Another False Voter Fraud Freakout

Another False Voter Fraud Freakout April 6, 2014

It’s been a couple months since a state official announced that they had found vast numbers of possible instances of voter fraud, prompting a tsunami of outrage from Republican legislators who demand that Something Be Done. This time it’s North Carolina.

State elections officials in North Carolina are investigating hundreds of cases of potential voter fraud after identifying thousands of registered voters with personal information matching those of voters who voted in other states in 2012.

Elections Director Kim Strach told state lawmakers at an oversight hearing Wednesday that her staff has identified 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to have cast ballots in two states during the 2012 presidential election.

Strach said the first names, last names, birthdates and last four digits of their Social Security numbers appear to match information for voters in another state. Each case will now be investigated to determine whether voter fraud occurred.

“Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud,” Strach said. “Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.” reported that 81 residents who died before election day were recorded as casting a ballot. While about 30 of those voters appear to have legally cast ballots before election day, Strach said “there are between 40 and 50 [voters] who had died at a time that that’s not possible.”…

Strach cautioned, however, that in several past cases, instances of so-called zombie voters turned out to be the result of clerical errors.

“We’re in the process of looking at each of these to see,” Strach said. “That means either a poll or precinct worker made a mistake and marked the wrong person, or someone voted for them. That’s something we can’t determine until we look into each case.”

So Strach is actually being relatively cautious and doing the right thing by investigating each possible case. But the Republican legislators are wailing and gnashing their teeth:

“We have the ‘Walking Dead,’ and now we’ve got the ‘Voting Dead,'” said state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg. “I guess the reason there’s no proof of voter fraud is because we weren’t looking for it.” …

“That is outrageous. That is criminal. That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to go any further without substantial investigations from our local district attorneys who are the ones charged with enforcing these laws,” state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-Wilmington, told the Charlotte Observer.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued a joint statement Wednesday on what they termed as the “alarming evidence.”

“While we are alarmed to hear evidence of widespread voter error and fraud, we are encouraged to see the common-sense law passed to ensure voters are who they say they are is working,” said the statement. “These findings should put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist and help restore the integrity of our elections process.”

Yeah. Except they aren’t findings at all, it’s just a preliminary list of the same kind that have been produced in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Colorado and many other states. And in all of those cases, once the investigations were completed they found a handful of actual cases of voter fraud. Even if every single one of those 765 possible cases turned out to be voter fraud — and I’d bet a lot of money that in the end it will end up being less than 50 — that’s out of 6.5 million North Carolina voters. It’s a fraction so small that you’d need an electron microscope to see it. And guess what? Voter ID laws would do nothing to prevent a single one of those cases. What little voter fraud there is almost always involves absentee ballots, not voter impersonation.

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  • gshelley

    Even if these were people voting twice, how do they propose that voter ID laws would have prevented it?

  • Al Dente

    Voter ID laws, a solution in search of a problem.

  • Nick Gotts

    Voter ID laws, a solution in search of a problem. – Al Dente

    Not at all: the problem is too many people of the wrong types – those likely to vote against Republicans – voting.

  • matty1

    Isn’t it the case that of most of the actual voter fraud (such as there is) consists of things like former prisoners not realising they were still barred from voting? Breaking the rules, sure, but not a deliberate attempt to corrupt an election.

  • Michael Heath

    Our response to Republicans promoting voter suppression legislation should have us focus on their math along with the marginal benefits and costs of increasing and decreasing barriers to voting. Math and analyzing marginal impacts are topics current party members demonstrate an illiteracy towards. See their budgets since at least 2001 as an illustration. Focusing on these two areas reveals their idiocy on a topic where the intuitive response by most voters is to understandably side with Republicans.

    So when Republicans seek to suppress voting rights, we should ask what the current defect rate and margin of error is for the current process. We should ask their confidence level for these observations. We should ask what their models predict will be the new defect rate and accompanying margin of error for a reformed voting process. We should ask if they have independent validation regarding the veracity of the current situation and validation of their models’ projected change if their legislation is implemented. Or due their numbers come from the Heritage “think” tank? We should ask how they value a decrease of voter fraud vs. an increase of voter suppression? We should ask if black people count for 3/5 of a white person in their model.

    I think this is how we get people to better appreciate each individual’s fundamental right to vote and the cost of tightening processes which from my observation, are already tight enough that it’s very rare for an outcome to be different because the defect rate isn’t zero. That while we know there at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of legitimate voters being suppressed from voting by Republicans.

    I speculate that the math would reveal the societal cost for voter fraud is small to the point of being effectively meaningless in nearly all electoral contests. While the cost of voter suppression is enormous in many areas, including whole states like Ohio and Florida. If I’m right and the GOP argument is held up to the math and marginal changes of their policy initiatives, then Republican motivation becomes transparent. Even to those who currently use their common sense to support Republican efforts to make access to the election booth more difficult.

  • Voter ID laws would do nothing to prevent a single one of those cases.


    What little voter fraud there is almost always involves absentee ballots, not voter impersonation.


  • coragyps

    Few of the visible Republican candidates here in Texas seem to be able to get through a paragraph without bringing up “voter fraud” and how they are patriotically fighting it. None that I have heard seem to know of any instances of it actually happening, but maybe that is due to their undying vigilance. And carrying concealed weapons. And thawarting the Ghey Agenda.

  • howardhershey

    If they really want to catch people who vote in more than one state, I would recommend that they look at people who own ‘vacation homes’ or more than one home in different states, thus having legitimate addresses in different states. Of course, most of those would be wealthy people and likely include a fair number of Republican voters. More likely they will simply and only search for these two state voters among college students and especially grad students.

  • dingojack

    Michael Heath – Who do you think you’re trying to persuade?

    If you’re trying to reach Democrats and Independents that might work. If you’re trying to detach moderates from the PoG that approach won’t appeal to them (it’s too big and complicated) you need to ‘hit them where it hurts’ (so to speak).

    As you know, Authoritarian Followers are shallow, sloppy and hasty thinkers. They like to reduce things to easily understood ‘stereotypes’ and ‘archetypes’ who behave in exactly predictable ways (Also a belief that ‘signs’ and ‘signals’ confer some kind of magic power to change reality or the way people behave, hence the Sovereign Citizens’ fixation on the edging of flags, RW talk-show hosts using legal or scientific wording in ways that are essentially meaningless and etc.). Another trait is emotional thinking (as opposed to thinking logically) which ties into their stronger ‘disgust response’, greater prurience, need for conformity and increased religiosity (or ‘magical thinking’ generally)..

    In order to reach them you’ll have to ‘press the right buttons’ to get them to ‘receive’ your arguments and an appeal to reason won’t work too well, in my opinion.


  • dingojack

    Maybe something along the lines of:

    ‘Whoa! You want to investigate voter fraud? How much is that gonna cost, and where is the money going to come from? And who gonna administer it? Since more than one State is involved will it be Federal Government appointed bureaucrats (you want them snooping into how you vote?), or is it gonna be put into the hands of politicians directly? Do you really trust the foxes to be in charge of the chicken-coop?’


  • @dingojack:

    “As you know, Authoritarian Followers are shallow, sloppy and hasty thinkers.”

    I think that “sloppy and hasty deciders”

    is more accurate. When you can vote from the amyGOPdala, why trouble your beautiful, collectors’ quality (iow, unused) mind.

  • eric

    Strach said the first names, last names, birthdates and last four digits of their Social Security numbers appear to match information for voters in another state. Each case will now be investigated to determine whether voter fraud occurred

    Given that state primaries occur on different days but always before the general election, I suppose its possible that some of these people voted in a primary, moved, then voted in the general (or another primary) in their new state. Is that illegal?


  • doublereed

    Funny how they always freakout on election years. Not the odd-numbered years where perhaps if you implemented something you could actually have enough time to make sure that minorities aren’t disenfranchised by the process.

    It’s just interestin’ is all.