In their new book, Who's Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund and Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky attempt to gin up fears about stolen elections and widespread voter fraud by making use of cherry-picked story-telling, falsehoods, and baseless allegations.
Fund Has Pushed False Allegations Regarding The DOJ's Handling Of The New Black Panther Party Case, Fabricated A “Universal Voter Registration” Bill, And Fabricated Evidence Of Voter Fraud In New Jersey, Among Other Falsehoods. [Media Matters, 7/24/10]
Von Spakovsky Has A Long History Of Spreading Misinformation About Voter ID Laws And Voter Fraud. [Media Matters, 6/14/11]
Fund/Spakovsky Book Baselessly Claims The Affordable Care Act Was The Result Of Voter Fraud In Sen. Al Franken's 2008 Election
CLAIM: Democratic Senator Al Franken's Seat -- And His Critical Vote In Favor Of The Affordable Care Act -- Are Illegitimate Results Of “Voter Fraud.” From the book:
WOULD OBAMACARE HAVE PASSED WITHOUT VOTER FRAUD?
Minnesota's 2008 Senate race wasn't just an ordinary election. Disputes over the razor-thin margin held the Senate seat vacant for eight months, until early July 2009. That was when Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner by 312 votes by Minnesota's Supreme Court.
Franken's seating gave the Democrats the critical 60 votes they needed to overcome Republican filibusters, and proved vital to the passage of ObamaCare.
Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, has come up with compelling evidence that at least 1,099 ineligible felons voted illegally in the Franken v. Coleman contest. That's more than three times the victory margin Franken eventually achieved through litigation.
Of course, no one can be certain of how the felon votes uncovered by Minnesota Majority were cast. “I am highly skeptical that felons voted for one candidate or another en masse,” says Sue Gaertner, the former Ramsey County Attorney who has convicted 27 felons for voting illegally. But there are clues to prove her wrong. [Who's Counting?, page 13-15]
REALITY: Hennepin County (MN) Attorney Mike Freeman: Claims By Minnesota Majority Have “No Basis In Fact.” From AlterNet.org:
“There is no basis in fact, whatsoever, in these inaccuracies propagated by the Minnesota Majority here, none,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday. “After the most closely scrutinized election in Minnesota history in 2008, there were zero cases of fraud. Even the Republicans lawyers acknowledged that there was no systematic effort to defraud the election, none.”
“In Hennepin County, 650,000 people voted,” he continued. “The Minnesota Majority presented us with 1,500 cases that they felt there were problems with voting. Our own election bureau gave us 100. At the end of the day, we charged 38 cases. And all but one of them are felons voting who were still under the penalty [of not legally applying to regain individual voting rights]. There was no fraud.” [AlterNet.org, 8/8/12]
MPR: Ramsey County (MN) Director Of The Prosecutions Division Phil Carruthers “Said It's Impossible To Say Whether The Illegal Voting Might Have Altered The Outcome Of The Senate Race.” In a July 2010 article, Minnesota Public Radio reported that Phil Carruthers, director of the prosecutions division in the Ramsey County Attorney's office, “said it's impossible to say whether the illegal voting might have altered the outcome of the Senate race.” MPR further reported:
“It's total speculation. First of all so far only a limited number of people in fact have been charged with illegally voting so the number is very limited,” Carruthers said. “And then of course we don't know who they would have voted for or did vote for, so it's total speculation.” [MPR News, 7/12/10]
Citizens For Election Integrity In Minnesota: Percent Of 2008 Minnesota Voters Convicted Of Fraud: 0.0009%. From a 2010 report by Citizens for Election Integrity in Minnesota:
The results of the survey did not indicate a photo identification requirement would improve election integrity. But, survey responses, both quantitatively and qualitatively, pointed to one common investigation and concern -- felon voting. Of the 1,531 reported investigations, 77 percent of them focused on possible felons voting. Again, to look at this number as a total percent of 2008 voters as we did with voter impersonation, we learned that 0.0404 percent of all voters were investigated as possible felons who voted.
An investigation does not indicate guilt. In fact, some County Attorneys independently reported that they had false positives. For example, Dakota County reported that 35 percent of the cases that were determined not to be chargeable were because the individual either had a gross misdemeanor or had successfully completed probation and had their civil rights restored prior to voting, while Anoka County reported 5 percent of the cases that were determined not to be chargeable for the same reason. Since we did not specifically ask counties to provide this level of detail in the survey, theaverage number of false positives of possible felons voting is unknown. But, we do know that false positives exist on some level.
Legally, there is a vast difference between ineligible voting and fraudulent voting, even though the action could be exactly the same. Intent determines whether the action is fraudulent or not. For example, if someone who has voted at the same precinct for 50 years moved down the street -- to a location that is in another precinct -- and, on Election Day goes to the same precinct he voted at for 50 years and voted there without knowing that he should have gone to another precinct, he did not commit fraud. But, if he went to the same precinct he voted at for 50 years knowing it was the wrong precinct, he committed fraud. This example applies to all voter qualifications, which also includes but is not limited to, age, citizenship, and criminal status. The difference between ineligible voting and fraud is intentionality.
Based on the survey results, the only type of conviction was due to felons voting (26 convictions) or felons registering to vote (12 convictions). Because about a third of people convicted did not vote, we must use 26 (the number of people who voted who were convicted) to determine the percent of the total 2008 voting population who have been convicted of fraudulent voting. Based on the survey, nine ten-thousandths of one percent (0.0009%) of 2008 voters were convicted of fraud. [Facts About Ineligible Voting and Voter Fraud in Minnesota, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, November 2010]
CLAIM: Franken Campaign “Ginned Up” Absentee Ballots That Shouldn't Have Been Counted. From the book, in a section headlined “More Minnesota Funny Business”:
After the initial count on Election Night, Al Franken trailed Norm Coleman by 725 votes out of 2.9 million cast, including approximately 300,000 absentee ballots. After the initial canvass, which is the process by which counties resubmit to the secretary of state the vote totals of local precincts from Election Day, Coleman's lead shrank to only 206 votes. So the Democratic strategy focused on how to conduct the recount so that votes could be added to Franken's total. The Franken legal team swarmed the recount, aggressively demanding that votes that had been disqualified for failing to meet state legal requirements be added to his count, while others be denied to Coleman.
The team's goldmine was the thousands of absentee ballots the Franken team claimed had been mistakenly rejected. While Coleman's lawyers demanded a uniform standard for how counties should reevaluate these rejected ballots, the Franken legal team ginned up an additional 1,350 absentees from Franken-leaning Democratic counties. By the time this treasure hunt ended, Franken was 312 votes up, and Coleman was left to file legal briefs to overturn that result. [Who's Counting?, page 20, emphasis added]
CLAIM: At No Point Do Fund/Spakovsky Allege That The Ballots Were Actually Invalid. The book's authors make a procedural argument about which governing body should be allowed to count the absentee votes, based on admittedly unclear law, without providing evidence that the votes themselves were in any way invalid or that the result would have been different if a judicial election contest had been initiated. From the book:
As Assistant Attorney General Raschke said, the proper forum to remedy the claimed wrongful rejection of any absentee ballots is “a judicial election contest.” However, a second letter, submitted to the Canvassing Board in December and this time from the Minnesota solicitor general, took the opposite view. He asserted that “a reviewing court would likely uphold a determination by the State Canvassing Board to accept amended reports...that include absentee ballots of voters...whose votes were improperly rejected by election officials due to administrative errors” even though such actions are "not necessarily contemplated under a strict reading of the statutes. [Who's Counting?, page 21]
Fund/Spakovsky Book Employs Anecdotes In An Effort To Show Voter Fraud Is More Common Than Fatal Lightning Strikes. From the book:
Voter fraud is so rare “you're more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud,” asserts Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a liberal voting group. Alex Wagner, an MSNBC host, ups the ante, claiming there is “more likelihood of you getting hit by lightning twice.”
But how does such hyperbole stack up with reality? According to the National Weather Service, the last reported death from a lightning strike in the state of New York was in 2009. But in August 2011, William McInerney, the former city clerk of Troy, N.Y., pleaded guilty to forging a signature on an absentee ballot, for which he was sentenced to 90 days in a work program. McInerney's cooperation with prosecutors led to four more elected officials and political operatives pleading guilty to felony charges.
Prosecutors produced evidence of at least “38 forged or fraudulent ballots,” enough to have “likely tipped the city council and county elections” to Democrats. So at least 38 voters had their votes stolen, and five of seven defendants pleaded guilty. That is a lot more fraud than one terminal lightning strike in three years. [Who's Counting?, page 34]
REALITY: Study After Study Show Voter Fraud Is Scarce
New York Times: Investigation Found “Virtually No Evidence Of Any Organized Effort To Skew Federal Elections.” From the New York Times:
Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.
Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year. [New York Times, 4/12/07]
Demos Study: “Election Fraud Appears To Be Very Rare In The 12 States Examined.” From a 2003 Demos study of election fraud in America:
Election fraud appears to be very rare in the 12 states examined. Legal and news records turned up little evidence of significant fraud in these states or any indication that fraud is more than a minor problem. Interviews with state officials further confirmed this impression. An authoritative study undertaken in the largest U.S. state, California, by CalTech professor R. Michael Alvarez found little incidence of fraud during the period 1994-2001. [Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud, Demos, 2003]
The Type Of Voter Fraud That Is More Rare Than Lightning Strikes Is In-Person Voter Impersonation Fraud. The statement that voter fraud is more rare than lightning has its basis in a 2007 report by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, which noted that photo ID laws are only effective at stopping one type of fraud, individuals “impersonating other voters at the polls.” It found that such fraud is “more rare than getting struck by lightning”:
Perhaps because these stories are dramatic, voter fraud makes a popular scapegoat. In the aftermath of a close election, losing candidates are often quick to blame voter fraud for the results. Legislators cite voter fraud as justification for various new restrictions on the exercise of the franchise. And pundits trot out the same few anecdotes time and again as proof that a wave of fraud is imminent.
Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim (“Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!”); the follow-up -- when any exists -- is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.
These inflated claims are not harmless. Crying “wolf” when the allegations are unsubstantiated distracts attention from real problems that need real solutions. If we can move beyond the fixation on voter fraud, we will be able to focus on the real changes our elections need, from universal registration all the way down to sufficient parking at the poll site. Moreover, these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters. Overly restrictive identification requirements for voters at the polls -- which address a sort of voter fraud more rare than death by lightning -- is only the most prominent example. [Brennan Center for Justice, 2007]
Carnegie-Knight Study Found “Only 10” Cases Of In-Person Voter Impersonation Fraud In More Than A Decade." From a study by News21, a project of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
The specter of widespread election fraud has been the professed reason that 37 state legislatures have passed or considered voter identification laws since 2010. Those claiming that illegal votes threaten free and fair elections generally have cited only anecdotes and individual reports of alleged voter fraud.
As part of the News21 national investigation into voting rights in America, a team of reporters took on the unprecedented task of gathering, organizing and analyzing all reported cases of election fraud in the United States since 2000.
How big was this effort?
Over the course of this seven-month investigation, the News21 team sent out more than 2,000 public-records requests and spent nearly $1,800 on fees for records searches and copies of documents. The team also reviewed nearly 5,000 court documents, official records and media reports. The result is the most extensive collection of U.S. election fraud cases ever compiled.
How many cases were found?
To date, the News21 election-fraud database contains information on 2,068 cases.
Two thousand cases of election fraud that could have been prevented by voter ID laws?
Actually, no. The cases reported to News21 from all the public-records requests cover a dozen different kinds of election illegalities and irregularities. Only one of those categories -- impersonation of another voter at a voting place -- involves the kind of fraud that Election Day voter ID laws could prevent.
And only 10 such cases over more than a decade were reported to News21 by election officials and prosecutors across the country. During that time, 146 million Americans were registered to vote. [Voting Rights Project, News21, 8/12/12]
UC Irvine Law Professor: “I have not found a single election over the last few decades in which impersonation fraud had the slightest chance of changing an election outcome.” Richard Hasen wrote for the New York Times:
I have not found a single election over the last few decades in which impersonation fraud had the slightest chance of changing an election outcome -- unlike absentee-ballot fraud, which changes election outcomes regularly. (Let's face it: impersonation fraud is an exceedingly dumb way to try to steal an election.)
Pointing to a few isolated cases of impersonation fraud does not prove that a state identification requirement makes sense. As with restrictions on absentee ballots, we need to weigh the costs of imposing barriers on the right to vote against the benefits of fraud protection.
Consider Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, now before the courts. The state conceded that it knew of no instances of impersonation fraud. A top election official did not know how the law worked and played down official estimates that more than 750,000 Pennsylvania voters lacked photo ID, and that an additional 500,000 appeared to have expired ID's. The law gives dangerous discretion to local officials to decide which ID's should be acceptable. [NYTimes.com, 8/5/12]
What Voter Fraud Is
“Voter Fraud” Is “The Intentional Deceitful Corruption Of The Election Process By Voters.” From News21, a project of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation:
Rutgers University Professor Lorraine Minnite defined “voter fraud” as “the intentional deceitful corruption of the election process by voters. All other forms of corruption of the electoral process and corruption committed by elected or election officials, candidates, party organizations, advocacy groups or campaign workers falls under the wider definition of election fraud.” [Voting Rights Project, News21, 8/12/12]
Brennan Center: “Voter Fraud” Exists “When Individuals Cast Ballots Despite Knowing They Are Ineligible To Vote, In An Attempt To Defraud The Election System.” From NYU's Brennan Center for Justice:
“Voter fraud” is fraud by voters.
More precisely, “voter fraud” occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system.
This sounds straightforward. And yet, voter fraud is often conflated, intentionally or unintentionally, with other forms of election misconduct or irregularities.
There are many such problems that are improperly lumped under the umbrella of “voter fraud.” Some result from technological glitches, whether sinister or benign: for example, voting machines may record inaccurate tallies due to fraud, user error, or technical malfunction. Some result from honest mistakes by election officials or voters: for example, a person with a conviction may honestly believe herself eligible to vote when the conviction renders her temporarily ineligible, or an election official may believe that certain identification documents are required to vote when no such requirement exists.
And some irregularities involve fraud or intentional misconduct perpetrated by actors other than individual voters: for example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations or procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These are all problems with the election administration system ... but they are not “voter fraud.” [Brennan Center for Justice, 2007]
What John Fund & Hans Von Spakovsky Try To Pass Off As Voter Fraud
Political Operatives “Faking Absentee Ballots.”
[I]n August 2011, William McInerney, the former city clerk of Troy, N.Y., pleaded guilty to forging a signature on an absentee ballot...McInerney's cooperation with prosecutors led to four more elected officials and political operatives pleading guilty to felony charges. On e of the defendants told police that “faking absentee ballots was a commonplace and accepted practice in political circles, all intended to swing an election.” [Who's Counting?, page 34]
Elected Officials “Stuffing Ballot Boxes With Illegal Absentee Ballots.”
In Lincoln County, West Virginia, former Sheriff Jerry Bowen and former County Clerk Donald Whitten pleaded guilty to stealing the May 2010 Democratic primary by stuffing ballot boxes with illegal absentee ballots. [Who's Counting?, page 35]
Voters Mistaken About Their Eligibility Status.
[S]ince 2009, courts in Minnesota have convicted 177 felons for voting illegally in the  Senate race, another 66 felons are awaiting trial. The numbers aren't greater because the standard for convicting someone of voter fraud in Minnesota is that they must have both been ineligible, and “knowingly” voted unlawfully. [Who's Counting?, page 15]
Candidates Engaging In Voter Registration Fraud.
Former Santa Ana, California school board member Nativo Lopez pleaded guilty in 2011 to a felony count of voter registration fraud. [Who's Counting?, page 37]
CLAIM: “The Real Myth In This Debate Is Not The Existence Of Voter Fraud...The Real Myth Is The Claim That Voters Are Disenfranchised Because Of Voter ID Requirements.” From the book:
The evidence from academic studies and actual turnout in elections is overwhelming that -- contrary to the shrill claims of opponents -- voter ID does not depress turnout, including among the ranks of minority, poor, and elderly voters. The real myth in this debate is not the existence of voter fraud, which exists; the real myth is the claim that voters are disenfranchised because of voter ID requirements. [Who's Counting?, page 47]
CLAIM: In 2008, Georgia And Indiana “Saw Turnout Increase More Dramatically” With Voter ID Laws In Effect “Than Turnout Increased In Some States Without The Photo-ID Requirement.” From the book:
In 2008, in the first presidential election after their voter ID laws went into effect, both states saw turnout increase more dramatically in both the presidential primary and the general election than turnout increased in some states without the photo-ID requirement.
There was record turnout in Georgia in the primary election -- over two million voters, more than twice as many as in 2004, when the voter photo-ID law was not in effect (the law was first applied to local elections in 2007). The number of African Americans voting in the 2008 primary also doubled from 2004.
In the 2008 general election, when President Barack Obama was elected, Georgia (which has one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation) had the largest turnout in its history -- more than four million voters.
The black share of the statewide vote increased from 25 percent in 2004 to 30 percent in 2008, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. And according to Census Bureau surveys, 65 percent of the black voting-age population voted in the 2008 election, compared to only 54.4 percent in 2004 -- an increase of more than 10 percentage points. [Who's Counting?, page 60-61]
REALITY: Experts Agree That Barack Obama's Presence On The Ticket Was Likely Responsible For Increased Turnout. From PolitiFact:
Was the photo ID requirement the cause of the increase, as Batchelder suggested?
Batchelder's office didn't get back to us. We put the question to William Minozzi, an assistant professor of political science at Ohio State University, who examined the effects of voter ID in a study published last fall.
“Correlation does not imply causation,” he said. Georgia's increased voter participation is “the result of a lot of different things. I think you could call this cherry-picking.”
“It's an obviously specious argument,” said law professor Daniel Tokaji, associate director of Ohio State University's Election Law @ Moritz project, who testified against the photo-ID bill. “A lot of things affect turnout. The last two election cycles are ones in which the Democratic base has been extraordinarily motivated.”
Both Minozzi and Tokaji cited the candidacy of Barack Obama, whose voter-registration drive in 2008 was called the largest in the history of presidential campaigns. The drive's biggest announced goal was in Georgia, where it aimed to register and turn out 500,000 unregistered African-American voters.
The actual increase from 2004 was 466,000, according to the secretary of state's office, which cited its own outreach program to get free ID cards to voters as a factor increasing turnout. [PolitiFact.com, 3/23/11]
Clark Atlanta University Associate Political Science Professor: 2008 Election Was A “Special Case” And “Not Necessarily A Good Base Year For Anything.” From PolitiFact:
PolitiFact Georgia spoke to three political science professors with expertise on racial voting demographics. All three said Obama was a factor in the percentage of blacks who voted in Georgia.
“2008 is not necessarily a good base year for anything because it's such a special case,” said Clark Atlanta University associate political science professor William Boone. [PolitiFact.com, 8/1/12]
CLAIM: Requiring Photo-ID To Vote Is “A Perfectly Reasonable And Easily Met Requirement.” From the book:
Asking voters to authenticate their identity is a perfectly reasonable and easily met requirement. As the U.S. Supreme Court has noted, voter ID laws protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process. States have a valid and legitimate interest not only in deterring and detecting voter fraud, but in maintaining the confidence of their citizens in the security of all elections. [Who's Counting?, page 73]
CLAIM: “Voter Identification Is A Basic Requirement For Secure Elections, And Should Be Implemented In All States.” From the book:
Poll after poll shows that the concept of voter identification is popular, and easily understood by the American people. Yet it is one of the most bitterly fought reforms. Opposition has often reached comical levels -- but voter identification is a basic requirement for secure elections, and should be implemented in all states. [Who's Counting?, page 233]
REALITY: Voter ID Laws Disenfranchise Thousands Of Voters
Associated Press: “Legitimate Votes Rejected By The Laws Are Far More Numerous Than Are The Cases Of Fraud That Advocates Of The Rules Say They Are Trying To Prevent.” From an Associated Press investigation of voter fraud:
As more states put in place strict voter ID rules, an AP review of temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which first adopted the most stringent standards, found that more than 1,200 such votes were tossed during the 2008 general election.
During sparsely attended primaries this year in Georgia, Indiana and Tennessee, the states implementing the toughest laws, hundreds more ballots were blocked.
The numbers suggest that the legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than are the cases of fraud that advocates of the rules say they are trying to prevent. Thousands more votes could be in jeopardy for this November, when more states with larger populations are looking to have similar rules in place.
More than two dozen states have some form of ID requirement, and 11 of those passed new rules over the past two years largely at the urging of Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud. [Associated Press, 7/10/12]
Brennan Center For Justice Estimates 3.2 Million Eligible Voters In States With New Voter ID Laws Lack State-Issued Photo ID. New York University's Brennan Center for Justice issued a report estimating that newly enacted restrictions on voting, including implementing photo ID laws, “could make it significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” From the Brennan Center for Justice:
1. 3.2 million voters affected by new photo ID laws. New photo ID laws for voting will be in effect for the 2012 election in five states (Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin), which have a combined citizen voting age population of just under 29 million. 3.2 million (11 percent) of those potential voters do not have state-issued photo ID. Rhode Island voters are excluded from this count, because Rhode Island's new law's requirements are significantly less onerous than those in the other states. [Voting Law Changes In 2012, Brennan Center for Justice, October 2011; Brennan Center for Justice, 10/3/11]
LA Times: Indiana Voter ID Law “Ke[pt] Nuns, Students From Polls.” The Los Angeles Times reported in a May 7, 2008 article: “A dozen nuns and an unknown number of students were turned away from polls Tuesday in the first use of Indiana's stringent voter ID law since it was upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.” From the LA Times article, headlined “ID law keeps nuns, students from polls”:
A dozen nuns and an unknown number of students were turned away from polls Tuesday in the first use of Indiana's stringent voter ID law since it was upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nuns, all residents of a retirement home at Saint Mary's Convent near Notre Dame University, were denied ballots by a fellow sister and poll worker because the women, in their 80s and 90s, did not have valid Indiana photo ID cards.
Though state officials reported no significant problems, advocates monitoring polling places said there was occasional confusion.
“We were at one polling place for a few hours and picked up three or four different stories of people being turned away,” said Gary Kalman of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group in Washington. “I don't have numbers about how widespread it is.”
“It's the law, and it makes it hard,” said Sister Julie McGuire, who was working at the polling place and had to explain to the nuns that they could not vote. “Some don't understand why.”
Indiana requires voters who come to the polls show a photo ID issued by the state or the federal government. The law was pressed by Republicans citing voter fraud and opposed by Democrats and the ACLU, who argued that it would disenfranchise voters. [Los Angeles Times, 5/7/08]
NY Times: In One Indiana County, 32 “Voters Had Their Ballots Thrown Out” Because Of Voter ID Laws. From a January 7, 2008, New York Times article:
After Ms. [Valerie] Williams grabbed her cane that day and walked into the polling station in the lobby of her retirement home to vote, as she has done in at least the last two elections, she was barred from doing so.
The election officials at the polling place, whom she had known for years, told her she could not cast a regular ballot. They said the forms of identification she had always used -- a telephone bill, a Social Security letter with her address on it and an expired Indiana driver's license -- were no longer valid under the voter ID law, which required a current state-issued photo identification card.
“Of course I threw a fit,” said Ms. Williams, 61, who was made to cast a provisional ballot instead, which, according to voting records, was never counted. Ms. Williams -- who has difficulty walking -- said she was not able to get a ride to the voting office to prove her identity within 10 days as required under the law, and her ballot was discarded.
A brief filed with the Supreme Court by the Marion County Board of Elections, the state's largest voting jurisdiction
and a defendant in the case, said Ms. Williams -- who is a black Republican -- and 31 other voters had to cast provisional ballots because they showed up at the polls without the state-required ID, which can include a driver's license, a passport, a state-issued ID or some other government-issued photo identification. Because they also failed to appear later at county offices with the identification required to validate their identities, all of these voters had their ballots thrown out, records show. In interviews, many of these voters said they could not find transportation or could not afford the IDs.
Mary-Jo Criswell, 71, who -- like Ms. Williams -- an Indiana voter cited in the case before the Supreme Court, had her vote thrown out in November after she was told the identification she had used in previous elections -- a bank card with a photograph, a utility bill and a phone bill -- no longer sufficed. [New York Times, 1/7/08]
Fund/Spakovsky Book Alleges Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA) Is In Office Thanks To An Election Which “May Have Been Stolen By Noncitizen Voting.”
CLAIM: Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) Won Office Because Race “May Have Been Stolen By Noncitizen Voting.” From the book:
[A] 1996 congressional race in California may have been stolen by noncitizen voting. Republican incumbent Bob Dornan faced a spirited challenger, Democrat Loretta Sanchez. Sanchez won the election by just 979 votes, and Dornan contested the election in the U.S. House of Representatives. His challenge was dismissed when an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform turned up only 624 invalid votes, by noncitizens on the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and another 124 improper absentee ballots -- fewer than Sanchez's victory margin. But the committee found “circumstantial” evidence of another 196 noncitizen votes that it did not include in its tally.
Sanchez's victory margin was just 35 votes, if one includes the 196 noncitizen voters identified by the Committee as “circumstantial.” Since the California secretary of state complained that the INS refused his request to check its records against the entire Orange County voter registration file, and no complete check was made of every voter in the congressional race, that margin could be less. And the investigation could not detect illegal aliens, who would not be in INS records. The Oversight Committee pointed out the elephant in the room: "[I]f there is a significant number of 'documented aliens,' in INS records, on the Orange County voter registration rolls, how many illegal or undocumented aliens may be registered to vote in Orange County?" With about 200 votes determining the winner, the possibility is strong that undetected illegal votes changed the outcome of the election. [Who's Counting?, page 89, emphasis added]
REALITY: Brennan Center: Even Crediting Dornan's Allegations To The Full Extent, The Overall Noncitizen Voting Rate Would Have Been 0.017%." From the Brennan Center:
In California in 1996, 924 noncitizens allegedly voted in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, including 624 allegedly ineligible voters identified by the Task Force of the U.S. House of Representatives investigating the Dornan/Sanchez election. The allegations were based largely on attempts to match immigration lists to voter rolls, but only 71 voters matched name, date of birth, and signature; other matches were less reliable. Most of the identified voters were processed by one nonprofit group registering individuals proceeding through the naturalization process; many were registered immediately after passing an INS citizenship interview, and after receiving a letter indicating that they had become naturalized. At least 372 of the voters were apparently officially sworn in before Election Day. There are no reports of which we are aware that any noncitizens registered or voted knowing that they were ineligible. Even assuming there were no matching errors, and leaving aside the critical question of intent, if all 552 remaining individuals were in fact noncitizens when they cast their votes, the overall noncitizen voting rate would have been 0.017%. [Brennan Center for Justice, accessed 8/14/12]
Demos Report On Dornan/Sanchez: “Very Little Voter Fraud Was Convincingly Substantiated.” From a 2003 Demos analysis of election fraud in the United States:
The Dornan-Sanchez electoral dispute fits squarely in what political scientists Benjamin Ginsberg and Martin Shefter call “politics by other means.” Politics by other means involve the use of legal strategies and the courts, revelation, prosecution and investigation, and the media to win.
The fraud allegations and subsequent 14-month investigations by state, county, and federal government agencies cost American taxpayers well over $1.4 million.
And in the end, very little voter fraud was convincingly substantiated. On April 29, 1998, California's secretary of state announced that the people identified by the task force as illegal, noncitizen voters in the 46th congressional district election of 1996 would not be prosecuted for voter fraud, the secretary deciding that they had registered in error and not from criminal intent. [Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud, Demos, 2003]
Fund/Spakovsky Book Attacks The Department Of Justice With A Litany Of Falsehoods And Long-Debunked Allegations
CLAIM: Under Attorney General Eric Holder, “Radical Ideology” Is A Prerequisite For New Hires. From the book:
The Obama administration's return to the same ideologically-biased hiring practices used by the Clinton administration got almost no attention in the press. The news and opinion website PJ Media was forced to file suit over a Freedom of Information Act request for the resumes of all 113 lawyers the administration had hired into the career ranks of the division. In a series of articles in PJ Media, later nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, von Spakovsky and former Voting Section lawyer J. Christian Adams revealed that radical ideology, similar political leanings, and association with liberal civil rights organizations were prerequisites for all new hires. [Who's Counting?, page 131]
REALITY: MainJustice.com: This Attack Involved Criticizing DOJ For Hiring Civil Rights Lawyers “Who Have A Background In Civil Rights.” The legal news website MainJustice.com responded to the PJ Media series in September 2011:
J. Christian Adams and Hans Von Spakovsky - who served together in the Civil Rights Division during the George W. Bush administration -- have used Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain resumes of new hires during the Barack Obama administration. In an ongoing series of posts on the Pajamas Media blogging network (co-authored with Richard Pollack), Adams and Von Spakovsky have meticulously detail the names and backgrounds of the new hires.
Their series is entitled, “Every Single One,” as in “every single one” of the new hires is a liberal. Their research found the new lawyers have worked for organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union. It apparently formed the basis of [Senator] Grassley's assertion in a congressional hearing earlier this week that the Civil Rights Division in the Obama era “has hired 96 liberals and zero conservatives.”
The punch line here is, of course, that Adams and Von Spakovsky are the ones connected to improperly politicized hiring inside the division.
The line between proper and improper hiring of career lawyers is whether someone is hired specifically for his politics rather than his qualifications.
The stumbling block for Grassley (and Adams and Von Spakovsky) is that the historical mission of the Civil Rights Division -- ensuring full voting, housing and other rights for minorities who have faced documented discrimination -- is inherently a liberal mission.
It's just not clear how it's wrong to hire career lawyers to staff the Civil Rights Division who have a background in civil rights. [MainJustice.com, 9/15/11]
Media Matters Analysis: Experiences PJ Media Considers “Liberal” Include Legal Aid, Law School Journals, American Red Cross, American Bar Association, And AIDS Clinics. A Media Matters analysis of PJ Media's series on the Department of Justice found a long list of the organizations and activities the authors categorized as “liberal.” The list included Legal Aid, participation in law journals at leading law schools, experience at the American Red Cross, American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, the Congressional Hunger Center, AIDS clinics and many others. [Media Matters, 8/24/11]
CLAIM: The Bush Administration Was “Trying To Impose A More Balanced Hiring Process” At The Justice Department. From the book:
In no other workplace has this author every encountered the fury and unrelenting hostility that he found in the Voting Section. The other lawyers made it quite clear that anyone who was not politically liberal, or a Democrat, was unqualified to work in career civil service in the division. They expressed fury that a conservative lawyer had made it through their usual screening procedures, and they shunned this author, treating him like a dissident member of a cult. And they assumed that all white Southerners (von Spakovsky was born and raised in Alabama) are racists.
This attitude is what fed the controversy during the Bush administration over supposed “political” hiring by the Civil Rights Division. The Clinton-appointed Inspector General, Glen Fine, issued a report (prepared with the help of the Office of Professional Responsibility) that was full of bias, inaccuracies, gross exaggerations, and deliberate misrepresentations.
What was really going on was that activist special interests had exercised exclusive control of the division for decades. When Bush political appointees threatened that control by attempting to stem the routine ideological hiring in the division, the entrenched regime responded by launching a public relations campaign counterattacking the supposedly “biased” hiring of the Bush administration.
The Bush administration was in fact trying to impose a more balanced hiring process. [Who's Counting?, pages 127-128]
REALITY: Bush DOJ Appointee Violated Federal Law By Considering “Political And Ideological Affiliations When Hiring.” A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility:
The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law -- the Civil Service Reform Act -- and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that Division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices. Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee. [IG/OPR report, “An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division,” 7/2/08, emphasis added]
CLAIM: Then-Senator Obama “Appeared And Marched With Members Of The New Black Panther Party.” From the book:
Despite its violent racist views, Obama had “appeared and marched with members of the New Black Panther Party as he campaigned for president in Selma, Alabama in March 2007.” [Who's Counting?, page 139]
REALITY: Obama Was Marching With Civil Rights Icon Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth In Selma, Not With The New Black Panthers. Media Matters debunked this claim in October 2011, finding that “several thousand people ”appeared and marched" with the New Black Panthers that day. The event in question was the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma, which ended when the civil rights marchers were attacked by law enforcement at Edmund Pettus Bridge." The march was not a campaign event or an event held by the NBPP. [Media Matters, 10/3/11]
CLAIM: Obama White House “Thwarted” Justice In Their Handline Of A DOJ Lawsuit Against The New Black Panther Party. From the book:
In the waning days of the Bush administration, the Voting Section filed a lawsuit against the NBPP [New Black Panther Party]; its head, Malik Zulu Shabazz; and the two New Black Panthers who had threatened voters and poll watchers at the polling place in early January, just two weeks before Barack Obama was inaugurated and his political appointees took over the Justice Department. None of the defendants answered the lawsuit, which accused them of intimidation and attempted intimidation. On April 1, 2009 the Justice Department filed a motion asking for a default judgment. But through the political interference of Loretta King, the political leadership of the Justice Department, and the Obama White House, justice was thwarted.
Just before the filing deadline to file pleadings with the federal court in Philadelphia in order to obtain a final judgment against the NBPP, Loretta King and her deputy, Steven Rosenbaum, suddenly called [Bush-appointed Voting Section Chief Christopher] Coates to a meeting in the Front Office of the Civil Rights Division. They berated him about the suit, claiming there was no evidence to support it and that the New Black Panthers were exercising their First Amendment rights. At one point, Rosenbaum was forced to admit he hadn't even read the Voting Section's extensive and detailed internal legal memorandum that summarized all of the facts, the evidence, and the applicable law. Coates and his trial team were ordered to dismiss the lawsuit, except for an injunction against club-wielding King Samir Shabazz, and to drop the nation-wide injunction that the team had originally proposed against the NBPP. The injunction against Shabazz was watered down; it was the first time in the history of the Civil Rights Division it had ever dismissed a lawsuit it had already won. [Who's Counting?, page 143]
REALITY: Civil Rights Commissioner: No Allegations Of Voter Intimidation By NBPP Were Ever Made. In an April 23 hearing on the DOJ's decision in the case, Civil Rights Commissioner Arlan Melendez stated that “no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting,” which “was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.” From the April 23 Civil Rights Commission hearing:
MELENDEZ: My remarks are going to be brief because I think far too much of our time has been consumed on this seemingly unnecessary investigation. Citizens should be able to vote without intimidation, and it is our Commission's duty to investigate complaints from citizens that their voting rights have been infringed.
In this case, however, no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting at the Fairmount Avenue Polling Station in 2008. This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.
This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the members of this Commission as well, or at least it should've been. Our investigation has been going on now for the better part of a year. We have wasted a good deal of our staff's time, and the taxpayers' money.
[Record of hearing on DOJ/NBPP, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 4/23/10]
- MainJustice.com: "[N]o voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation." From a July 2010 article on MainJustice.com:
[N]o voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation. The complaints have come from white Republican poll watchers, who have given no evidence they were registered to vote in the majority black precinct. [MainJustice.com, 7/2/10]
Fund/Von Spakovsky Rely Heavily On The Controversial Accounts Of Former DOJ Attorney Christopher Coates. [Who's Counting?, pages 145-147, 151-155]
- Coates Is A Former GOP Activist Hired During The Bush Politicization As “A True Member Of The Team.” [Media Matters, 9/23/10]
Fund/Von Spakovsky Book Claims Former Voting Section Chief Ignored Voter Suppression Because Victims Were White
CLAIM: Voting Section Chief Joe Rich “Wanted To Ignore” Complaints From White Voters About Vote Fraud, Suppression, And Discrimination In Noxubee, MS. From the book:
Noxubee County was exactly the kind of desperately poor place that was ripe for political corruption. That corruption was represented by Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon who was the head of the local Democratic Party executive committee. Brown had his own racist Mississippi version of Tammany Hall, a local political machine that Boss Tweed himself would have admired.
Despite widespread illegal activities by Brown over the years, the Department of Justice investigation, and prosecution of the case, almost didn't happen. One of the authors, Hans von Spakovsky, was the counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights overseeing voting matters when Mississippi senator [Thad] Cochran [R] sent his letter to the Voting Section about the primary, and complaints started coming in from voters. However, the career lawyers in the Section, including the chief of the Voting Section, Joe Rich, wanted to ignore the complaints, since they believe that the Voting Rights Act protects only minority voters. [Who's Counting?, page 189]
REALITY: Rich Testified That He Had Already Referred The Matter For Possible Criminal Prosecution. From Rich's December 2010 declaration to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:
Mr. Coates asserts in his testimony that (a) sometime in the winter of 2003-2004 he wrote a preliminary memorandum recommending that the Voting Section go forward with an investigation of possible violations of the Voting Rights Act committed during the August 2003 Noxubee County primary and argued that a civil injunction against the alleged wrongdoers was the best way to proceed, and (b) that I forwarded his memo to my supervisors but deleted his recommendation to initiate an investigation. What this testimony does not mention is that by the winter of 2003-2004, the Criminal Division had already been referred the matter to investigate whether Brown's actions violated any federal election crimes laws. As I explained in my August 23rddeclaration, both before and after the August 5, 2003 primary election in Noxubee County which was monitored by five attorneys from the Voting Section, including Mr. Coates, memos from the Voting Section were sent to the Election Crimes Branch of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section to ensure close coordination in the Department's consideration of this matter. Furthermore, shortly after the review of an August 19, 2003 twenty seven page report prepared by all attorneys who monitored the election, I recommended to my superiors that the matter be referred to the Criminal Division for investigation before any civil investigation was initiated. This recommendation was approved. As noted in the August 23rd declaration, it is standard practice in the Department that any civil investigation of a matter is put on hold pending completion of criminal investigation of the matter.[Declaration of Joseph D. Rich to the USCCR, 10/20/10, emphasis added]
Fund/Spakovsky Book Devotes An Entire Chapter To Lauding The Pranks Of Discredited Liar James O'Keefe
Chapter 11 Of Who's Counting? Celebrates James O'Keefe's Undercover Hijinks. From Chapter 11, “Voter Fraud Cinema Verité,” which is dedicated to lauding the various undercover “investigations” conducted by right-wing activist James O'Keefe and his associates at Project Veritas:
James O'Keefe's innovative work vividly exposes flaws in the security of voter registration and voting processes in many states. The confessions of fraud from union members in Jersey City, captured on film, demonstrate the absolute brazenness of some in their willingness to steal elections. It also shows the unwillingness of prosecutors to pursue vote fraudsters, and the anger displayed by election officials and law enforcement when flaws are exposed. Rather than correct those security breaches, they instead talk about prosecuting the messengers who have alerted them to the flaws. [Who's Counting?, page 217]
REALITY: James O'Keefe Is A Discredited Liar And Convict Whose Voter Fraud “Stings” May Have Broken The Law.
O'Keefe Falsely Claimed He Was Able To Obtain Ballots For A Deceased Voter And A Noncitizen Registered To Vote. A Media Matters analysis of O'Keefe's raw video found that “the person whose ballot his operative sought is actually alive,” and an alleged “non-citizen” voter exposed by the video “is actually a naturalized citizen.” [Media Matters, 5/16/12]
Experts And Officials Question Whether O'Keefe's Undercover Stunts Broke The Law. From Talking Points Memo:
It was one of the few -- if not the only -- coordinated efforts to attempt in-person voter fraud, and it was pulled off by affiliates of conservative activist James O'Keefe at polling places in New Hampshire Tuesday night. All of it part of an attempt to prove the need for voter ID laws that voting rights experts say have a unfair impact on minority voters.
Now election law experts tell TPM that O'Keefe's allies could face criminal charges on both the federal and state level for procuring ballots under false names, and that his undercover sting doesn't demonstrate a need for voter ID laws at all.
Federal law bans not only the casting of, but the “procurement” of ballots “that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.”
Hamline University law professor David Schultz told TPM that there's “no doubt” that O'Keefe's investigators violated the law. [Talking Points Memo, 1/11/12]