1984 New York Grand Jury Report on Voter Fraud Now Available

Thanks to the hard work of the UCI Law librarians, and the cooperation of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, I am pleased to provide a link to Kings County grand jury report, In the Matter of Confidential Investigation R84-11.

This is the report I tried to get from Hans von Spakovsky and the Heritage Foundation with no success.  von Spakovsky had relied on the grand jury report in an effort to justify voter identification requirements. (He wrote: “One doesn’t have to look far to find instances of fraudulent ballots cast in actual elections by ‘voters’ who were the figments of active imaginations. 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.”)

It is a fascinating read, about what appear to have been the last days of a corrupt Brooklyn Democratic party machine.  Most of the fraud alleged involved the cooperation of election officials or inspectors, or the downright incompetence of election workers.  (One of the most colorful episodes recorded involved party workers hiding in the restroom ceilings at the Brooklyn Board of Elections, waiting to phony up voter registration cards after an election to manufacture evidence for an election contest.)

It is not clear to me why von Spakovsky did not respond to requests to turn over the grand jury report because the report contains the only apparently successful effort in the last 40 years of which I’m aware to actually affect election results through impersonation fraud.  Perhaps the reason is that the way in which the fraud was done almost certainly could not happen today, thanks to basic safeguards put in place by election officials (such as checking the names and addresses of new registrants and ensuring greater security of voter registration materials).  And of course when election officials collude with those committing fraud, a voter i.d. requirement would not help in the slightest.

The fact that most of this fraud took place 40 years ago and nothing like it has been discovered since is a good argument that schemes like these cannot  successfully be done anymore. Vote buying schemes, fraudulent registration schemes, and absentee ballot fraud do get discovered and prosecuted.  There’s no reason to think this kind of fraud, if it happened, would not at least occasionally be discovered and prosecuted as well.  At most we find a handful of isolated cases—nothing organized, and certainly nothing to swing elections.

Still, the grand jury report is the best evidence that the Fraudulent Fraud Squad has, and now it will see the light of day.

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