Virginia’s Virtually Non-Existent Voter Fraud Problem

The Richmond Times Dispatch has an article about voter fraud investigations in Virginia that begins by inaccurately saying that “an ongoing Virginia State Police investigation of voter registration irregularities from the 2008 general election may signal a more significant voter fraud issue than some state lawmakers realized.” But the actual facts of the article say the exact opposite:

As Virginia legislators hotly debated a voter ID bill that narrowly passed the General Assembly, many were unaware of a state police investigation that, so far, has resulted in charges against 38 people statewide for voter fraud. Warrants have been obtained for a 39th person who can’t be located.

A majority of those cases already have resulted in convictions, and 26 additional cases are still being actively investigated nearly 3½ years after the state Board of Elections forwarded more than 400 voter and election fraud allegations from 62 cities and counties to Virginia State Police for individual investigation.

“We believe these complaints ran the gamut from voter registration fraud issues through potential fraud at the polling place on Election Day,” said Donald Palmer, secretary of the Virginia Board of Elections, who was appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell in February 2011. “We do not have specific numbers on how the complaints broke down. However, (the state board of elections) is aware that arrests have been made over the past few years for individuals engaging in voter registration fraud.”

Almost half of those 400 are no longer being investigated. And most of the rest:

The majority of cases reviewed by The Times-Dispatch that resulted in arrests in central Virginia involved felons who either illegally registered to vote or who illegally voted in the general election, or both. Felons cannot vote in Virginia unless their rights are restored by the governor.

None of the cases appeared to involve someone who misrepresented his or her identity at the polls to vote.

Which means a voter ID law won’t do a thing to change it. And felons who have served their sentence should be allowed to vote without asking for permission. The vast majority of the ones here almost certainly didn’t know they weren’t allowed to vote under state law; they weren’t trying to steal an election, they were just trying to vote in their own country, for crying out loud. But bear in mind that there were 3.7 million votes cast in the 2008 election. That hardly justifies making it far more difficult for tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people to vote.

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  • Brownian

    they weren’t trying to steal an election, they were just trying to vote in their own country, for crying out loud

    Look, once you’ve committed a crime you’ve demonstrated that you don’t deserve Liberty™*

    *White collar exectuvie criminals excepted. As Jobmakers™, they’re intimately involved in the production of Liberty™. Often outsourcing it overseas.

  • thalwen

    Voter fraud = thinking you have the right to vote without having white skin or Republican Party registration.

  • Inaccurately saying? But they said may! wonderful word ‘may’, I mean ongoing research may prove that pigs have wings.

  • dingojack

    thalwen – surely you mean ‘having white skin AND Republican Party registration’.


  • slc1

    Re thalwen @ #2

    Voters don’t register by party in Virginia.

  • They register by height.

  • Cliff Hendroval

    If they want to dig up voter fraud, they may want to go after religious communities:

  • thalwen

    @5 Did not know that.

    Still all the concerns over non-existent voter fraud have come from Republicans and their targets (country-wide) have been non-Republican/non-white people. Then again, when’s the last time Republicans have brought up an issue of social justice when they weren’t trying to pervert it to bring more of the injustice it is meant to combat?

  • Jordan Genso

    All the more reason to vote for imperfect Democratic candidates rather than Tea Party Republicans. The former may have flaws (some of them crucial), but they won’t try to take away your ability to vote.

    On its own, the fact that one party wants to limit voting should be enough to justify voting instead everytime for the person most likely to beat them. That “person most likely to beat them” may not live up to your usual standards required to win your vote, but the damage the other side presents is valid justification.

  • Chris from Europe

    I think prisoners should also vote. Is there a good reason to deny them their vote (except local level)?

  • uncephalized

    Can someone explain to me how requiring ID would keep anyone from voting? What US citizen of legal voting age doesn’t have and is not easily able to obtain a state ID or driver’s license? Doesn’t everyone have one?

    I’m not saying voter ID laws are good; I think they’d most likely be an expensive waste of time. But I don’t see how they’d disenfranchise tens of thousands like I keep seeing suggested here. Maybe I’m missing something obvious.

  • Chris from Europe “I think prisoners should also vote. Is there a good reason to deny them their vote (except local level)?”

    Yes. When you let them go to the polls they don’t come back.

    uncephalized “Can someone explain to me how requiring ID would keep anyone from voting? What US citizen of legal voting age doesn’t have and is not easily able to obtain a state ID or driver’s license? Doesn’t everyone have one?”

    Sure, the college kids do. That’s why voter ID laws typically don’t accept their college IDs, and their out-of-state driver’s licenses do no good, and getting in-state ones will cost them money, effectively becoming a poll tax.

    “Maybe I’m missing something obvious.”

    One of the hardest things to realize is that not everyone shares one’s own history, and that the history of other people, and other groups, can vary wildly from one’s own. For instance, as a me, I found it stunning that not-mes, like elderly black Americans born under Jim Crow, have typically never had a driver’s license. Worse, depending on their location at the time, they don’t have birth certificates (and not just “don’t have”, but “the thing they don’t have never existed”, as they typically weren’t born in a hospital, and paperwork was for white people).

  • uncephalized,

    The issue is that ID laws target poorer citizen directly. To obtain a state ID you must prove residency, usually by showing a bill in your name with your current address. Many poorer Americans have no such thing.

    And it’s not just poor people. I am a student and have no ‘job’ with which to convince the phone company I’m good for the bills. I had a hard time getting them to install a phone I really didn’t want (I have a cell) so I could get an ID. A voter registration card actually proved to be my other proof of residence, so I would have been screwed if it were reverse. In a twist of irony, fake IDs are easier to get.

    This does keep poor republicans from being allowed to vote, too. But historically, the more people voting, the more left the results trend. Republicans win when voter turnout is suppressed by law or by apathy.

  • uncephalized, shorter us: They’re deliberately pushing away groups that tend not to vote for them while going out of their way to ensure that groups that do, can (concealed-carry permits are just fine, for example). Once you look at it through the political lens (covered in the ugly smudge of the Southern Strategy), rather than through the preferred “voting fraud” one, it’s much clearer.

  • Chris from Europe


    The sad thing is that your joke might work in today’s political environment as an “argument”.

  • uncephalized

    @Donovan, @Modusoperandi

    Thanks. I didn’t realize there were so many people who didn’t have ID. But it does beg the question; how do they register to vote in the first place? Is there no identification requirement or comparison to a list of known citizens or anything at the time of voter registration? The whole system just seems very fuzzy to me. What’s to stop non-citizen residents registering to vote if they don’t verify identity or check for eligibility at the time of registration?

  • uncephalized

    Also, @MO#14, I understood the nasty intent of the ID restrictions, I just didn’t see why they would have the actual effects they were claimed to have. Now I do. 🙂