is about to get a lot worse, Slate, May 9, 2012
Let John Edwards Go! Edwards may be a liar and a philanderer, but his conviction will do more harm than good, Slate, April 23, 2012
The Real Loser of the Scott Walker Recall? The State of Wisconsin, The New Republic, April 13, 2012
A Court of Radicals: If the justices strike down Obamacare, it may have grave political implications for the court itself, Slate, March 30, 2012
Of Super PACs and Corruption, Politico, March 22, 2012
Texas Voter ID Law May Be Headed to the Supreme Court, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Mar. 13, 2012
“The Numbers Don’t Lie: If you aren’t sure Citizens United gave rise to the Super PACs, just follow the money, Slate, Mar. 9, 2012
Stephen Colbert: Presidential Kingmaker?, Politico, Mar. 5 2012
Occupy the Super PACs; Justice Ginsburg knows the Citizens United decision was a mistake. Now she appears to be ready to speak truth to power, Slate, Feb. 20, 2012
Kill the Caucuses! Maine, Nevada, and Iowa were embarrassing. It’s time to make primaries the rule, Slate, Feb. 15, 2012
The Biggest Danger of Super PACs, CNN Politics, Jan. 9, 2012
This Case is a Trojan Horse, New York Times "Room for Debate" blog, Jan. 6, 2012 (forum on Bluman v. FEC)
Holder's Voting Rights Gamble: The Supreme Court's Voter ID Showdown, Slate, Dec. 30, 2011
Will Foreigners Decide the 2012 Election? The Extreme Unintended Consequences of Citizens United, The New Republic (online), Dec. 6, 2011
Disenfranchise No More, New York Times, Nov. 17, 2011
A Democracy Deficit at Americans Elect?, Politico, Nov. 9, 2011
Super-Soft Money: How Justice Kennedy paved the way for ‘SuperPACS’ and the return of soft money, Slate, Oct. 25, 2012
The Arizona Campaign Finance Law: The Surprisingly Good News in the Supreme Court’s New Decision, The New Republic (online), June 27, 2011
New York City as a Model?, New York Times Room for Debate, June 27, 2011
A Cover-Up, Not a Crime. Why the Case Against John Edwards May Be Hard to Prove, Slate, Jun. 3, 2011
Wisconsin Court Election Courts Disaster, Politico, Apr. 11, 2011
Rich Candidate Expected to Win Again, Slate, Mar. 25, 2011
Health Care and the Voting Rights Act, Politico, Feb. 4, 2011
The FEC is as Good as Dead, Slate, Jan. 25, 2011
Let Rahm Run!, Slate, Jan. 24, 2011
Lobbypalooza,The American Interest, Jan-Feb. 2011(with Ellen P. Aprill)
Election Hangover: The Real Legacy of Bush v. Gore, Slate, Dec. 3, 2010
Alaska's Big Spelling Test: How strong is Joe Miller's argument against the Leeza Markovsky vote?, Slate, Nov. 11, 2010
Kirk Offers Hope vs. Secret Donors, Politico, November 5, 2010
Evil Men in Black Robes: Slate's Judicial Election Campaign Ad Spooktackular!, Slate, October 26, 2010 (with Dahlia Lithwick)
Show Me the Donors: What's the point of disclosing campaign donations? Let's review, Slate, October 14, 2010
Un-American Influence: Could Foreign Spending on Elections Really Be Legal?, Slate, October 11, 2010
Toppled Castle: The real loser in the Tea Party wins is election reform, Slate, Sept. 16, 2010
Citizens United: What the Court Did--and Why, American Interest, July/August 2010
The Big Ban Theory: Does Elena Kagan Want to Ban Books? No, and She Might Even Be a Free Speech Zealot", Slate, May 24, 2010
Crush Democracy But Save the Kittens: Justice Alito's Double Standard for the First Amendment, Slate, Apr. 30, 2010
Some Skepticism About the "Separable Preferences" Approach to the Single Subject Rule: A Comment on Cooter & Gilbert, Columbia Law Review Sidebar, Apr. 19, 2010
Scalia's Retirement Party: Looking ahead to a conservative vacancy can help the Democrats at the polls, Slate, Apr. 12, 2010
Hushed Money: Could Karl Rove's New 527 Avoid Campaign-Finance Disclosure Requirements?, Slate, Apr. 6, 2010
Money Grubbers: The Supreme Court Kills Campaign Finance Reform, Slate, Jan. 21, 2010
Bad News for Judicial Elections, N.Y. Times "Room for Debate" Blog, Jan., 21, 2010
Read more opeds from 2006-2009
Forthcoming Publications, Recent Articles, and Working Papers
The 2012 Voting Wars, Judicial Backstops, and the Resurrection of Bush v. Gore, George Washington Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
A Constitutional Right to Lie in Campaigns and Elections?, Montana Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
End of the Dialogue? Political Polarization, the Supreme Court, and Congress, 86 Southern California Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (draft available)
Fixing Washington, 126 Harvard Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draf available)
What to Expect When You’re Electing: Federal Courts and the Political Thicket in 2012, Federal Lawyer, (forthcoming 2012)( draft available)
Chill Out: A Qualified Defense of Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws in the Internet Age, Journal of Law and Politics (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Lobbying, Rent Seeking, and the Constitution, 64 Stanford Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Anticipatory Overrulings, Invitations, Time Bombs, and Inadvertence: How Supreme Court Justices Move the Law, Emory Law Journal (forthcoming 2012) (draft available)
Teaching Bush v. Gore as History, St. Louis University Law Review (forthcoming 2012) (symposium on teaching election law) (draft available)
The Supreme Court’s Shrinking Election Law Docket: A Legacy of Bush v. Gore or Fear of the Roberts Court?, Election Law Journal (forthcoming 2011) (draft available)
Citizens United and the Orphaned Antidistortion Rationale, 27 Georgia State Law Review 989 (2011) (symposium on Citizens United)
The Nine Lives of Buckley v. Valeo, in First Amendment Stories, Richard Garnett and Andrew Koppelman, eds., Foundation 2011)
The Transformation of the Campaign Financing Regime for U.S. Presidential Elections, in The Funding of Political Parties (Keith Ewing, Jacob Rowbottom, and Joo-Cheong Tham, eds., Routledge 2011)
Judges as Political Regulators: Evidence and Options for Institutional Change, in Race, Reform and Regulation of the Electoral Process, (Gerken, Charles, and Kang eds., Cambridge 2011)
Citizens United and the Illusion of Coherence, 109 Michigan Law Review 581 (2011)
Aggressive Enforcement of the Single Subject Rule, 9 Election Law Journal 399 (2010) (co-authored with John G. Matsusaka)
The Benefits of the Democracy Canon and the Virtues of Simplicity: A Reply to Professor Elmendorf, 95 Cornell Law Review 1173 (2010)
Constitutional Avoidance and Anti-Avoidance on the Roberts Court, 2009 Supreme Court Review 181 (2010)
Election Administration Reform and the New Institutionalism, California Law Review 1075 (2010) (reviewing Gerken, The Democracy Index)
You Don't Have to Be a Structuralist to Hate the Supreme Court's Dignitary Harm Election Law Cases, 64 University of Miami Law Review 465 (2010)
The Democracy Canon, 62 Stanford Law Review 69 (2009)
Review Essay: Assessing California's Hybrid Democracy, 97 California Law Review 1501 (2009)
Bush v. Gore and the Lawlessness Principle: A Comment on Professor Amar, 61 Florida Law Review 979 (2009)
Introduction: Developments in Election Law, 42 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 565 (2009)
Book Review (reviewing Christopher P. Manfredi and Mark Rush, Judging Democracy (2008)), 124 Political Science Quarterly 213 (2009).
"Regulation of Campaign Finance," in Vikram Amar and Mark Tushnet, Global Perspectives on Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press (2009)
More Supply, More Demand: The Changing Nature of Campaign Financing for Presidential Primary Candidates (working paper, Sept. 2008)
When 'Legislature' May Mean More than''Legislature': Initiated Electoral College Reform and the Ghost of Bush v. Gore, 35 Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly 599 (2008) (draft available)
"Too Plain for Argument?" The Uncertain Congressional Power to Require Parties to Choose Presidential Nominees Through Direct and Equal Primaries, 102 Northwestern University Law Review 2009 (2008)
Political Equality, the Internet, and Campaign Finance Regulation, The Forum, Vol. 6, Issue 1, Art. 7 (2008)
Justice Souter: Campaign Finance Law's Emerging Egalitarian, 1 Albany Government Law Review 169 (2008)
Beyond Incoherence: The Roberts Court's Deregulatory Turn in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 92 Minnesota Law Review 1064 (2008) (draft available)
The Untimely Death of Bush v. Gore, 60 Stanford Law Review 1 (2007)
Category Archives: fraudulent fraud squad
Some of those in the fraudulent fraud squad like to call those, like me, who (correctly) argue that impersonation voter fraud is virtually nonexistent “vote fraud deniers.” Here’s an example of the language in a new John Fund column.
As I make clear in The Voting Wars, election crimes (including voter fraud) happen. It is a relatively small problem relative to the number of votes cast. When it happens, it tends to involve absentee ballot fraud, and sometimes other things like election officials cooking the books and, as John Fund’s column notes, double voting in two states. (This is one of the reasons I favor federal voter administration with a national id card and unique voter i.d. number to prevent double voting between states.)
The primary kind of fraud which a state voter id law would prevent is voter impersonation fraud, and that, as I’ve explained ad nauseam, is really a non-problem. Making this claim doesn’t make me a “vote fraud denier.” It makes me a denier of the possibility of significant in person voter fraud.
How rare is it? We’ve been down this road before, but here’s a nice graphic from News21, which did a comprehensive survey of district attorneys across the country over the last 10 years, finding 491 cases of absentee ballot prosecutions and 10 cases of impersonation fraud, none connected to the other. Check out this graphic from News 21 (look at the way down to find impersonation fraud):
Rob Richie traces the ever-evolving TTV report. It begins:
Yesterday I helped my colleague Andrea Levien expose on the FairVote blog that True the Vote — an organization that purports to be dedicated to reducing voter fraud and has been the subject of much controversy for its methods — had cooked numbers on voter turnout in a February 27th report that featured its findings on the effect on voter turnout of voter ID laws and other election changes allegedly meant to reduce voter fraud.
True the Vote in its original report concluded that these new laws not have an adverse impact on turnout and may have led to increased turnout. They began the report with highlighted statistics, including two relating to turnout:
- 6.2 percent: The average increase of voter turnout in states with “strict” voter ID laws.
- 72 percent: The rate of voter turnout in Georgia, home of the strictest voter ID law — up from 62 percent in 2008
But these statistics were absolutely wrong. If you go to the report now as of noon on Friday, March 1st (important to clarify, as the report has been edited twice today and may be again), you won’t find any reference to turnout. You also won’t see any apology or explanation for the deletions, despite those findings being trumpeted on such websites such as Breitbart’s Big Government, which on February 27 published an article reporting that:
“True the Vote’s report demonstrated that in almost every state with some form of photo ID requirement, voter turnout improved from 2008.”Georgia is known to have the ‘strictest’ photo requirement in the nation,” Engelbrecht continued. “In two consecutive general election cycles the state has seen increases in voter turnout. This is more evidence that voter confidence and turnout rise together, thanks to photo voter ID.”
In fact, the report’s authors made a huge methodological mistake. They compared turnout of eligible voters in 2008 to turnout of registered voters in 2012. Because many people are not registered to vote, turnout of registered voters is almost always higher than turnout of eligible voters. (The only exception would be if a state has more registered voters than eligible voters, as in fact can happen in some states like Alaska due to our antiquated approach to voter registration.)
Correcting this error in fact reverses True the Vote’s findings. All but one of the states with new voter ID laws experienced a decline in voter turnout, and most experienced a decline greater than the national turnout decline from 2008 to 2012.
Also looking forward to Spencer being the keynote speaker at this UC Berkeley voting rights event on Monday.
“We stand by True the Vote’s report. Everything we said about the major conclusions in the report are correct. In a supplementary section, there was a methological error and it has been acknowledged and addressed. While we appreciate those who have zealously brought this to our attention for accuracy purposes, we would like to point out that patently false statements published by Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan in a Duke Law journal about the Voting Rights Act and the Bush administration have never been corrected. We call upon those guardians of accuracy to address her false scholarship.”
For context, those living in Bizzaro world have attacked Pam Karlan (and me for not attacking Pam Karlan).
NPR: “To those who closely follow the voter ID wars, Hans von Spakovsky is a household name, one of the nation’s leading crusaders against voter fraud, and also one of its more controversial. Days before the 2012 election, The New Yorker profiled him as ‘the man who has stoked fear about imposters at the poll.’ So it was news that von Spakovsky, a Republican lawyer and scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation, failed to get a second term on the electoral board of Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county, despite being the top choice of the county’s Republican Party.”
Maybe the judges read Jane Mayer?
UPDATE: The judges were directed by Democrats to the Jane Mayer article and more about him.
A Hamilton County Board of Elections hearing on Friday into possible vote fraud last November produced no Perry Mason moments but plenty of evidence of voter confusion – not over for whom to vote, but how to vote…
The case of Veronica Stearns, a 51-year-old Springfield Township voter, was typical of those heard Friday. Stearns acknowledged having cast an absentee ballot and then also voting a second time at her polling place on Election Day.
Stearns said she became concerned when a postal worker told her mother that absentee ballot envelopes without two stamps – hers had only one – would not be delivered. (In fact, the post office’s policy is to deliver such ballot envelopes, with boards of elections picking up the additional postage cost, said board member Caleb Faux.)
“The post office told my mom my vote wouldn’t be counted,” she said.
When she went to her polling place on Election Day, Stearns said, workers who she told that she already had voted absentee allowed her to cast a provisional ballot – the proper procedure.
Provisional ballots are cast when there is a question over a voter’s eligibility, often after a move, a name change or in cases when it is unclear whether a requested absentee ballot has actually been cast. After officials sort out the matter, they decide which, if any, of a voter’s ballots to count.
In instances in which both an absentee and Election Day ballot have been cast, the vote counted usually is the first one cast – the absentee….
Of course, some real voter fraud does occur including in Hamilton County. But don’t turn a very small problem into an epidemic of fraud.
With news of possible fraud claims coming out of Hamilton County, Ohio, it is worth remembering that vast majority of the relatively small number of cases involve either election officials committing fraud, or voters, candidates, and others committing absentee ballot fraud.
The problem is that the supposed cure—voter id—does not stop these main types of fraud.
If John Fund and others started a serious push to eliminate the use of absentee ballots, then I would take their concerns about voter fraud much more seriously. But it is not a part of the antifraud measures proposed and adopted by those who claim this is a major problem.
UPDATE: John Fund sent an email response to the election law listserv, which I am posting here with his permission:
Rick (whose book I read and found much to agree with in) says he would take my concerns about voter fraud more seriously if I and others ”started a serious push to eliminate the use of absentee ballots.”That is strange. No one serious calls for ELIMINATING absentee ballots. They are needed by old people, bedridden people, military voters, expats and people who travel a great deal. In “Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk,” my co-author an I call for absentee ballot REFORM and vigorously. The chapter is entitled “Absentee Ballots: the Tool of Choice for Vote Thieves.”Indeed, I have gotten into hot water with some Republicans for criticizing some state legislatures that have not passed comprehensive anti-fraud efforts that include Photo ID, absentee ballot reform and cleaning up voter rolls despite the federal strictures on that activity.As the liberal Talking Points Memo wrote last August:
Fund said that many voter ID laws “take some provisions to curb absentee ballot fraud,” with a few exceptions. But he confessed that Democrats had a point when they say that Republicans focus on voter ID because of a potential electoral advantage.
“I think it is a fair argument of some liberals that there are some people who emphasize the voter ID part more than the absentee ballot part because supposedly Republicans like absentee ballots more and they don’t want to restrict that,” Fund said. “But the bottom line is, on good government grounds, we have to have both voter ID laws and absentee ballot laws.”
Just last Wednesday, my co-author and I were in Raleigh, North Carolina on a panel with two liberal opponents of Photo ID laws. We all agreed that absentee ballot fraud was a real problem, however the two opposing panelists declined to endorse any specific legislation to combat it despite a clear invitation to do so.
I thank John for the correction about his views. Good to know there is some common ground. It is notable that in the Republican/ALEC push to take anti-fraud measures, limiting the use of absentee ballots was never part of any serious discussion. And it remains so to this day. Instead we have a heavy push for state voter id laws, which do very little, if anything, to address election official fraud and absentee ballot fraud. The mismatch makes me question the motives of those pushing these laws.
Rush Limbaugh weighs in on Shelby County and voter registration modernization.
New York Times, Clout Diminished, Tea Party Turns to Narrower Issues:
Grass-roots leaders said this month that after losing any chance of repealing the national health care law, they would press states to “nullify” or ignore it. They also plan to focus on a two-decade-old United Nations resolution that they call a plot against property rights, and on “fraud” by local election boards that, some believe, let the Democrats steal the November vote.
But unlike the broader, galvanizing issues of health care and the size of the federal government that ignited the Tea Party, the new topics seem likely to bolster critics who portray the movement as a distraction to the Republican Party….
Billie Tucker, an activist with the First Coast Tea Party in Florida, said she and others suspected that corruption on local election boards had led to Mr. Obama’s victory in the state. Activists want to investigate.
“Some people say it’s just a conspiracy theory, but there’s rumbling all around,” she said. “There’s all kinds of data, and no one’s talking about it, including, hello, the mainstream media.”
More on Election Trutherism.
“RNC Official Alleges Voter Fraud Under Past Mayors In Detroit, Voters Found In Pool Halls And Bused To Polls”
Andrew Rosenthal: “Apparently, there are limits to what acolytes of voter fraud will say. Take Virginia’s attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, who was a major backer of the law passed by his state requiring voters to present ID before they cast a ballot. Last week, life on the Republican fringe got too uncomfortable even for Mr. Cuccinelli, when he found himself agreeing with a radio talk show host, Cheri Jacobus, who implied that President Obama stole the 2012 election.”
Turns out, there’s plenty of “that” to fix in Florida’s elections. One more item to add to the list: how results are reported. There’s been growing concern about results reported in St. Lucie County (one of the counties in the Patrick Murphy-Allen West race), with allegations of massive fraud due to a purported 141% turnout rate.
It actually turns out that the turnout rate in St. Lucie was about 70% of registered voters, well in line with the rest of Florida’s results. But St. Lucie first posted its official results tabulating the number of voters and the number of “cards” cast — 175,554 voters and 247,713 “cards,” fueling the conspiracy theories.
There’s an explanation far simpler than massive fraud: St. Lucie had a two-page ballot this cycle (with races on both front and back of each of the two pages); each page of the ballot was listed as a separate “card.” Some voters didn’t complete both cards (the second page was entirely lengthy ballot initiatives), so the number of cards isn’t exactly twice the number of voters. But some voters did complete both cards, leaving the number of “cards” well over the number of total voters — and to some, looking like solid evidence of fraud.
For President, St. Lucie initially reported 124,031 ballots cast, which looks a whole lot more normal than the total number of “cards.” The kerfuffle seems to be a product of observers misunderstanding data and leaping to conclusions, something I’ve noted in other contexts before. But St. Lucie’s reporting structure certainly didn’t help. Might well be time to put some more prominent disclaimers on the front page of the election-night reporting spreadsheet, to prevent similar confusion in the next election.
Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s former campaign manager, told MSNBC: “I think that all of this stuff that has transpired over the last two years is in search of a solution to a problem, voting fraud, that doesn’t really exist when you look deeply at the question. It’s part of the mythology now in the Republican Party that there’s widespread voter fraud across the country.”
Remember what John McCain said during the 2008 campaign at a debate: ” “We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
Yes this is the county where von Spakovksy is on the elections board.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.
For the most comprehensive analysis of what that report showed and did not show, see this post from Lori Minnite.
“Mr. Obama is a goner, unless the Democrats can turn out the vote in select cemeteries around the country.”
Kevin Drum writes for Mother Jones.
Name a Credible Academic Supporting von Spakovsky’s Claims that Voter Impersonation Fraud is a Real Problem
Nearly all scholars of America’s system of locally run elections acknowledge chronic problems, including administrative incompetence, sloppy registration rolls, unreliable machinery, vote buying, and absentee-ballot fraud. But Robert Brandon, the president of the Fair Elections Legal Network and a longtime reformer, says that the current debate, “which is about people impersonating another voter, is silly.” He adds, “You can’t steal an election one person at a time. You can by stuffing ballot boxes—but voter I.D.s won’t stop that.”
Von Spakovsky offered me the names of two experts who, he said, would confirm that voter-impersonation fraud posed a significant peril: Robert Pastor, the director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, at American University, and Larry Sabato, a political-science professor at the University of Virginia. Pastor, von Spakovsky noted, had spoken to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights about being a victim of election fraud: voting in Georgia, he discovered that someone else had already voted under his name.
When I reached Pastor, he clarified what had happened to him. “I think they just mistakenly checked my name when my son voted—it was just a mistake.” He added, “I don’t think that voter-impersonation fraud is a serious problem.” Pastor believes that, compared with other democracies, America is “somewhere near the bottom in election administration,” and thinks that voter I.D.s make sense—but only if they are free and easily available to all, which, he points out, is not what Republican legislatures have proposed. Sabato, who supports the use of voter I.D.s under the same basic conditions, says of the voter-impersonation question, “One fraudulent vote is one too many, but my sense is that it’s relatively rare today.”
Hasen says that, while researching “The Voting Wars,” he “tried to find a single case” since 1980 when “an election outcome could plausibly have turned on voter-impersonation fraud.” He couldn’t find one. News21, an investigative-journalism group, has reported that voter impersonation at the polls is a “virtually non-existent” problem. After conducting an exhaustive analysis of election-crime prosecutions since 2000, it identified only seven convictions for impersonation fraud. None of those cases involved conspiracy.
“What am I—his research assistant?”
—Hans von Spakovksy, explaining why he stonewalled me and would not provide data to back up his controversial claim about cases involving “extensive…impersonation fraud” at the polls. (When I independently obtained the data it contradicted his claims.)
Jane Mayer has written The Voter-Fraud Myth: The Man Who Has Stoked Fears About Imposters at the Polls for The New Yorker. This piece covers similar terrain to The “Fraudulent Fraud Squad” chapter of The Voting Wars, but it is updated and written in Jane Mayer’s straightforward, powerful style. Most importantly, von Spakovsky granted Mayer an interview and allowed for follow-ups, and so here was von Spakovsky’s chance to really make his case for voter impersonation fraud (the principal kind of fraud that a voter id law would prevent). Time and again von Spakovsky made his claims, but they collapsed like a house of cards.
A few highlights:
On the 1984 grand jury report: As I described in The Voting Wars, von Spakovsky wrote in a FOX News oped (following up on a Heritage Foundation report) that: “In 1984, a district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y. (a Democrat), released the findings of a grand jury that reported extensive registration and impersonation fraud between 1968 and 1982.” Von Spakovsky stonewalled on providing the report to me, the Heritage Foundation never responded to my letter indicating that good scholarly practice requires sharing one’s data so results can be confirmed, and when I finally got a copy of the report (with no help from von Spakovsky) it did not show any extensive impersonation fraud—the fraud here involved election officials and party officials, not a conspiracy of voters to impersonate voters.
In the New Yorker piece, von Spakovsky’s explanation:
Richard Hasen asked to see the grand-jury report, but von Spakovsky did not respond. (“What am I—his research assistant?” he asked me.) Hasen has another explanation for von Spakovsky’s refusal to produce the document: “He must have known it was weak.” Hasen eventually hunted down his own copy. On his blog, he observed, “Most of this fraud took place forty years ago,” adding, “When election officials collude with those committing fraud, a voter-I.D. requirement would not help in the slightest.” Asked about this, von Spakovsky said, “That’s not what the grand jury said. They recommended voter I.D.s.” The report recommends nine specific procedural changes to help prevent corrupt behavior by election officials, but says of voter identification only that it should be studied as one of several “possible remedies.”
Note the shift from extensive impersonation fraud (his original claim) to a (questionable) claim that they recommended ids.
Criminals voting for dead voters in Georgia:
[In support of the claim that impersonation fraud is a problem, von Sapkovsky] cited a 2000 investigation, by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, of voting records in Georgia over the previous two decades; the paper reported that it had turned up fifty-four hundred instances of dead people being recorded as having voted. “That seems pretty substantial to me,” he said.
He did not mention that the article’s findings were later revised. The Journal-Constitution ran a follow-up article after the Georgia Secretary of State’s office indicated that the vast majority of the cases appeared to reflect clerical errors. Upon closer inspection, the paper admitted, its only specific example of a deceased voter casting a ballot didn’t hold up. The ballot of a living voter had been attributed to a dead man whose name was nearly identical.
Once again, a claim of “substantial” fraud completely unsupported by the evidence.
Illegal Somali voting. Regular ELB readers know of von Spakovsky’s false statements about a case in Missouri in which he claimed there was substantial fraud. From The New Yorkerˆ:
Von Spakovsky has also presented a more recent case as a scandal. Last year, in an op-ed piece that was nationally syndicated, he wrote, “A 2010 election in Missouri that ended in a one-vote margin of victory included 50 votes cast illegally by citizens of Somalia.” He told me that these voters “could only speak Somali, even though to become a U.S. citizen you must learn English.” Once again, when the case was examined by a judge, no fraud was found. Although the judge’s ruling had been issued before the column appeared, von Spakovsky didn’t mention it. He told me that the omission was justified, because the judge hadn’t investigated “the citizenship issue.” Yet the voters’ citizenship was never in doubt. Translation assistance is available at the polls—citizens sometimes have shaky English—and the court had found merely that election officials had not made the voters take an oath before receiving help, as state law required. The judge determined that such a mistake “should not result in the disenfranchisement of the voters.”
I could go on with more details, but better for you to read the whole thing.
And if you want to know more about John Fund, Thor Hearne, and the rest of the Fraudulent Fraud Squad, check out The Voting Wars.
The Houston Chronicle profiles True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht.
WaPo‘s Robert McCartney: “A political and legal tussle is gaining force in Northern Virginia over guaranteeing a fair vote on Election Day. Fairfax County Democrats are complaining that Republican-appointed county elections officials are breaking or twisting some rules to help the GOP in the biggest jurisdiction in a key swing state….Democrats also worry that the process could be tainted because some top officials in the Republican-controlled county election apparatus have records as aggressive GOP partisans. In particular, Hans von Spakovsky, who is vice chairman of the Fairfax Electoral Board, is one of the nation’s most prominent advocates of voter identification laws strongly opposed by Democrats.”
“I also suggest Hasen read Chuck Norris’ article at Townhall.”
The latest from Colorado.
Front-page, must-read extensive NYT article on “True the Vote.” It begins:
It might as well be Harry Potter’s invisible Knight Bus, because no one can prove it exists.
The bus has been repeatedly cited by True the Vote, a national group focused on voter fraud. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s leader, told a gathering in July about buses carrying dozens of voters showing up at polling places during the recent Wisconsin recall election.
“Magically, all of them needed to register and vote at the same time,” Ms. Engelbrecht said. “Do you think maybe they registered falsely under false pretenses? Probably so.”
Weeks later, another True the Vote representative told a meeting of conservative women about a bus seen at a San Diego polling place in 2010 offloading people “who did not appear to be from this country.”
Officials in both San Diego and Wisconsin said they had no evidence that the buses were real. “It’s so stealthy that no one is ever able to get a picture and no one is able to get a license plate,” said Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Wisconsin agency that oversees elections. In some versions the bus is from an Indian reservation; in others it is full of voters from Chicago or Detroit. “Pick your minority group,” he said.
The buses are part of the election fraud gospel according to True the Vote, which is mobilizing a small army of volunteers to combat what it sees as a force out to subvert elections. Ms. Engelbrecht’s July speech in Montana was titled “Voter Fraud: The Plot to Undermine American Democracy.”
Judging only by actions, it would appear that these officials consider voter fraud to be a serious threat along the lines of smallpox – a highly contagious, lethal disease – and thus are willing to tolerate a high number of false positives in order to isolate and “cure” the true positives and protect the rest of the population from an epidemic. Opponents of these efforts can (and already have) suggested that such fears are overblown; in essence, that voter fraud is an isolated disease with a low degree of contagion.
The Boston Globe posts the most important piece on voter impersonation fraud in a while:
It’s the biggest voter ID scandal you never heard of. An election in the United States stolen right under the noses of election officials thanks to lax laws and voter fraud.
A primary election for the Missouri State House normally doesn’t draw much national attention. But proponents of voter ID laws have seized on the election, which was decided by a single vote, claiming it shows why governments need to crack down on what they view as an epidemic of voter fraud.
This race, frequently cited by leading voter ID advocates like Kris Korbach, Kansas’s secretary of state, and the Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spakovsky has been described as an election “stolen … [with] votes illegally cast by citizens of Somalia.” As a result, it has become one of the key examples pointed to by voter ID advocates. It’s a concrete example of an election where fraudulent votes actually decided the result.
There’s just one problem with this tale of voter fraud: it never happened. No fraud was ever found and the only irregularities cited by the courts that heard the case were unrelated to voter ID.
WSJ’s “The Numbers Guy” tackles the extent of voter impersonation fraud. The piece ends: “One rare point of agreement among most experts: Absentee-ballot fraud is a far bigger problem than voter-impersonation fraud—about 50 times more common, says News21—and voter-ID laws won’t stop it.”
Former Senator Kit Bond Says Republican Lawyers Must Stop Election from Being Stolen By Obama Who Will “Stop at Nothing” to Get the Votes He Needs to Win
Chapter 2 of The Voting Wars discusses Bond’s earlier—and debunked—claims of stolen elections in the past.
My latest guest blog post over at Talking Points Memo.
Byron York column for Washington Examiner. I don’t have time for a full response now, but you need to view everything von Spakovsky and Fund skeptically. On the allegations of Minnesota Majority in Coleman-Franken (discussed in detail in The Voting Wars), see these posts, especially this one, a guest post from Michael McDonald.
Update: On von Spakovsky’s veracity problems, see von Spakovsky stonewalling me on the 1984 grand jury report which supposedly proves voter fraud:
And here are more reasons to think he’s not credible:
More about him in the “Fraudulent Fraud Squad” chapter of my new book, The Voting Wars.
It seems that Fund agrees with me that absentee voting is the real problem if we were serious about curbing the potnential for fraud.
There’s lots about Fund and von Spakovksy’s efforts to spread the voter fraud meme to support restrictive voting laws in Chapter 2 of The Voting Wars.
Coming in the mail today: Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk by John Fund and Hans von Spakovksy.
I discuss the pioneering efforts of Fund and von Spakovsky in the 2000s to hype impersonation voter fraud and the need for voter i.d. in The Voting Wars.