Saturday, October 18, 2008

More smelling salts, please

It seems many Republicans and their followers are having a collective case of the vapors over "voter fraud." The recent decision of SCOTUS to NOT require the Ohio Secretary of State to verify registrations with other state databases has them all in a tizzy.

Why? Is it that voter fraud - which should actually be termed "registration fraud" because the issue is not yet over someone actually coming to cast a fraudulent ballot - is a huge problem or is it because they are busy trying to (1) suppress voting and (2) lay the groundwork to question the election when Obama wins?

First response: There are many, though hardly vast, instances where folks paid to register voters file phony registrations or turn in registrations of folks already registered. In the latter case the registered voter is still only going to get to vote once. In the former you then need to produce a fraudulent voter who shows up to cast a fraudulent ballot. I am sure it sometimes happens and there are instances in American history when lots of dead people cast votes. We do need to prevent that sort of behavior. Proportionally this is not a huge problem. Do instances such as these seem to threaten the election this time around? No one can point to sufficient examples.

Second response: Are the "remedies" proposed by Republican operatives helpful in addressing any actual problems? No. Let me repeat that in case it is too complex and needs repeating. No.

Matching to databases such as driver's licenses or other records places the voter registration and verification process at the mercy of clerical errors. If your signature is illegible or the records show a different spelling or different middle initial, the registration kicks out - but was it an instance of fraud? Seeking to purge voting lists of felons leads to similar errors as persons with the same (or similar) name as a felon may be disenfranchised. The intent may be valid and worthwhile but the implementation has, thus far, been far too riddled with errors. I won't even go into the game of telling foreclosed voters they cannot vote because the no longer live at their registered address (most states have grace periods for situations such as this and one does not lose the right to vote over this).

Consider the concluding portion of this passage by Mary Pat Flaherty in today's Washington Post:
Thousands of voters across the country must reestablish their eligibility in the next three weeks in order for their votes to count on Nov. 4, a result of new state registration systems that are incorrectly rejecting them.


Michigan must restore thousands of names it illegally removed from voter rolls over residency questions, a judge ruled this week.

Tens of thousands of voters could be affected in Wisconsin. Officials there admit that their database is wrong one out of five times when it flags voters, sometimes for data discrepancies as small as a middle initial or a typo in a birth date. When the six members of the state elections board -- all retired judges -- ran their registrations through the system, four were incorrectly rejected because of mismatches.
[Emphases mine]

So, four out of six valid voters were rejected when this sort of test was applied. This tells me such an approach is not only useless but dangerous as it disenfranchises thousands, probably tens of thousands, of legitimate voters. That cannot be the solution to much smaller problem.

This is rather like the fallacious crisis over social security and the alarmists who wanted to convince us that it is doomed and then recommend solutions that would be fatal - such as privatizing it. Wouldn't we all be happy today if our social security had been put in the market and then had huge portions evaporate? Wow, what a great idea that was!


No, the people putting forth these phony solutions are not idiots. They are malevolently at work to undermine the institutions of democracy. They are perpetrating evil.


1. Do not buy into their fearmongering.

2. Look at the situation calmly and use your reason.

3. Reject phony solutions that make matters worse.

4. Laugh at them. Don't ratchet up the collective anxiety level.

5. If they won't go away on their own, kick them in the groin. really hard. Then walk away. They needed it, they deserved it, and you have better things to do than listen to them whimper.

6. Now that you have registered, be sure to VOTE. That is how we change things in civilized societies.

7. Know your rights. Don't let them disenfranchise you.

8. Did I say, VOTE?

h/t to georgia10 for a post noting:
The GOP in Ohio didn't ask for all name mismatches to be crosschecked and challenged. No, the Ohio GOP merely insisted only that those who registered since January 1, 2008 be targeted. And the numbers are clear: by vast margins, new voters who registered this year live in highly Democratic areas.
On the matter of clerical errors, a coworker came to me Thursday morning puzzled at not being able to find the in-house e-mail address of someone I had been training. Normally all we need to do is type part of the name and the rest comes up (or those options matching the fragment and we can then click the one we seek). He was having no luck. He was using the most recent update of the list that shows who is working on what part of the project and had already corrected the obvious typo on the person's last name. What he did not know is that the first name had been typed phonetically but not the way this person actually spells her name. We were thus dealing with a double typo. I knew how she spelled it, fortunately, and could point him to her name in the corporate database. Problem solved. If he had used only the "official list" provided to us he would never have found her. No one should love lose the right to vote over something like this.

[Thanks, Fran, for catching my typo.]
--the BB

1 comment:

FranIAm said...

No one should love the right to vote over something like this.

I think you mean lose and not love.

And I agree!