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In the Reddit group that I moderate, a thread was made linking to kos' diary on voter fraud. The discussion was actually pretty good- kos thankfully avoids partisanship and thus fit well with the nature of the discussion group.

A person of a more conservative or libertarian persuasion started mentioning figures of non-citizens or dead people able to vote. He cited a recent report released in the past week that around 30,000 dead people are on the North Carolina voter rolls.

I decided to investigate. And thus the trip to Wonderland.

The report given to the North Carolina State Board of Elections was produced by the Voter Integrity Project NC. Their Facebook lists the group as being founded in 2011. This by itself is suspicious. Big studies are not usually produced by brand-new groups, especially with no prior work to vet. The About Usraises yet more suspicions, as they link to the King Street Patriots, described by media outlets as a Tea Party outfit- though that's fairly evident by reading their website.

So we have a figure that nobody has looked through yet, produced by a group founded during the election season, that has fairly evident Tea Party ties. Also the Facebook for the group mentions the director (the only person ever quoted in media) as having spoken to county Republican meetings. This does not discount their work entirely, it merely creates a sense of skepticism.

Let's move on to the question about dead people on voter rolls. Groups have mentioned that large amounts of the deceased have not been removed. But there are two things to consider here. The first is that there will always be some number of deceased people in the database. Deaths have to be reported and work their way through their various state government agencies. Also, what about all the people that die out of state, or out of country? Notification may never happen, and they will remain until someone decides to remove them due to inactivity or some other reason. Thus the finding of the Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2008 that 600 dead people were still in the system is not surprising. 19 million people live in Florida.

Of course the attachment to dead voters (and other types of 'voter integrity' violations) is "do any dead people actually vote in elections." And sometimes they do- in a large election some number of people die inbetween sending in their ballots and election day.

Let's go to the main battleground of non-voters on the rolls- Florida. The initial list compiled by the Secretary of State Kurt Browning was deeply flawed- so much that he resigned in part because of that. That one was 182,000 names. The third list was 2,700, and even then at least 500 of them are verified citizens. It is clear that even a distilled voter purge is going to remove some citizens.

A big, unaddressed issue in Florida is that if you're a minority, especially Hispanic, you may share a name with a non-citizen. There's no proof that state governments can distinguish these with any certainty.

And finally, we have to face a decision of sorts. Is an aggressive 'voter integrity' campaign going to reduce voter fraud, or be able to prove that it could and that it was actually at all effective? I don't know the answer to that question.

The other question is- if the campaign takes the right to vote from a single person, is it worth doing? What if it was ten? What if it was, say, 500? It is likely that you can't have your cake and eat it too. There is deep collateral damage to raking through the voting population in search of wrongdoers.

I personally value the right to vote. And even if there are problems with a perfect voting system, I think it should be the highest priority.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." -Albert Einstein

    by Kazmarov on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 02:54:03 PM PDT

  •  Stupid, Stupid Statement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a gilas girl, HudsonValleyMark

    The whole idea that:

    30,000 dead people are on the North Carolina voter rolls.
    is completely unremarkable.  People live, vote, and die.  I'm a registered voter.  And if I were to die between now and election day, I'd be one of them thar dead folks on the voter roles.

    You rightly point out that the real question is, how many of them vote?  Until that question is answered it is a stupid, stupid statement.

    •  exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      there's no problem with dead people being on voter roles.  It is to be expected.  There have ALWAYS been dead people on the voting roles, since the first election.

      There are dead people in the phone book, too.  And, god forbid, on the internet.  There are even dead people in the census.  We don't go back and retroactively delete them because they happen to die after the census is taken.

      It is a fact of both life and democracy that a certain percentage of voters will surely die at some point after they have registered to vote.  That's not a bug.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 04:33:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  except that it's catchy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The "30,000 dead people" line may be a smart stupid statement, in that it tends to hook people who haven't thought about how stupid it is -- but it isn't necessarily untrue. (I have no idea how well these folks did their work.)

      If the study reveals that some counties have much better practices than others, it could actually be helpful. But its likely most important effect is to provide a misleading sound bite for folks like the fellow mentioned in the 2nd paragraph of the diary.

      On the other side, it's pretty common for people to throw around numbers about how many registrations have been purged, without any attempt to determine how accurate the purges were. When legitimate voters are purged, it's awful. When people move (or, yes, die) and their old registrations are purged (or updated instead of being duplicated), it's good.

      Election protection: there's an app for that!
      Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

      by HudsonValleyMark on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 04:35:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That's the Right Wing for you (0+ / 0-)

    dangerous solutions in search of a problem since 1933.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 04:36:28 PM PDT

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