From the one story, two headlines department:
Of course, the Seattle PI headline is more accurate. It was voter-registration fraud, not vote fraud. There was never any attempt or intent to actually cast a fraudulent ballot, and to suggest otherwise is simply hyperbole.
That said, I’m glad the perpetrators are being prosecuted. But rather than celebrate the permanent disenfranchisement of seven more US citizens, I thought I’d just use this story as a springboard to talk about one of my personal pet peeves: paid initiative signature gathering.
But the scheme had nothing to do with an attempt to manipulate elections and everything to do with the workers’ efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs, prosecutors said.
[…] “The defendants … cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform,” Satterberg said. “The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets.”
And if you think this sort of cheating never occurs in the $2-$5 per-signature world of the highly profitable initiative industry, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you. In WA state it is not uncommon for 20-percent of initiative signatures to be rejected on closer review, and in some states the rejection rate has exceeded 50-percent. There is no evidence we even come close to catching all the fraudulent signatures, and we have no mechanism for tracing them back to individual, paid signature gatherers.
We have created strong economic incentives for cheating, and the result is a nationwide initiative industry that is rife with fraud and corruption. But for some reason the “clean elections” hawks on the right, who would gladly wipe 100,000 legitimate voters from the rolls in hope of eliminating a couple felons, consider it anti-democratic to suggest any reform that might better protect the integrity of initiative petitions.