Missing the Point at the Times

Interesting but pointless analysis in the NY Times about voter fraud:

An enduring Republican fantasy is that there are armies of fraudulent voters lurking in the baseboards of American life, waiting for the opportunity to crash the polls and undermine the electoral system. It’s never really been clear who these voters are or how their schemes work; perhaps they are illegal immigrants casting votes for amnesty, or poor people seeking handouts. Most Republican politicians know these criminals don’t actually exist, but they have found it useful to take advantage of the party base’s pervasive fear of outsiders, just as when they shot down immigration reform. In this case, they persuaded the base of the need for voter ID laws to ensure “ballot integrity,” knowing the real effect would be to reduce Democratic turnout.

Now a researcher has tried to quantify this supposed threat by documenting every known case of voter fraud since 2000 — specifically, the kind of impersonation that would be stopped by an ID requirement. (Note that this does not include ballot-box stuffing by officials, vote-buying or coercion: the kinds of fraud that would not be affected by an ID law.)

There have been more than 1 billion votes cast in local, state and federal elections over the last 14 years. Out of all of them, the researcher, Justin Levitt, a voting expert at the Loyola University Law School, found 31 cases of impersonation fraud. It’s hardly a surprise that the number is so low; as he writes in the Washington Post today, casting individual fake ballots “is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

The battle that folks like the odious Hans von Spakovsky and John Fund and the rest of the human filth on the right who peddle this nonsense are fighting is not one to promote the integrity of elections, but to disfranchise poor and minority voters. There have been thousands of studies and reports over the years that clearly prove voter fraud is an overblown bogeyman, but the myth persists because the Republicans need the myth to endure in order for them to push their agenda of limiting likely Democratic voters access to the ballot.

Likewise, it is undeniable that voter restriction laws target minorities and the poor:

States where more minorities turn out to vote are more likely to pass vote-suppressing laws, according to an analysis published by the American Political Science Association last week. These findings fly in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent opinion gutting key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, in which Chief Justice John Roberts asserted that race-based disenfranchisement was a thing of the past.

The study, conducted by University of Massachusetts Boston professors Keith Bentele and Erin O’Brien, examined restrictive voting laws proposed between 2006 and 2011. That included voter ID laws, proof of citizenship requirements, voter registration limits, early voting and absentee voting restrictions, and restrictions on felons’ voting rights. They found that “the more that minorities and lower-income individuals in a state voted, the more likely such restrictions were to be proposed.”

And more:

Voting rights are under attack in this country as state legislatures nationwide pass voter suppression laws under the pretext of preventing voter fraud and safeguarding election integrity. These voter suppression laws take many forms, and collectively lead to significant burdens for eligible voters trying to exercise their most fundamental constitutional right.

Since 2008, states across the country passed measures to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. Over thirty states considered laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely.

And here they are admitting to as much in court:

IT’S the latest fad among state officials looking to make voting harder: We’re not racist, we’re just partisan.

Some background: In June, the Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, under which nine states and portions of others had to get federal approval before changing their election laws.

One of those states, Texas, is again in court, facing a Justice Department suit seeking to get the state under federal oversight again. To do so, the Justice Department must prove intentional racial discrimination.

Texas’ defense? It’s discrimination, all right — but it’s on the basis of party, not race, and therefore it’s O.K.

Says Texas: “It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.”

Leaving aside that whopper — laws that dilute black and Hispanic voting power have more than an “incidental” impact — the statement, part of a court filing in August, was pretty brazen. Minority voters, in Texas and elsewhere, tend to support Democrats. So Republican officials, especially but not only in the South, want to reduce early voting; impose voter-identification requirements; restrict voter registration; and, critically, draw districts either to crowd as many minority voters into as few districts as possible, or dilute concentrations of minority voters by dispersing them into as many white-controlled districts as possible.

It’s why as recently as a few days ago, Scott Walker’s political machine was doing this:

The state of Wisconsin is asking a federal appeals court to allow Wisconsin’s voter identification law to be enforced during this fall’s general election.

In a filing Tuesday with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for the state ask that a federal district court judge’s injunction blocking the law on grounds that it would be racially discriminatory be lifted until the state’s appeal of that decision can be resolved.

“The balance of harms tips in Defendants’ favor because the district court’s impermissibly broad injunction purports to permanently enjoin a voting regulation that is designed to preserve the right to vote of all eligible Wisconsin voters,” Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and other state lawyers wrote in the new motion (posted here).

And just for the laughs, here is most assuredly one of the 31 cases of voter fraud found by the times:

It’s always seemed strange that Wisconsin Republicans like Reince Priebus and Scott Walker would insult their own state by claiming that it has a problem with voter fraud and needs tougher laws to prevent it. Wisconsin has traditionally been known for an uncommonly clean political culture (until recently, anyway), and I’ve never quite understood why conservatives would want to impugn it.

Can you say “projection”?

Now we learn about the curious case of Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old health executive who is accused of voting a dozen times in 2011 and 2012, including seven times in the recalls of Scott Walker and his GOP ally Alberta Darling. Wisconsin officials say it’s the worst case of multiple voting in memory.

Oh, and, did I mention he’s a Republican?

That would be embarrassing if the GOP had any shame.

Why try to appeal to voters when you an just work to invalidate the votes of those who disagree with you? As they like to say out here in the backwoods, don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining. Voter fraud is not a problem, it’s the foundation for Republican efforts to suppress the vote and rig elections. Period.

73 replies
  1. 1
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    “The balance of harms tips in Defendants’ favor because the district court’s impermissibly broad injunction purports to permanently enjoin a voting regulation that is designed to preserve the right to vote of all eligible Wisconsin voters,”

    This is, of course, completely backwards. Until and unless the law is found to be constitutional, it should not be given any effect. It will prevent otherwise eligible voters from voting – a harm that can not be undone. IMO, though, the 7th Circuit will uphold Adelman’s decision striking down the law and it will be done in a way that keeps it out of the USSC.

  2. 2
    Pogonip says:

    How’s your sobriety holding up, John?

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Interesting but pointless analysis

    I don’t know that it is pointless. It shows that the purported reason for the Voter ID laws is bullshit, which begs the question “What is reason for it?” The answer to which is rather obvious.

  4. 4

    If you knew nothing else about a political system, other than that there were two parties and one of them was actively trying to keep poor people and minorities from voting…

    why the hell would you vote for said party?
    (Greed, xenophobia, primate politics, religion, etc., I know. Still. Gross.)

  5. 5
    AliceBlue says:

    Welcome home John, it’s been a pleasure to read your posts these last couple of days. As one commenter has already noted, you sound like yourself, only more so.

  6. 6
    Woodrowfan says:

    welcome back John..

  7. 7

    Oh right, congrats on the sobriety and all, John. I’ve clawed my way out of various mental hells before, though nothing so acute, but it’s never easy. We’re all pulling for you.

  8. 8

    @Pogonip: +0 still. Feeling good. Although for some reason I was just exhausted (I’ve been running myself into the ground the last three days working around the house, and it was a little rainy, so I took an awesome nap for an hour and a half from five to 6:30.

  9. 9
    raven says:

    @John Cole +0: Hittin the gym at all?

  10. 10
    Pogonip says:

    @John Cole +0: Congrats!

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    Research (cough – science – cough) shows voter fraud does not exist to any appreciable degree.

    Therefore it does.

    /wingnut philosophy

  12. 12
    lou says:

    Odious is too gentle a word for Hans von Spakovsky. Seriously between him and Michael Greve, why are people listening to first- or second-gen Germans?

  13. 13
    Cain says:

    I am lovin these John Cole political posts. Good stuff! Sobriety is doing wonders for you, dude!

  14. 14
    burnspbesq says:


    Butbutbut … the so-called “researcher” works at a law school. Therefore, he can’t be a real scientist. Everybody knows they don’t do science in law schools.

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    @John Cole +0: Manic phase?

  16. 16
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @burnspbesq: Eh, he probably brought in a stats guy to do the numbers. But the stats guy is at a university and thus suspect as well.

  17. 17
    NotMax says:


    Obviously another activist judge-in-waiting.


  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:


    Ever hear of a lawyer who can’t count?


  19. 19
    Corner Stone says:


    Ever hear of a lawyer who can’t count?


  20. 20
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    Time to arrest every Rethug in the country and send them to Gitmo.

  21. 21
    Baron Elmo says:

    Damn, John… you are on fire with this one (and other recent posts). I’ll be sending copies of this to my right-wing relations; it gets at the nub of this ugly trend better than damn near anything I’ve yet seen.

  22. 22


    Seriously between him and Michael Greve, why are people listening to first- or second-gen Germans?

    They like the accent? Actually, my boss’s boss is a first generation German immigrant, and he’s definitely worth listening to. So was my grandfather, though he might not be a classic example, what with being a Jew who got the hell out when he still had a chance.

  23. 23
    jl says:

    But, I don’t see how articles getting the truth out are pointless. Quite a few links in this post to show to some of the teapeople in my family.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @efgoldman: Not every lawyer has billable hours and some of those who do mess them up. And relatively few use contingency fees. Also too, there often is support staff to do a lot of the numbers.

  25. 25
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @efgoldman: I vote in the (relative) boonies out here, and everybody knows everybody. I go in the polling place and am greeted on a first-name basis by half the election workers. No, I don’t pull out my wallet.

    But I am also appalled at the voter ID thing, and have berated my assemblyman about it. He stammers in response but gives no logic.

  26. 26
    ellennellee says:

    wow, john! just – WOW!

    i rarely to never comment, and had wanted to say welcome back and best of luck and you’ll do this and all that. and mean all that, sincerely.

    but, could not hold back any longer. your contributions here since you got back are beyond stunning! just phenomenal.

    seriously, dude; keep this up! the world really needs you. YOU; all of you.

  27. 27
    Anoniminous says:


    Going by billed hours lawyers work 27 hours a day, 392 days a year.

  28. 28
    Downpuppy says:

    I’m fairly sure the Republican base is almost as aware as the leadership that there is no fraud. I don’t think our media elite is quite ready to deal with the fact that half the electorate just doesn’t care about truth, justice or equality.

  29. 29
    Jay C says:

    @John Cole +0:

    Interesting but pointless analysis

    Really, what IS the “pointless” part? That the NYT piece points out – with data – that “voter fraud” is a completely bullshit Republican-partisan scam issue to suppress non-Republican voting? That no matter how much “data” is compiled, Republicans are going to do their bullshit thing and try to suppress voting on whatever bullshit grounds, because that’s what today’s Republicans do? Or is the “pointless” bit the fact that not much is going to be done about GOP bullshit
    because FREEDOM! and AMERICA FUCK YEAH!! ??

    And oh yes, welcome back, John! Great goddam job!

  30. 30
    White Trash Liberal says:

    TeaLogic dictates that the reason so few voter fraud cases are uncovered is because the demonrats are so good at it. If states had tougher laws and enforced them, you’d see just how bad it is.

    But heaven forbid you regulate guns or money.

  31. 31
    mai naem says:

    Why would somebody pay somebody to vote if you can get what you want by donating money to your preferred candidates? Maybe ballot stuffing but not just plain old fraudulent voting just isn’t worth the trouble. Nobody’s going to do something like that for $10 and a $100 just does not make economic sense.

    Anyhow, I follow James Woods, the actor on twitter. Jeezus, I don’t know if he was a whack job to begin with but he’s a complete total RWNJ. Like, completely gone, like Victoria Jackson gone.

  32. 32
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    An entire post without telling anyone to eat a bag of salted dicks! Congratulations!

    Seriously…you seem well.

  33. 33
    mai naem says:

    There was a medicare fraud case in Illinois where part of how they figured out the fraud was that the doctor was billing for 24 hours a day all the time .

  34. 34
    Mike J says:

    @mai naem:

    but he’s a complete total RWNJ. Like, completely gone, like Victoria Jackson gone.

    After 9/11 he said he saw the people who did it on a previous flight for a dry run and was upset that nobody locked them up for flying while arab.

  35. 35
    Suffern ACE says:

    @mai naem: yep. You have to wonder what Mexican immigrants have ever done to him.

  36. 36

    @Jay C: The pointless part is that it doesn’t matter to the people pushing this. I mean, it is great for those of us in the RBC as yet more proof of what we already know, but it doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They believe what they want to believe. I posted the NY Times link on my FB feed, and a Republican friend from undergrad’s whole contribution was to state that I do good job reciting “talking points.”

  37. 37
    Tokyokie says:

    I keep harping on this point, but I’ll say it again: Apartheid (and for that matter, Jim Crow) was a system in which the rights of citizenship were systematically restricted to those whose interests the government promoted. And anybody who supports this sort of thing is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with P.W. Botha (and for that matter, Byron De La Beckwith), and they need to be told as much. To their faces. Several times a day.

  38. 38
    mai naem says:

    @Mike J: You have to read this Woods’ twitter feed. He complaining about Obama golfing(apparently he didn’t have a problem with Bushtcher golfing.) He talking about voter fraud. He was bitching about O-care in last fall and earlier this year. Everything,but everything is Obama’s fault. Maybe, his acting gigs are drying up and he wants to go on Faux.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    They problem with the NYT piece is that it really does puddyfoot (not a word, but I’m afraid the one I wanted to use would cause FYWP to go bananas) the fact that every Rethuglican concern about “voter impersonation fraud” is purest bullshit. Invariably, the serious electoral fraud is committed at the places where they count the ballots themselves, and invariably they’re committed by Rethuglican operatives who feel a need to “true the vote” so that it is “unskewed” in favor of their candidates.

    Just come out and say what is going on here…Rethuglicans don’t like the way their electoral fortunes are trending and they’re trying to find dishonest ways to fix that…by preventing the “wrong people” from voting. They hate democracy, period. Fuck them all. Round them all up and shoot them into the sun.

  40. 40
    Yatsuno says:

    @efgoldman: The night is still young after all.

  41. 41
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @White Trash Liberal: This is more of the same thing we always get from the Rethuglicans. The Democrats are simultaneously utterly incompetent to run government, yet are also so fiendishly clever that they can bus in countless thousands of “illegals” to vote in elections and swing them their way undetected in real time.

  42. 42
    Tom Q says:

    @mai naem: Woods has been in this mode for at least the last 10-15 years. It’s amazing he did the Roy Cohn HBO movie back in the 80s or 90s. Nowadays he’d probably think Cohn was a hero. And how are he and Oliver Stone getting along these days? Stone’s lefty Salvador was kind of what gave Woods his big career push (and his first Oscar nomination).

    (I have to admit, I loved Woods back in the Salvador/True Believer days. Now I can hardly stand to watch him)

  43. 43
    burnspbesq says:


    Ever hear of a lawyer who can’t count?

    They’re called “litigators.” ;-)

  44. 44
    burnspbesq says:


    lawyers work 27 hours a day,

    That’s easy. Work all day in New York, fly to LA, and pull an all-nighter.

  45. 45
    Mike in NC says:

    @Tom Q: Woods, like Dennis Miller and so many others, went full metal wingnut after 9/11. They’re quivering crybabies in need of a fascist Big Brother protector like Dick Cheney or Ted Cruz. Assholes.

  46. 46
    Mike in NC says:

    GOP 50 State Strategy: just keep as many people from voting as possible.

  47. 47
    The Thin Black Duke says:

    @Tom Q: Unfortunately, Woods and Oliver Stone would probably get along O.K., since Mr. Stone himself has recently jumped on the “I’ll vote for Ron Paul over Obama” bandwagon. Sigh.

  48. 48
    ruemara says:

    @Anoniminous: So they’re like cops?

  49. 49
    Jay C says:

    And there are a few edits to #52 that won’t get done because it’s been “marked as spam”??
    WTF WP??

    And if I’ve offended anyone, Sorry!!!

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    MLS All-Star game is pretty entertaining. Bradley Wright-Phillips of Red Bull just hit a spectacular equalizer to match an equally spectacular opener from Robert Lewandowski of Bayern.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Hey, this is progress. It reported facts. It wasn’t he said she said. It didn’t say both sides do it. It said there is no factual basis for the claims of voter fraud.

  52. 52
    Mike E says:

    So, our honorary Koch brother is stepping down from his official post to get ready to buy steal work on another TEA party election…guess who’s taking his place as the budget director?

  53. 53
    RareSanity says:


    Butbutbut … the so-called “researcher” works at a law school. Therefore, he can’t be a real scientist. Everybody knows they don’t do science in law schools.

    Nobody has any issues with professors teaching at, or students attending, law school.

    It’s generally when they actually practice said law, that they tend to make their mischief. :-p

  54. 54
    Tom Q says:

    @The Thin Black Duke: You know, I thought after I posted that Stone & Woods might be just the two to forge that FDL/TP coalition for the dreaminess of Rand Paul. My father always said that it was stupid to talk of political wings as if they were plots along a line; that they’re more like points on a circle, and the further you moved, the closer you came to meeting your supposed opposite,

  55. 55
    balconesfault says:

    I still cannot fathom why every time Republicans move to put these kinds of measure in a bill, Dems don’t respond by adding voter fraud legislation targeted at ensuring that every voting machine produces an auditable receipt for the voter to review and drop in a locked ballot box – just like the old days.

    A very good case can be made that this would provide more protection against voter fraud in one cycle than 100 years of the GOP backed measures would.

  56. 56
    stibbert says:

    I’ve served as a polling-place worker in Allegheny County for the last 4 years (7 elections). During this time, the PA legislature passed restrictive photo-ID laws for voting. Fortunately, PA courts prevented implementation of those laws.
    As a poll-worker, I take a voter’s name, match it to a card in our county-supplied filebox, have them sign the card, then I (or a co-worker) lead them to a voting machine, insert an electronic key to initiate the machine (if it’s a primary, I must also pre-select the D or R ballot), then get out of the way & let the voter vote. Tho’ we’re nearby to help, if a voter asks for assistance.
    When a voter signs the card, we must do another look-up on our county-supplied roll. A first-time voter at our polling-place must provide ID, this req’ment pre-dates the ‘photo-ID’ law, and the ID req’ment is far less restrictive.
    Legally, I’m req’d to match the sig on voter’s card to the sig on the roll. Practically, the vast majority of card-sigs bear little or no comparability to their sig on the voting-roll.
    I myself, or any of my co-workers, could say, “this doesn’t match,” we could prevent that vote & force that voter to do a ‘provisional ballot’ w/ time-consuming paperwork. Except that we would never do that.
    I think I’d speak for all of our team, that our prime directive is to allow voters to vote. We get a special charge out of the job, when a newb 18-year-old fronts up for the first time, or when a parent brings the youngsters along.

  57. 57
    stibbert says:

    Also I have never run across any sign of voting fraud. I have observed a candidate for a local Democratic commitee position try to solicit votes inside our polling-place, & was wonderfully pleased by the solicitee’s response, “You’re breaking the law, get out of my face.” Cheers for an informed electorate.

  58. 58
    richard crews says:

    the voter fraud I think happened was Mitt claiming Utah residency for state taxes while voting in Massachusetts, Can this be checked out? bet it happened.

  59. 59
    lou says:

    @Roger Moore: I’ve had the misfortune of meeting these guys and really, they do give off a old-school Uber Alles vibe. They’re supporters of Charles Murray and his Bell Curve BS.

  60. 60

    […] See also Proof That Voter Impersonation Almost Never Happens and Missing the Point at the Times. […]

  61. 61
    Paul in KY says:

    @efgoldman: If your Democratic rep won’t say publically that this is just done to disenfranchise minorities/poor, then don’t expect anything to be done.

    Some of these ‘Democratic’ politicians seem to think that if they mention out loud that their constituencies include minorities & the poor, that it will run off their white suburban voters (if they have any).

    A tell that your rep is a true Democrat: Loudly saying that this is typical Republican partisan voter suppression with nothing to do with any kind of voter fraud.

  62. 62
    Paul in KY says:

    @mai naem: I think James Woods is a very partisan Likudnick. They know which party kowtows best to them.

  63. 63
    Paul in KY says:

    @John Cole +0: Doesn’t matter to the assholes doing the voter suppression or doesn’t matter to the people showing that the republicans are doing this?

  64. 64
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mike in NC: Dennis Miller is another Likudnick.

  65. 65
    NCSteve says:

    When you’re an innumerate bigot whose worldview is defined by confirmation bias, 31 in person fraud votes out of a billion cast is a sufficiently serious problem to justify the expenditure of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, but the looming mass extinction event caused by global warming, not so much.

  66. 66
    Jado says:

    The “evidence” here is as persuasive to the audience as any “evidence” put forth at the Salem witch trials – those who know it’s BS but need it to happen anyway are not going to stop it (cause they NEED IT TO HAPPEN), those who know it’s bs but but are desperate to stop it have NO POWER to stop it, and the rest of the paranoid populace have NO IDEA whether it’s true or not, but are so terrified of their cows being cursed that they eagerly cede our authority to those who will PUNISH ANYONE who might be involved in the cursing of cows, no matter how trumped-up the charges are.

    ANYTHING to stop the cows being cursed. And if they do NOTHING, they have no assurances that the cows won’t be cursed. But the nice Republican with the shifty eyes and the oily smile tells them that their cows will be cured if we kill all the witches. So let’s get busy digging those stake holes and piling up some nice green brush for the fires.

  67. 67
    Waynski says:

    @stibbert: Legally, I’m req’d to match the sig on voter’s card to the sig on the roll. Practically, the vast majority of card-sigs bear little or no comparability to their sig on the voting-roll.

    This. I injured my hand in my twenties working as a bouncer trying to break up a bar fight (some little turd swung a chair at me). In any case, I got nerve damage in my hand, so my signature can look a little different depending on whether I’m standing up, sitting down, or leaning over. It hasn’t been a problem voting so far, but if some Rethuglican “poll watcher” wanted to be a dick about it, I might not get to vote.

    And FYWP. I block quoted the comment above not my own words.

  68. 68
    burnspbesq says:


    Nobody has any issues with professors teaching at, or students attending, law school.

    You must not spend much time at LGM.

  69. 69
    EthylEster says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): I don’t get calling it pointless either. But these days there is much that I don’t get.

  70. 70
    Bitter Scribe says:

    You’re conflating election “fraud” laws with gerrymandering. Gerrymandering stinks, but I’ve never seen a proposal to do away with it that made any sense to me. You can bloviate all you want about objective this and nonpartisan that, but election district boundaries are drawn by mortal human beings, with political preferences. No system can change that.

    The best thing that can be said for gerrymandering is that it’s an equal opportunity fuckover; Democrats do it too, when they control state governments at the right time. In my home state of Illinois, the Republicans are trying to put a “nonpartisan” system for redrawing the lines on this year’s ballot. To which I say: Fuck off. Don’t try to change the rules because you lost.

  71. 71
    Bitter Scribe says:

    @mai naem: Yeah, has Woods forgotten all about “Salvador”? Sure seems like it to me.

  72. 72
    GRANDPA john says:

    @Downpuppy: I don’t think our media elite is quite ready to deal with the fact that half the electorate just doesn’t care about truth, justice or equality.

    Why wouldn’t they, half of them don’t care about them either

  73. 73
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bitter Scribe: In England, all district boundaries are created by a non-partisan commission. They don’t let one party or another set them.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] See also Proof That Voter Impersonation Almost Never Happens and Missing the Point at the Times. […]

Comments are closed.