Voter fraud in Florida

Committed, of course, by the Governor, who is fraudulently denying Democrats the right to vote.

The lack of press attention to Florida Gov. (and corporate fraudster) Rick Scott’s attempt to steal the 2012 election as the 2000 election was stolen – by disenfanchising Democratic voters – is really striking. The Justice Department has challenged it and local election officials are now in open revolt, but the national media has treated it as a non-story, or as a he-said, she-said.

In 2000, the excuse for purging likely Democrats was getting felons off the rolls; the Republican Secretary of State, who was also George W. Bush’s campaign chair in the state, deliberately chose an algorithm that would disenfranchise thousands of people whose names resembled those of felons. (But not those with Hispanic surnames, to avoid purging any Cubans.) This was way more important than hanging chads or the butterly ballot in cheating GWB into the White House. This year, the idea is getting rid of non-citizens, but again there are lots of “false positives” – both name’s-the-same cases and people who are now citizens though the old data being used says otherwise – and oddly enough the program once again turns out to eliminate lots of Democrats and few Republicans.

The same applies to Florida’s new law to prevent voter-registration efforts, which a Federal court has now stuck down.

Naturally, none of the right-wing pundits pushing the false claim that there are substantial numbers of fraudulent votes cast – thus justifying that other tactic of vote-suppression, the requirement for a state-issued photo ID – seems to have any problem with fraudulently denying the right to vote. I got some static recently for calling the current Republican apparat “enemies of the Republic.” But what would you call people who intend to remain in power by keeping their opponents from voting them out?

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:

33 thoughts on “Voter fraud in Florida”

  1. The whole voter fraud argument is not being made in good faith, but suppose it were. What tradeoff is appropriate between incorrectly preventing legitimate votes and incorrectly allowing fraudulent ones? Given the tiny number of documented fraud cases, to justify these voter roll purges, the answer would have to be hundreds or thousands of voters denied their rights for every fraudulent vote cast. I don’t see how that can be appropriate.

    1. But what would you call people who intend to remain in power by keeping their opponents from voting them out?

      “Real Americans?”

      The problem isn’t fraudulent votes, per se, but incorrect votes.

      The times are so parlous, and the danger to the Republic posed by people who insist on exercising their franchise incorrectly is so high, that ordinary scruples and restraints cannot be allowed to stand in the way of saving it.

      Salus populi, suprema lex, and all that. Eggs and omelets. Extremism in the defense of extremism is no vice.

      1. “The times are so parlous.” As parlous as, say, 1776?

        Or are you being sarcastic?

  2. “This year, the idea is getting rid of non-citizens”

    Well that’s what they claim but it is absurd on its face. What non-citizen in their right mind would want to vote badly enough that they would risk prison and deportation to do so? Most non-citizens do their best to stay completely under-the-radar of ICE forces, and would not take such a risk.

    Maybe all Florida Democrats should register as Republicans, to make such purges of the voter rolls impossible, or at least far more difficult.

    Maybe we should all abandon party registration altogether, and shift to entirely open primaries. Why should the government have any access to information about my private voting practices, especially if they’re free to use that information for such a nefarious purpose?

    Maybe anyone summarily removed from the voting rolls in this manner should henceforth refuse to pay any more taxes too, since they’ve been stripped of their right to representation.

    It does speak to the desperation of the Republicans though, as it shows that they’re sure they’ll lose unless they cheat. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty sure they’ll get away with it, and given the history of elections in this country, they’re probably right about that.

    1. “Why should the government …?”

      The answer to your question as asked is that the government has to run the primary elections. When I grew up in Maryland, I could vote only in the primary of “my party.” That, of course, simply meant that I had to declare in advance, instead of on the day of the primary. After I moved to Virginia I did not have to declare. In 2008 I could vote in the Democratic primary, which had great significance. Then in 2012 I could choose to vote in the Republican primary and vote for whoever I thought would be the weakest candidate. Now that I’ve moved to Florida, I can vote in whichever primary I choose, but in order to do it I have to tell them in advance which I choose. I think the Virginia system is wrong.

  3. It is important to note that they’re flagging names and then presuming the person is guilty: the allegedly fraudulent registrant is sent a letter inviting them to try to regain the voting rights that have just been stripped from them – if the letter finds them, and if they open it, and if they feel the game is worth the candle, none of which are certain, especially for the disproportionately disadvantaged people being targeted. And that’s assuming any efforts to restore their rights are rewarded, and that they aren’t just purged again even if they succeed, and neither of these assumptions seems sound.

    If this happened to people’s drivers licenses or their credit cards it would be the top story in the country; likewise if it were happening to young white people with postgraduate degrees. Between the Republican Mau-Mau’ing on the issue and the general disinterest in voting and in poor people, it is being ignored.

  4. This is transparently an attempt to steal votes away from Democrats in crucial Democratic districts. Period.

    I didn’t think the venality of the Republicans could get more sickening and amoral than in the 2000 election. But of course I underestimated them, as I always do. They’ve gotten far, far worse, and will continue to. It will be interesting (and likely shocking) to see what kinds of new strategies they invent in coming elections.

    Republicans understand that if they can succeed in gaining back the Senate and the Presidency with their new breed of super-zombie Tea Partier, they’ll be able to pass all kinds of legislation that will ensure Republican rule for generations.

    Not only that, but I firmly believe that they will actively attempt to rewrite the history of Obama’s administration to make it seem corrupt and ineffectual, despite its many successes. They’ll likely continue to pursue Birtherism, in order to posthumously declare Obama a fraud. They’ll likely continue to purge voter rolls, but now as national policy, in order to ensure that the poor, minorities, and students vote in greatly reduced numbers. They’ll likely secure the effects of Citizens United and intravenously inject corporate donations directly into their campaigns. And these are just the political maneuvers. Just wait what will happen to economic and social policy. It will be a Brett Bellmore libertarian dystopia wet dream, and American Somalia. Can’t wait!

  5. How much danger, in practice, is there in registering/voting for undocumented persons? Are there known cases of persons being caught/punished?

    1. The Bush admin. spent big buck$ (was it 70+ million?) in the search for those elusive fraudulent voters. They came up with a handful.

    2. I’m not sure it matters in practice how likely it is that registering to vote will get one deported. Staying under the radar is a way of life and putting your name on a government form with no tangible reward is likely to be the last thing an undocumented immigrant will want to do. There may be a few Canadians here legally for decades who’d chance it but the numbers are undoubtedly small, particularly compared to the massive numbers of legal citizens being caught in these nets.

      Anyway, if protecting the integrity of elections was the real goal, then they wouldn’t be using these schemes that disenfranchise 100 people who are entitled to vote in order to prevent one who isn’t entitled from voting.

    3. There is some value in deterrence. If it is never ever searched for, then there will be fraud. The trick is to find the right level of enforcement.

  6. The fundamental unifying tenet of the modern Republican party and its pathetic sycophants is Bad Faith.

    Unfortunately, as a result of a variation on Gresham’s Law it’s going to work out just fine for them. (“Fine” in that their garbage theories will lead to power; not “fine” in that they will still be victimized by a reality that just refuses to conform to their fantasies.)

    1. “The fundamental unifying tenet of the modern Republican party and its pathetic sycophants is Bad Faith. ”
      There’s a sort of nihilism at work, where antipathy towards government is so high, that working with it – by compromising with the other side and making government better – is tantamount to a sort of neo-treason (working with “the enemy”. It’s become a political theology, a fundamentalism.

  7. Much damage has already been done. The letters have been sent to scare people. I’ve seen on tv that the letter says if you are a citizen once you receive this letter you have to initiate/attend a HEARING. Not just respond with evidence. Initiate/attend a hearing.

    I live in Florida and just renewed my driver’s license. The postcard (small print) stating what I needed to produce to RENEW my driver’s license was unnerving.

    I’m a woman who’s been married more than once so I had to produce birth certificate, marriage certificate(s) to show I’m the same person as the person with my birth name, I don’t have a current passport altho I have several so that couldn’t count as evidence.

    All this along with my current DL with my picture on it that was procured with my New Jersey license 13 years ago. I considered New Jersey tough.

    What’s with this?

  8. It is also interesting that Republicans and their media friends have NO problem with non-citizen foreign nationals and even foreign governments contributing vast sums (anonymously!) to political action committees in order to sway American elections to results of their choosing.

    The voter roll purges may just be a way to focus our attention away from the really significant election fraud that is being “legally” perpetrated upon us.

  9. Could I make a simple request for accuracy on one point?

    The state is not distributing a “purge” list. They are distributing a “check” list. It is a list of names for local elections supervisors to check on. The same was the case back in 2000.

    It is known to be over-inclusive, but isn’t any screening test deliberately over-inclusive? Elections supervisors are supposed to use this list as a guide to whose status they should check on. They are NOT supposed to indiscriminately purge everybody on the list.

    Now, if this is anything like 2000, some of the elections supervisors will look at the work involved, and ignore the list, purging nobody. Some will look at the work involved, and ignore the requirement to check, and purge everybody. And some will actually do their freaking jobs, and check before purging.

    But they’re all getting a list to check, not purge.

    1. no one involved in this post and commentary has referred to a “purge list.” some people have talked about the effect of purging voters but no one has used the terminology you are attempting to clarify. your request is therefore superfluous.

        1. and yet the only people you could be talking to here are the people talking here.

          i’m glad you could share your unfocused emotional rambling. could you now try and focus on the discussion below and answer a few direct questions?

    2. Nice theory. Meanwhile, back in the real world, citizens are being wrongly put on a list and are getting purged. Don’t call it a purge list if you don’t want to.

    3. I swear there were reports of actual people getting actual letters saying they would be removed from the voter rolls unless they proved their eligibility.

      Cutting the semantic B.S., it’s akin to a purge list.

      1. Come on now, and how does the state verify, for instance, your address? They send a letter to you, and see if they get a reply.

        Now, it would be nice if they had access to an up to date database of citizenship status, but there seems some opposition to that. So, we’ve got a couple thousand people getting letters asking them to prove they’re citizens, and a few of them find this annoying. Others might be on vacation when the letter arrives, and have to cast a provisional ballot.

        But I take it your alternative is to simply not purge voter rolls, ever? That’s a bit problematic in it’s own ways.

        1. the alternative is to do this process in a manner that allows the people who end up on the list time to prove their status as eligible voters instead of waiting until the last minute to remove them from the rolls. there ought to be a law requiring election officials to give those suspected, for whatever reason, of being ineligible to vote at least 90 days before the election to prove their eligibility.

          oh wait, there is such a law–the national voter registration act of 1993–of which the state of florida appears to be in violation.

          do you consider such a requirement unreasonable brett? do you think it’s too much trouble on the states to have to think far enough ahead to get those letters out 90 days prior to the election?

        2. Surely you can agree there could exist some middle ground between never removing errant registrations and removing valid voters prior to contacting them to inform them that they might conceivably be able to regain their rights via a cumbersome process? Maybe exercising greater care in the first place, and then if an entry has passed those bars notice might be sent that there are questions and further steps might be taken, rather than simply cancelling their registration?

          And is it even meaningfully true that not purging voter rolls is problematic? All the evidence suggests that the amount of voter fraud is indistinguishable from zero. An organized effort to use voter fraud would require enormous risks either of blatant multiple voting by a few conspirators or the inclusion of vast numbers of people, each a potential weak link, in a huge conspiracy, and still would have a small effect on the vote totals. There are other, easier ways to sway votes, for example massive, unregulated, and often deeply dishonest independent campaign expenditures; sabotage of GOTV efforts, for example by disabling their phone lines; flyers warning people not to vote or instructing them to vote at the wrong place or at the wrong time; candidates or campaign literature misidentifying candidates’ party affiliations; the funding of third party candidates with platforms you abhor that are intended to suck votes from your opponent; the funding of candidates with the same name as your opponent or as a deceased icon; police roadblocks; and opening fewer polling stations in your opponent’s strong areas and opening them late, understaffing them, and under-equipping them. You will note that everything on that list has been used by Republicans in important national elections in the last dozen years.

          Finally, yes, a working national ID registry could be a good thing, if properly implemented, and could be useful here. But the idea’s most fervent opponents include both civil libertarians and the people who fear the imminent arrival of UN black helicopters – and the latter are the louder (no-one much listens to civil libertarians, haven’t for decades), and they’re the sort of people with whom you often sympathize. The only database we do have, used for employment eligibility, is notorious for the frequency with which it gives both false-positives and false-negatives. And in any case, you wrote “it would be nice if they had access”, apparently implying there’s some campaign to deny them access to which they’re entitled, in regard to a request that according to the very first sentence of your very own hyperlink was made on Thursday. The DHS has had one working day even to consider the request; less, possibly, depending on how the letter was sent. I know nothing about the relevant law controlling the sharing of this database (neither do you, I’d guess), but you might hold off your outrage over their lack of cooperation until they’ve had a bloody chance to contemplate cooperating.

          1. sometimes i wonder if mark kleiman is brett bellmore and uses the character to force the rest of us to sharpen our arguments and get passionate about things.

        3. Brett, it’s funny to me that you see deeply nefarious motives in the most minor actions by Democrats, but you are (intentionally) gullible when it comes to Republican actions.

          This is an outright and aggressive attempt to remove Democrats from the voter rolls. You know it, and your attempt to disguise reality by putting frosting on it is just making you look like a credulous fool. Stop trying to frame this as just a routine “purging,” (as if there was such a thing.) Stop playing dumb, or we might assume you actually are.

        1. And this, among other reasons, is why the Department of Justice has told Florida to stop. Deprivation of rights, check. No due process of law, check.

        2. I think a hearing should be required — paid for by the state, with legal assistance for the voter — *before* anyone gets removed from the rolls.

          That would greatly increase the accuracy, not that purging even seems necessary.

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