Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Republican Electoral College Plan Would Undermine Democracy

We’ve often noted here that the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato and his ace team of political analysts and contributors are not just the most perceptive group of analysts on the American scene, but among the most accurate when it comes to forecasting elections. They’re the anti-Dick-Morris. And the latest edition of Sabato’s Crystal Ball has a warning: the GOP’s plans to rig the electoral college (basically wiping away elections have been held in this country with all but a few exceptions) would undermine democracy.

Here’s Sabato’s lead in but you can tell by it how he views the plan:

Republicans are struggling to right their ship after the defeat of 2012. The unfavorable demographic trends for the GOP that we describe in our new book, Barack Obama and the New America, have sunk in, and the party knows it must do something. We have solicited ideas ourselves, believing that it is vital for America to have vigorous party competition. You will see some of those ideas, offered by our readers and Twitter colleagues, here. But nestled among the constructive ideas is a truly rotten one, the proposal to fix and game the Electoral College to give a sizable additional advantage to the Republican nominee for president.

We have asked Crystal Ball Senior Columnist Alan Abramowitz, Alben W. Barkley Professor of Political Science at Emory University, to examine the proposal and outline its likely effects. As we suspected, it would permit a GOP nominee to capture the White House even while losing the popular vote by many millions. This is not a relatively small Electoral College “misfire” on the order of 1888 or 2000. Instead, it is a corrupt and cynical maneuver to frustrate popular will and put a heavy thumb — the whole hand, in fact — on the scale for future Republican candidates. We do not play presidential politics with a golf handicap awarded to the weaker side.

Republicans face a choice that can best be characterized by personalizing it. A healthy, optimistic party is Reaganesque, convinced that it can win the future by embracing it, and by making a positive case for its philosophy and candidates to all Americans. A party in decline is Nixonian and fears the future; it sees enemies everywhere, feels overwhelmed by electoral trends, and thinks it can win only by cheating, by subverting the system and stacking the deck in its favor. Whose presidency was more successful, Reagan’s or Nixon’s? Which man made the Republican brand more appealing?

– Larry J. Sabato, for the editors of The Crystal Ball

And here are a few chunks of the analysis by Alan I. Abramowitz, Senior Columnist:

After losing the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections and seeing Barack Obama sweep to a surprisingly easy reelection victory in 2012, Republican leaders and strategists are understandably worried about their party’s prospects in future presidential contests. There is no doubt that the GOP faces major challenges as a result of the nation’s shifting demographics and a growing Democratic advantage in the Electoral College.

Democratic presidential candidates have carried 18 states and the District of Columbia with a total of 242 electoral votes in all four elections since 2000, and another three states with 15 electoral votes in three of those elections. In addition, three of the five states that have voted twice for each party since 2000 — Colorado, Nevada and Virginia, with a total of 28 electoral votes — clearly appear to be trending Democratic. That gives Democrats a base of 24 states plus the District of Columbia in which they have the advantage going into the next presidential election. Those states have 285 electoral votes — 15 votes more than needed to win the presidency.

Of course there is no guarantee that Democrats will carry all of these states in 2016. That will depend on the condition of the U.S. economy and the mood of the country at that time as well as whom the parties nominate to succeed Barack Obama. But recent trends certainly look ominous for the GOP.

As the electorate continues to become less white and more liberal in its outlook on social issues, Republicans have two choices about how to improve their party’s prospects in future presidential elections. One approach would be to adopt more moderate positions on issues such as immigration, abortion, gay rights and health care in order to make their party more appealing to young people, women and nonwhites. But that strategy would risk alienating a large portion of the GOP’s current base, especially those aligned with the Tea Party movement. So rather than adopting that risky strategy, some Republican leaders appear to be opting for a different approach — changing the electoral rules to make it easier for a Republican candidate to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote.

Several Republican governors and state legislative leaders in key battleground states have recently expressed support for a plan to change the method of awarding their state’s electoral votes from the current winner-take-all system to one in which one vote would be awarded to the winner of each congressional district in the state and two votes would be awarded to the statewide winner. In the aftermath of the GOP’s 2012 defeat, this plan appears to be gaining momentum and was recently endorsed by the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus. On Wednesday, a bill to apportion electors by congressional district advanced through a subcommittee in the Virginia Senate.

The congressional district plan appears reasonable at first glance. After all, why give all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who wins statewide no matter how narrow that candidate’s margin? Awarding electoral votes by congressional district would seem to provide a fairer and more balanced alternative to the winner-take-all system. But there is a serious problem with this approach. Despite a superficial appearance of fairness, the congressional district plan would be profoundly undemocratic — skewing the results in favor of the party drawing the congressional district lines in a state and greatly increasing the chances of an Electoral College misfire (a victory by the candidate losing the national popular vote).

The congressional district system, if adopted for the entire nation, would give Republicans a major advantage in presidential elections. That’s because Republicans controlled the redistricting process after the 2010 census in far more states than Democrats as a result of the GOP’s big gains in the 2010 midterm elections. By drawing congressional districts that favored the GOP, Republican state legislatures and governors gave their party a big edge in the battle for control of the House of Representatives. The result was that in 2012, even though Democratic candidates outpolled Republican candidates by more than a million votes across the nation, Republicans kept control of the House by a margin of 234 seats to 201 seats.

And, at the end:

The current method of allocating electoral votes, based on a winner-take-all rule in every state except Maine and Nebraska, actually serves to closely approximate the ideal method of choosing the president in a democracy: direct popular election. Under the current system, there is a very close relationship between the outcome of the popular vote and the outcome of the electoral vote. Only once since 1888 has a president won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote. That happened in 2000, but a very strong case can be made that the 2000 “misfire” was less a result of the Electoral College itself than of serious flaws in the voting process in Florida.

If we can’t have direct popular election of the president — the method that would clearly be the most democratic and the method that polls have consistently found that the large majority of Americans favor — then the next best method of choosing the president is probably the current one of awarding electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis. The current system appears to minimize the chances of an electoral vote misfire in which the winner of the popular vote loses the electoral vote. In contrast, the congressional district method would greatly increase the chances of such a misfire.

Under current circumstances, the congressional district system could well result in a Republican victory even if the Democratic candidate were to win the popular vote by a substantial margin. Such a situation would undoubtedly lead to widespread questioning of the legitimacy of the election and, potentially, a public backlash against the victorious Republican candidate and the GOP itself. Before engaging in a cynical attempt to rig the electoral system, Republican leaders and strategists should consider the potential harm that their actions could do to our democratic form of government and to their own party

Prediction: the Republicans will try it…bigtime.

The questions: are a)the Democrats prepared for it? b)what will they do about it? c)what impact will this have on independent and moderate voters who may not like the electoral college but will like it even LESS if they see Republicans (again) pulling out all stops to prevent certain types of voters from going to the polls and/or fixing the system so they have a built in advantage that means they don’t have to try and offer voters a bigger tent.

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  • clarkma5

    One approach would be to adopt more moderate positions on issues such as immigration, abortion, gay rights and health care in order to make their party more appealing to young people, women and nonwhites. But that strategy would risk alienating a large portion of the GOP’s current base, especially those aligned with the Tea Party movement.

    My mind is boggled that this is actually the logic (it is) because there’s no place for people who are farther right to go! If you hold right, you lose center-right votes to the democrats. If you move center, you lose right-wing votes to…who, exactly? The Nazi party? What on earth are the GOP doing trying to kowtow to these people, it’s idiotic!

  • zephyr

    Instead of learning from their mistakes and working to become a party rational and decent people might actually want to become a part of they choose to abandon even more principles in their pursuit of power. When will the American people say they’ve had enough of these dangerous fools?

  • andrewb87

    One of the reasons why the Electoral College has remained in effect for all of these years is because it is assumed that all of the swing states benefit so greatly from the attention and advertising dollars, that no politician from these states would advocate eliminating it. However, if the state republicans are willing to sacrifice the attention and money that comes from these contests, then they can not logically oppose shifting to a popular vote, at least not on those grounds. This could be a unique opportunity to push for the elimination of the Electoral College. Sign the petition at:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/eliminate-electoral-college-and-allow-american-people-elect-their-president-direct-popular-vote/KWPWPkTH

    Spread the word. Let’s make this the first petition to hit the new threshold of 100k signatures. Thank You.

  • sheknows

    Apparently they can just redistrict anything they want and no one can/will stop them. This is what I do not understand.
    We have already seen this happening and also their trying to supress the vote.
    I guess I just don’t get it. Everyone sees it, everyone complains about it, everyone agrees that it’s sleazoid tactics and may actually be unconstitutional, but LEGALLY no one seems to be able to stop it.

    Is this really the United States???

  • zephyr

    Sheknows, your question is the right one. I’ve been watching this country slowly and inexorably morph into a state whose powers and authorities are increasingly immune to common sense, empathy, intellect, ethics and accountability. Much of the citizenry, the electorate have been complicit by way of ignorance and partisanship, meanwhile the rest of us have been pulling our hair out. Eventually something’s gotta give..

  • Willwright

    I doubt this will get very far. Even low information voters would see this as a blatant attempt to rig the game. If a citizens revolt with millions marching on state houses and Washington didn’t work, I doubt it would stand up in many courts. People would be so mad that the GOP would be lucky to register in the high single digits in the next election. There might be a few people in the GOP that think they could implement this and that nobody would notice. But with further reflection the idea will fizzle out even with the GOP. The voter ID laws really didn’t work out for them. The fallout from this would be 100x worse for them.

  • petew

    The Republican party of late has been busy demonstrating its ability to use subterfuge in order to influence pubic opinion. They have done so with voter suppression efforts, attempting to discredit climate scientists and, by supporting transparently unfair laws like Citizens United. They have done this with a massive drive towards disinformation and by projecting their own vices onto liberals and Democrats in General. This is the work of ALEC—formed and implemented over many decades.

    One might support the idea of an electoral college as it now exists, But attempts to rig the system and gerrymander districts according to the will of either Democrats or Republicans is obviously unfair and unnecessary in a real democracy. When Republicans especially, deceive voters with plans that appear, on the surface, to involve fair-play, they begin to resemble the Mafia rather than an institution that supports a free society. In this sense, their manipulative strategies involving voter suppression, and crooked campaigning truly outdo even the devious registration of dead Chicago voters by the late Mayor Richard Daily.

    Unless Republicans become more liberal or centrist, I think the fact that their negative reputations precede them, will eventually destroy their power and effectiveness as a political entity.

    The entire strategy of gerrymandering and rigging elections, hearkens back to the poll tax, and even the idea that slave owners could receive 2/3rds of a vote for each slave (or was it 3/4 ) Anyway, the entire process of holding democratic elections is being seriously destroyed like it never has before!

    Most of us have the common sense to realize that determining elections by popular vote, is the most fair and equitable method of doing so. Hopefully we will soon institutionalize such a reform in all of our elections!

  • zusa1

    Both parties try to manipulate the rules to gain advantage. How many times have Dem’s changed the senate vacancy law in Massachusetts? They were considering doing it again:

    “This time around, as the likelihood of a Kerry nomination grew in Washington, speculation arose that the Legislature might try to avoid a special election by returning to the law in existence before 2004. But no serious effort to do so was mounted at the Statehouse.

    “It would have been embarrassing and hypocritical for Democrats to change the law after only a few years, said Todd Domke, a Republican political strategist.

    ‘‘They usually like to have more time between the flip and the flop,’’ said Domke.”

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/01/20/change-sen-vacancy-law-led-mass-elections/e3Vvl1yoq08yQ7jFU4XxkN/story.html

  • sheknows

    Both parties do look for an edge, however a special election vs redistricting and voter suppression. Like apples and skyscrapers.

  • petew

    zuzai,

    Yes, they both absolutely do seek political advantage, but, most of us can’t help but believe that Democrats are mere amateurs compared to the use of unethical practices by Republicans. They are bringing this game to a whole new level that American voters are beginning to get hip to, and to dislike!

  • zusa1

    “Why are Democrats so uniformly opposed to proof of citizenship in order to vote? ”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-foster/democrats-benefit-from-illegal-immigrants-voting_b_1418523.html

  • zusa1

    This white paper found that districts drawn with total GOP control are more compact than those drawn with total Democratic control, and that districts drawn by a non-partisan process are more compact than those drawn when either party had control. So it’s not that Dem’s are opposed to gerrymandering, but don’t like it if the other party gets to do it more. I doubt they would be complaining if the shoe was on the other foot. It would be something like “We won the (2010) election..get over it.”

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.azavea.com/com.redistrictingthenation/pdfs/Redistricting_The_Nation_Addendum.pdf

  • zephyr

    Of course democrats want power too, and cherry-picking easily yields examples, but petew is right about their amateur status; they just aren’t as blatantly ruthless and unprincipled when it comes to means vs ends power grabs. Republicans are becoming more and more open about their contempt for democracy as the century wears on. Democrats see this, independents see it, moderates see it, traditional republicans see it… only hard core rightwingers refuse to see it.

  • petew

    Zusai,

    Without knowing a great deal about Illegal immigration as it relates to fraudulent voting, I would offer the following:

    1. I know that a great many studies done by respectable institutions have failed to discover any significant number of voters who deliberately misrepresent themselves as being someone else—the type of fraud supposedly done, according to many Republicans who support voter ID laws.

    2. The issue of presenting certain documents as proof in order to secure proper voting IDs, does discriminate against many poor, elderly, handicapped, and black people, as well as many students who are not normally residents of the States they would vote in. These Demographic groups tend to vote for Democrats and are also less likely to possess the proper IDs—which may require spending a significant amount of money to acquire. Many have issues with making it to polling places, or with possessing driver’s licences that allow them to provide their own transportation. If you want an example of how difficult it can be to procure voting IDs for some individuals, Google the name Ruthelle Frank—an elderly Wisconsin resident who faced a long uphill battle in order to vote. Although Wisconsin’s last elections did not require voter IDs, this is due to the success of the ACLU and other organizations in bringing lawsuits against the State.

    3. Although having to pay $20 extra dollars for a new birth certificate, may seem insignificant to most of us, the Constitution recognizes the importance of not involving fees required to vote or, in placing undue barriers in front of any voter. Examples of Constitutional Amendments intended to assure voting rights are, the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 26th and especially the 24th Amendment, which prohibits poll taxes or any fees which need to be paid to secure the right to vote. If you think it is not significant to pay $20 in order to vote, just imagine that the next time you visit the polls you are required to pay the poll workers $20 in order to vote. Not only does the Constitution intend to provide citizens the right to vote free of any charge or unnecessary difficulties,but, most Americans who have had traditionally enjoyed easy access to the polls, would be outraged if required to pay a fee in order to do what they are usually guaranteed to do without impediments, by the Government!

    4. It must be remembered that voter impersonation is a Federal crime, punishable by imprisonment, and, it makes no sense that an illegal immigrant would risk federal imprisonment of deportation, by undertaking such a risky thing. When documents are altered to get jobs in the US these are necessary for the physical survival of immigrants and their families. Also, many immigrants take jobs which American workers will not do for the same amount of pay, and, often employers will look the other way, in order to acquire cheap labor.

    5. Last but not least, immigrants have often established families already settled in the US. Their children have attended American schools and they have acquired American jobs and friendships. This family security would not be easily jeopardized by any of us, let alone by illegal immigrants. Once again, I would think it odd that, any Latino immigrant, or anyone with a family , would deliberately risk imprisonment of deportation in order to take part in a form of voter fraud that would need a concerted effort by thousands of unregistered voters, in order to influence or make any real difference at all, even in many close elections.

    I honestly share your disapproval of gerrymandering and admit that Democrats have also used it in order to sway election outcomes. But not only are cases of individual voter fraud virtually non-existent, they would represent one of the most inefficient and riskiest to influence elections. And, when Republican legislatures endeavor to end early or same day registration, they would theoretically be preventing not only fraudulent individual voters, but, also the great number of legitimate voters who would naturally be expected to take advantage of early voting also. This would not be consistent with the government responsibility to make voting more accessible to more and more Americans, and, would be just plain dumb!

    The whole thing makes no sense, and Republicans have been extremely culpable in many schemes to promote this entire myth. Most intelligent voters seem to prefer the candidates who win popular votes as those who win elections. I absolutely agree and would prefer to see the complete elimination of all gerrymandering schemes and of all voter suppression drives! Traditionally if voters fail to provide proof of citizenship when registering, Polling officials have the option of investigating suspicious cases anyway, and later eliminating those votes!

  • petew

    After Googeling the name “Howard Foster,” who is the author of the post article provided by zusai’s link, It was no surprise to discover that he has many extremely partisan views on almost all political controversies. Yes, Democrats also have many partisan viewpoints, but it should be remembered that, predisposed opinions about issues like voter IDs, requiring objective analysis, are not decided the most fairly by those who follow party lines exclusively on almost every issue. I would much prefer the ACLU or Harvard law professors.

    I’m just saying!

  • zusa1

    “It must be remembered that voter impersonation is a Federal crime, punishable by imprisonment, and, it makes no sense that an illegal immigrant would risk federal imprisonment of deportation, by undertaking such a risky thing.”

    What threat is a law that is rarely if ever enforced?

    The votes cast by non-citizens probably aren’t disenfranchising Dem’s so maybe that is why they are tolerant of it.

    A Florida news station found 100 non citizens registered to vote just in preparing for a news story.

    “County supervisors of elections tell me they have no way to verify citizenship. Under the 1992 Motor Voter Law, they’re not required to ask for proof.

    “We have no policing authority. We don’t have any way of bouncing that information off any other database that would give us that information,” said Lee County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Harrington.

    NBC2: Does that need to change??
    Harrington: “I think it needs to be looked at.”

    Until that happens, the only way supervisors of elections can investigate voter fraud is if they get a tip.

    So that’s what our list became. After showing them the nearly 100 names we compiled, both county election offices sent letters to each voter, asking them verify citizenship.

    “It could be very serious. It could change the whole complexion of an election,” said Harrington.
    It’s important we don’t know we know if these folks are here illegal or not, just they are potentially not U.S. citizens who registered to vote.”

    http://www.nbc-2.com/story/16662854/2012/02/02/nbc2-investigates-voter-fraud
    http://www.nbc-2.com/story/16666098/2012/02/02/nbc2-investigates-voter-fraud-part-2

  • http://wideeyedandreal.blogspot.com ProfElwood

    Outside of being a street beggar, how do people do things without a positive ID? Without ID, you can’t use banks, drive, buy liquor, get welfare benefits, apply for a job, or even park on campus.

    Of course, most of the fraud that I’m familiar with, is from absentee ballots, which don’t require any ID, and which are now even more popular since Indiana’s voter ID law went into effect.

  • zusa1

    In Washington State, it got to be too much work “finding” “lost” ballots, so we are now mail in. So much easier.

    Ethics run deep in this family.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57539706/congressmans-son-resigns-after-voter-fraud-video/

  • The_Ohioan

    In Michigan, and I assume other states, you must be a registered voter to receive an absentee ballot.

    As a registered voter, you may obtain an absentee voter ballot if you are:

    age 60 years old or older
    unable to vote without assistance at the polls
    expecting to be out of town on election day
    in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
    unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
    appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.

    A person who registers to vote by mail must vote in person in the first election in which he or she participates. The restriction does not apply to overseas voters, voters who are disabled or voters who are 60 years of age or older. (Voting in person on one governmental level clears the restriction on the other levels. For example, if a voter subject to the restriction votes in person at a school election, the voter would be free to obtain an absentee ballot for the first state election in which he or she wishes to participate.)

  • oldgulph

    To abolish the Electoral College would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population.

    Instead, The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC), by state laws.

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in 80% of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the conventions.

    When the bill is enacted by states with a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in recent closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The new obvious partisan machinations of the GOP should add support for the National Popular Vote movement. If the party in control in each state is tempted every 2, 4, or 10 years (post-census) to consider rewriting election laws and redistrict with an eye to the likely politically beneficial effects for their party in the next presidential election, then the National Popular Vote system, in which all voters across the country are guaranteed to be politically relevant and treated equally, looks better and better.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states with 243 electoral votes. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions with 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    NationalPopularVote
    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • petew

    zuzai,

    In regards to some of the reports of mass voter impersonation fraud—many extensive investigations have been done to verify the existence of such forms of fraud, but virtually all of them have failed to provide positive evidence of such schemes, which are supposedly supported by Democrats in order influence elections in their favor. In fact, the results have been just the opposite—at best only a handful of voters have ever attempted to commit such fraud, and some of these votes are cast out simply because many ex-cons assume that they can vote after being released. As far as the so-called “massive” attempts at fraud, such claims that 30,000 ex-cons were convinced to fraudulently vote for Democrats has no credibility—investigations have not been able to substantiate any such claims! Even in States that have attempted to institute voter ID laws, lawyers arguing for those states have not found any real proof that such individual misrepresentation exists at all—including the idea that any great or significant number of these cases are actually provable and/or documented.

    When the State of Indiana argued in favor of its voter ID laws before the Supreme Court, they were unable to cite a single case of voter impersonation in the entire history of the State. A NEW YORK TIMES investigation in 2007 found that out of all voters, only 86 had been convicted of voter fraud in the previous five years. Most of these were attributable to mistakes on election forms, or, from misunderstanding eligibility rules. Thirty of the remainder were only penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races such as for judge or sheriff. Also, between 2000 and 2010, out of 649 million votes cast, only 13 credible cases of voter impersonation fraud exists—an average of 1.3 per year. Is this type of a tiny threat worth spending millions of dollars to alter state laws?

    If one just uses a bit of critical and logical thinking, it would become obvious that very few people would be willing to be convicted of a felony just to support a particular candidate. In the case of ex-cons—does it make sense for any convicted felon to chance another felony conviction soon after being released? I would say, “only if the right amount of money were involved,”—say a minimum of several thousand dollars or more, paid to thousands of co-conspirators who ( are certainly aware) that merely threatening to reveal such scams to the authorities could easily garnish them much more money than an elicit bribe to assure their support for this form of fraud. How much would you demand?—1000, 10,000, 25,000 or more dollars—all granted to (most likely to the THOUSANDS of cheaters required)to make risking their freedom all worth while? The same absurdly inefficient way to influence elections would not likely influence illegal immigrants to be in collusion with schemers either—since their freedoms, as well as their families welfare, would be at Stake! If that doesn’t mean anything, just multiply a ten thousand dollar bribe by 2000 recruited fraudulent voters and you will find this equals $20 million dollars in bribes. And,if 2000 voters out of States with many millions of voters are necessary to secure victory, and, if, electing a candidate like Obama would immediately ensure that an administration’s policy to be more lenient on illegal immigrants, would in itself be able to overcome all of the Republican Senators and Congressman who might oppose that administration, or all the Republicans who dominate the numerous State legislatures, that are now controlled by Republicans and Republican Governors—then perhaps such an expensive and elaborate scheme might work. The reason it doesn’t is because it has NEVER HAPPENED, and it is hard to enforce laws that are never even broken by more than literally, a handful of people—a number way, way, less than the many millions of votes cast in a State like Texas.

    Sure types of fraud have happened, and have been initiated by both Republicans and Democrats, but, these are usually offenses like stuffing ballot boxes, making false informational calls to voters who would likely vote for a specific party, and providing false claims about the location of polling places etc. And, these scams make a lot more sense, because it is harder for them to be blamed on specific individual of party officials, and because, they would influence far more voters with far less money spent!

    I’d like to repeat my mention of the fact (in another post) that, since many voters who fall into demographic groups that tend to vote for Democrats, and, who depend on same day registration, or upon early voting because their work schedules will not allow otherwise, or because they haven’t been able to register previously, these would represent a dubious group of voters to try and hinder by eliminating early voting or same-day registration. This is because eliminating them, would also eliminate perhaps many thousands of other voters who would have voted for the other parties candidates during these times! But nonetheless Republicans legislatures and Governors have attempted to limit these voting options because most voters who use them would tend to vote for Democrats. So, don’t believe that they try to do these types of scams out of sympathy for overworked polling officials—poll workers have always been happy and able to volunteer at these times, because they know that they are doing their part to help more citizens vote, rather than disenfranchise them, by failing to provide all of these different forms of access to the polls!

    One of the most offensive attempts to convince voters that official State IDs are no big deal, is because they are no different from driver’s licenses, hunting licenses, library cards etc. But none of these other official IDs is a guaranteed CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT, and none of them empowers individual citizens with the opportunity to directly influence the make up and policies of their government—at local, State and Federal levels! A library card is obviously far less empowering than a vote to elect one’s State Senators, Governors, or POTUS!

    The best way to determine the falseness of these NEEDS for voter IDs, supposedly in order to eliminate fraud, is just to apply some reason and common sense in regards to all of the things I have mentioned above. If you really consider what these massive allegations of individual impersonation types of voter fraud would really entail, you will be able to see that the claims of those who are pushing for these official State IDs are really brazen attempts to suppress large numbers of voters in order to assure Republican victories.

    Non-partisan groups like the ACLU do not fight to end these types of onerous laws because they want Democrats OR REPUBLICANS, to win elections—they do it because these types of regulations violate Constitutional rights and, are a unconscionable attempt to rig elections.

    I know that I could write all night and still not convince anyone concerning what these new voting laws really permit, but, I would suggest just doing a little critical thinking about what conditions would need to satisfied, and what results they would necessarily have to produce, in order to be anywhere near being credible! By connecting the dots you will begin to see the forest for the trees!

  • http://wideeyedandreal.blogspot.com ProfElwood

    I’ve talked to members of my county’s election board personally. They throw out absentee ballots on a regular basis, when the signatures clearly don’t match (a sign that the ballot was forged), or the address is from outside the county. They don’t throw out the ones where large numbers of ballots come from the same address or batches that are turned in together have the same handwriting. There’s simply no money available to investigate those cases, and both parties depend on those ballots. Neither party can go after those questionable cases without risking damage to their own party leaders.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I know that I could write all night and still not convince anyone concerning what these new voting laws really permit

    Here’s one person who is seriously reading and considering your reasoned words, Petew.

    I much rather read — and get much more out of it — your comments than some of the tired quotes and predictable links that are frequently cobbled together.

  • zusa1

    Petew, Did you watch/read the news reports I posted? It is not voter impersonation that is addressed. It is falsely claiming US citizenship and registering to vote. The reporter got the names was from a list of people who asked to be excused from jury duty because they were not a US citizen.

    Similar story in Texas.
    http://www.kvue.com/news/Registered-to-vote-but-noncitizens-176894981.html

  • petew

    Zusai,

    I would suppose that deliberately misrepresenting US citizenship is also a kind of voter fraud having to do with deliberately presenting false information and falsely claiming that you are someone you are NOT. However, I am not sure if the data I have read includes that kind of misrepresentation specifically.

    But,there is no doubt that Reporter Andy Pierrotti of KVUE seems to have solid credentials—even winning an Edward R. Murrow award for his reporting, however the article he wrote on Nov. 1st 2012 does not seem to offer proof of ANY large scale voting fraud of this type Concerning illegal voter registration of non-citizens. The article states that, “there are at least 2,781 Texas voters removed from the rolls by the Texas Secretary of State’s office since 2008 after identifying themselves as non-citizens on jury excusal forms.” The article goes on to say that the Defenders tracked down “some” who admitted they had voted in prior elections.” “Some” hardly indicates any massive fraud, and, the article later includes a statement by the Travis Country voter registration director saying that, when non-citizens applied for drivers licenses “It’s possible they didn’t understand that, that meant a voter registration application. I can’t presume, I just don’t know.” Personally,I would assume that such information about what privileges come from having a driver’s license are definitely unclear, since an Immigrant from another culture would certainly be unfamiliar with many types of information involving the workings of the State of Texas (just imagine moving to Italy and trying to be aware of all the local customs and laws).

    I also have never heard of NOT having to display proof of citizenship in my own home state in order to vote, and I have been a citizen of my State and a citizen of the US for my entire life! I would assume my home State is different from Texas, and, I also remember having to show proof of residence along with other documents to prove my identity when first registering for voting. Since then, my wife and I, now need only confirm residence in our district and write our signatures prior to proceeding to the voting machine. This is one reason why I find it reasonable that ProfElwood’s County board routinely throws out groups of absentee ballots with faulty signature or bunches with the same address. I am amazed because It would seem to me, that particularly bunches of absentee ballots from the same address, or bunches that have same the address and the same signatures are cases that don’t really require any through investigations at all, because, even if there is no money to investigate these cases, I would guess that just throwing them out is justified, because at least, it prevents a questionable group of ballots from being accepted. it also seems reasonable that, if the appearance of all of the other ballots are in compliance with expectations, they can be considered solid and legitimate. But if abuse becomes frequent or rampant, I would hope a sufficient investigation would follow—even if costly.

    In any case, the article concludes that of the dozen non-citizens who were removed from the roles in Travis County, all said they never intentionally registered to vote, and from what I gather from the rest of the article, there is no need to NOT believe their explanations.

    My previous post included a statement that claimed that, investigated cases of voter impersonation reach a similar conclusion. That being that, from the handful of voter impersonation cases discovered, most happened because of making mistakes on registration forms or misunderstanding the eligibility rules for voting. Doesn’t this also fall into the same category described in the KVUE “Defender report” which includes statements by the dozen non-citizens actually removed from Travis County voter rolls who claim they had no clue they were even once registered, until after KVUE notified them? In conclusion, 12 voters or even the mere two who commented after being removed from the voting rolls of the Texas Secretary of States office,including 2,781 other Texas voters also removed After ADMITTING that they identified themselves as non-citizens on jury excusal forms (over four years ago) are not really a large number of offenses, and an admission does not seem typical of any serious guilt. So, such mistakes are hardly anymore important than the few real cases reported by the ACLU and Mother Jones, which were both among my sources of information.

    I was also intrigued by the KVUE article’s claim that even small numbers of votes matter because LBJ (for one) won his Senate seat in 1948 by just 87 votes. I researched that information conveyed in a New York Times article written on February 11, 1990 which notes that in those days, fraud was “common in the late 1940s”—in some parts of Texas. The article goes on to cite the testimony of Luis Salas, who was an election judge during that race and who acknowledged his role in the fraud only after all the other participants had died. But A Johnson loyalist (Horace Busby) said that most of the irregularities were caused by local races for county commissioner, sheriff and county judge—an observation consistent with my previous posts, and, Busby goes on to say that, it was incidental that votes were also stolen by Johnson. However he concludes that even if there were no stealing by either candidate, “Johnson would have won that election by 5000 votes.”

    Personally, I know that former Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago registered many corpses as voters, a charge also made against Johnson in 1948. I also have no doubt Johnson took part in such schemes because he and Daley were members of an era when political elections were rife with massive corruption, and many politicians seemed to closely resembled Mob bosses. However, today, there just is no concentrated effort on the part of Democrats, to falsely enlist volunteers to vote against Republicans by misrepresenting themselves—the specific reason Republicans use to rationalize their voter suppression techniques!

    One of the sources quoted in the KVUE article is Peggy Venable, with The Americans for Prosperity, which is an extremely partisan Republican Super-pack and think tank. And, I would expect her to make such allegations about large numbers of individuals committing voter fraud–including non-citizens who vote, to her dying breath, with or without any real proof.

    I wish I could accurately convey the clever way Republicans, and Republican organizations, are covertly undermining the rights of voters by suppressing the participation of those demographic groups that would typically vote for Democrats. It is particularly upsetting that their primary defense is to blame Democrats with using their own Republican deceits and spending millions to alter a system that produces virtually no fraud of the type they claim. But the strategy of Republicans seems to be to polarize all voters and create the illusion that they are crusaders for voting rights and electoral freedoms. Those who really look into this issue, often discover that the Emperor (in this case the GOP) really has no clothes, and that, Republican “fixes” for voting problems are to make the system worse—fixing it only to function in the manner THEY want.

    I agree with many comenters who assert that the only real way to guarantee fair elections is by ending blatant gerrymandering, intended to recruit electoral politics as a mere pawn working in their favor. Elections must and will, eventually be decided by popular votes. That, is, once the people get fed up with all the manipulations done to voters in order to sway political power towards one party or another!

  • zusa1

    “said they never intentionally registered to vote, and from what I gather from the rest of the article, there is no need to NOT believe their explanations.”

    They would be confessing to a felony otherwise. That’s a pretty good reason.

    Do you believe federal law should require proof of citizenship to register to vote? Disenfranchisement occurs two ways, and neither one is acceptable.

  • zusa1

    petew,
    “all said they never intentionally registered to vote, and from what I gather from the rest of the article, there is no need to NOT believe their explanations.”

    I doubt any of them wanted to confess to a felony.

    Disenfranchisement occurs two ways and both are unacceptable. Would you support a federal law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote?