Voter Fraud: A Blast from the Past

CC — Tom Arthur http://www.flickr.com/photos/59888866@N00/2966798691

As I was looking at some old Google Docs, I came across this “Blast from the Past” that seems to be even more relevant now.

According to the Brennen Center for Justice:

As of Feb. 19, 2021, legislators in 43 states have carried over, prefiled, or introduced more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote — over seven times the number of restrictive bills as compared to roughly this time last year. These bills primarily seek to limit mail voting and impose stricter voter ID requirements.

In 2012, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and the GOP dominated Pennsylvania Legislature passed a Photo Voter ID bill to ensure “Election Integrity.” Does that sound familiar?

In August of 2012, the State College Borough Council introduced a resolution to ask the Legislature to repeal that bill. Here were my comments to the Borough Council on August 20, 2012:

Madame Mayor and Borough Council members, I come here today to support your resolution requesting the repeal of the new Pennsylvania VoterID law.

Let me first state that I do believe that voters in certain circumstances should be required to show ID the first time they vote at a polling place, but I do not believe that it is necessary to show a “non-expired, government issued, photo identification with an expiration date on it.” The previous voter identification law was sufficient to prevent all but the most infinitesimal instances of in person voter fraud. I say “in person voter fraud” because that is the only type of voter fraud that the new law was designed to prevent: impersonating an eligible voter at the polling place.

Since the new law was passed certain numbers have come to light. The first relates to the scale of the problem. The Pennsylvania Independent made a request to the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission which demonstrated that there were only four (4) convictions of voter fraud in the years 2005–2008. In that time more than 10 million votes were cast in Pennsylvania resulting in about one tenth of a voter fraud conviction per million votes per year. I list that statistic as cases per million per year because that’s the way diseases can be represented. According to the CDC, 150 Americans will be diagnosed with a new case of Leprosy this year. That’s about 5 tenths per million per year. This means (as tragic as it is) that one is more likely to be diagnosed with leprosy than to be convicted of in person voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

At the time the new law was passed, it was stated that there would be about 1% of voters who didn’t have the “non-expired, government issued, photo identification with an expiration date on it.” As we all know now, that number is closer to 10% and even a conservative estimate would say that over one half million otherwise eligible voters don’t have “non-expired, government issued, photo identification with an expiration date on it.”

The disease analogy also relates to vaccines. How many people would think that a vaccine that saved 1–3 people, but harmed about half a million would be a good idea?

I know that Representative Benninghoff, Senator Corman, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and Governor Corbett are honorable, ethical people. I would ask them, in light of this new information, that they reconsider the new Voter ID law and move to repeal it.

Finally, as a member of the State College West-1 Election Board, I believe that the new Voter ID law will unnecessarily delay the voting process on what should be a closely contested election with a very high turnout.

There are those who will say that even one fraudulent vote invalidates the whole process. To those that would say that, I encourage you to give Joyce McKinley a call at the Centre County Elections Office and volunteer to fill the gaps in some of our election boards around the County. There are more productive ways to ensure the integrity of the vote.

Thank you.

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman uses a term Zombie Ideas to mean, “a view that’s been thoroughly refuted by a mountain of empirical evidence but nonetheless refuses to die, being continually reanimated by our deeply held beliefs.”

The use of Photo Voter ID to ensure “Election Integrity” is a Zombie Idea.

Jim Leous thinks about Emerging Technologies for Penn State

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