FAUX News’ Eric Shawn engages in a bit of fraud about voter fraud yesterday in an article headlined Non-citizens caught voting in 2012 presidential election in key swing state.
The article points out that Ohio’s SOS found that “17 non-citizens illegally cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election,” and then claims that “[t]he alleged crime would be a notable case of voter fraud in a key swing state.”
Oooohhh…17 votes in a key swing state! That must be bad.
Or not. First, calling isolated cases of illegal votes by individuals “voter fraud” is bullshit.
The term “fraud” suggests an illegal act designed to ensure a particular election result. An individual has almost no chance of ever changing the outcome of an election with an illegal vote. Doing so requires: (1) a perfect 50-50 “legitimate” election outcome, (2) casting an illegal (and, therefore, decisive) vote, and (3) not getting caught. The first is exceedingly unlikely in any election, the last becomes decreasingly likely as the outcome approaches a tie—because of recounts and the scrutiny that comes with legal challenges to a close election.
The term “election fraud” should be limited to cases where multiple illegal votes are cast, and unless it is an election official manipulating the election machinery, election fraud by illegal votes would typically require cooperation among a fairly large group of people. With a large enough conspiracy, an election could, potentially, be swayed—but the chances of the conspiracy being uncovered also goes up with the number of people involved.
The FAUX News article goes on to state, “President Obama beat Mitt Romney in Ohio by just 2 percentage points in November 2012.” Oh. My. God. Clearly, those 17 votes were important.
Slate’s David Weigel points out the REAL fraud going on here:
Did you catch that, how Shawn pivoted from the number of total votes to the percentage of votes? Why would he do that? Without reading his mind, I’d guess it’s because the actual Ohio margin between Obama and Romney last year was 166,272 votes, and Shawn wants to keep his readers as ignorant as posssible. Seventeen votes represents 0.0003 percent of the total of ballots cast for either Obama or Romney in the state, and 0.01 percent of the margin.
Reporters who are brighter and less dishonest than Shawn have come away from the Husted data with a different take. There was, according to [Ohio SOS Jon] Husted, no plot to steal votes or fake votes in the 2012 election. The noncitizens who voted had driver’s licenses, so basic voter ID laws wouldn’t have stopped them.
The voter fraud illusion continues with a favorite slight of hand used by the voter fraud alarmists: a switch away from illegal or fraudulent votes to messiness in the voter rolls.
Husted also found that 274 non-citizens remain on the voting rolls.
As part of Ohio’s efforts to clean up the voting rolls, election officials discovered that more than 257,000 dead people were still listed as active voters.
In addition, election authorities note they have drastically reduced the number of duplicate registrations, from 340,000 in 2011 to just four this past November — and that more than 370,000 Ohio voters who have moved have been contacted to update their voting information.
It doesn’t seem like much of a conspiracy that 257,000 dead people have failed to remove themselves from the voter rolls. What about the duplicate registrations and the ones where voters have moved and not updated their registration?
Here is a relevant anecdote. Some of you may remember “Mr. Cynical” who dumped his little nuggets of wisdom in the HA comment threads for many years. Mr. Cynical was deeply “concerned” about voter fraud in Washington. I know who Mr. Cynical is and where he used to live in Washington state. Even two years ago—several years after he moved out of state—Mr. Cynical was still listed on the voter roll in the Washington county in which he no longer resided. Apparently HA’s own voter fraud concern troll was engaging in a little election FRAUD!!!11!1!!
Or maybe not. I used to check his registration periodically to see if he actually voted. He didn’t. It seems he simply forgot to cancel his registration in Washington until he became an “inactive voter” and was eventually purged.
I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of those duplicate and “moved” registrations result from the “nefarious” act of people forgetting to cancel their registration when moving.
If only there was some way of automating the process of transferring voter registration for voters who move. In fact, there is.
The National Voter Registration Act, enacted in 1993, has a provision that requires state’s license registration agencies to forward license address changes to county election boards in order to keep their voter roles clean. So, at least, moves within the state should be cleaned quickly.
Ohio was a bit sluggish in compliance with the law:
This month [May, 2013], the [Ohio] secretary of state’s office began distributing change of address information from driving records to county boards of elections at least twice a week. That information can then be used by the county boards to update addresses for registered voters.
Effectively sharing that data is a component of the voter registration act. Despite being law since 1993, Ohio was not in compliance with that requirement.
Much of the messiness in the Ohio voter roles is a consequence of taking 20 years to comply with the National Voter Registration Act.
Rather than pointing this out, FAUX News uses the numbers to insinuate a sense of chaos in our electoral process. To my mind, that make them co-conspirators in Karl Rove’s voter fraud fraud.