The Republican Boy Who Cried Wolf

Every election we hear from some Republican politician — always a Republican — that there was rampant voter fraud. They will often point to some numerical discrepancy that sounds compelling but they always fall apart on examination. The latest example is from South Carolina:

South Carolina never found a single dead voter in recent elections. At least, that is the final word from the State Election Commission investigation into whether 900 people voted using a dead person’s name, according to the Columbia Free Times.

The report found that whatever issues existed were usually due to human error, like a clerical mistake or scanning problem, and not because anyone intentionally impersonated a deceased person. For example, hundreds of errors were due to mistakes like confusing a father and son who share the same name.

When Attorney General Alan Wilson demanded the original investigation, he cited “an alarming number” of cases reported by the DMV that “clearly necessitates an investigation into criminal activity.” The initial report surveyed 200 “suspicious” names and found nothing, but Wilson insisted “no one in this state should issue any kind of clean bill of health in this matter” until officials “finished with their work.”

We’ve seen this pattern repeat itself all over the country, year after year. Republicans come up with a list of voters with “discrepancies,” often by comparing the voter rolls to some other list. That’s what happened here. Wilson and the states DMV director, Kevin Shwedo, had a list of names of people who were deceased but had voted during the last election. Shwedo declared, “Well over 900 individuals appear to have voted after they died.” Did they? Or in a state with millions of voters, are there just a few hundred people who share the same name?

Wilson went even further, saying, “We know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.” Really? You know that for a fact? No, you don’t. You’re making that claim without actual evidence and the official investigation found that not one single case of the 900 you claimed was an actual case of voter fraud.

This has happened all over the country. In Maine, the chairman of the state Republican party claimed that there were thousands of college students committing voter fraud, presumably by voting at home and at college. The secretary of state investigated and concluded that there was not a single case of that happening.

In Colorado, the Republican secretary of state claimed that there were almost 12,000 non-citizens on the voter rolls. An initial investigation shrunk that number to 141, of which 35 had voted — and at least some of them had become citizens before voting.

In Wisconsin, Republican officials in 2004 produced a list of 37,000 “discrepancies” between voter registration lists and other government databases. When they were actually looked at, it turns out there were a total of 68 genuine discrepancies (which doesn’t mean anyone voted illegally, of course). All the rest turned out to be mundane things like a missing apartment number, a mis-typed name or address, a missing “jr” or “sr” in one of the databases being compared, people having moved and the database not updated, and so forth.

In Ohio that same year, Republican leaders gave scary speeches about how people were registering to vote with names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy — neither of which showed up to vote, of course. But there was a study of the 2002 and 2004 elections in that state that found that out of 9 million votes cast, there were 4 attempts to vote illegally.

We’ve seen the same thing in Michigan, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. It’s time to stop listening to the Republican who cried voter fraud.

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  • tuxedocartman

    It’s time to stop listening to the Republican(s)… period. They long ago stopped being a party with alternate ideas or views, and are now the “we stand against everything the head negro supports” party.

  • Alan Ashlay

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  • Chiroptera

    I think the Republicans better lay off this one; pretty soon gerrymandering election districts isn’t going to be enough to maintain their political strength and they might have to rely on dead peoples’ votes!

  • A Hermit

    My favourite example was in Maine where the evidence of fraud was that there were “dozens of black people” at the polling stations…

  • oranje

    I assumed by the headline you were talking about O’Keefe.

  • unbound

    Doesn’t matter. The accusations are the only things that will show up on the Republican networks (e.g. Faux News). This report will never be published on those same channels.

  • Doc Bill

    So, Ed, why is that nobody in the media but you can stand up and say “No, that’s not a fact. You made the whole thing up!” Why can’t these politicians be prominently and publicly embarrassed for their abject stupidity? Are we going to “polite” and “civil” ourselves into ruin?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    It was the same when Bachmann obviously made up that story about the lady whose child suffered “mental retardation” because of vaccine. Bachmann made up that story on the spot and no news agency to my knowledge called her on it to her face. And her other crazy lies. Sure, it was obvious that she was making stuff up, no question about that, obvious to any thinking person, but Bachmann kept going on and on and on, crazy after crazy.

    To me the best moment EVER was Perry’s Oops on national television. That one word killed his political career. He’s still suffering from that here in Texas where even Republicans are embarrassed by the guy. He’s not running for governor because he knows a hamster could beat him.

    Public stocks, I say! More of ’em!

  • DonDueed

    The problem is, no matter how many times the GOPers cry wolf, their constituents in the red states keep running out with their pitchforks to meet the imminent threat.

  • Chiroptera

    Doc Bill, #7: It was the same when Bachmann obviously made up that story about the lady whose child suffered “mental retardation” because of vaccine. Bachmann made up that story on the spot and no news agency to my knowledge called her on it to her face.

    Because of what passes for “fairness” in journalism these days. If they were to point out how crazy that particular statement is, they’d also have to go our and find something equally crazy that some Democrat said somewhere so that they can say, “But Democrats do it, too.” That way they prove that they are “unbiased.”

  • dingojack

    The Republican Party: Chicken Littles* lead by chicken hawks*.



    * barely competent to sweep the floors at Chicka-Fill-A

  • Abby Normal

    I’m afraid it’s not “always a Republican.” There were plenty of accusations of voter fraud from Democrats after W. Bush won reelection in 2004. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Stephanie Jones even raised official objections in Congress, requesting that Ohio not be counted. More broadly, there were numerous accusations against Diebold voting machines for supposedly throwing districts to Bush after both his victories.

    Cries of voter fraud do mostly come from Republicans. What’s more, they appear to be part of a GOP strategy to enact legislation that would suppress minority voting. But the Dems have their conspiracy theories about fraud too. They’re just further out on the fringe, which is easier to ignore when the fringe isn’t running the party.

  • Draken

    I thought all Republicans were dead.

  • slc1

    Re Abby Normal @ #11

    I hate to point it out but our distinguished host here was one of those pointing a finger at the Diebold voting machines.

  • Draken

    To stay with the ‘boy who cried wolf’ saga, though: once you start ignoring them voter fraud will start occurring.

  • dingojack

    Ed – I’d watch pointing out that Republicans almost always are the ones crying ‘voter fraud’, and seem to have a strong tendency to being the ones actually committing voter fraud, (highly incompetently, so far). You could find a plethora of sensitive souls coming out of the woodwork to chide you about how sick they are of people pointing out how this pattern seems to occur in a significant number of Republicans, ’cause it ‘tars all of them with the same brush’ and it’s ‘blaming the victim’ (for some reason they can’t quite articulate).



  • jnorris

    The ever evaporating voter fraud problem that demands a pro-Tea Party solution. Exactly like the non-existent hordes of (minority) drug users on welfare that state mandated testing cannot find.

    Thank you Tea Party for Solutions Without Problems.

  • dingojack

    Abby – You are familiar with the fable I assume*. The concept of ‘repeatedly‘ is the key here.



    * Just as a refresher in case the details are a little hazy.

  • “The Republican Boy Who Cried Wolf”

    In order to make the metaphor more accurate, the wolf would have to be nonexistent, yet the villagers would keep running to meet the threat no matter how many times they were fooled. And then the boy slaughters the sheep and keeps the meat for himself.

  • machintelligence

    In my experience, people are most likely to accuse others of things that they would be willing to do themselves.

    In a small footnote, in Colorado it is possible for someone who was dead on election day to have cast a valid and countable ballot, voting by mail while still alive and then having died in the interim.

  • machintelligence “In a small footnote, in Colorado it is possible for someone who was dead on election day to have cast a valid and countable ballot, voting by mail while still alive and then having died in the interim.”

    Sure, but how did he fit in the mail? Did he have valid, state-issued, ID with his dead picture on it? John Fund wants to know!

  • Abby Normal

    @ slc1

    To be fair, so was I.


    Right there with you. I’m not trying to draw equivalence. I’m just pointing out that the claim that only Republicans cry voter fraud is a bit of an overstatement.

  • Abby Normal “I’m not trying to draw equivalence. I’m just pointing out that the claim that only Republicans cry voter fraud is a bit of an overstatement.”


  • kermit.

    Diebold voting machines have long been known in the cyber-community to be insecure:


    Seems to me that if folks were worried about the occasional individual voter fraud, they’d be concerned with mail-in ballots. I use ’em, in Washington State, but I don’t see how they can be sure that I’m not drunk, or my spouse didn’t fill it in, or my kid, or it got misdelivered. There must be more errors with mail-in ballots than deliberate ID theft-for-voting fraud.

  • JustaTech

    There was a gubanitorial election in Maryland in the ’90’s where the loser complained about dead people voting and demanded a re-count. I remember the local news interviewing one of the “dead” voters. He complained that not only was he obviously not dead, but he had voted for the candidate who said he was dead! That candidate was mocked pretty thoroughly in the news for quite a while afterwards. I guess now we’ve gotten all “civil”.

  • imthegenieicandoanything

    At this period of history, Republicans, so-called, simply must be told to “fuck off.” They are stupid, ignorant, insane and/or evil.

    In fact, the twisted, dishonest, incompetent in every way methods of today’s Teabaggers and wingnuts, who ARE the rotting, ghoul-like zombie and are the pitiful remains of the self-infected, diseased Republican Party of Nixonion times, seems to have used the “creationist” movement as their model.

    No insult could be lower, I’ll admit, but it seems very much true.