SURVEY RESULTS The results of


The results of my survey on the Minnesota “voter fraud” flap are in, though not yet numerically tabulated. Most respondents, including most self-identified Democratic partisans, thought the text was ambiguous. One, at least, thought it deliberately so: “nudge-nudge, wink-wink.” So Eugene was right and I was wrong about how a sample of people (at least, a sample of people prompted by a headline and a question about voter fraud) read the text.

Meantime, Juan Non-Volokh links to a follow-up story in which the head of the conservative group that created the flap in the first place denies making any serious accusation at all: “My tongue was planted firmly in my cheek.” Score one more for the Republicans’ capacity to create scandal out of whole cloth, and make it stick.

Juan notes that I didn’t respond on the question of whether a voter registration drive designed to benefit a particular candidate is inconsistent with the legal limits on tax-deductible groups. Like Juan, I’m no expert on the law of 501(c)(3) status, but I think the answer is that such activity is allowed. So, for that matter, is the partisan scandal-mongering of the “Taxpayers’ League of Minnesota,” which is amost certainly a 501(c)(3). Your tax (exempt) dollars at work.


Someone who knows more about 501(c)(3) law than I opines that a voter registration drive explicitly aimed at helping a named candidate is outside the lines. I stand corrected.

Eugene is glad to be vindicated, but agrees that raising frivolous claims about voter fraud isn’t nice. As Confucius says (Analects, I, 1), “How pleasant it is when friends come from afar!”

I think this blog has found its mission: to be a neuron in the electronic corpus callosum connecting the left and right blogospheres.


Spinsanity has a rundown of how this non-story has been bounced around the country. It’s the usual suspects: Brit Hume, Limbaugh, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, the Manchester Union-Leader. Not a bad return from one phony press release from someone who now says he didn’t mean it. And of course the fact that the whole thing was made up won’t lead any of these folks to retract. Is there some part of the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy” you need more carefully explained?

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:

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