When Facts Don’t Matter

File this under “Lies Speak Louder Than Facts.” A professor at Loyola University has been looking at elections going back to 2000 for actual incidents of the sort of voter fraud that would have been stopped by voter ID laws.

So far, he says, out of more than a billion ballots he has found all of 31 examples.

Arguments for voter ID laws use misdirection, the professor says, by citing examples of voter fraud that would not have been stopped by voter ID laws.

Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. …

…Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

But of course, these facts won’t make a damn bit of difference in our ongoing political discourse, in which all elections won by Democrats are assumed to be illegitimate by the Right. And it especially won’t matter because the people pushing voter ID laws don’t give a hoo-haw about clean and fair elections. They just want to be sure that the majority of people who are able to vote are white and Right.

See also Proof That Voter Impersonation Almost Never Happens and Missing the Point at the Times.

13 thoughts on “When Facts Don’t Matter

  1. 31 in a billion!
    No wonder we need voter fraud laws!

    I think you have a better chance of getting hit by lightening while being gnawed on by a Great White Shark, than of committing voter fraud.

    Oh, and I wonder how many of those 31 were Republicans.
    Remember that assclown in WI who was discovered to have voted for Scottie Walker 7 or so times?

  2. I want the Onion to do an article about a law passed in Florida which requires all voters over 65 have to prove they have been tested for Alzheimer’s Disease so there is no chance voters with dementia are casting votes. It’s purely coincidental that the new law hits the base of the GOP, many of who will not be able to vote because they won’t get the necessary testing. (Who wants to find out that Alzheimer’s onset is near.) I think if you compare the rate of known fraud to the rate of Alzheimer’s you will find the incidence of the disease is far greater than the incidence of fraud.

    • Doug: Weird. There’s no definitive test for Alzheimer’s, or at least there didn’t used to be. It gets diagnosed when your short-term memory is so shot you can’t recall something simple someone just told you to remember, and you haven’t been drinking.

  3. Doug …I’ve seen some propositions on the Florida ballot to amend the State Constitution that were worded in such a way that they resembled literacy tests from the Jim Crow era. I consider myself pretty good at reading comprehension, and sometimes I’ll have to read something more than once to understand what the writer is trying to convey, but I’ve seen amendment propositions where I couldn’t make heads or tails of them.
    I don’t know how to describe the wording construction, maybe a double reverse negative? Whatever it’s called you’re left with a sense that you don’t know for certain whether you voted for or against whatever the proposition was because of the way it was worded.
    An example would be when Floridians voted to amend the State Constitution for the construction of the “Bullet Train”. It wasn’t after the fact that somebody realized that Florida doesn’t have enough money to build a bullet train, so the they had to re-amend the amendment to the constitution because Florida voters wanted what they couldn’t have.

  4. What’s really frustrating is how there’s no real penalty for this kind of thing. We really need a fresh awakening in this country.

    Yes, we know that politicians will deprive people of their most fundamental civil right, the right to have some say in how this country is run, for partisan advantage. We should be demanding to know, “so, why were you pushing this idea so hard? Were you too ill-informed to realize there was none of this happening? Oh, you were imposing needless regulations for no good purpose? Don’t you hate it when people do that for businesses? Why is it okay for a poll worker whose duty is to make sure that every person’s vote is properly received and tallied?”

    Of course, one of the problems is that these positions are picked up and supported by so many loyalists that they become ipso facto reasonable. If one secretary of state tries to push for picture ID at the polls, that’s corruption. If 25 do, that’s “relatively normal – look, it’s happening in StateX, StateY…”

    But that doesn’t mean it’s not batshit crazy. And we need journalists to step out of the bubble and recognize that.

  5. What was Maha saying?
    Ever since Mom developed dementia, my sister and I have developed paranoia about every forgetful moment or misplaced memory or word. If second-guessing stress can cause dementia, though, I am in very serious trouble.

  6. “A professor at Loyola University” “Arguments for voter ID laws use misdirection”

    What would a professor know bout brown and colored folk voting illegally? Everyone knows professors are liberal!

  7. First – I am weird. Second, my comment was satire and if nobody got it, it was lame. To explain (which is absolute proof it was lame), if democrats came up with legislation that hit the GOP base with voting obstacles on a completely bogus premise, republicans would scream ‘foul’ so loud you would think a Mexican got amnesty. I don’t propose that democrats actually put up voting impediments – but the design of voting impediments which target older white voters might make the point – voter suppression is just wrong.

  8. “which is absolute proof it was lame”

    I got the joke the first time which means it could be lame?

  9. First – I am weird.

    Yeah, Doug. You might be weird, but because you are a Floridian you’re actually normal.

  10. Of course, it’s ironic that two genuine cases of voter fraud happened to involve Ann Coulter and Patrick Mc Henry.
    I guess simply put, democracy and capitalism tend to balance and limit each other. But, the balance is precarious. The New Deal and the labor movement seemed to balance out some of the feudal tendencies of unrestrained capitalism. But of course, the right wing, particularly the Libertarians, have been chopping away at the balance.

    Bearing this in mind makes sense of the obsession with “voter fraud,” particularly when it disenfranchises people whom Libertarians find incapable of “enlightened self interest.”

    It’s in their DNA, figuratively, if not literally, I keep running across article like the following.


    Corey Robin has a number of other articles on Libertarians and their favorite economists. But, quite simply, for them democracy is an inconvenience that must be trimmed back and preserved only for the right people. Taking aim at the voting rights of the most economically vulnerable people is part of the glorious Libertarian project.

    To paraphrase Joe Campbell, “Libertarianism is Fascism, stripped for import.”

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