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DAVID ROSMAN: Voter fraud not an issue that needs a constitutional amendment

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:31 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is voter fraud that big a problem? Is the proposed voter-identification law even necessary? One of my regular readers, Gene Crain of Georgia, seems to think so.

“I think SB-3 is right on point. We must have voter clarity so that only our citizens can vote. I think Missouri is just trying to prevent illegals and maybe nonresidents from influencing the vote,” Crain said. 

Let's continue the conversation from last week:

Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias said in a 2008 NewsInitiative.org interview, “The Justice Department has prosecuted only a handful of voter fraud cases (during the Bush) administration. I'm aware of there being seven in Milwaukee, four in Kansas City, Missouri, one in Colorado (but) … there had not been any voter fraud prosecutions filed by the U.S. attorney since 1992.”

Four voter fraud cases in Missouri is not an epidemic to be resolved by an unnecessary and restrictive constitutional amendment.

The Boone County Prosecuting Attorney’s office verified that there has not been an allegation of voter fraud in the county in the last four years, if not the last decade. The Secretary of State’s office told me that though there have been complaints of voter fraud, the cases in Kansas City were indeed rare.

The New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice studied voter fraud, and the conclusion is simple. Analyzing data from the 2004 general elections in Washington state and Ohio, it seems that actual cases brought to prosecution were as low as four in 10 million votes cast. The report continues that “many vivid anecdotes of purported voter fraud have been proven false or do not demonstrate fraud.”

Additional data from New Jersey, Indiana and Crain’s home state of Georgia shows that cases of voter fraud allegations are extremely rare and that there is no justification of requiring a photo ID at the time of voting.

During a discussion concerning voter fraud on last week’s PBS Talk of the Nation, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said that his state had a reported 221 cases of alleged voter fraud between 1997 and 2010. Yet Justin Levitt, associate professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles pointed out that the 221 cases were out of more than 10 million individuals who voted in the same time period. Nothing was said about convictions.

In Missouri you can register to vote at the post office, in front of a grocery during a Get Out The Vote campaign, or in person at the election authority’s office. The registration form asks if you are an American citizen (Yes or No), and the last four digits of your Social Security number, required, or your driver’s license number, optional, as “proof” of citizenship, in addition to your name and address. One cannot verify anything with just the last four numbers of one’s Social Security number, your name and address, right? Not quite.

Laura Egerdal, spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office, said the system is designed to weed out bad or questionable registration cards. The process starts with entering the applicant’s data into the state computer files, which checks the information within the state and nationally. Checks are made for similar Social Security numbers, felony records, and duplicate registrations, to mention a few. At the polling venue you must provide identification, but currently not a picture ID. This is where the costs, in terms of money and time, come in for lower-income voters.

Egerdal told me that Secretary of State Robin Carnahan opposes the bill because it only addresses “voter impersonation at the polling place,” which is more rare than a black swan, as well as the cost to implement this overly restrictive bill.

Isn’t a citizen’s right to vote the most fundamental right of all? You betcha.

So why are the Republicans trying to take that right away? Is it their purpose to spread unfounded paranoia to gain absolute control? If the truth is out there, the Republican Party seems to have no idea where to look.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at InkandVoice.com and New York Journal of Books.


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Comments

James Krewson June 1, 2011 | 2:08 a.m.

The writer neglected to mention Acorn and the massive voter registration fraud that was committed nationwide. In addition, no mention was made of whether the system checks the age of the person registering with the age of the person on record. In fact I do not believe Social Security has that ability to cross-check the age of each person that is registered. And even if it did, how do we know that person is who they say there are? Recently there have been massive identity thefts of social security #s showing us how easy it is for those numbers to be compromised. I simply do not understand why the writer considers it "paranoia" to simply verify that the voter is who they say they are at the voting booth. To say that the Republicans are trying to take the right to vote away is simply ludicrous. My guess is that the writer knows that the people who support his political agenda and will vote to give his party continued political power are undocumented and come from south of the border. And since polls clearly show his party becoming more unpopular each day as the debt keeps climbing trillions of dollars under an irresponsible President, I can understand that they need every vote they can find, no matter how they get it.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance June 1, 2011 | 7:39 a.m.

The writer wasn't referring to voter registration fraud. He is talking about voter fraud, someone voting as someone they are not. I know ACORN is the big whipping post for the cons, but the fact of the matter is that ACORN hired some people who were not honest and were given fraudulent registrations for the money. Now here is what the commenter failed to mention, ACORN BY LAW, must submit those registration cards even if they know they are fraudulent. No one can selectively throw away voter registration cards if they are registering people to vote. It is another way the repubs are trying to disenfranchise voters.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black June 1, 2011 | 8:00 a.m.

And James fails to mention that ACORN also were the ones who reported that voter registration fraud. If they were trying to pull "massive registration fraud" (really? massive? a few hundred out of millions?) they would have tried to cover it up, instead of announcing it. Poor folks are less likley to have picture ID. Poor folks tend to vote Democrat. No explanation neccesary.How many illegals do you think would risk getting caught just to vote? And by the way, our unpopular president has a 54% approval rating.

(Report Comment)
mark edwards June 1, 2011 | 9:09 a.m.

The real confusion is over the words "voter fraud". Congressman Akin committed voter fraud if he lives in one jurisdiction and votes in another. SB3 and SJR2 only focus on voter impersonation at the polling place, and no cases of been reported in Missouri. These two bills do not address voter registration or absentee voter fraud.
Once again Mr. Rosman only adds to the confusion and is unable to explain the difference. The proponents win on messaging as they continue to lump all fraud together.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble June 1, 2011 | 3:20 p.m.

Voter fraud is not a problem. It's a hypothetical problem with no basis in actual experience. Thus, addressing such a non-issue with an action such as what's proposed by the legislature suggests an alternate motive besides the stated one.

We all know what that motive is. We shouldn't dignify that motive, and the deception that hides it, with a law.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking June 1, 2011 | 3:39 p.m.

If we are not willing as a state to require photo ID for every adult, then we can't single out voting as an activity requiring one.

You already need one, in many cases, to buy alcohol and tobacco, do any sort of banking or loan activity, get a passsport, and lots of other common activities. I'd find it difficult to not have one. But the requirement has to come first.

DK

(Report Comment)

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