The spin doctors who deny the existence of voter fraud have no boundaries.
“Plans to fight voter fraud are based on nightmares, tall tales, and paranoid fears,” says Scott Keyes of the liberal Center for American Progress. Voter fraud is so rare “you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud,” asserts Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the liberal Advancement Project.
Kim Strach, the new director of North Carolina’s Board of Elections, disagrees. She just searched a database that comprises about half the registered voters in the U.S. and found 35,750 voters in her state whose first and last names and full date of birth match with someone in another state who also voted in the 2012 election. A smaller number (765) had exact matches on Social Security numbers, but that total is artificially low because only some states provide that number for any or all of their voters.
Strach is turning over her findings to the state legislature along with recommendations on what laws would help clean up the rolls.
Nor is North Carolina the only state with voter fraud in the news. Cobby Williams, a former 2012 independent congressional candidate in Mississippi, was sentenced to five years in prison this week for knowingly registering a convicted felon.
Last month, police in Pontiac, Mich., found the mummified body of Pia Farrenkopf in the garage of her foreclosed home. She had apparently been dead since 2008, but was listed as having voted in the 2010 election for governor.
Texas Democratic state representative Lon Burnam filed suit in March claiming he was defeated by 111 votes in his Democratic primary because of an illegal vote-by-mail operation, which might have been orchestrated by his opponent.
Even when fraud is obvious and proven, some liberals will dismiss or even defend it. In 2012, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, former staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, insisted it was “perfectly reasonable” for voter fraud to occur occasionally. When challenged, he repeated himself.
Also recently, former Cincinnati election official Melowese Richardson, who was released early from prison after being convicted of voting six times for Barack Obama in 2012, was called up on stage at a rally for Al Sharpton’s National Action Network for what Cincinnati National Action Network president Bobby Hilton called a ““welcome home.”“ She was also hugged by the Reverend Al Sharpton.
All that was too much for local Democratic-party chairman Tim Burke, who was at the rally.
“What she did was criminal conduct and was particularly problematic because of her role as a poll worker,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
I myself witnessed a disturbing example of indifference to voter fraud at the Democratic convention in Charlotte in August 2012. A documentary team was premiering their new film on voting rights, called “Electoral Dysfunction,” hosted by comic Mo Rocca and later shown on PBS nationwide that fall.
What was awkward about the premiere was that the producers had to acknowledge after the lights came up that one of the main subjects of the film, former Democratic state representative Mike Marshall of Indiana, was sitting in the audience.
Marshall had been indicted on several counts of voter fraud since the film had been completed. A Marshall representative told the audience the indictment was an “unfair persecution by a partisan prosecutor.” The Democratic crowd gave Marshall a standing ovation after it was explained his indictment prevented him from taking questions.
The facts were somewhat at odds with this partisan pep rally. Marshall pleaded guilty to voter fraud in early 2013 and in May was sentenced to 18 months in prison for running an absentee-ballot racket..
Circuit-court judge Jon Webster noted that he had taken special measures to ensure the integrity of the prosecution. “When this case first came about, I knew there was a possibility for political overtones,” the judge said. “That’s why I appointed special prosecutors for this case from both [political] parties.” The judge went on to say Marshall’s crimes were indeed serious.
“Those who tinker with the election process are tinkering with the foundations of democracy,” he said. “I worry that this will only serve to further voter apathy and voter cynicism. I don’t want the citizens of Jennings County to question the appointment of elected officials and wonder if it was really their votes that put them there.”
Marshall’s supporters were of a different mind. “I am just really disappointed. There are no victims in this case,” said Jennings County Democratic-party chairman Karen Snyder. After his plea agreement, she promised he would be hired to work for local Democrats in the future: “I know Mike as well as most people and I trust him. Without question, we will welcome Mike back to work for the party.”
No one is suggesting that liberal acceptance of voter fraud is universal. Nevada’s Democratic attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto vigorously pursued the voter registration fraudsters of the now-defunct ACORN and charged the group itself with voter fraud, which included hiring people from a prison work-release program who had been convicted of identity theft.
But liberals who consistently deny the existence of voter fraud — even absentee-ballot fraud — help contribute to a climate in which such offenses against democracy are too often excused or ignored.
“Voter fraud harms people in the Democratic coalition more than most,” says former Democratic congressman Artur Davis of Alabama, “I have seen up close how Democratic primaries have been stolen in Alabama by corrupt machines that then deliver bad services and poor schools and rob people of their future.” Davis, who is now a Republican, says measures to prevent voter fraud shouldn’t be controversial.
“There is a reason that polls consistently show over 60 percent of African-Americans and Hispanics support voter ID,” he told me. “They realize voter fraud isn’t a myth, and saying it is doesn’t make it so.”
— John Fund is national-affairs columnist at National Review Online.