Simplicity is beautiful: not tax fraud, voter fraud.

Is Romney’s reticence about his tax returns designed to conceal that he committed voter fraud by claiming Massachusetts residence to vote for Scott Brown while claiming California residence to the IRS?

MS Bellows Jr., writing in the Guardian, proposes a beautifully simple theory to explain Mitt Romney’s reticence about his tax returns: that his 2009 return would have shown him as a resident of La Jolla, CA, when he voted (in the crucial Coakley-Brown special election) as resident of his son’s basement in Belmont, MA.

Here’s hoping some enterprising reporter risks the Wrath of Romney by asking the question.


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

10 thoughts on “Simplicity is beautiful: not tax fraud, voter fraud.”

  1. Don’t think that residence is the reason.

    It came up when he ran for Governor and had a house in Utah that he claimed as a primary residence for Utah tax purposes.

    The answer then and now was that if the Belmont town clerk determined that he had a reasonable claim to residence there and wasn’t voting from somewhere else other residences for other reasons didn’t matter.

    1. Well, no, I’m not sure this did come up when he ran for Governor, at least not precisely this. That is to say, there were questions regarding whether he was a resident of Massachusetts, but I don’t remember voting entering into it.

      When he ran for governor in 2002, it was discovered that Romney had avoided paying Massachusetts income tax by declaring that he was a resident of Utah, where he was working on the Olympics. There is a residency requirement to run for governor of Massachusetts, and his legal declaration (for tax purposes) that he was not a resident of Massachusetts conflicted with this. Romney blamed his over-eager tax attorneys, said he had always remained a resident of Massachusetts, and was permitted to run after paying back taxes he had avoided by not being a resident – a rather paltry sum, if I recall. But I do not recall whether Romney voted during that time, or in what jurisdiction.

      If he again muddled this issue, after having been embarrassed about it in 2002, this would be more serious. If he muddled it in a way involving voter fraud, this would also be more serious: people understand sharp practice with taxes (unfortunately), but the voters he wants to reach have been told for a year now that voter fraud is the worst thing in the world (although we understand that the real worst thing in the world is Hyperbole).

  2. From the current Belmont Patch:

    “Ellen Cushman, Belmont’s town clerk and person responsible for voter registration, said that Romney is not only a registered voter and resident of the town since 1972, he actually has been one of the town’s most active voters since 1976.

    Cushman noted that as long as Romney isn’t trespassing in someone’s home and hasn’t requested to become a resident of another town anywhere else in the country, he is considered a resident of Belmont.

    “And since he is an active voter, he proves that this is where his residency is,” said Cushman.”

  3. I do not get it. Voter rolls are public record. If Romney voted in California and in Massachusetts in the same year, that would be evidence of voter fraud. Therefore the crucial question seems to be whether he voted in La Jolla in 2009. If he did, then he has some serious explaining to do. It cannot be all that hard to find the answer to this question.

    1. I agree that it should be relatively simple, though I doubt the national press has bothered to look.

      This is important mostly as more documentation of Rmoney’s compulsive lying. There is, however, a delicious irony that most reported cases of voter fraud have been the work of Republicans, the most recent being a Republican state official voting absentee for his dead girlfriend.

      But conservatives don’t comprehend irony. Oklahoma City has never sensed that there might be a subtle dissonance to naming the principle and second largest airports after two men killed in a plane crash.

    2. I’m decidedly not well informed on the relevant law here. So far as I know, you can only vote in one jurisdiction per election (certain local races in certain municipalities excepted). But you seem to be arguing that a citizen can be a resident of one state for tax purposes and another for electoral purposes. I find this to be a highly dubious notion, though I certainly cannot authoritatively gainsay it.

      1. Multiple residences for different purposes are normal, and in general help the blue team. The classic case is college students who are resident at their school for voting but not for instate tuition.

        People on the other end of the scale from Mitt also have mobile lifestyles and need addresses of convenience to vote from. Pick one and only one is the relevant standard. Unless he registered in NH, Utah, LaJolla,,, he’s OK.

        1. How certain of this are you? I’m aware that deployed military personnel can declare themselves to be residents of anyplace they’ve been based – but the reason I’m aware of this is that there are a few counties where elections are heavily influenced by people legally “resident” of that place but who haven’t been there in years. There was a famous example of an election for Sheriff in a Texas county who had been photographed in a Klan outfit; the county is heavily Latino, including the voting rolls, but elections are decided by a huge number of (mostly white) military personnel who’ve trained there and retain their residency because Texas has no income tax. Thing is, this example that I’m offhand aware of goes in exactly the opposite direction to yours: people can claim to be resident in one of multiple options, but this also means they vote in that jurisdiction.

          1. Here’s an attempt to link the two in New Hampshire:


            so its clearly not the case there.

            Texas may do this, but it may just be more convenient for soldiers to keep voting from there as long as they were going to file taxes anyway.

            I’ve already quoted the Belmont Town Clerk on their standards and they are the relevant office if you want to challenge Romney’s vote.

            Even if I’m not dead on on the law domicile versus residence just doesn’t seem juicy enough to be the basis for hiding the returns

  4. So, I can live wherever I want, and I can also establish a separate residence for voting purposes wherever I want?

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