Yesterday I had a blog post, Allegation of Actual Impersonation Voter Fraud Attempt in Texas…and An Illustration of Why Such Fraud is Rare and Stupid, which linked to a Fort Worth Star Telegram story.
I wanted to get more information about the case, given how extremely rare voter impersonation fraud is. The Tarrant County prosecutor’s office was kind enough to share a copy of the indictment, It is pretty general, so I spoke by phone with the prosecutor in charge of the case, David Lobingier.
Mr Lobingier told me that the allegation is that the mother took her minor son, a teenager, to the polling place to vote on election day. She took the father’s voting card. The son showed the father’s card and signed in using his father’s name. (The son has the same name, but is a Jr., and he did not sign the junior.) He was then sent over to vote on the electronic voting machine. Later in the day, the father showed up to vote and poll workers said he had already voted, leading to the investigation and prosecution. The father did not know that the son had been sent to vote.
I asked about the motivation for the mother’s alleged actions. Mr. Lobingier said that the actions seemed “kind of stupid” and he could not recall any other case like it. He said that his “surmise” was that the mother thought the father would be unable to vote that day, and so brought the son, but it was not clear why she was interested in having him vote in this election. (The mother is running as a Democratic precinct chair, but was not running in this election.)
Mr. Lobingier said that he believes the defense is going to claim that the allegations are not true, and that the mother is claiming some kind of long-running dispute with someone at the precinct.
If the facts are proven as alleged, this looks like it could be one of those extremely rare cases in which a photo identification actually would have made a difference in preventing the casting of a fraudulent ballot, and for this reason I expect it to gain canonical status among those clamoring for voter id. It will also feature prominently in Texas’s defense of its voter id law before the three judge court in the Voting Rights Act challenge. (See AG Abbott’s tweets from yesterday.)
For reasons explained in my last post, however, the very stupidity of this action (if proven) and the fact that this kind of ham-handed fraud was so easily caught shows why this kind of fraud is so rare and why state voter id laws are generally unnecessary. Can you imagine actually trying to throw an election like this (instead of like this?) (For the record, and as explained in The Voting Wars, I do support a national voter id, along with an optional thumb print—you can’t lose a thumb—combined with automatic voter registration of all eligible voters conducted by the national government.)