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Home / News / Conservatives planning extraordinary efforts to combat voter fraud, but is it a problem?
Election Integrity Watch is planning unprecedented efforts to combat electoral fraud in Tuesday's balloting. The coalition of conservative advocacy groups claims that it's going to have "thousands" of trained poll watchers to keep an eye out for irregularities on Election Day.

Conservatives planning extraordinary efforts to combat voter fraud, but is it a problem?

 Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Bill Reichert of Minnesota Voters Alliance brandished a photo ID at a recent press conference. (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallagher)

Election Integrity Watch is planning unprecedented efforts to combat electoral fraud in Tuesday’s balloting. The coalition of conservative advocacy groups claims that it’s going to have “thousands” of trained poll watchers to keep an eye out for irregularities on Election Day. Among the shenanigans they’ll be on the lookout for: buses driving voters to multiple polling locations to cast votes and political operatives handing out gift cards to entice individuals to support a particular candidate.

Poll watchers will then report any such irregularities to a 10-phone war room set up to track complaints. Election Integrity Watch is advertising its anti-fraud campaign on electronic billboards, bus shelters and a mobile billboard. The group’s even offering an unprecedented $500 bounty for anyone who provides information that leads to a conviction on voter fraud charges.

“It’s frustrating to me that it is necessary, but we believe that it is,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of Minnesota Majority, which is among four organizations involved in the Election Integrity Watch effort.  “It appears that no one is doing anything to address these problems.”

The ultimate goal for Election Integrity Watch is to garner support for passing a law that requires voters to show photo identification before they can cast a ballot. More than 20 states nationwide have such requirements and in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s law met constitutional muster.

But there’s little convincing statistical evidence to suggest that voter fraud is widespread either in Minnesota or the country as a whole. In the wake of the 2000 presidential debacle in Florida, then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that cracking down on voter fraud would be a high priority. But even with the country’s top law enforcement authority focused on the issue, there proved to be few documentable instances of illegal activity.

According to a study by Lorraine Minnite, a professor at Columbia University and the author of The Myth of Voter Fraud, there were just 26 federal convictions for voter fraud in the entire United States between 2002 and 2005. These included five individuals who could not vote because of felony convictions, 14 non-citizens, and five who voted twice in the same election.

“It followed a concerted effort by the Justice Department to go after fraud,” said Minnite of the study. “Here you had the Justice Department looking into federal elections — looking, looking, looking – and that’s what they come up with.”

Cases rare in Minnesota

In Minnesota the numbers are similarly unimpressive. During the 2006 election cycle there were just six cases of illegal aliens attempting to vote, compared to a total of 2.2 million people showing up at the polls. That works out to 0.000003 percent of all votes cast.

Minnesota Majority and its allies have devoted considerable resources to uncovering instances of fraud during the 2008 elections, a particularly contentious time because of the U.S. Senate recount.  The group has cross-checked lists of convicted felons against the voter rolls to find individuals who may have voted illegally. It claims to have found roughly 1,000 such instances. (In Minnesota convicted felons are prohibited from voting until after they have finished serving probation.)

But the number of successful prosecutions remains minuscule. In Hennepin County, for instance, indictments were recently handed down on 47 individuals for purportedly voting illegally. But that’s out of roughly 450 names that Minnesota Majority had identified in the state’s most populous county as fraudulent voters. And even if all 47 cases ultimately result in convictions (hardly a given), it would mean that 0.00009 percent of ballots were illegally cast in the 2008 election in Hennepin County.

“There is no evidence of any sort of systemic voter fraud in this state,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota, who is no relation to his conservative namesake at Minnesota Majority. “There’s barely any evidence of voter fraud at all. … For years the far right wing has worked very hard to try to make its case. They are clearly fact-averse.”

Suppressing the vote

David Schultz, a law professor at Hamline University who has written about the issue extensively, has reached similar conclusions about the claims of widespread voter fraud. “There is a greater chance of one being hit by lightning than of an election being affected by fraud,” Schultz wrote in a 2008 article for the William Mitchell Law Review.

He sees the recent efforts to pass voter identification requirements as part of a historical pattern to suppress voter turnout. “A second great disenfranchisement is afoot across the United States as, yet again, voter fraud is raised as a way to intimidate immigrants, people of color, the poor, and the powerless, and prevent them from voting,” Schultz wrote. “This time the tools are not literacy tests, poll taxes, or lynch mobs, but rather the use of photo IDs when voting.”

TakeAction’s McGrath echoes this assessment. “If you look at where the advertising and these supposed challengers are being deployed, they’re being deployed into low-income communities and communities of color,” he said. “That is a deliberate strategy to suppress the vote in those communities. There is no other way about it.”

Minnite argues that there are significant problems with voting systems in the United States, but that organized fraud is not among them. She notes that elections are mostly run by volunteers and consequently tend to be chaotic affairs. This allows allegations of fraud to persist even when the evidence doesn’t necessarily add up.

“You can point to something like, ‘this number doesn’t match that number,’” she said. “It must be fraud.”

4 comments

  1. Some sober thinking if voting for Democrats is that in the first session of Congress, a Liberal Path to Citizenship or Amnesty will be instantly addressed by the Senate, and its main disciple Senator Harry Reid leading the pack. There has been no mention of costs of Amnesty to the taxpayer, from this administration or the radical progressive press, which remains silent. You need to Google–The Heritage foundation and learn of a sudden hike to come in your taxes, to pay the $2.6 Trillion dollars for all newly processed immigrant subsidies and settlement needs once legitimized. Barbara Boxer or any named incumbent has remained silent to the added abomination of giving these subsidies. This will be a new inventory of foreigners coming here that DEM’S have promised access to our Social Security. Full admission so those over the years who illegally worked here, can apply for their ill-gotten gains even after procuring or using fraudulent Social Security numbers.

    Another reality is that any illegal alien can apply for Social Security, even though they never paid into the system. It’s beyond anybodies imagination that rewarding people who intentionally slipped into America, then gaining entrance to every kind of government benefit. Our country is slipping down a financial mountain of a $13 Trillion dollar debt and we want to make the 12 to 20 million illegal aliens feel at home? But then Gubernatorial Jerry Brown, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa have approved Sanctuary City policies and are tied to the same brush of most if not all Liberal politicians to pass AMNESTY. Sanctuary refuges have brought along with poor illegal aliens– criminals of every persuasion, from the gutters of every cesspool of the world. Sen. Reid stated there are no illegal aliens in Nevada, so he must have been sequestered in his home in Searchlight prior to the construction boom in Nevada?

    Every comment I have read says that the state is overrun with illegal aliens. As for California– That place needs no explanation? There is a Liberal majority seated in Sacramento that keeps silent about the crammed schools full of the kids of foreign nationals, distressed emergency rooms and an uncomplimentary jail system full of alien criminals. But Sen. Boxer, have allowed the illegal population to propagate. Only patriotic citizens such as Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, State Senator Russell Pierce, in Colorado Gubnatorial Candidate Tom Tancredo have seen the invasion for what it has become and not remaining silent about it. Too many other politicians will not speak out –as they have been intimidated by the Liberal extremist “Political correctness”. They slink around Washington or State Capitol areas, scared of their own shadow. In additionally all citizens and taxpayers must be on guard of foreign nationals, voting in any election, to save their Liberal progressive saviors from becoming a number at unemployment agencies. Special vigilance should be attributed to the Sanctuary state of California, as illegal aliens are in perfusion and wont hesitate to use the absentee ballots return the stagnant personages of Sen. Harry Reid, Boxer and all the other Pro-amnesty providers.

    Our nation is being slowly Balkanized, by a mess of foreign languages and special disbursements by the Liberal open border zealots, to give away this nation to the worst of foreign nationals. The Tea Party political candidates will smoke out all foreign aliens, using such newly advanced tools as permanent E-Verify. Big Business will be held accountable with prison sentences for hiring illegal’s, and will not bow to either the Liberal progressives or the ideologies of the wealthy GOP. Remembering the new immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island and Galveston, Texas, during the 20th Century asked nothing, but acceptance. But the last decades have brought to this country monetary nationals who are demanding we knuckle down to their rules, demanding Amnesty, schools for their numerous children, free health care and public welfare. None of the richest countries in the world can afford this unnecessary fiscal strain; nether can we?

    American taxpayers have nowhere to turn right now, with the repossession of their cars, the loss of their homes, failing health Care and a previous and post governments that have failed the people. IF AMERICAN PEOPLE GIVE INTO ANOTHER AMNESTY, IT WILL BE A SIGNAL TO EVERY POOR PERSON IT’S ALRIGHT TO BREAK THE LAW. THAT THIS NATION WILL WELCOME YOU AND PROFFER GOVERNMENT BENEFITS TO ANY LAWBREAKER. We need highly very skilled legal immigrant workers in our future and mandatory temporary workers for agriculture, but no more foreigners coming to pick our pockets. WE ALREADY HAVE 15 MILLION AMERICANS-LEGAL RESIDENTS JOBLESS, WE DON’T NEED EXTRA MOUTHS TO FEED.

  2. Voter fraud is a problem. A nieghbor of mine from Liberia who is here on a student visa, not in school at present was proud to have gone to vote for the first black president. He plans to vote this round for every democrat on the balet for no other reason than they are democrat, facts and knowledge mean nothing to him. What is worse he is not a citizen, but MN lets him vote; so yes it is a problem when illegals continue to get to vote unchecked.

  3. This October 30, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a news article entitled “Some state voters aren’t U.S. citizens.” Voter fraud has indeed been reported by the pro-immigration media in the last several years.

    Leaders and supporters of Alliance for a Sustainable USA are racially and poltically diverse, including Hispanic and Asian immigrants. We do not endorse or oppose political candidates or parties. One of my recent articles appeared in Duluth News-Tribune entitled :”State View: Long-term View Needed to Ensure Our Prosperity,” http://www.asustainableusa.org/article/ling051410.html

    The U.S. cannot substantially reduce unemployment if we keep adding 3 million every year to our population who are essentially jobseekers, students, patients, and energy users.

    Yeh Ling-Ling
    Executive Director
    Alliance for a Sustainable USA
    http://www.aSustainableUSA.org

  4. As an election judge I can say that voter FRAUD is not the issue- FRaud is a deliberate attempt to deceive. But accuracy is another questions. Mistakes are made Can someone tell me of a time where a primarily conservative district or precinct had election “irregularities”? If you count the times where voting or counting has had “errors” I believe you find more errors in the primarily liberal precincts for some strange reason. It must just be a coincidence. An accurate counting is the solution. And following the existing law and process is the key. There is very little room for fraud in our system if it is followed. Poll watchers should be in the precincts that have a record of problems.

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