Cartoon: The Hunt For Voter Fraud

voter-fraud-pointer

Read the comic on Fusion!

TRANSCRIPT OF COMIC

Panel 1
A rather cliched-looking hunter, a white man wearing a thick vest with many pockets and a plaid cap with earflaps, is creeping through a woodsy area, holding a rifle and looking around.
HUNTER: I know there’s voter fraud hiding somewhere…

Panel 2
The hunter spots something off-panel and shoots his rifle at it.
HUNTER: A-hah! Take THAT, voter fraud!
RIFLE: BLAM!
OFF-PANEL VOICE: OW!

Panel 3
Voting Rights, a dark-skinned woman with a hole blasted in her chest, has walked up to the Hunter and is chewing him out. The Hunter, rifle pointed towards the ground, looks quite cheerful.

VOTING RIGHTS: Would you PLEASE stop shooting me?
HUNTER: Oh hi, Voting Rights. I was aiming for voter fraud.

Panel 4
The Hunter raises his rifle to point it directly at Voting Rights and cocks the gun.
VOTING RIGHTS: You always say that, but you always hit ME!
HUNTER: What an odd and inexplicable coincidence.

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67 Responses to Cartoon: The Hunt For Voter Fraud

  1. 1
    nobody.really says:

    This is gold. Solid gold. As a brilliant literary critic once observed,

    I read it and my first reaction is, “That’s such an obvious joke.” But my second reaction is, “So why haven’t I seen it everywhere?” Perhaps this is the mark of genius: I only seems obvious in retrospect.

    Here we have another such example. I’m reminded of Amp’s cartoon comparing a black person’s burden of explaining racism to white people to Sisyphus’s burden of trying to get a bolder to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down again, every day for eternity. It is SUCH a good metaphor. But to get the joke, you have to know the Greek legend. Here, the metaphor is every bit as good a fit, with no erudition required. You don’t even have to know much about hunting beyond the Elmer Fudd level. It’s direct, simple, and visceral.

    The cartoon is not overtly partisan—you could distribute it with any non-partisan discussion of voting issues, or in a civics textbook—yet the cartoon leaves no doubt about who the bad actors are.

    Finally—and I cringe to mention such a mundane consideration—this cartoon is honest-to-God funny. The transcript really doesn’t do it justice, because the hunter’s insincerity must be inferred from the test—whereas in the drawing, the insincerity is plain as the nose on his face. (And if you’re just reading text, that’s a VERY obvious nose.)

  2. 2
    Seriously? says:

    Just curious.

    Is there a deeper meaning behind the ridiculous way the gun is being handled? With every panel but the third, I needed a few moments to tear my eyes from the hands of the guy. And even in the third panel, the character goes from right to left handed. Yes, the position of the trigger finger is commendable, but he would only keep it there if he were used to shooting with it.

    Imagine reading a cartoon where the driver is negotiating a curvy road with his left hand on the rear view mirror and his right on the steering wheel’s hub.

    I think that the character is meant to be malicious, not incompetent, so I find it distracting.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    No meaning behind it – just a bad job on my part. I’ll try to do better next time I draw a character with a rifle.

  4. 4
    Humble Talent says:

    On the comic itself though… It’s hard to argue against it. It’s one of those things where an absurdity has given birth to other absurdities. Every time someone (and it wasn’t always the GOP) puts forward legislation to deal with voter fraud, more often than not if you looked behind the somewhat skimpy fig leaf, there’s language in the act that would overreach to some kind of disenfranchisement.

    That’s absurd.

    But now it’s led the the opponents of disenfranchisement taking a hard line against even reasonable legislation. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: America stands alone among Western Democracies in not having national voter ID requirements. Canada does. Mexico does. What other nations see as necessary to a functioning democracy, certain Americans see as crippling to it. Are there Millions of cases, as the Cheeto in Chief insists? No. Not in it’s wildest dreams. Were there only three, as certain pundits insisted? I have a bridge to sell them. Hundreds? Almost definitely. Thousands? I think we’re close. Tens of thousands? Maybe. And that’s the number that everyone should be concerned about, because ten thousand votes could have, in certain states, swapped electoral votes in the 2016 election.

    [Off-topic comment about gun control moved to the open thread. Sorry, HT, but there’s just no way that people could have responded to you in this thread without driving the thread badly off-topic. –Amp]

    But absurdities lead to absurdities, right? You look back 20 years, and things that even today something like 90% of Americans agree with (depending on how you ask the question) like universal background checks, were not opposed, but endorsed by the NRA. Fast forward 20 years, and Democrats have so soiled their credibility on gun control, and American politics are so polarised that something that IS genuinely common sense is opposed as if it’s the most unreasonable restriction ever proposed.

    This is why you can’t have nice things.

  5. 5
    Ampersand says:

    An off-topic comment by Humble Talent has been moved to an open thread.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    Seriously?, or anyone else – could you suggest to me a photograph or photographs, showing a hunter holding a rifle in the correct manner, preferably in profile as he is in the cartoon?

    Obviously, I can find photos online – but there’s a chance that the photo I decide on would also be inaccurate, and I wouldn’t spot it. So if you could help me out here, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

  7. 7
    Sarah says:

    I may be wrong, but my perception, based on talking to other liberal/progressive types, is that most of them are 100% on board with a plan to give everyone a national voter ID, usually combined with automatic registration for citizens turning 18. It would just have to be free. Every argument from a leftist I’ve heard against voter IDs hinges on their not being free, or requiring time off work to physically travel to a DMV that’s only open 9-5 M-F, and therefore serving as an obstacle to low-income voters. A mail-in system that required no monetary expense and worked the same way as voter registration currently does when you don’t already have a driver’s license (in CA, you use your SSN, and there’s an option on the form for if you don’t have one of those either) would be fine with me, and I would have very few objections to a national voter ID card that was fairly available to poor, elderly, and birth-certificate-lacking citizens.

  8. 8
    Seriously? says:

    Seriously?, or anyone else – could you suggest to me a photograph or photographs, showing a hunter holding a rifle in the correct manner, preferably in profile as he is in the cartoon?

    Sure.

    I’m having trouble deciding what kind of weapon you are drawing, though. It has many Wyatt Earp features, but only one barrel. It lacks the tubular magazine under the barrel to be a pump shotgun. And the transcript mostly confuses me, especially messing with the hammer in the last panel. On a single shot gun it would achieve exactly nothing, double action on shotguns means something else than on revolvers, and on any semi-automatic it would act as a sort of safety. Don’t trust Hollywood on this.

    So, here a few suggestions. Describe the gun as a shotgun, not a rifle. Give it a second, side by side, barrel. In the transcript, make it “cocks the second hammer”.

    As for pictures, here is one for each panel.

    Panel 1. Ready to aim and fire.
    Panel 2. Firing.
    Panel 3. Non-threatening carry.
    Panel 4. Ready to fire from the hip.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks! I love the flying shell in photo #2.

    But when I try to look at photo #3, I get a “You don’t have permission to access” error. If I could impose on you a bit more, could you please email the picture to me? It’s barry.deutsch@gmail.com .

    Also, would the “click” sound effect still be appropriate for panel 4, even if it’s stretching things a little?

  10. 10
    Seriously? says:

    The ‘click’ effect is only appropriate, as in threatening, if the shotgun has two barrels, and one remains unfired.

    The problem is, such a shotgun will not eject a shell in Panel 2. As a rule, and despite what Hollywood loves to show you, a weapon that ejects a casing will be ready to fire without a hammer needing to be cocked, a forestock needing to be pumped, a slide needing to be pulled, etc. Now, the click could be the safety, but that would mean that at some point after panel 2 the character put the weapon on ‘safe’.

    —–

    By the way, the weapons in my images are different types. I chose them for the hand positions, but they are respectively:
    – a bolt action rifle in image 1
    – a pump shotgun in image 2 and 4
    – a side by side shotgun in image 3

    The last one is the only type that usually has exposed, operable hammers.

  11. 11
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks!

    So if I skip having the the ejected shell, and use a side by side shotgun like this one, I’m okay using the “click.” Yes?

  12. 12
    nobody.really says:

    <blockquote I’m reminded of Amp’s cartoon comparing a black person’s burden of explaining racism to white people to Sisyphus’s burden of trying to get a bolder to the top of a mountain, only to have it roll back down again, every day for eternity. It is SUCH a good metaphor. But to get the joke, you have to know the Greek legend. Here, the metaphor is every bit as good a fit, with no erudition required. You don’t even have to know much about hunting beyond the Elmer Fudd level.

    Ok, apparently, knowledge beyond the Elmer Fudd level would be useful. Perhaps that’s a lesson for government policy generally.

  13. 13
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sarah says:
    May 18, 2017 at 11:56 am
    I may be wrong, but my perception, based on talking to other liberal/progressive types, is that most of them are 100% on board with a plan to give everyone a national voter ID, usually combined with automatic registration for citizens turning 18. It would just have to be free.

    An interesting analogy:

    Nick the NRA Nut will agree to gun licensing and gun registration! For everyone!
    But since it’s a constitutional right, Nick “just” has a few caveats.

    Nick says:
    Licensing has to be free, of course. It also has to have pretty much zero error rate: you can’t do it if you might accidentally deny a license to the wrong person somehow, thereby depriving them of their rights.

    Also, it has to work for people with no documentation, or low documentation–anyone who can’t find their birth certificate or license might need free legal help or money for documentation, and if they can’t prove it then you need another system to address that. If you get 100-year-old folks with no birth certificate, you better assume they’re gun-rights-having citizens unless you can prove otherwise.

    And not only does it need to be free, it needs to be convenient. You can’t make people do things during working hours, you can’t make them drive places unless you provide transportation, etc. Also, you need to demonstrate that this is going to work basically perfectly before you start; there is no tolerance at all for any errors in the startup process.

    And finally, you can’t do any of this until you can explain statistics on unlicensed gun ownership. You may protest that it’s nearly impossible to actually provide those stats when you don’t have a system in place to reliably distinguish licensed and unlicensed applicants, but so be it.

    My response (and yours, I assume) would be “Come on, Nick, that’s bullshit. You’re just trying to claim that you’re fine with universal licensing, but you’re deliberately making nearly-impossible demands. Not to mention that you clearly think that we shouldn’t license based on your other positions. You’re pretending to care about this an offer “sensible” solutions, but really you care much more about people having guns in general, than you do about the problem of the wrong folks having guns.”

    Sometimes it is hard not to feel a bit that way about some liberal approaches to the voting rights debate. I don’t think it’s just “free.”

  14. 14
    Seriously? says:

    So if I skip having the the ejected shell, and use a side by side shotgun like this one, I’m okay using the “click.

    Generally speaking yes, but you are looking at single trigger model that lacks the two exposed hammers. It’s a really cheap (and ugly, in my opinion) gun.

    Here is one closer to my heart. It has the brand name ‘Liberty’, for extra creepiness. At least, that what my wife said when she made me rent a locket at the range, rather than have it at home… This specific gun would be able to do everything in your cartoon exactly right.

    And while I think that we are getting into too much detail, I enjoy getting things exactly right. Also, I have not fired, or really thought about guns since my daughter was born. So thanks right back at you!

  15. 15
    Ben Lehman says:

    IDK, I think a universal gun registration that was convenient, free, and provided by the government for citizens would be pretty fantastic and, if it included ballistics and was digitized, could be helpful in solving a lot of crimes.

    (note: I do not hold standard liberal views on guns and should not be considered a default liberal for these purposes.)

  16. 16
    Jake Squid says:

    I agree with Ben. Universal gun registration would be loads better than what we’ve got now. It would be great if there was some sort of mandatory safety training that went with licensing, but that’s pure fantasy in the US.

  17. 17
    Ben Lehman says:

    Of course, this is a false equivalence. Most left-of-center people in the US don’t believe that the constitution protects an individual right to own firearms. Except for the fringe, I don’t think that the (American) right-wing explicitly believes that voting rights don’t exist and that we’d be better off without elections.

  18. 18
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Jake Squid says:
    May 19, 2017 at 11:11 am
    I agree with Ben. Universal gun registration would be loads better than what we’ve got now. It would be great if there was some sort of mandatory safety training that went with licensing, but that’s pure fantasy in the US

    I am a bit skeptical of the value of a typical training.

    I’ve taken live-fire mandatory safety training before and I’m taking it again. It’s helpful, I think, but it is super minimal. In Massachusetts (!) it’s only about 4 hours and that’s for concealed carry of a handgun. It is not NEARLY enough training to actually make people safe or get them much beyond “don’t point your gun at anything you don’t want to shoot.”

    Guns are complex and there’s a lot of stuff to think about. And when I think about other similarly-complex safety-requirement stuff I know, it is clear that four hours is way too short. Scuba training takes much longer. Good skydiving training–which also carries the ‘get it right or death’ aspect–also takes longer. And for sure you can’t develop any muscle memory with 4 hours, so everything you’re trying to do with the gun requires a lot of memory. So many safety violations seem to happen with lack of thinking, perhaps the best four-hour class would involve 1000 repetitions of “inspect gun; pick up gun safely; load; unload; clear chamber; inspect gun; put down.”

    Any training which is really good–say, 20 hours–is going to be too expensive and difficult. And any training which is short (0-4 hours) won’t do that much.

    Ben Lehman says:
    May 19, 2017 at 12:46 pm
    Of course, this is a false equivalence.

    Agreed. Guns enable easy/accidental killing and there are a lot of valid reasons to be worried about them, in ways which don’t apply to a voting violation. However, given the general liberal distate for guns, and the obvious enshrinement of gun ownership as a right, it seemed the best choice to make that particular point.

    Most left-of-center people in the US don’t believe that the constitution protects an individual right to own firearms.

    Huh? I know lots of gun haters. They would happily support a removal of the 2nd amendment, and they will use any loophole they can to fight against gun ownership. But they don’t deny the entire existence of constitutional gun rights. Maybe you know different gun-haters?

  19. 19
    Jake Squid says:

    Any training which is really good–say, 20 hours–is going to be too expensive and difficult. And any training which is short (0-4 hours) won’t do that much.

    It’s only too expensive and difficult if we deem it so. And we do.

    It just bothers me that I had more training to drive my tractor than most of the people I know got for their gun(s).

    They would happily support a removal of the 2nd amendment, and they will use any loophole they can to fight against gun ownership. But they don’t deny the entire existence of constitutional gun rights.

    I don’t believe that the second amendment supports constitutional gun rights as currently understood if the first clause of the amendment exists. Which it both does and doesn’t. It does in the sense that those words are in there. It doesn’t in the sense that SCOTUS has deemed them irrelevant. I’ve known several others who believe the same thing, but we may be effectively non-existent.

  20. 20
    Kate says:

    In an ideal world, I’d like to see concealed/carry gun rights handled like driving rights. You need to take a written test and prove, in a controlled setting (obviously you couldn’t have an actual road test), that you are able to use that tool properly. How you learn is your own business (again, same as driving). Voting should be easier and more accessible.
    I’m not sure whether the constituion allows for that level of restriction of gun rights. But, I also don’t think the founders anticipated people being irresponible enough to run around with loaded guns that they don’t know how to use.

  21. 21
    Charles S says:

    What is generally referred to as the individual right to own guns was only established as a constitutionally protected right in Heller in 2008. The dissent in Heller rejects the distinction of an individual right, but also rejects the idea that the 2nd amendment establishes an individual right to own guns for self defense or hunting rather than the individual right to own guns for the purpose of maintaining a well regulated militia. Prior to Heller, Miller in 1939 had rejected the idea that the 2nd amendment applied to any gun right that was not in service of maintaining a well regulated. The restrictive law that Heller overturned had been in force in DC since 1976, so it went a long time before anyone thought to challenge it on 2nd amendment grounds.

  22. 22
    pillsy says:

    I think it’s unlikely there’s a serious Constitutional issue with training requirements for gun ownership, just given how limited the right outlined in Heller is. I’m also skeptical that there would be that much policy benefit to mandatory training—the vast majority of firearm deaths are the result of intentional (mis)use a gun, being either suicides or intentional homicides. Accidental deaths are rare and have declined a lot.

    Also, in some places, training requirements have been used as de facto gun bans, which has done a lot to poison that particular well among gun rights advocates.

  23. 23
    Charles S says:

    Ezell v Chicago held that a Chicago gun regulation that required firing range training for gun owners was unconstitutional because Chicago bans firing ranges in the city, but the reasoning of the decision seems like it means that a requirement of firing range training for gun owners would not be unconstitutional if gun ranges were allowed in the jurisdiction where the regulation applies.

  24. 24
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Jake Squid says:
    May 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    It just bothers me that I had more training to drive my tractor than most of the people I know got for their gun(s).

    Curious: What is tractor training? What kind of tractor?

  25. 25
    nobody.really says:

    What is tractor training?

    You know, the unusual: sit, stay, down, come. You don’t want them running around the neighborhood every time you let ’em off-leash.

  26. 27
    Elusis says:

    Well look, tractor muzzles are really difficult to fit on them.

  27. 28
    nobody.really says:

    Looking for a British cartoon; maybe from Amp’s old Twitter feed? White guy sez something like “I’m not racists; I just believe in Britain for the British.” Black woman responds, “Well, I was born in Liverpool.” Black guy responds, “And I grew up in Wessex.” And so on.

    Eventually white guy sez, “Sure. But you know what I mean, right?” To which all the others respond in unison, “Yes, we do.”

    Any leads? (And any best way to search comics texts? I’d think that at least Doonesbury would have searchable scripts, but I haven’t found it yet.)

  28. 29
    Ampersand says:

    Nobody, I don’t recall that cartoon, and searching for cartoons (especially if you don’t know who the cartoonist was) can be basically impossible. Sorry!

  29. 30
    RonF says:

    Meanwhile, in places where they’ve decided not to wait for the Feds to act, people are looking for voter fraud and – surprise – finding it.

    Hundreds Vote Illegally in North Carolina after Court Bans Election Integrity Law

    Last week, prosecutors looking into voter fraud filed a notice of investigation of criminal conduct which read in part: “The Dallas County Elections Department has in excess of 700 “Mail-In Ballots” that are directly linked to applications assisted by “Jose Rodriguez,” or are suspicious in nature…”

    These are local and haphazard investigations. What will a more systematic and broad-reaching investigation find? Especially when backed up by Federal subpoena power against reluctant party, municipal and State officials?

  30. 31
    Ampersand says:

    Ron:

    Haven’t had time to look at your second link, but I checked out the first. The article is based on this report from the North Carolina government. I’m not sure why you’d say that NC’s report is “haphazard”; on first glance it appears to be a slow and careful effort.

    Notably, the NCBOE (North Carolina Board of Elections) report (pdf link) strongly disagrees with your characterizing the cases they found as “voter fraud.”

    This agency strongly cautions readers not to refer to each of these cases as “voter fraud.” As stated earlier, “ineligible voters casting ballots” may be the result of unintentional or intentional conduct. Fraud, in most cases, is an intent crime that requires prosecutors to show that the voter knowingly committed a crime.

    The evidence suggests that participation by ineligible voters is neither rampant nor non-existent in North Carolina. Our audits suggest that in the 2016 general election, approximately 0.01% of ballots were cast by ineligible voters. Most incidents are isolated and uncoordinated, and detecting technical violations does not always prove purposefully unlawful conduct. Our work indicates that ineligible voters are not isolated to one political party or any geographical region of the state.

    The large majority of ineligible votes they found were people who had been convicted of felonies. In North Carolina, voting rights are restored after a felon has served their time, including probation. It seems that many of the ineligible voters didn’t understand that just having served their prison sentence doesn’t restore their voting rights, because they still have probation left to get through.

    Updated voter lists help prevent individuals from unintentional violations. An individual may, for instance, legally register to vote before becoming a felon and then appear at the polls while on probation. Such a person may not understand they are ineligible

    Even unintentionally breaking the law in this way is still a crime, the report notes.

    None of these hundreds of ineligible votes would have been prevented by a voter ID law.

    In fact, the NCBOE report identified only one case of a fake vote that might have been prevented by a voter ID law.

    NCSBE rarely encounters verified cases of voter impersonation, though two cases are being referred to prosecutors from the election last fall. In one instance, a widow voted by mail after allegedly forging her husband’s signature in the presence of relatives. In the second instance, a daughter allegedly presented in person to vote in the name of her deceased mother. The suspects in each case indicated that they were motivated out of a desire to carry out their loved one’s voting wishes. NCSBE is conducting additional audits using state and federal death databases and screening algorithms to review 19 cases in which records indicate a date of death earlier than the date on which records indicate that person voted. An initial review of the voter registration documents indicates that a number of these are likely cases of mistaken identity rather than voter fraud where, for example, the death record was for a “John Smith Sr.” and the voter record was for a “John Smith Jr.”

    So, voter ID law proponents – exactly how many millions of dollars, and how many voters being deterred from voting, is it worth to have prevented that single vote?

    The arguments for voter ID and other voter suppression laws are predicated on the claim that voter fraud is widespread and organized – most famously, this is what President Trump has claimed. Not only does the evidence from North Carolina not support these claims, it actually refutes them.

    The case against voter suppression laws has never been the claim that ineligible votes never, ever happen. Obviously they do; in any system involving millions of votes, a small number of ineligible votes is probably inevitable.

    However, there is no widespread conspiracy of fake voting that would be prevented by voter suppression laws. Contrary to Republican claims, there are not millions of “illegal voters” turning out to support democrats. The problem voter suppression laws claim to address does not exist.

    The real effect of these laws is to make it less likely that poor and minority voters will vote, a racist outcome that gives Republicans an extra edge in elections.

    According to the new study, the new approach addresses these problems by assessing nationwide votes in the 2008 and 2012 primary and general elections using responses from the Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, a large national survey that validates self-attestation of voting status with voting records. The researchers used this dataset to compare turnout in elections where strict voter ID had been implemented versus those where it hadn’t, and measured the gap in turnout between races.

    Using this refined methodology, researchers found that strict ID laws doubled the turnout gap between whites and Latinos in the general elections, and almost doubled the white-black turnout gap in primary elections.

    Ron, how many legitimate Black and Latino voters do you think it’s worth preventing from voting, in order to have prevented that one woman who voted in person pretending to be her dead mother from doing that? 100? 1000? 10000? I’d really like you to put a number on it.

  31. 32
    RonF says:

    I did not mean to say that NC’s particular investigation is haphazard. What I mean is that investigations of voter fraud overall in Federal elections are haphazard because they depend on possible examples of such happening to be presented to a prosecutor who will give a damn enough to investigate and who will get sufficient cooperation from election officials to actually do the job adequately.

    The commentary you highlight in your first citation takes the use of the term “fraud” to task as that term implies a deliberate intent to violate the law. That I can concede quite comfortably. The issue is whether or not people ineligible to vote are in fact voting. I really don’t care how many of them are doing so by mistake.

    Which is why I’m not going to put a number on your last comment. Let’s get rid of rumors and one-shot examples. Let’s support the concept that Pres. Trump has put forward in creating the election integrity commission. I rather doubt that there will be millions of ineligible people found to have voted. But let’s find out what the numbers are, what the characteristics of the various ineligible voters are (e.g., misinformed parolees vs. stolen mail-in ballots vs. aliens voting) and determine just what the problem is. Then, having defined the problem or lack thereof legislation can be crafted that will address the issue while minimizing the risk of excluding valid voters.

    Until then, despite any numbers that are presented by various studies, I really don’t see why it should not be legitimate to require someone who wants to vote to establish that they are in fact eligible to vote as long as the requirements necessary to do so are not onerous (e.g., free IDs for indigent people, the ability to obtain such IDs within reasonable times of day and distance from home, etc.). I do realize that some voter ID laws violate “onerous” and I oppose those. Requiring people to go to a DMV office and then closing DMV offices in minority areas looks outrageous to me. But given the rather large number of instances in life where you are required to produce an ID in order to interact with various levels of government or private enterprises – including exercising other civil rights such as acquiring a firearm – I don’t have a problem with the overall concept.

  32. 33
    Harlequin says:

    But let’s find out what the numbers are, what the characteristics of the various ineligible voters are (e.g., misinformed parolees vs. stolen mail-in ballots vs. aliens voting) and determine just what the problem is.

    As we have linked here multiple times, and as Amp said above, studies like this have already been done, and it is clear that 1) fraudulent or illegal votes are a very small portion of the overall votes cast, and 2) of those, the kind that could be caught via voter ID laws is a small portion of that small portion. May I ask what evidence you think is missing that this commission could or will find, and how it differs from the evidence that has already been collected?

    I do realize that some voter ID laws violate “onerous” and I oppose those.

    Could you be more specific on the ones you think are troublesome? After all, more than 30 states have some kind of voter ID law, and you don’t hear most of them discussed when we talk about voter suppression. But most of the voter ID laws passed in the last few years are onerous, which is why many liberals oppose them. (E.g., allowing state-issued IDs including firearms licenses but excepting student IDs from state universities; the implementation problems in Alabama, as mentioned; or Pennsylvania (now overturned); or Wisconsin.)

  33. 34
    Ampersand says:

    First, what Harlequin said.

    I really don’t see why it should not be legitimate to require someone who wants to vote to establish that they are in fact eligible to vote as long as the requirements necessary to do so are not onerous (e.g., free IDs for indigent people, the ability to obtain such IDs within reasonable times of day and distance from home, etc.).

    Free IDs are not enough. If an ID is “free,” but getting requires getting a copy of a birth certificate – which for some people can cost hundreds or (if they need to get a lawyer, as has happened) thousands of dollars – then it’s not really “free.”

    The other stuff is all subjective. If you don’t have a car, and are a senior citizen who has trouble navigating things like bus systems, even 20 miles away can be an onerous distance. I think the burden should be on the state to provide ID for every single eligible voter who doesn’t explicitly opt out of taking one. For 80% or more of voters, that won’t difficult – after all, a huge number of people already have government IDs, so nothing more needs to be done. But for the minority for whom getting ID is a difficult task, that difficulty should be borne by the state.

    That said, I do have a few problems with the overall concept.

    1) It’s a solution in search of a problem – and, the better done the voter ID scheme is, the more expensive it is. Yet study after study has shown that there is no significant problem that voter ID laws are solving. You’re basically just taking taxpayer money and setting it on fire.

    2) Republicans have a strong partisan incentive to make it as hard to vote as possible, since the people who are most likely to be deterred from voting by these laws are also more likely to vote for Democrats. So even if we pass a good voter ID law today (i.e., one that makes it the state’s responsibility to make sure legitimate voters have IDs), inevitably Republican politicians will do their best to either enforce those laws in a way that suppresses the vote, or to make amendments to the law making it harder to get IDs.

    This isn’t speculative; there are dozens and dozens of examples of Republicans trying to suppress the vote.

    If the Republican party made a public, party-wide commitment to no longer suppressing the vote – and backed that up with voter ID legislation nationwide that put the burden on the state to get voters IDs – then I could support voter ID law. But right now, with courts ruling that Republicans are definitely using voter ID laws to try and suppress Black votes, I can’t support that. It’s immoral to support stopping people from voting in order to solve a basically nonexistant problem.

    Which is why I’m not going to put a number on your last comment.

    Why not? If you favor a policy, you should be willing to forthrightly address the costs of that policy. It seems weird to not be willing to talk about this.

  34. 35
    Ampersand says:

    Oh, and about Trump’s commission: This is an issue that Trump has definitely been lying about – and not small lies, either. What you’re saying is that we should go to the biggest, most prominent liar about this issue in the world, and put him in charge of determining what the truth is.

    Do I need to explain why that’s not acceptable?

  35. 36
    RonF says:

    Harlequin @ 34:

    But most of the voter ID laws passed in the last few years are onerous, which is why many liberals oppose them. (E.g., allowing state-issued IDs including firearms licenses but excepting student IDs from state universities; the implementation problems in Alabama, as mentioned; or Pennsylvania (now overturned); or Wisconsin.)

    The basis of excluding a student ID from being used as a voting ID is because the process for getting it does not require that you prove you are a citizen – which makes sense, as it can be perfectly legitimate for an alien to be enrolled in a State university. I don’t remember the State, but I do remember that when I looked into it at the time it came up the other ID’s that were acceptable DID require proof of citizenship (either a birth/naturalization certificate or an ID that was based at least in part on one). And hey – ownership of a firearm is a civil right just as much as voting is. In fact, you can make a pretty good argument that the Constitution sees firearm ownership as a more basic right than voting (certainly as originally written plus the Bill of Rights). If you have to prove you’re a citizen to own a firearm, you should have to prove you’re one to vote.

    Yes, we’ve talked about studies that have been done on this matter. But I have my doubts regarding their comprehensiveness and their authors’ ability to get State officials to give them full access to the data. Besides, with the recent testimony we’ve heard about Russian attempts to access voter databases I think we should have a good look at how secure those databases are, who has attempted to crack them when and by what methods (my guess is that hacking into them far predates the 2016 election), how well they are audited and by what methods they are kept up to date – and whether any/all of that is in compliance with current Federal and the appropriate State laws.

    The recent controversies is causing confidence in our electoral system is taking a hit. That will cause confidence in the democratic system to corrode. That needs to be fixed.

    As far as the other issues that you bring up – first, how the hell do you get along in this country without an ID? The list of things you have to provide an ID for is ridiculously long. How many people a) don’t have an ID and b) don’t have it because it’s hard to get? As far as people not being able to get a birth certificate to prove citizenship without the expenditure of $100’s or even $1000’s, I’d have to see proof that’s a significant issue – and if it is, then a legislative fix would be appropriate I’ll grant, regardless of any voter ID laws or lack thereof.

    Trump’s commission? Yeah, he’s full of $h!t, but that doesn’t mean that the people who would actually be running the inquiry would be. Make it bipartisan and make the raw data its findings are based on public.

  36. 37
    Harlequin says:

    To be clear–I wasn’t objecting to the use of firearms licenses as voter ID; I was objecting to the exclusion of student IDs and using firearms licenses as a comparison ID that likely also has a political bias. I think your statement about firearms licenses requiring citizenship is wrong, though. Texas, for example, only requires legal residency, not citizenship, and that was one of the states where student IDs weren’t taken but gun licenses were. (I can’t find any other documents required for a gun license in Texas that require citizenship. I saw some people mentioning SSNs but those only require certain types of visas.) Although I may have missed something and as always I’d prefer to be corrected if I’m wrong.

    The recent controversies is causing confidence in our electoral system is taking a hit. That will cause confidence in the democratic system to corrode. That needs to be fixed.

    I’m not sure if we’re talking in general about voter ID laws or voter fraud more generally now, but to be clear, voter ID laws don’t increase confidence in elections (although they change who is confident about elections). Also, “Republicans cry wolf about voter fraud for years, then use the fear they deliberately and baselessly caused to justify restricting citizen’s rights” is just an awful chain of events.

    As far as the other issues that you bring up – first, how the hell do you get along in this country without an ID? The list of things you have to provide an ID for is ridiculously long. How many people a) don’t have an ID and b) don’t have it because it’s hard to get?

    Most places that require IDs have various exception processes for people who don’t have them. (People cite air travel, for example, but you can actually get on a plane without ID, it’s just a pain.) And I would suspect you don’t use the same kinds of businesses and services as the very poor, who are most likely to not have ID. Additionally, many people have forms of ID that wouldn’t qualify in strict voter ID states, for example IDs without photos or expiration dates. And finally–arguing that this can’t affect too many people is a terrible argument when it comes to restricting people’s rights, but it’s especially awful when the kind of fraud that can be prevented through voter ID laws is a fraction of a percent of votes cast, whereas, for example, in Wisconsin around 7% of the voting-age population lacked proper ID when their voter ID law was passed. If removing 7% of the electorate, with a partisan distribution, is so small that it seems ridiculous to you to worry about it, why are we even discussing voter fraud? (The actual turnout seems to have been suppressed by ~0.5%, still much larger than any reasonable estimate of the kind of voter fraud that voter ID prevents.)

    There are many things that could be cleaned up about our voting registration system–I agree with you there. But 1) voter fraud is right in the title, so I have my guesses as to what they’re going to be focusing on and it isn’t that; 2) Kris Kobach. But we may have to agree to disagree there.

  37. 38
    Ampersand says:

    Ron:

    First of all, everything Harlequin said.

    Trump’s commission? Yeah, he’s full of $h!t, but that doesn’t mean that the people who would actually be running the inquiry would be. Make it bipartisan and make the raw data its findings are based on public.

    The people running Trump’s commission are Mike Pence and (as H mentioned) Kris Kobach, both of whom are completely full of shit by any reasonable definition.

    Kobach is perhaps the most extreme advocate of voter suppression in the Republican party; in his capacity as Secretary of State of Ohio, he’s been sued four different times by the ACLU for vote suppression, and he’s lost in court all four times. The Trump administration cited Kobach as their source for their entirely fictional claim of millions of undocumented immigrants voting.

    So of course the Trump commission won’t be anything like you’re describing, Ron. Because the Republican party is in charge of it, and the Republican party hates voting, hates democracy, and only wants to find an excuse to pass more laws making it harder for Democrats to vote.

    Kobach, by the way, successfully lobbied the Ohio legislature to give his office prosecutorial powers in voter fraud cases, claiming that this was necessary because there were tens of thousands of undocumented aliens voting in Ohio. So as Secretary of State, he has full access to all voting data, plus the powers of a prosecutor. Yet – despite have unprecedented power (no other SOS has prosecutorial powers) and single-minded motivation – he’s only managed to get nine convictions. And most of them were people like Lincoln Wilson – elderly American voters who seemed to have made honest mistakes, rather than deliberately breaking the law.

    You could not find a more powerful and more determined advocate of the “voter fraud is a huge problem” position than Kobach – and yet Kobach has utterly failed to find evidence of the epidemic of voter fraud. Why do you suppose that is?

    (By the way, voter ID laws would not prevent Wilson’s double vote.)

    What evidence would convince you that there isn’t a major problem of voter fraud?

    And again – how many suppressed votes is catching nine Lincoln Wilsons worth, in your opinion? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand?

  38. 39
    Harlequin says:

    Noting for the record that Kobach was SoS of Kansas, not Ohio–gosh, Amp, what kind of blinkered coastal elite are you, that you can’t tell Midwestern states apart? ;) But all the actual substance of the comment is correct, of course.

    (I say this and I still have to guess which one is Washington and which one is Oregon if I look at an unlabeled map…)

  39. 40
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    This continues to be a bit of a catch-22. The data which exist are often insufficient to establish a claim of fraud, often because the data collection itself is insufficient.

    The government is (and should be!) barred from Soviet-level investigatory tactics to try and track down and investigate individual people on a bare suspicion. But just like everywhere else, there is probably more fraud than is apparent, and some of it can’t be found because you can’t meet the probable cause standard. (As an example, there are surely plenty of people carrying illegal shit around, but because we can’t toss and search them without suspicion, we don’t know how many there are.)

    This inaccuracy is fine, so long as the claim and the test both need to match the statistics.

    There were 130,000,000 votes cast in the 2016 election. So if people are going to make the claim that there were, say, “less than 13,000 illegal votes in 2016” then they also need to make the claim “the testing mechanisms are capable of accurately identifying illegal votes at a rate of at least 1 illegal vote out of every 10,000 legal votes.”

    If you can’t (or won’t) make the second claim, you can’t make the first claim.

    Similarly, if you think that “when someone with prosecutorial powers and access to the government database only gets nine convictions” is proof of a lack of fraud, you must also make the claim that “prosecutorial powers and access to the government database” is sufficient to detect the fraud.

  40. 41
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    What evidence would convince you that there isn’t a major problem of voter fraud?

    OPTION 1:
    1) Decide what level of fraud we care about. IOW, agree on what a “major problem” means, and precisely define what we should be looking for.

    2) Design a study / investigation / etc. which would, both from a statistical and practical standpoint, be able to provide a clear answer to the question.

    3) Run the study.

    By “from a statistical standpoint” I mean that the study would be sufficiently powerful to give the information we need. Neither side really gets to claim the default, so given the claimed sample sizes the study would probably need to be quite large.

    By “from a practical standpoint” I mean that it would not, for example, depend on people self-confessing to felonious behavior. Note that this criteria is probably super hard, if not impossible, which is probably why we don’t do it. For example, the ideal way would probably be to randomly select a large set of votes and then fully investigate the validity of each one, but that is too intrusive and expensive. If you think that there’s a bunch of British illegal immigrants who are voting illegally, you can’t just call them on the phone and ask. Frankly I don’t even know how you would check mail ballots.

    You could perhaps make it cheaper by focusing on groups which are believed to be more likely to vote illegally, but since that may be correlated at least somewhat with race, class, location, political party, and/or a bunch of other troubling factors that is also a nonstarter.

    OPTION 2:
    Put mechanisms in place which would reduce the possibility of fraud. To use an extreme and unrealistic example, if we required everyone to vote in person with a valid U.S. passport, and used a database to ensure that a given passport ID was only registered (and voting) in one place, there would be no reason for anyone to make a claim of fraud.

    This is also pretty difficult politically. Kansas tried for proof of citizenship, for example, though it only applied it to new registrants. The ACLU shot it down, claiming Kansas could only ask for an attestation of citizenship (“I am a citizen,” signed under penalties of perjury.)

  41. 42
    Ampersand says:

    I don’t have time to cover every point. But a few comments:

    1) G&W, you keep using the word “fraud.” But see the quote from the North Carolina Board of Elections in comment #31; “fraud” and “ineligible votes” aren’t the same thing, as one is a subcategory of the other. My guess is that when you say “fraud” you mean all ineligible votes, not just fraud. Could you clarify?

    2) You also claim “the ACLU shot” down Kansas’ requirement for a birth certificate or a passport or a few other forms of ID at the moment of registration. (See the list of forms of ID accepted here; I’m going to just say “passport or birth certificate” as shorthand.)

    But the ACLU has no such authority; they made arguments, but the people who struck it down were, first, the US Election Assistance Commission, and then the 10th circuit court of appeals.

    Another way of looking at it is that Congress shut it down decades ago, by passing the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. (Or I guess you could blame the Elections Clause of the Constitution. :p )

    The NCRA requires states, in motor voter registrations, to ask “only the minimum amount of information necessary” to assess eligibility and prevent duplicate registrations. The EAC ruled that Kansas hadn’t shown that a passport or a birth certificate was “the minimum amount” they could ask for in order to assess eligibility.

    3) Curious thing about the Kansas law: It didn’t require the state to tell people registering to vote that they had to provide a passport or a birth certificate, or to inform them that their registration had been refused due to lack of those documents. It was a stealth rejection, in other words. That’s how you design your law if your intent is to prevent people from being able to vote.

    4) About 19,000 Kansas voters would have had their registrations cancelled if the law hadn’t been struck down. In his failed attempt to prove that the law was necessary, Kansas claimed that 21 noncitizens had registered or attempted to register to vote. Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that there were 50 ineligible voter registrations for every one Kansas identified (I suspect the reality is much, much less). Is it worth preventing up to 19,000 eligible votes in order to prevent up to 1,050 ineligible votes? No, of course not.

    5) “Put mechanisms in place which would reduce the possibility of fraud.” You seem to think that people with my position should have a high burden of proof. Don’t you think the people who want such “mechanisms” in place should also have a high burden of proof? Apparently not, since you’re proposing these mechanisms despite having presented no evidence at all that they are needed.

    6) Actually, despite my question to RonF, the burden of proof is on those wanting to change the system to make it harder to vote. That citizens have the right to vote is, and rightly should be, the default. The government shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily make it harder to vote; if the government wants to make it harder, the burden should be on them to prove that it’s necessary. That was Kansas’ burden in the case you mentioned, and Kansas was unable to meet it.

    6) You say “though it only applied it to new registrants” as if that’s an argument in the law’s favor. It’s actually an argument against the law. As the EAC ruling pointed out, why should some voters face more stringent requirements to vote than others? Moreover, making voting selectively harder for new registrants gives a partisan advantage to whichever party is in power (because it favors the status quo).

    Of course, the government’s interest in making sure that all voters are treated equally could be overcome by other government interests – such as an epidemic of ineligible votes. But Kansas would have had to show that such an epidemic exists.

    7) Arguably, a large sample size isn’t needed. The President claims that there were over 2.8 million “people who voted illegally.” 2.8 out of 57.6 is almost 5%. If 5% of votes are illegitimate, that should be detectable with a relatively small sample size.

    I know I haven’t covered everything, but I gotta go to sleep now.

  42. 43
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ampersand says:
    June 15, 2017 at 2:36 am
    My guess is that when you say “fraud” you mean all ineligible votes, not just fraud.

    Yes.

    2) You also claim “the ACLU shot” down Kansas’ requirement for a birth certificate or a passport or a few other forms of ID at the moment of registration.

    Poetic license. I know how it works.

    3) Curious thing about the Kansas law: It didn’t require the state to tell people registering to vote that they had to provide a passport or a birth certificate, or to inform them that their registration had been refused due to lack of those documents. It was a stealth rejection, in other words.

    Was it, in fact? I don’t think the DMV law specifically requires the DMV folks to tell you what documents are needed to register your car, but they simply say “oh, you need a DMV-1, come back when you have it.”

    This may well be different for election laws (which are not my area) but of the many other laws I work with, I can only think of only one which legally requires folks to use special language to explain a rejection, and it’s in a very formal context (there’s some special language in the fair credit act for credit rejections).
    When you say “that’s how you design your law if your intent is to prevent people from being able to vote,” I would have said “that’s how pretty much everyone designs most laws.” See, also, firearms licenses.

    4) About 19,000 Kansas voters would have had their registrations cancelled if the law hadn’t been struck down.

    OK. It’s probably worth noting that like all numbers here, these are imprecise.
    And it doesn’t answer the question of WHY. Would they have been rejected because they didn’t have a passport/BC at all? Because they left it at home that day? Because they left it with their mom and didn’t want to ask? Would they have been able to come back with the docs?

    If they knew about the law for next year, would they–could they–show up with the documents they need? Those are really the crucial questions.

    Is it worth preventing up to 19,000 eligible votes in order to prevent up to 1,050 ineligible votes? No, of course not.

    Well, that level of improper voting would be totally unacceptable long term, of course. But in the short term:
    Maybe, depending on circumstances. It’s all about the “why”. Or more accurately it’s all about how you define “prevent.”
    a) If the ineligibles were ineligible because they failed/refused to exhibit a level of effort which we consider reasonable to ask for, then it’s OK. They can be eligible if they care. They were not, in fact, prevented; they didn’t do what they needed to do; they don’t get to vote.
    b) If the ineligibles were ineligible because the effort was unreasonable, but still possible, it’s on us to try to bring that effort into “reasonable” category–which, FWIW, Kansas appears to be trying to do for people born there, by making birth certs free. They get to vote, probably with some sort of special flag to try to help them make things work next year.

    At a cost of $50 each it would probably have been cheaper for Kansas to buy them birth certs from wherever, than it was to litigate it. Of course, then there would be some folks who think they can lose it every year and still vote, not sure how to handle that one.

    5) “Put mechanisms in place which would reduce the possibility of fraud.” You seem to think that people with my position should have a high burden of proof.

    Proof of what?

    Elections are just part of a general reality. Generally when things are less deterred you get more of them; when things are more deterred you get less of them. We know that as a general rule, and we know that other types of fraud and illegal behavior respond to incentives: you get less theft when it’s harder to steal things; you get less mortgage fraud if you audit more, yadda yadda.

    As an example: We may never know what the rate is for “false accusation of stealing an overcoat.” But without knowing I can still tell you that if we vigorously investigated and prosecuted a lot of suspected cases of false overcoat-theft accusation, the rate of false accusation–whatever it is!–would go down. And conversely, if we made it so that false accusers were protected no matter what, so that they could use the police to punish folks they don’t like with full impunity, the rate–whatever it is!–would go up.

    We know that when you let people declare “dependents” on their taxes they will lie; when you make them list SSNs for dependents they will lie much less.

    And so on. Do you think that elections are a special case which is an exception from the general rule?

    Don’t you think the people who want such “mechanisms” in place should also have a high burden of proof?

    Do you remember how we got here?

    What I said was quite specific. You asked what it would take to make this concern go away. I said I would be fine with, well, evidence (which we both know we can’t really get.) I would also be fine without evidence, if we used mechanisms to make fraud harder I would be willing to apply general rules and assume we could keep it manageable.

    You don’t need to tell ME that we can’t find evidence; i keep saying that and I also keep explaining why.

    6) Actually, despite my question to RonF, the burden of proof is on those wanting to change the system to make it harder to vote.

    We’re coming from different angles. From my perspective the burden of proof if those people who are claiming an exception to a widespread general rule.

    That citizens have the right to vote is, and rightly should be, the default.

    But that is meaningless! It is like saying “innocent victims should have the right to accuse without fear of reprisal.” Both are ideally true but it’s the classification which is the hard part; are they citizens and are they victims?

    There should not be that many citizens who are literally unable to provide proof of birth, and who also want to vote. The few who exist are probably quite old. We can figure out some way to accommodate them. The rest, we can figure out some way to verify them.

    The government shouldn’t be able to arbitrarily make it harder to vote; if the government wants to make it harder, the burden should be on them to prove that it’s necessary.

    Can I admit to a bit of skepticism that this burden can be met, based on the information we have? I don’t mean “there is no improper voting,” I mean “I don’t think it is possible to demonstrate the degree of voting to Amp’s satisfaction based on the information we have and using the strict criteria for vote interference which Amp is requiring.”

    I don’t think you’re intending to do that, but I think it’s the natural result of what you’re demanding.

    6) You say “though it only applied it to new registrants” as if that’s an argument in the law’s favor.

    It’s effectively a rollout period. It means that over time, as voters die and move, eventually all voters will be subject to the new law. That sort of staggered entry is not uncommon. I have no problem with applying it to everyone, though.

    Of course, the government’s interest in making sure that all voters are treated equally could be overcome by other government interests – such as an epidemic of ineligible votes. But Kansas would have had to show that such an epidemic exists.

    Which is essentially impossible to do under the criteria you put out. Right? You can’t take action until you prove there’s an epidemic. You can’t prove there’s an epidemic without, say, doing things like “checking citizenship,” which you don’t want them to do.

    7) Arguably, a large sample size isn’t needed. The President claims that there were over 2.8 million “people who voted illegally.” 2.8 out of 57.6 is almost 5%. If 5% of votes are illegitimate, that should be detectable with a relatively small sample size.

    I am not the President, thank god, and I think the 5% number is high.

    But in any case determining sample size first requires defining what the “we care” level is, figuring out how accurately we can find illegitimate votes, and then figuring out sample size.

  43. 44
    RonF says:

    Amp, @38:

    What evidence would convince you that there isn’t a major problem of voter fraud?

    An investigation of voting registration procedures, voter database security and utilization, voter registration verification procedures and vote counting materials and methods that would use the Federal subpoena power to force the Secretary of States of the various States to provide without reservation the information needed to perform the investigation thoroughly.

    If you ask “What evidence will convince you that such an investigation is a waste of time and money and should not be performed”, my answer is “None”. Especially given that we now have reports that at least one foreign government has attempted to hack into a couple dozen States’ voter registration databases. It could have simply been an attempt at identity theft, much as hacking into Target’s customer/credit card databases was, but I don’t think we should take that chance.

  44. 45
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Random question: We need to prove citizenship to get welfare, right? Do we accept welfare eligibility as proof of citizenship, or is the process not accurate enough?

    If we accept welfare eligibility, what %age of the folks would no longer be in the “unable to obtain documentation” category?
    I have no idea how to find that out.

  45. 46
    Ampersand says:

    Not all forms of welfare are limited to citizens, and the ID requirements are much more liberal than those of voter ID laws.

  46. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    AMP,

    Thx. Oh well. I think it’s probably all for the best that those verification requirements are so lax, but that probably won’t work well for voting.

    RonF says:
    June 15, 2017 at 7:10 am
    If you ask “What evidence will convince you that such an investigation is a waste of time and money and should not be performed”, my answer is “None”.

    We haven’t agreed on exactly what the problem is; some folks care about “improper voting” and other folks only care about the smaller class of “provably maliciously fraudulent voting”.

    We haven’t agreed on what the limits are. If the “handful” and “hundreds” folks are proved wrong, is that enough? If the “5%” folks are proved wrong, is that enough? Neither side gets the default here.

    We haven’t agreed on the degree of accuracy we need. Statistical input is required.

    I would certainly like to know more. But I am skeptical that an investigation, absent more clarity BEFORE it starts, will accomplish much.

  47. 48
    RonF says:

    There was a report on one of the local news stations revealing that numerous aliens have voted in Illinois elections. The process was:

    1) Resident alien goes to Illinois DMV office to obtain drivers’ license (quite legally, I should note).
    2) Pursuant to motor voter registration law, alien is asked if they wish to register to vote.
    3) Alien asks if they can vote, not being a citizen and all.
    4) DMV person says “You can do what you want”.
    5) Alien interprets this as meaning it’s legitimate for them to vote and signs a voter registration card attesting that they are a citizen and eligible to vote. She does vote, twice in the particular case of the interviewee. And is now subject to deportation, having broken the law.

    The particular woman involved, I see by looking the case up on line, is a Peruvian woman who studied English in college and has worked as a translator in the medical field. So a lack of understanding of English looks a little shaky. A court rejected her defense that she was entrapped. The DMV employee says that the Illinois motor voter law instructs that they are not to say anything to people that would discourage them from voting.

  48. 49
    David Simon says:

    RonF, from your description, I’m more sympathetic to the Peruvian woman than to the state. She asked a government official, who had full knowledge of her citizenship status and who was in the right role to know about the subject, if she could do a thing. The government official said effectively “yes, if you want to”. She did that thing, and then she got in trouble.

  49. 51
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Now, about 7 percent of Americans don’t have access to those documents, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, but a much larger percentage don’t carry their passport or their birth certificate or their naturalization papers around when they’re going to register to vote.<

    So what we've seen in Kansas is that 1 in 7 people who tried to register to vote after this law went into effect in 2013 had their registrations held in what was called in suspense by the state of Kansas. They were not able to register to vote.

    “Unable”?

    We have no idea whether they were
    (a) unable, because they are actually citizens without any documentation;
    (b) legally prevented, because they are non-citizens without any documentation;
    (c) unwilling, because they are citizens with documentation and they did not get the documentation and go back to the registration site to fix the registration; or
    (d) unable-ish, because they had documentation but it’s so hard that we treat verification as functionally impossible.

    It seems like tons of folks assume everyone is in category (a). But outside partisan arguments that makes no sense.

    The Brennan Center says that 7% of folks are citizens without documentation. I take that with a large grain of salt, since there is an enormous incentive for people to claim citizenship in the U.S., there is per se no documentary evidence that the claims of citizenship are true, and I don’t trust that the Brennan Center is trying incredibly hard to disprove those claims. (Which is to say I’m as skeptical of the Brennan Center as I am of factual claims coming from any partisan group.)

    But whatever. Assume that is right: Of the 7% without documentation, how many of them showed up to try and vote? It’s nice to know that “1 in 7 (about 14%) don’t have papers” but if most of the people who voted DID have papers and just didn’t bring them, it’s a different story. Unsurprisingly NPR doesn’t really dig into that option much.

  50. 52
    Harlequin says:

    More information on the situation in Kansas can be found by looking up the relevant ACLU cases (Fish vs Kobach, about DMV registration, and Brown vs Kobach, about voting by mail, are the two big ones, I think). Those will answer some of your questions, g&w.

    Here’s one of the documents from Fish et al vs Kobach. I did not have time to read it all the way through but I can at least point out a few things.

    The DMV personnel in Kansas did not regularly ask for proof of citizenship, though they’d record if it had been offered as part of the application for the ID. Kobach said that DMV employees were supposed to give voters who didn’t provide proof of citizenship a document stating they’d still need to provide it; many of the people in the lawsuit do not remember receiving such paperwork. So some people who registered to vote this way, but did not provide proof of citizenship, first learned that their registration was incomplete several weeks later when they received a letter from the county elections board. In at least one case, for a voter who registered in October, this letter came after the election; since the requirement was that proof of citizenship was required one day before the election, that voter’s ballot was not counted. This was not, in other words, a point-of-registration refusal. I’m not sure if you were thinking it was, but some of your comments above make me think so.

    Many citizens, including some in this lawsuit, do not have a copy of their birth certificates and some of those would have a financial hardship getting them. This puts them in your “unable-ish” category.

    I’m not sure where the 1 in 7 number comes from. Based on the data in that lawsuit, which comes from an analysis performed by experts working on behalf of the plaintiffs, of the ~245,000 registrations in the time period they examined, 12,700 were cancelled and another 5700 were still in suspension–more like 1 in 13 than 1 in 7. However, as noted in that document, lots of people do manage to prove citizenship some time after submitting the registration forms; additionally, about half the people originally suspended had their citizenship confirmed by matching against birth records in Kansas, one example of how you might ascertain citizenship while requiring less onerous methods of proving identity.

  51. 53
    RonF says:

    David, I have some sympathy for her as well. But she did put her hand to a piece of paper and check off a box that clearly says that she was verifying that she was a citizen when in fact she was not. That should have given her pause.

    Part of this is an indictment of the State of Illinois favoring political correctness over facts. If a State employee sees that a person applying to vote clearly should NOT be doing so, they should be able to tell them that without fear of being fired because they defied an instruction to not discourage people from voting no matter what.

    And of course, the underlying narrative here that you shouldn’t accept what the government tells you without question certainly resounds with me. The same thing happens with the IRS. If you call the IRS hotline with a question about your taxes and the answer turns out to be wrong, you still suffer the same penalties regardless of whether you tried to avoid taxes deliberately or if you were simply depending on the answer they gave you.

  52. 54
    RonF says:

    I’ve come across a couple of interesting links on this.

    1) Five Democratic States refuse to turn over voter records to Trump commission.

    Padilla said. “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgement that millions of Californians voted illegally. California’s participation would only to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, the vice president, and Mr. Kobach.”

    And he’s going to make damn sure that there’s never any evidence to the contrary.

    2) A claim that there is evidence that millions of illegal aliens DID vote in multiple elections. A lot of this is how one interprets data from existing surveys. And yes, the people publishing this have a point of view. But I figure so does everyone else – it’s all about the data, not who tells you about it.

  53. 55
    Chris says:

    RonF:

    1) 24 states have now refused, some of which are run by Republicans. Good. The investigation is run by a propagandist who wasn’t even able to find evidence of widespread voter fraud when he ran an investigation in Kansas, and is based on a lie.

    2) Barry can correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t see how a study that found a range of voter fraud somewhere between 600,000 and 5 million is at all useful. That strikes me as an absolutely ridiculous range. And of course, the study has already been critiqued for many other reasons.

  54. 56
    Charles says:

    Chris,

    I think if the study didn’t have substantial methodological problems (which it does), a study that had a range of 600,000 to 5 million would still be useful. It means that 0 is unlikely to be the true value [edited to correct weird construction].

    I’ll note that the article RonF links to flat-out lies, calling the “study” it links to a new study. In fact, the article that article links to isn’t a study at all, but instead an article about a study from 2014 (plus some special pleading about how using inappropriate non-random sample sets is totally legitimate!). The article RonF links to talks about the study from 2014, and then pretends that the other article about that study is a new study that confirms the first study. So, yes, everyone has a point of view, but not everyone needs to lie in order to pretend that their point of view has decent evidence.

  55. 57
    Chris says:

    Thanks, Charles.

  56. 58
    Harlequin says:

    Here’s a short explanation of the major things wrong with that survey, and here’s a more narrative form of the whole history from 538, including some interesting stuff about the undergraduate researcher who was a coauthor on the original paper. Short version, there are so few noncitizens in the data set that “citizens who accidentally clicked the wrong button” is a non-negligible percentage of the people classified as noncitizens, and more than enough to make up the observed voting rate. (The post linked to by the post RonF linked is full of flat-out errors when they try to discuss this rebuttal.) I would add that I think it’s more reasonable to say “the rate of noncitizen voters is 0% to a couple of significant figures”, not that it’s identically zero, but anyway…

    Meanwhile, here are some numbers looking at noncitizen registered voters in Virginia. They found 240 people who were removed from voter rolls for being noncitizens; most of those had not voted. (Speaking of data entry errors, some of them were registered to vote after completing forms at the DMV, even though they checked a box saying they were NOT citizens!) Together, they cast 120 ballots in elections stretching back to 1996. Those ten regions have a total of 2.9 million people, 640,000 foreign-born. (Obviously those are not interchangeable with “number of eligible voters” and “number of noncitizens”, but it was the best I could do in 5 mins.)

  57. 59
    Charles S says:

    Thanks Harlequin,

    I would add that I think it’s more reasonable to say “the rate of noncitizen voters is 0% to a couple of significant figures”, not that it’s identically zero, but anyway…

    I agree, and think your phrasing is better.

    Richman et al’s response to the rebuttal paper is interesting and reasonably convincing that the rebuttal paper’s claim of 0 non-citizen voters is overly strong.

  58. 60
    Ampersand says:

    24 states have now refused, some of which are run by Republicans.

    It’s now up to 27 states (wait, I can’t find a source for that, I might be mistaken about it). One of those state is Kansas, where the Secretary of State is… Kris Kobach.

    Kobach: Kansas won’t give Social Security info to Kobach-led voter commission at this time | The Kansas City Star

  59. 61
    Ampersand says:

    36 states are either partly or entirely refusing Kobach’s request.

    In many of those states, fully complying with Kobach’s request would actually be illegal – in many states, the law doesn’t allow state governments to hand over some of the data Kobach requested. (Including Kansas.) It’s hard to imagine that Kobach didn’t know that before he sent the request letter.

  60. 62
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    It’s hard to imagine that you can successfully combine these in the long term:

    1) “Everything is hunky-dory and we know it to be so…”
    2) “…because we have great hard evidentiary proof…”
    3) “…which is totally secret and cannot be shared or viewed or arranged to be viewed under some sort of controlled method or otherwise verified by anyone else…”
    4) “…but trust us. Really.”

    So I figure the two most likely options are:

    A) The states don’t actually have good proof; the proof doesn’t match with their earlier politically-motivated claims; and/or the proof will show other problems in the system. They will stall forever; this will help Trump.

    B) Someone is a brilliant and secret leader; their troops will postpone this by stalling until the dispute reaches a fever pitch and will then reveal their carefully-vetted and fully-complete documentary proof, showing that the Trump administration was wrong the whole time and doubling everyone’s faith in the stallers.

    I would prefer B, but my cynical side thinks A is more likely.

  61. 63
    Ampersand says:

    44 states won’t give some voter info to panel – CNNPolitics.com

    The states rejecting the request, in whole or in part, include a majority of states where the GOP holds the executive.

    G&W, your argument seems to be leaving some more plausible possibilities out.

    Either it’s some sort of conspiracy theory, as suggested by G&W; or there is something genuinely wrong with the Trump Administration’s request

  62. 64
    Grace Annam says:

    Gin-and-whiskey,

    How about:

    1) There are legal restrictions around sharing this data…

    2) …and the organization requesting it gives the appearance of being biased, so…

    3) …I’m not inclined to spend much time on trying to figure out how to share the data, so…

    4) …no.

    That seems pretty plausible, to me. For Republican-controlled states, omit step 2 and it still works, just not as strongly.

    Grace

  63. 65
    Charles S says:

    g&w,

    I’m curious, are you familiar with the ERIC program?

  64. 66
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Grace Annam says:
    Gin-and-whiskey,

    How about:

    1) There are legal restrictions around sharing this data…

    2) …and the organization requesting it gives the appearance of being biased, so…

    3) …I’m not inclined to spend much time on trying to figure out how to share the data, so…

    4) …no.

    That seems pretty plausible, to me.

    Fair enough, though I still think it is going to make them look very bad. Because no matter how much “appearance of bias” people are accusing the panel of having, the data are the data. If you have great voter records and provable accuracy, then, there should not be a data issue.

    Seriously: We live in a country of errors, across basically all institutional categories. And in addition to those errors, we have a long history of screwing with voting in particular in all sorts of ways, both openly and behind the scenes. Hell, every time folks talk about vote suppression and gerrymandering and whatnot they are functionally conceding that it is possible (or even common!) to cook books and move lines and do all sorts of things which are quasi- or fully-legal and which in practice act to circumvent the system.

    It would be incredibly surprising if “voter registration” just so happens to be the only thing which escaped politics; escaped incompetence; escaped bureaucracy; and escaped all of those other issues which have plagued, well, almost everything the country does. And in this era of increasing government mistrust, I think it’s a horrible move.

    So I think that raising those objections will cause tough problems for Dems, which I think would be a bad outcome. I think the Republicans will squeak by on it. (The smartest but unfortunate play would be for Republican governors to execute some sort of conditional agreement, which makes their data freely available conditional on responses from the holdout states; that would put a lot of pressure on Dems.)

  65. 67
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sorry, forgot to respond:

    Charles S says:
    July 5, 2017 at 1:17 am
    g&w,
    I’m curious, are you familiar with the ERIC program?

    Not in any significant depth, no. I’ve heard and read about it here and there.