RNLA Goes After News21, “Vote Fraud Deniers;” A Brief Response

Blog post here.

Where to begin?

1. I’ve explained why attacks on the News21 methodology have missed the forest for the trees. No doubt the News21 methodology undercounts some prosecutions for voter fraud, but what matters is what it shows comparatively. There’s no reason to believe that impersonation fraud prosecutions would be undercounted.

2. Justin Levitt has been collecting all reported cases he can find of credible voter impersonation fraud claims since 2000. He’s up to 20 possible cases.  And no conspiracies (since at least 1980) that I can idenfity of any kind where voter fraud impersonation was used to dupe election officials and steal an election. That compares to absentee ballot fraud cases every year which sometimes affect the outcome of elections.

3. Now unless one believes that it is only geniuses who perpetuate voter impersonation fraud schemes, the idea that this being used to steal elections on any kind of large scale but always avoids detection is ludicrous. As I explained in the Reuters piece, impersonation fraud requires a large conspiracy of individuals being sent into the polls claiming to be someone else (and not being noticed by poll workers, ever, of not being the neighbor or the dead person attempting to vote).  So, please, give up the ghost on voter impersonation fraud claims.  No modern examples of it happening in U.S. elections to steal elections.

4. Stop the bait and switch of calling people on the left “vote fraud deniers.” One can deny impersonation fraud is a problem while still acknowledge that other kinds of election crimes (including absentee voter fraud) is a problem.  Here’s my open letter to Jonathan Tobin to which he never responded:

Mr Tobin,

Is it possible for you to stop the bait and switch? No one I know who has studied this issue says there’s no voter fraud (hence, the misleading title of your piece: Are You Sure There’s No Voter Fraud?). It happens, especially with absentee ballots.

Instead, the claim is that there’s almost no voter impersonation fraud—the main type of fraud a voter id law would be designed to prevent.  For my book The Voting Wars I tried to find a single instance where an election was thrown into question since 1980 by such fraud. I could not find a single example. I found lots of examples of absentee ballot fraud, and election officials committing fraud. But because impersonation fraud is such a dumb and inefficient way to steal an election, it is unsurprising that it doesn’t happen.  You offer no such examples in your writing; just innuendo.

And please don’t tell me that this fraud is both widespread and impossible to detect (to paraphrase Colin Powell’s recent remarks). There’s not a single credible academic who would agree. We have some comparative numbers from News21 on prosecutions for these kinds of crimes. Absentee ballot fraud is a real problem. Impersonation fraud is negligible. There’s no reason to believe that impersonation fraud would be harder to catch. In fact, because it would involve a lot of people going to polling places claiming to be someone else, it would be easier to catch.

So spare me the unsubstantiated allegations. And if you are really serious that voter fraud is a major problem, let’s see you get behind and advocate for the elimination of no excuse absentee balloting before you attack phantom targets.

5. Finally, as for “the Left” “never having rebutted” the Milwaukee police report on fraud, I would point you to pages 102-112 of Lori Minnite’s excellent book, The Myth of Voter Fraud.  You can disagree with the analysis if you like (though you’d be hard pressed to given how diligent and careful Lori is in the book), but don’t say it’s never been rebutted. And, by the way, the report has nothing to do with impersonation fraud, the whole point of voter id laws.

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