Those Damn Activist Judges, At It Again

Surely the fix is in!

The Supreme Court is siding with Ohio’s top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.

The Supreme Court, as we all know, densely packed with Democrats.

The ruling itself, via TalkingPointsMemo.

And just for extra added fun: Former US Attorney calls current ACORN bruhaha “a scare tactic.” Also from TPM, because us Webb Class of ’87 folks gotta stick together.

Discuss amongst yourselves. Politely.

72 thoughts on “Those Damn Activist Judges, At It Again

  1. John @1: Hardly. But SCOTUS have to be damn careful about determining “standing” just now, what with all those folks in Guantanimo whom they want to leave in a frictionless environment.

  2. John,

    The case got booted on a technicality ( standing). Apparently the law in question says that individual tax payers can’t complain about the government not doing it’s job. It specifically states that they did not look at the merits of the case at all.

    This is anything but an activist ruling. The conservative judges voted to uphold the actual law and not go fishing for an excuse to support their feelings.

    Too bad the favor is never returned by the other side.

  3. Also the original question remains.

    There are 666,000 registrations that have not been checked for accuracy. Brunner states that at least 200,000 of them do in fact have problems. She is refusing to take steps to correct those problems because she claims she doesn’t have the time. federal law does in fact require her to deal with this basic problem. She is even refusing to share her findings with local municipalities who want to know so that they can fix the problems.

    I find it odd that you are so gleefull that the information on those 200,000 plus registrations will not be corrected before those people go to the polls.

    Why wouldn’t you want the problems fixed?

    If one of those registrations were mine, I would want it fixed?

  4. drew:

    “Brunner has said the discrepancies most likely stem from innocent clerical errors rather than fraud but has set up a verification plan.”

    So it does appear she’s working on it. What has changed is the requirement that she needs to have it done, oh, today. Which was what the appeals court wanted, and which seemed, in a word, unrealistic.

  5. Well, it’s not like there’s a fat lady singing somewhere. It’s just that she doesn’t have to implement the system she was already working on by Friday and have it be a court order. Also, it frees up those 2/3 registrations which are legitimate and have no problems. Now it comes to see if anyone tries to vote on those other third, if there’s a minor problem (spelling, misinterpretation of data, someone’s records not being up to date, etc) or if they’re in fact not-eligible to vote.

  6. John,

    Not to pick nits with you, but all we have is Brunner’s word on this and I am sure that she hasn’t personally looked at the 200,000 cards in question. The phrase “most likely” covers a lot of ground, and that’s a lot of clerical errors. Maybe we need new clerks.

    As to the timing I believe that the GOP and the Appeals court was asking that the task finish before the election as opposed to after the election.

    Is does no good to find out after the election that Duran Duran voted in Texas and Ohio. There is no way to know for whom they voted and so no relief for either party. If she were promising to clear this up before november 4th, I highly doubt that anyone would be suing her.

    Ohio could be the deciding state and the margin could be close ( although not likely). The country deserves a little less cavalier attitude and a little more competence. In my opinion.

  7. I’m becoming convinced that these registration drives are a form of “denial of service” attack, intended to swamp the offices that do the verifications. Same-day registration, that we have in Minnesota, just moves the problem down to the precinct, and the line for those registering can be hours longer than for those already registered. We just do not have enough staff to cope with the flood of non-registered.

  8. Here’s my problem: If these people (who I assume are being paid by the registration) are filling out voter registrations that require that they swear or affirm the information is correct and they are not taking steps to verify the information, (see: Mickey Mouse registered in Florida) then they are at the very least guilty of the same thing Martha Stewart got convicted of.

    And aren’t there enough questions about vote legitimacies without having 105% of the adults in Indianapolis registered? Or Mickey Mouse in FL, or 600,000 questionable registrations to go through in the month before the election? ACORN is at the very least not helping the matter. I know there was a big fight in a previous post over the difference between voter fraud and registration fraud and positive versus negative voter fraud, but I don’t believe it ought to be okay for either side to engage in fraud. Tamany Hall was great for the bosses, but do we really want to get any closer to the Federal version of Tamany Hall? Does anyone think that’s the road to success?

    Finally, this election season has seen rule change after rule change after rule change on both sides of the isle. I’m all for not changing the laws pertaining to federal elections within 12 months of a federal election. I know it would take a constitutional amendment to mandate this, which is about as likely as my BrainPal turning on, but I think it would be a good thing for state government officials who want to be responsible adults to consider.

  9. crap. isle=aisle. I was talking about the divide between two seating areas, not a piece of land surrounded by water.

  10. Drew: In the last 10 years, there have been four demonstrated cases of people voting fraudulently. Lets assume that only 1% of such cases ever come to light, and we have 400 illegally cast votes in a decade. Even though this covers Senate and House races, lets simplify it and say 200 per presidential election.

    Do you think that striking out 400,000 genuine votes is a proportionate response to ensure that those 200 fraudulent votes don’t get cast?

  11. Here’s my problem: If these people (who I assume are being paid by the registration) are filling out voter registrations that require that they swear or affirm the information is correct and they are not taking steps to verify the information, (see: Mickey Mouse registered in Florida) then they are at the very least guilty of the same thing Martha Stewart got convicted of.

    Well, of course, groups like ACORN actually DO have steps to verify. And the ones that aren’t verified are flagged.

    And aren’t there enough questions about vote legitimacies without having 105% of the adults in Indianapolis registered? Or Mickey Mouse in FL, or 600,000 questionable registrations to go through in the month before the election? ACORN is at the very least not helping the matter.

    You do know that a lot of voters don’t notify their registrar when they move, and people die, right? Now, think of how to verify these without cutting off people who are legitimate voters? There’s a problem with logistics here, and not fraud….

  12. I find this whole argument a load of BS. If ACORN is so powerful, why aren’t we talking about “the closing days of President Gore’s administration” or “John Kerry’s bid for a second term?”

  13. Brett @ 12:

    I know there was a big fight in a previous post over the difference between voter fraud and registration fraud and positive versus negative voter fraud, but I don’t believe it ought to be okay for either side to engage in fraud.

    Speaking for myself, I think we can agree on that: fraud isn’t cool.

    What we appear to disagree on is what happens to those *actual* voters who are registered by community organizers like acorn who may be disenfranchised otherwise, or who would have been relegated to casting provisional votes in Ohio save for today’s stay by the Supremes?

    I’d argue that it’s considerably more important to ensure that every real, legitimate voter has opportunity to cast their ballot than it is to stamp out falsified registrations for make-believe voters that do not and have not resulted in falsified *votes*.

  14. @Brett L: The problem is that one of the “sides” has been crying wolf about voter fraud for decades, in an ongoing effort to disenfranchise groups who don’t vote Republican, and in the last two election cycles they’ve been using the FBI and US Attorneys General as partisan tools. This is why Alberto Gonzalez got thrown out of Washington a while back, and yet here’s the GOP pulling the exact same stunt again in ’08.

    So, yeah, people who falsify voter registration cards to get money from ACORN are bad, mmkay, but ACORN is required by law to turn in all the cards they receive, even if they know perfectly well the card has been falsified. The reason why is to prevent a different type of fraud: The case where I walk the neighborhood, register everyone to vote, and then sort the cards at the end of the day and throw out the ones from McCain supporters. So, to prevent that scenario, any group that does voter registration is required by law to turn in all the cards they receive.

    So accusing ACORN of “fraud” (or saying that they’re “not helping”) because they’re doing what the law requires of them is… misinformed, at best. You’re being played by the Karl Rove crowd.

  15. Well I’d question your numbers, wintermute, simply because there have been many more cases documented than that just in the primariesbut you’re putting up a strawman argument, because that simply wasn’t what was going to happen here, and the FUD being spread here is downright offensive.

    Let’s say that SCOTUS hadn’t kicked the case out on a ‘standing’ issue and had let the appeals court ruling stand. You know what would have happened to the 400k+ registrations with no discrepancies? Absolutely nothing.

    So what about those 200k ones with problems? What was going to happen to them, you ask? Were they going to be prevented from voting if they were in fact legitimate voters?

    No. Of course not. What was supposed to happen was the names would be forwarded to the county election boards who were going to have the option of:

    a) Ignoring it and doing nothing.
    b) Hitting the records databases to do their own verifications, and decide who was valid, and forcing those who seemed invalid to vote on a provisional ballot.
    c) Just forcing everyone on the list to vote with a provisional ballot.

    The SecState was trying to avoid sending the list and allowing step B. What happens to you if you vote on a provisional ballot? Well, if the election is close enough to matter then anyone who voted on a provisional ballot can be challenged, just like absentee ballots can be challenged. But it would only happen if it was close enough to matter.

    So what happens now? None of that gets to happen, Duran Duran gets to vote, and grats Democrats, if the election happens to be extremely close you’ve just ensured that the other side has a legitimate gripe about fraud.

    As I said before in a comment on another post, if the Democrats don’t want the election to be contested, why are they working so hard to ensure that fraudulent votes can be counted?

  16. drew:

    “Not to pick nits with you, but all we have is Brunner’s word on this”

    Prove that, drew. I think it’s more accurate to say that you are not aware of Ohio’s voter registration verification processes, but that’s really not the same thing, is it?

    You might start here, Drew, where Brunner talks about voting irregularities and what Ohio is doing about it.

    If you honestly think “Duran Duran” is going to show up and vote, you’re either ignorant of the incidence of actual voting fraud in the country, or have been drinking too much GOP Kool-Aid.

    One of the interesting things about all of this is that Ohio’s voting and registration laws were passed by the state House and Senate, both of which have been Republican-controlled for years and years. For the state GOP to suddenly get vapors about the potential for fraud in a system they were responsible for devising, just before an election, is, well, amusing.

  17. Brett L @ 12

    Once again. Acorn pays by the hour not by the form. Acorn is required by law to turn in all forms collected. ALL Forms. Yes, even if they are pretty sure they’re bogus.

    For all I know this whole cacaphony, seasonally trumpeted by the republicans, is really a denial of service attack by them in an attempt to deny voting rights to the hundreds of thousands of people who recently registered. After all, only one party publicly declares that reducing voter turnout is good for their prospects and only one major party has been holding massive voter registration drives. If you bet the odds, I’m pretty sure I can tell the favorable wagers.

    The whole tempest in a teapot aspect is clearly shown by the fact that the five year search by the motivated Bush Justice Department for chargable cases of voter fraud produced only 120 cases and of that, erm, amazingly large number, only 86 cases were winnable. Just over 17 votes a year. Nationwide. Scourge, capable of destroying Democracy As We Know It! Yeah….

    Instead of deliberately bringing this up at the last minute, the rationalizing of and correcting of the various databases can easily be done over the coming year and a half. This would allow the elections staffs to handle the various election theft operation investigations with a clearer and more focused approach. As has been pointed out before by others, those are the more dangerous and likely threats.

  18. Posted this in another thread but I think it’s worth a repost.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg/2008/10/voter-fraud-fra.html

    “Sounds suspicious—unless you know that groups like ACORN are required by law to submit them, even if they’re obvious fakes. This is to prevent funny business, such as trashing forms that look like they might be Republican (or Democratic, as the case may be).

    Sounds suspicious—unless you know that ACORN normally sorts through forms, flags those that look fishy, and submits the fishy ones in a separate pile for the convenience of election officials.”

    “Sounds suspicious—unless you know that even if one of these fake forms results in a nonexistent person actually being registered, now under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, “any voter who has not previously voted in a federal election” must provide identification in order to actually cast a ballot. This will make it tough for Mickey Mouse, even if registered, to vote, no matter how big, round, or black his ears. Likewise, members of the Duck family (Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey, and Louie) who turn up at the polling place will have a hard time getting into the voting booth. (Uncle Scrooge might be able to bribe his way in, but he’s voting Republican anyway.)”

  19. You do know that a lot of voters don’t notify their registrar when they move

    In fact, I feel reasonably confident in saying that *almost no one* does. I know I never have. Quite possibly I’m still on the voter rolls in Virginia, despite having lived in California for a decade. And every time I’ve moved within states, I’ve simply reregistered, meaning that if someone screws up typing in my date a duplicate record could have been created. I certainly didn’t call up the register to delete the old one first.

    And for that matter, registering when you are already registered is not even voter registration fraud, and listing it as such is slime. I’m pretty sure that I registered at least twice for my current address, because after moving five times in six years I lost track of whether I had registered again for my new location, and better doing it twice then finding it hadn’t been done at all. And since Republicans are doing their best to purge as many legit voters as possible, it is the proper thing for anyone to reregister if they fear they have been purged.

    This is not voter fraud. This is normal.

  20. Regarding verification schemes in general, I have a problem with kicking out records which aren’t “exact” matches, when the various government databases are fuzzy to begin with.

    For several years we got a postcard from the IRS every year saying that my wife and I had to verify that our Social Security Numbers were correct. This turned out to be caused by (1) being married but with different last names and (2) a difference between the Federal 1040 and the Michigan form, whereby our middle initials were followed by periods on the Federal form and no periods on the state form. In theory, such a difference between databases could result in a person’s registration being questioned, challenged or thrown out under various schemes in use or talked about in various parts of the country.

    IMHO, neither the databases nor the registration form process is up to the task of allowing for automatic database comparison methods.

    Dr. Phil

  21. Where the hell is Ohio? Isn’t that one of those big square states in the middle of the country that people mostly just drive through on the interstate on their way to actual, real destinations?

    Sorry, for the confusion, I’m from Alaska, and as you know if you can’t see it from here, it must not be important.

  22. @15 & @17:

    Excuse me if I mis-state this, because I am trying to summarize fairly, but it seems that the idea underlying our disagreement is whether the laws in many states make voter registration overly burdensome to eligible voters who lack the time or resources to wade through government bureaucracy.

    I’m sure I’m no expert on the point. As an adult, I’ve only lived in FL & TX. Both states have “motor voter” laws, such that any person applying for a drivers license or state ID (which should be everyone aged 18 or older by law) is asked if they would like to be registered to vote. Again, legally, every time a person moves they are required to update their ID, where they are asked if they would like to be registered to vote at the new address. Perhaps my bias comes from this. It seems to me unlikely that a person could be legally compliant with the states’ ID laws and not be registered to vote if they desired.

    Again, I’ll say that these voter registration drives don’t do the cause of getting every legitimate voter a vote much good if they aren’t doing a reasonable amount of vetting before submitting the application. As someone else mentioned, you are basically spamming the voter registration departments of the state and local governments.

  23. “been drinking too much GOP Kool-Aid.”
    -John

    But it’s blue raspberry lemonade flavor! how could we resist!

  24. There are no blue foods… on Earth. Oh damn, looks like our new alien overlord masters have already won — might as well forget about the election.

    Dr. Phil

  25. Jim, depending on your point of view, it’s either Nirvana (ProFootball Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) or nowhere.

  26. Again, I’ll say that these voter registration drives don’t do the cause of getting every legitimate voter a vote much good if they aren’t doing a reasonable amount of vetting before submitting the application. As someone else mentioned, you are basically spamming the voter registration departments of the state and local governments.

    And as it’s been said before and will be said again: Voter registration drives are REQUIRED BY LAW to turn in EVERY registration form, NO MATTER how fraudulent they believe them to be.

    They cannot “vet” the applications before submitting, for the obvious reason that it would result in legit applications from folks of opposing party affiliations getting tossed in the trash.

  27. Given that voting is such a basic right, my default is to be as least restrictive as possible on getting the names in, and being careful on getting names out.

    “Spamming” the local registrar seems to be an adequate price to pay to allow as many eligible people as possible to vote.

  28. Look, in Ohio if you show up at the polls without proper identification (government issued Photo ID or “A copy of a current (within the last 12 months) utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and current address,” you can only vote with a provisional ballot as long as you sign a statement saying you are who you are and within 10 days provide the election board your official documentation.

    These rules are pretty tight. I know my election judge personally, I’ve served on committees with her, I call her by her first name when I enter the polling area, I’ve recommended her for more committees (sorry, Margie, you’re pretty good), I’m her friggin’ councilman, and I still have to produce a photo id.

    So even if Mr. M. Mouse votes with a provisional ballot, 1) it can be challenged just like an absentee ballot, and 2) he must provide official documentation within 10 days to have his vote counted.

  29. Brett L: To my knowledge, you are not required to possess either a driver’s license or state ID in any state. Your life may be a lot harder if you don’t have either, but not in the sense that you’ll be fined or jailed for failing to possess one.

    As for the larger argument about voter fraud, other people have already pointed out that it doesn’t actually happen – or rather, that it happens at such vanishingly small rates that it’s more likely than not that your (general ‘you’) entire state will not see a single instance of it this year. Furthermore, I’d like to add that it pretty much can’t happen in numbers large enough to have any effect on anything but (maybe) the tiniest of races.

    Think about it: you are a candidate for President (or Congress, or for Mayor, or what have you). You want to give yourself that extra edge, and you decide voter fraud is the way to go. You’re going, at a minimum, to need:

    1) hundreds of people (at least; for a race of any size you’re probably going to need thousands) dispersed throughout the voting area (because the poll workers are going to notice if they all turn up in one precinct);
    2) registered fraudulently (with ID, unless this is the second or third time you’ve pulled this, since first-time voters in a precinct need ID);
    3) who will go and vote for you under those fraudulent registrations, multiple times (at least twice, or they might as well just vote; but for efficiency’s sake let’s say they do it three or four times apiece).

    How, exactly, are you going to recruit hundreds or thousands of people to do this, without one single person you approach blowing the whistle, before, during, or after the process?

  30. JOhn,

    You are right, I know very little about Ohio election laws.
    I was simply responding to your quote of Brunner to the effect that the 200,000 mistakes were “most Likely” clerical.
    Coupled with the fact that she was in court fighting a request to release those forms so that someone outside of her office could verify that fact.

    It’s not illogical to then state that we only have her word for it. In fact she was in court to ensure that we only have her word for it.

    It doesn’t take a nut to wonder why.

    Also a 30%+ error rate, even if it is just typos is a huge number. Clearly, even factoring in the involvement of a government entity, there is something wrong with the process.

  31. Drew,

    Because there are fairly good measures in place to prevent any of those errors from actually resulting in a fraudulent vote and I, for one, kind of like the idea of a civil servant who will go to the mat to keep my data private if there’s not a -really- good reason not to.

    Now if they were as worried about errors in say Utah I’d agree with you. As it is well no.

  32. drew:

    Entertain the notion that she’s talking from experience and/or data; i.e., that the vast majority of questionable registrations in the past have been shown to be trivial errors such as misspellings, etc., and thus it is reasonable to assume that in this case they will also comprise the largest share of errors.

    As for 30% error rate being a huge number, I would say you need context to say that, wouldn’t you? What’s the average error rate for voter registrations in a general sense? Here’s the Ohio voter registration form (pdf link) — I see lots of places where sloppy penmanship could cause errors to arise. Likewise, as this registration data must almost be input into a computer system, that’s another place for errors to arise.

    Let me put it another way: I live on Horatio Harris Creek Road, an address which almost never is input correctly into various computer databases I’m in. I have in my lap three magazines: Wired, PC Magazine and Rolling Stone. One of them lists my street as “Horatio Harris Cre,” another “Horatio Harris Cree” and the third “Horatio Harrs Crk.” And now I’m looking at my driver’s license, which has it as “Hrt Hrrs Crk,” which is, comparatively, wrongest of all, and the driver’s license database, if I remember correctly, is one of the databases that voter reg. information is checked against.

    Each of these is an error, because none of these is the correct spelling, even though I know I submitted the address correctly spelled. If I laid out all my bills, you’d see an equal panapoly of spellings. Now, as it happens, Ohio’s voter rolls happen to have my information correctly inputted (I just checked). But it’s about the only place that does.

    So while I wouldn’t be sanguine about a 30% error, I’m not necessarily convinced it’s unusual.

  33. For the record the current supreme court is fairly even handed with outcomes usually coming out with the 4 conservatives against the 4 liberals with the odd vote going to Kennedy. Kennedy is generally considered conservative however he is known for being the key swing vote currently.

    As an Independent-Republican (I like most of their key ideas, but the party sucks) I think it was a pretty good decision.
    [/quote]The justices said they were not commenting on whether Ohio was complying with a provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, or HAVA, which lays out requirements for verifying voter eligibility. Instead, they said, they were granting Brunner’s request because it appeared that the law did not allow private entities, like the Ohio Republican Party, to file suit to enforce the provision of the law at issue.[/q]
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/10/17/america/vote.php
    It is a pretty strict rule of law decision, how it should be imo.

  34. I see some saying that every purported registration should be counted as valid, not matter what, and anyone who thinks that verification is important is some sort of scum trying to destroy the electoral process? I don’t get it. It doesn’t sound like a republican vs democratic issue. If phoney registrations are accepted as valid, and these pseudo-people vote, how does that help anyone?

  35. I see some saying that every purported registration should be counted as valid, not matter what,

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing that.

  36. JJS @ 42 – No, what people are saying is that ACORN and other groups must TURN IN all registrations. This is to prevent groups from cherry-picking registrations they don’t like. They can and do flag suspect ones, and if the registration is invalid, the registrar’s office can bounce it.

  37. The SCotUS just disproved that they’re idealogical hacks, as alleged by the left. They believe in enforcing the law as written, not re-writing it to suit their personal preferences. They did a good job here.

  38. Cassie @ 31:

    Is there a clear, non-partisan version of this saga?

    The problem is that an objective summary of the saga would say, in about as many words, “The Ohio GOP is deliberately misleading the public with false or hypothetical claims of ‘voter fraud’, as part of an ongoing, nationwide effort to prevent actual voters, especially where they might favor the Democratic Party, from voting. Actual incidents of voter fraud, defined as ‘a person trying to vote more often than is legally allowed’, are extremely infrequent and have never affected the outcome of a major election in the United States.”

    So you can write a clear version of the saga, but finding the proverbial honest Republican, who’ll step up and agree that the Ohio GOP is trying to mislead you, is… problematic. The rest of the GOP will disavow any such person, for one.

  39. Heh, suddenly feeling a surge of Canadian patriotism… Since it’s yet to be brought up in the thread, allow me to offer a little counterpoint… =)

    I wasn’t registered to vote in our federal election we held this past Tuesday. I’d received a notice from Elections Canada that said to contact them if I wasn’t registered. However, being the masterful procrastinator that I am, I failed to do so.

    So, with an hour to go before the polls close, I show up at the polling station, had to stand in a pretty long line(Wait a half an hour? Are you kidding me?), and when I got to the front, do the following:

    1. Present enough ID to satisfy them(picture and proof of address)
    2. Fill out a registration form with the above information.
    3. Be directed to the polling desk for my specific neighborhood
    4. Vote

    Total time: 45 minutes. Registering would have cut that down to 10-15 minutes, but I would have lost slacker credit.

    You know, there’s something to be said about keeping federal elections federal, as well as being given a paper ballot and a pencil… =)

  40. So you can write a clear version of the saga, but finding the proverbial honest Republican, who’ll step up and agree that the Ohio GOP is trying to mislead you, is… problematic.

    Well, if they were attorneys, they may have been fired from their jobs….

  41. @47, even worse is that the only thing I’ve ever done to register to vote is check the “Yes” box when I filed my taxes. Revenue Canada shares address information with Elections Canada when you check that box. There wasn’t even a line when I went to vote.

  42. Ryan, that’s about how it works in Minnesota too. We aspire to Canadian levels of clarity and civility sometimes.

    But here’s the thing – every state gets to write its own rules. Most have “motor votor” – register when you get a driver’s license or state ID. Some don’t. Most have deadlines for registration before the day of the election, but each state has a different date. Each state picks what kind of voting machines and/or hand counting they use.

    It is a morass of arbitrariness, state politics, and history – don’t forget our history of poll taxes, racist “literacy” tests, and past and current attempts at misleading people into not voting by invoking laws that don’t exist.

  43. If I had to use one, I’d be more concerned about the fact that the computer touch screens are not counting the votes correctly.

    Vote early, vote often and vote by mail.

  44. Dead people voting…

    http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/06/09/dead-voters-still-showing-up-on-election-records-puzzling-officials/

    Journalism professor Marcel Dufresne of the University of Connecticut led a class investigation into dead voters and said his group of 11 students discovered 8,558 deceased people who were still registered on Connecticut’s voter rolls. They said more than 300 of them appeared somehow to have cast ballots after they died.

    “We have one person who appeared to have voted 17 times since he died,” Dufresne told FOX News.

    In the 2004 governor’s race in Washington state, officials confirmed 19 votes were cast by people who were dead. Republican Dino Rossi lost that election by only 133 votes.

    http://volokh.com/posts/1162144706.shtml

    An analysis of state-wide records by the Poughkeepsie Journal reveals that 77,000 dead people remain on election rolls in New York State, and some 2,600 may have managed to vote after they had died. The study also found that Democrats are more successful at voting after death than Republicans, by a margin of four-to-one, largely because so many dead people seem to vote in Democrat-dominated New York City.

    But, it can’t be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that voter fraud occurred, and not just some clerical error, voter fraud doesn’t exist.

    And when you have both sides claiming the other is doing it, whether it’s voter fraud, or trying to disenfranchise classes of voters (the poor, minorities, or over seas service people,) I don’t think you’re going to get a “a clear, non-partisan version of this saga.”

    So, can’t we agree that we should have a registration and voting system which,

    A) makes it easy to register to vote, and keep your information up to date.

    B) it should positively verify that the person registering is eligible to vote.

    C) it should be easy to maintain to eliminate those whose voting status has changed.

    D) when voting, it should positively record that you’re registered to vote, still eligible to vote, and that you’ve only voted once.

    E) your vote should be positively and unalterably recorded, with verification given to the voter.

    F) all votes should be positively and unalterably tallied.

    I think a big problem we have is that these systems we use are to often paper based and fraught with error. True, software can be just as fraught with error, but with open standards, it ought to be possible to have trust in such a system.

  45. Oh, I have no problem with trying to design a system NOW, with as good as safeguards as we can dream up…

    But…

    A) I think we’re fooling ourselves to think that any system will be 100% foolproof.

    B) I think the problems that are pointed out are going to be inevitable with our hodge podge of systems.

    C) I think pointing to groups as ACORN as the greatest threat to democracy is going wayyyyyyyy over the top.

  46. “In the 2004 governor’s race in Washington state, officials confirmed 19 votes were cast by people who were dead. Republican Dino Rossi lost that election by only 133 votes.”

    Ok… but remember that those stats were out of 3.5 MILLION votes. and out of that 19 votes were cast by dead people. Less than .0005% of the electorate.

    If I remember correctly, about 1000 total votes were disputed at all. This means that the vote was 99.97% accurate. All Rossi or his opponent needed to do was get, oh 5000 more votes and there would have been no issue whatsoever. We will occasionally see elections like this where anything less than perfection affects the outcome, but these races are very rare and we should not ‘fix’ them by disenfranchising many other legitimate voters.

    Think about it – would it be worth disenfranchising two or three thousand voters to catch the 1000 registrations that were invalid? How would that make the election a MORE accurate reflection of the will of the people? After all, that’s the point of accuracy in elections – not to rig the game, but to do the best we can to make sure that all legitimate voters have their votes counted.

  47. Jardine @ 49:
    Well, I live in downtown Vancouver, so I guess a lineup is a given… =)

    Rosa @ 50:
    I don’t know how we, as a country, have managed it, but we’ve developed a fairly good split between the government and the bureaucracy that it runs.

    And on top of that, we have sharp definitions of federal/provincial powers and jurisdictions. If it’s a federal matter, there’s nationwide set of rules(federal elections, criminal code), if it’s provincial, then it’s open to local judgment.

    Maybe I’ve got a bit of patriotic bias, but in general our government seems to work for us, instead of against us…

    Jokingly, I’ve always seen it this way:
    As a social motto, you have Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
    The closest thing we have in Canada is: Peace, Order and Good Government.
    Which, on the surface, sounds boring, but I like to think of it as the essential social contract between the people and its government. They provide the good government, and we provide the peace and order.

    If they withhold, so do we. =)

  48. It also depends how you determine who’s dead. The Social Security decedent list, for example, is notoriously inaccurate, and there are numerous horror stories out there about people having to spend months or years convincing creditors, banks, and so on that they are, in fact, still kicking around once the SSA decides they’ve bought the farm. Did anyone actually call up any of these ‘dead’ voters?

    That said, I’m quite certain that there are probably a few cases here and there of someone continuing to vote dear old Mom’s ballot for her after she’s passed, maybe even for years. That’s not right, and if caught they should be punished for it. But how, exactly, will invalidating 200,000 new registrations in Ohio (or any new registrations at all) stop that from happening?

  49. But how, exactly, will invalidating 200,000 new registrations in Ohio (or any new registrations at all) stop that from happening

    It will keep the Republicans in power, and they will keep on with these voter suppression tactics, and therefore all the fraudsters (okay, and everyone else) won’t vote.

    QED.

  50. I think the important thing here is to not confuse voter registration fraud as voter fraud.

    Just because Mickey Mouse is registered to vote, does not mean some nut is going to show up, produce an ID that identifies him as Mickey Mouse, and cast a ballot. Voters still have to have some sort of ID before they vote that verifies their identity.

    Does it really matter that kids who were trying to make a few bucks got lazy and filled out the forms themselves instead of going door to door like they were supposed to? I highly doubt that there is some big, nefarious plot underway to steal the election for either party.

  51. I think the important thing here is to not confuse voter registration fraud as voter fraud.

    Something else to think about…don’t rule out that this registration fraud was done by right wing elements to discredit ACORN. After all, Republicans have done this before….

    (OK, semi-serious…on the other hand, consider the utter stupidity in this race….)

  52. On dead people voting…

    During the last presidential election, my good friend’s grandmother was facing a terminal illness. She had been a staunch Democrat for eighty-some years, and couldn’t wait to vote out George W. Bush. Just the possibility that he’d win a second term made her furious. But the doctor’s prognosis wasn’t good; it was unlikely she’d last until Election Day. She was bitterly telling my friend’s mom about this.

    “Well,” said my friend’s mom. “You could vote absentee.”

    I thought this was a great story. Shouldn’t the last intentions of our elderly be respected, even if they’re no longer living, tax-paying citizens?

  53. Djscman @ 60, Rick @ 54

    Brings up an interesting point, of these 19 people, how many voted preliminary/early voting and died between then and the day after the election? They’re not dead, they’re just vitality deficient! Give them some pills, rap their heads on the counter (works for parrots) and they’ll be fine. Note: Head rapping Must be done while talking with British accents or failure rate goes up.

  54. The important number to compare the 19 to is the margin of victory, 133, not to the 3,500,000, because the 19 are ~14.3% of the difference. “If it’s not close they can’t cheat”, to quote someone from long ago (and now a book title.)

  55. htom: But even in the case of close elections, you’d have to know ahead of time that the election was going to be that close in order to enact any kind of directed fraud (barring evidence that one party’s supporters are more likely than the other to engage in direct voter fraud, I’m going to assume that the vanishingly few examples of such result in a wash). And then you still have the problem of defectors.

    It just doesn’t seem very likely as an election strategy.

  56. The case got booted on a technicality ( standing).

    drew, if you think standing is a “technicality”, your understanding of the law is so weak that you really shouldn’t be commenting on this ruling. At all. Standing is not a “technicality”. It is foundational.

    I wonder how you would feel if some random crazy filed a paternity suit claiming he was the real father of one of your children, and the judge who first had to look at the case said “All right, the law says Mr. Random-Crazy has no standing to sue and I shouldn’t even be listening to him–but don’t you think we should at least hear the merits of his claim?”

    I’m especially convinced of your law-related ignorance by your petulant comment that only “the other side” is activist. Please. Go read up on the history of drug-related civil forfeiture in the United States (hint: it wasn’t liberal judges saying “I know I’m supposed to follow the law but, dude, like, just say no”). If you’re more of a SCOTUS fan, read the dissent in Texas v. Johnson by conservative justice William Rehnquist. If you prefer living justices, read Employment Division v. Smith, where Justice Scalia suddenly realizes he’s on the court for life and can do whatever the fuck he wants.

  57. Steve Moss at 53 – Could you do a slightly better job of analyzing situations, rather than describing some people as the “left”. It’s really tiresome to hear people lump individual or small group decisions into a stereotype. Especially on John’s blog where it’s pretty clear there are a lot of independents who would agree with whatever ideas are attributed to the “left” or “right”.

  58. Lisa at 56 – Amen to what you said. As a social worker who is often interfacing with Social Security, I see a lot of data input errors done by good people who are simply overworked or do not have a system of oversight to correct these errors. I would not be surprised that many “dead” voters would be surprised to know they are dead.

    Also, my previous post should have said Steve Moss at 45. Apologies.

  59. Let’s say that SCOTUS hadn’t kicked the case out on a ’standing’ issue and had let the appeals court ruling stand.

    OH TEH NOEZ! You mean the Court actually followed the law on that silly ‘standing’ thing instead of engaging in judicial activism? Well, we can’t have that. It might lead to the wrong result, and everybody knows judicial activism is only wrong when liberals like the ruling.

    Skip, get that irony detector fixed.

  60. It seems evident that drew, at least, has never done any data entry for a living. Having done exactly that, a one-in-three error rate really doesn’t seem that out of line to me. Between bizarre or overlong names (most of our host’s street-name errors are likely caused by insufficient room in the entry space), poor, indistinct, or simply unintelligible handwriting, and straight up typing errors, a high error rate is nearly inevitable on any kind of lengthy or complicated form. Care on the part of the entry clerk will not always fix the problem – is Vynthia simply an odd name, or bad handwriting for Cynthia? Is Wellington Tr. short for Wellington Terrace or Wellington Trail? Or possibly Wellington Trace? Is SW Westwood the actual street name, or is it actually S Westwood?

    Also, keep in mind the level of accuracy it’s reasonable to expect from your average data entry clerk. When I applied at the office for my first job as such, I was given a set of index cards to alphabetize as part of my interview. The interviewer was surprised that it took me less than five minutes (for 25 cards), and very surprised that I made no errors. We do our best, but most of us aren’t Rhode’s scholars.

  61. Todd @ 65- I was referring to the Bush v. Gore 2000 election decision. The Supreme Court followed the law, and was blasted by the “left”. So far as I am aware, neither Republicans nor Independents (true independents, anyway) critiqued the decision as it was legally sound.

    Now the Supremes have enforced Ohio election law, despite being arguably more conservative than in 2000 (O’Connor stepped down). They did so against Republican interests. They did so because it was the law as written, not what they actually wanted the law to be (a failing across the board, but particularly among the more left leaning of the judiciary).

    Also please note, the Supremes did not vindicate the Ohio Secretary of State. They made no pronouncement that a clean election was being run in Ohio. They simply stated that a private ciitizen could not protest the lack of verification at time of registeration, despite Ohio requiring such verification. Any protest would apparently have to come from some other department of Ohio’s government, perhaps the AG.

  62. They did so because it was the law as written, not what they actually wanted the law to be

    Which, frankly, was a refreshing change. Probably they did so because it is such an old and established principle; you don’t just assume random taxpayers have standing under a law unless the law says that they do.

    You’re a few decades behind, though, if you think that ‘judicial activism’ is something to which the left is more prone. That was true at a time when the law was extremely ‘conservative’, and many liberals felt that the way to address that was creative interpretation of the law from the bench. Funny, though, that when the law started to change – when more liberal concepts were legislated – suddenly, as with states’ rights, “strict adherence to the law” turned out to be a buzzphrase rather than principle.

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