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Some years ago, I was in New York and saw a state lottery scratch off game in a shop that was so goofy, I had to buy one. Normally, I don't throw away my money on such things (I prefer to throw away my money on Powerball, thank you very much), but this one was irresistible.

It featured the picture of a bug-eyed fellow sporting a manic smile alongside the words, "Hey, It Could Happen..." The combination of absurd optimism and cynical self-parody was too much. I bought one (and lost).

That kind of "You Never Know!" spirit still lives in the city these many years later, if one is to judge by Robert Popper's op-ed in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Only, instead of a tasty ten buck lotto payoff, Popper has high hopes for a legitimate case of voter fraud.

In the piece, entitled "Political Fraud about Voter Fraud," Popper takes umbrage at President Obama's citation of a 2012 study by News21, showing only 10 cases of voter impersonation over a 12-year period.

Popper's first objection to the study was that, while the Arizona State University students had direction and help from journalists in conducting their investigation, it was--gasp--students themselves who sent out the surveys to state and county officials and compiled the returned results.

Furthermore, the study itself acknowledged that not all officials surveyed returned results. Some state and county elections supervisors and registrars of voters declined, stating that their laws didn't require public disclosure of voter fraud, and some didn't even track cases.

"Given these limitations," opines Mr. Popper, "It is hard to believe any valid conclusions about voter fraud can be drawn from this study." The ten instances cited are, in essence, merely anecdotal, and anecdotal data is never to be taken as comprehensive. There could be plenty of cases not reported. Hey, it could happen...

Perhaps we should also apply that same skepticism and "it could happen" extrapolation to reports of legitimate voters being denied the franchise because of new ID requirements. After the 2012 election, ThinkProgress' Ian Millhiser was able to easily dig up nine people turned away at the polls because of ID/registration card mixups and other problems due to newly-imposed laws.

So, let's compare one "anecdotal" study which found an average of .8 phony voter attempts a year and another which found 9 actual voters denied their rights in a year. Sounds like there may be merits to the complaint that the "solution" is far worse (more than an order of magnitude) than the "problem."

Of course, these numbers are over a year old. The problem clearly won't be as bad this year, right? Well...

With the Supreme Court striking down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act last year, the floodgates opened to a whole new passel of voter-suppression efforts. The Brennan Center, which offers an annual roundup of new voter restriction legislation, cites 8 states which have further restricted ballot access in 2013.

As to whether new voter ID laws will add to our anecdotes of franchise denial, we can only look to Texas, whose laws allow ballot-blocking for reasons as small as a middle initial on one form of ID missing on another. And, in last year's Texas elections, our anecdote sack got a good bit heftier.

And, naturally, we're not done yet. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports 24 states with new or pending pieces of ballot access legislation. While it's hard to imagine any of these bills will increase Mr. Popper's hypothetical "missing" fraudulent voters, many real problems will undoubtedly result from their passage.

Conservatives are getting worried. Their pundit-proclaimed likelihood of ruling both houses of Congress are getting less likely by the day, as more Americans find they like having both health insurance and neighbors of many hues and habits.

They need all the help they can get from 'Pub legislators, pumping up the ID laws and shortening voting hours (less time for fake voters there, I guess).

With ballot restriction going full-tilt and the Kochs pumping tens of millions into state after state, they are hoping that, somehow, voters will put in representatives that will pass laws to make them poorer, sicker, more frightened and less hopeful.

And, if we don't GOTV like never before, hey, it could happen.

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Comment Preferences

  •  there will be a shitload of voters cut off.. (15+ / 0-)

    the ballot roles. Count on it, the Repubs are..

    We need a voting rights amendment to the Constitution.
    All Citizens Can Vote. Period. You want to throw out a vote, YOU prove that it's a bad vote.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:48:21 PM PDT

    •  That's the principle of probity. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor, Joieau, unfangus, Karl Rover

      Citizens are supposed to be presumed honest, just as people suspected of crime are presumed innocent. It's a core principle in the Constitution, but it conflicts with the prejudice that all men are created evil and governments are instituted to make them good, in case religion fails.

      The presumption of evil does not exist in a vacuum. It serves a specific purpose, which is to justify some humans telling other humans what to do and blaming the victim's own deficits.
      "I get to tell you what to do and coerce obedience 'cause you're bad."

      That's actually a claim that is very difficult to refute. How does one prove that one is not bad?

      by hannah on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:24:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Imagine trying to commit voter fraud (7+ / 0-)

    Say I show up at the polls claiming to be Joe Jones.  How do I know Joe Jones hasn't already voted?  For each voter that comes in the register looks at her list and checks off the name of the voter.  If Joe Jones has already voted, she calls over the police officer stationed at the polling place, who proceeds to handcuff me and haul me away.

    Sounds like a pretty high risk of a crime to commit with such a low reward if I don't get caught.

    "Corporations exist not for themselves, but for the people." Ida Tarbell 1908.

    by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 05:58:16 PM PDT

  •  Sheeit! (9+ / 0-)

    The biggest political fight in my life is convincing people to go vote period.

    "Voter fraud" my lily white ass.

    Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

    by high uintas on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:21:55 PM PDT

    •  I hear you. (6+ / 0-)

      I've personally got a lot more anecdotes of friends and neighbors saying they voted when they didn't.

      (Note to those sorts of fake voters: don't lie to people who poll-watch).

      I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

      by Crashing Vor on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:26:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crashing Vor, P Carey, Joieau

        I hear it all the time. I appreciate that some random fool in Utah want's to take credit for pushing Obama over the top, but it would be nice if they had actually gotten up and cast a vote.

        Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

        by high uintas on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:32:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Got three "I Voted" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          unfangus, high uintas

          stickers on my 'pooter. Lost one recently when it had just deteriorated to the point where I had to pull it off, another is rolling up at the edges...

          I always check my voting status with the state BOE early in the year (pre-primary), carry a this-year copy of my voter registration card when I vote. Never had to show it, but could. My daughter got mysteriously "lost" from the voting rolls in 2000, despite having registered in 1992 when we moved here and voting in every primary/election since. The poll workers said she wasn't the only one, she was just the only one who called bullshit, said she's a duly registered voter and she wasn't leaving without voting. While we waited for them to call Raleigh and find a loophole, the poll ladies started leafing through the books and found a handful of people listed who had been dead for a decade or more. It's a really small town. I told them to take pictures of any dead people who did show up...

          That was the first of the Diebold elections - damned glorified Etch-a-Sketches nobody liked or trusted. The voter roll "problem" magically went away before the next election, so there were fine records at DOE of actual current registered voters, dead people weren't resurrected. 10+ year old rolls at the polls doesn't happen by accident...

          In such a situation a photo-ID will prove you're you, but it won't prove you're a registered voter in good standing if your name is mysteriously missing at election time. Your current (this year) registration card is fairly irrefutable, they have to let you vote, even just provisionally. BOE has a good website now, the poll ladies have computers, we the voters have paper ballots. So it's a problem they'd be hard-pressed to repeat, but you never know.

          By the way, the loophole they found in Raleigh is an antiquated and little-known law primarily covering the mountainous western part of the state, called "Primitive Registration." It was for the mountain men and such who only came into town occasionally. It allowed them to register and vote on the same day, and by 2006 we had general same-day registration (both grandsons did that - it's always a fine family outing) and a month's worth of early voting. Both scheduled to be curtailed significantly in 2016, when photo-ID will be required. Grumble, grumble...

          There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. - Will Rogers

          by Joieau on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:33:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I usually stick mine on my purse (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and show it off on election day. mr.u sticks it on his hat. We try to get people engaged in conversation about voting and nag them a lot, lol.

            Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. They lie through their teeth with their head up their behind. You open up their hearts and here's what you'll find - Some humans ain't human some people ain't kind. John Prine

            by high uintas on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 12:55:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  If only Mr. Cowboy Bundy were turned away (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor, JeffW, P Carey

    from voting, being that he's "not a U.S. citizen" and all.
      Will Mr. Popper check out those types of cases?

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 07:14:54 PM PDT

  •  Wherefore state-sponsored deprivation? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Crashing Vor

    That's my concluding question to this little post

    State' rights are about deprivations, imposed by public officials who aim to rule, rather than serve. Think thousands of soup Nazis in our state houses. Think legislative bodies that are the secular heirs of paternal authority and the divine right of kings.

    by hannah on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 04:17:06 AM PDT

  •  More legal voters denied their rights (0+ / 0-)
    At least 12 Iowa residents wrongly had their ballots rejected in the 2012 presidential election because of inaccuracies in the state's list of ineligible felons, a review found Friday. [April 11, 2014] link
    Felons lose their right to vote in Iowa, even after they have completed their sentences, unless they go through a lengthy process and get the Governor to restore their rights.

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