Republicans look for voter fraud, find little

Republican election officials who promised to root out voter fraud so far are finding little evidence of a widespread problem.
Associated Press
Sep 25, 2012

State officials in key presidential battleground states have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected existed. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state.

Democrats say the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks.

"I find it offensive that I'm being required to do more than any other citizen to prove that I can vote," said Samantha Meiring, 37, a Colorado voter and South African immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2010. Meiring was among 3,903 registered voters who received letters last month from the Colorado Secretary of State's office questioning their right to vote.

Especially telling, critics of the searches say, is that the efforts are focused on crucial swing states from Colorado to Florida, where both political parties and the presidential campaigns are watching every vote. And in Colorado, most of those who received letters are either Democrats or unaffiliated with a party. It's a similar story in Florida, too.

Republicans argue that voting fraud is no small affair, even if the cases are few, when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.

"We have real vulnerabilities in the system," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010 who is making a name for himself at home by pursuing the issue. "I don't think one should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability."

The different viewpoints underscore a divide between the parties: Are the small numbers of voting fraud evidence that a problem exists? Or do they show that the voter registration system works?

COLORADO

Last year, Gessler estimated that 11,805 noncitizens were on the rolls.

But the number kept getting smaller.

After his office sent letters to 3,903 registered voters questioning their status, the number of noncitizens now stands at 141, based on checks using a federal immigration database. Of those 141, Gessler said 35 have voted in the past. The 141 are .004 percent of the state's nearly 3.5 million voters.

Even those numbers could be fewer.

The Denver clerk and recorder's office, which had records on eight of the 35 voters who cast ballots in the past, did its own verification and found that those eight people appear to be citizens.

Kevin Biln, an Adams County resident on the list, said he didn't know he was registered and maintains that he's never voted. Another voter on the list, Erica Zelfand, a Canadian immigrant, said she's a U.S. citizen no longer living in Colorado. Robert Giron said he was furious that the 20-year-old daughter he adopted from Mexico was listed as having illegally voted. He said she went to the Denver clerk's office with her U.S. passport and other documents to prove her eligibility to vote.

To Pam Anderson, the clerk and recorder in Jefferson County in suburban Denver, the investigation proves what's already been her experience: Cases of noncitizens on the rolls are extremely rare.

Anderson said the fighting between the political parties over the perception of voter fraud also has less tangible consequences.

"It impacts people's confidence in elections, which is extraordinarily important," she said.

FLORIDA

Florida's search began after the state's Division of Elections said that as many as 180,000 registered voters weren't citizens. Like Colorado and other states, Florida relied on driver's license data showing that people on the rolls at one point showed proof of non-citizenship, such as a green card.

Florida eventually narrowed its list of suspected noncitizens to 2,600 and found that 207 of them weren't citizens, based on its use of the federal database called SAVE, or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. The system tracks who is a legal resident eligible to receive government benefits.

Of the 2,600 initially marked as possible noncitizens, about 38 percent were unaffiliated voters and 40 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis by The Miami Herald.

The state has more than 11.4 million registered voters, so the 207 amounts to .001 percent of the voter roll.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, said in a statement that the initiative "is already proving to be a successful process to identify illegally registered voters," which he noted is crucial in a state where the 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes.

NORTH CAROLINA

In North Carolina, the nonpartisan state elections board last year sent letters to 637 suspected noncitizens after checking driver's license data. Of those, 223 responded showing proof they were citizens, and 79 acknowledged they weren't citizens and were removed from the rolls along with another 331 who didn't respond to repeated letters, said Veronica Degraffenreid, an elections liaison for the board.

She said the board did not find evidence of widespread fraud, noting there were only 12 instances in which a noncitizen had voted. North Carolina has 6.4 million voters.

"What we're finding is there is strong indication that the voter rolls in North Carolina are sound," Degraffenreid said.

MICHIGAN

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, last week estimated that as many as 4,000 noncitizens are on the state's voter roll.

The department said it verified 1,000 registered voters who are noncitizens, based on an analysis of about 20 percent of complete citizenship data. She extrapolated the 4,000 number from the most recent U.S. Census' five-year American Community Survey, which showed Michigan has a noncitizen population of about 304,000.

That's as far as the investigation has gone. The figures have not been verified.

OTHER STATES

Ohio and Iowa, both with recently elected Republican secretaries of state, also are negotiating with the federal government to also use the SAVE database to verify citizenship, although it's unlikely they'll have enough time to do anything before the Nov. 6 election. While Ohio doesn't have a list of names it wants to check, Iowa is looking at verifying the status of 3,500 registered voters.

Last week, Iowa's Division of Criminal Investigation filed election misconduct charges against three noncitizens who voted in gubernatorial and city elections in 2010 and 2011. Among the three are Canadians who told investigators they thought they were only barred from voting in presidential elections.

The three were on a list of about 1,000 names of potential noncitizens who had voted since 2010, which Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz forwarded to the Division of Criminal Investigation.

Early voting in Iowa begins Thursday and Schultz recently told legislators that his office wants to use the information from the federal database "in a responsible manner."

"When somebody casts a ballot you can't un-ring that bell," he said. "If somebody is ineligible to vote and they cast a ballot that's been counted we can't take that back. This is an important election coming up."

 

Comments

Contango

So the Dems are fine with 'strong-arming' every citizen to buy health ins., but squeal loudly over the idea of merely requiring someone to show a picture ID in order to cast a ballot?

Follow the money (and power)...

Minuteman

This isn't accurate. In one Florida county alone, my county, More than 300 were found to be felons or illegals and were purged. That's one county, not the whole state.

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

It doesn't matter if it's 10 or 10,000 a fraudulent vote is an illegal vote. We need to protect the integrity of the uniquely American "one person, one vote" or we quickly devolve into chaos. It should not be an issue asking for identification. We need to show ID at the DMV, to give blood, obtain a credit card, to check out a library book, etc. When my Mother got too old to drive and her license expired we took her to the DMV to get a standard photo ID. The notion that it places an undue burden on minorities is a myth. If you can walk, drive a car, take a bus to your nearest DMV, you have all the means you need for a photo ID and the expense is minimal.

reese

Sorry Mime,
For some people it is not as simple as you apparently think it is. For example in the state of Pennsylvania, they haven't figured out how they are going to be able to accommodate all the people who are going to need to get the new required photo ID. Other people work during the hours that the Board of Elections or DMV are open. We are talking about a relatively short time period. Others will have to walk or ask someone to give them a ride. Some states are requiring people to bring two or three forms of identification/documentation(like your birth certificate,and other documentation that you lived where you live for a certain amount of time) with them to get the photo ID. So, if you have lost your birth certificate and don't live in the same state you were born in, you have to send away for a copy of that before you can get your voter photo ID. It's funny, but not really, that in some states you can use your gun registration to prove who you are, but not a college student ID.
So, you can go ahead and think that this was not politically motivated to suppress votes.

And all of a sudden there are all these places that are trying to reduce early in-person voting...like in Ohio. And they are especially trying to get rid of the Sunday before election day in-person voting...guess why.
And then there will be those that didn't know that the new ID was required and show up to vote and will be turned away.

And there are places that are trying to purge the registered voter rolls and are sending letters to hundreds of thousands of people telling them they have to prove that they are alive or that they are suspected of being illegally registered and requiring them to respond to the letter to prove otherwise or, in some cases, they have to attend a hearing with documentation to prove they are citizens and legally registered.

These efforts have been stopped by the courts in many states.

Native Sanduskian

It's HARD for the Republicans to find any fraud, and you should feel sorry for them....as it was under their party that we got an Illegal two-front war and occupation, and the Wall Street Rip-off, they can't find much to trump their already "proud accomplishments". Well Dems, at least be glad that you will be only mere runners-up to your adversary in THIS competition....for giving us Bill Clinton, YOU merely get "Dishonorable Mention".

Contango

@ Native Sanduskian:

Yea 'only' 147 Democrat Reps and Senators voted for the Iraq Resolution helping it to pass.

Also, Tres. Sec'y Robert Rubin (ex-Goldman Sachs) under Pres. Clinton help set up some of the policies that put the future Great Recession in gear.

Plenty of blame to go around.

Besides, if I were you, I'd be more concerned about the declining value of dollar and rising Fed debt with Pres. Obama and Fed Chair Bernanke at the helm.

The Great Recession ain't over. It's just takin' a small breather.

Native Sanduskian

Yea...I lost count...147 Dems voted for the Iraq Resolution.
You wouldn't know off hand how many REPUBS voted for it, would you?

Pity those poor Iraquis, they didn't even burn down our Reighstag!

Concerned with the declining value of the dollar? Me? Why? You can always warm up the press and do a bit of legalized counterfeiting! I mean, SO WHAT if Obama is printing dollars like "10% Off" Viagra Coupons...that's what GERMANY did in the '30's, and it sure worked out for them, right?

Contango

@ Native Sanduskian:

Obviously, Pres. Bush was a polical genius to fool all those 'smart' Democrats into voting for it.

Yep. If individuals print money it's counterfeiting, if the central bank does it, it's "quantitative easing." See the difference? :)

the office cat

'FRAUD' requires 'INTENT'. Because someone voted who shouldn't have, does not mean it was an illegal act. What it DOES mean is that states need to do more to educate people on voters' rights and responsibilities AND make attempts to correct errors to help people register - such as rehabilitating felons who have served their time can vote. Why is it Democrats always try to help people vote while Republicans try to throw up roadblocks?

Contango

@ Cookie:

So Dems define "voter fraud" as "help(ing) people vote"? LOL.

the office cat

Miuteman... did those 300 'illegal' voters change the outcome of any election?

the office cat

...then there's the Republican clerk who was only registering Romney voters. Is there fraud there somewhere?

Mime Bloggling's picture
Mime Bloggling

And then there's this: "LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Democratic state legislator from east Arkansas, his father and two campaign workers pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit election fraud after federal prosecutors said the lawmaker's campaign bribed absentee voters and destroyed ballots in a special election last year." 9/5/12

http://www.fox16.com/news/local/...

The reason we must remain vigilant at the ballot box.

reese

And then there's this from the Huffington Post: Justice Seamus P. McCaffery referred to a declaration made by "Pennsylvania's GOP House majority leader, Mike Turzai, that the voter ID law 'is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania'" after the new voter ID law was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

Seems like there is very little confidence that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the capacity to get all the needed voter ID's to people who will need them in order to be able to vote by Nov. 6.

Some other states have passed laws that will require these new photo ID's to be presented to vote starting in 2014. That seems like a more reasonable and realistic time frame.

Darwin's choice

Obama and Acorn....................

coasterfan

What a shame for Republicans that their little sham to stifle Democrats from voting has been exposed for the silly lie that we knew it to be. As bill maher said last week, the only way Obama will lose is if Republicans cheat.

coasterfan

Obama is leading in polls in every single swing state. Romney is already irrelevant...

kURTje

Guy in photo has work clothes on.