The New Yorker’s Voting Myths
Evidence shows that voter-ID laws are effective and fair.

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer in 2009


Hans A. von Spakovsky

The Left is committed to the false narrative that there is no voter fraud in the U.S. The latest article in the genre is Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece “Voter-Fraud Myth.”

Like others before her, Mayer is convinced that efforts to assure the integrity of the electoral process are actually a right-wing conspiracy to suppress voter turnout. So when John Fund and I came out with Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk, a book that details numerous cases of election fraud, it was an invitation to a journalistic hit piece.

To maintain her belief that voter fraud is rare, Meyer apparently turned a blind eye to the news stories breaking all around her, none of which she mentions in her story. In just the past month, we’ve seen:

the Democratic nominee for Maryland’s first congressional district removed from the ballot after it was discovered that she had registered and voted in both Maryland and Florida in the 2006 and 2008 elections;

an Arkansas legislator resigning after pleading guilty (with three other defendants) to committing voter fraud;

a Canadian couple and a Mexican citizen arrested for illegally registering and voting in Iowa;

a New Jersey resident convicted on multiple counts of voter fraud;

three Indiana residents (including a former Democratic mayoral candidate) indicted for voter fraud;

three Ohioans indicted for double voting;

a Mexican drug dealer’s guilty plea for voting illegally in the 2008 presidential election;

Florida’s discovery of nearly 200 non-citizens illegally registered to vote, and

a city-council race in Vernon, Calif., overturned owing to voter fraud.

While ignoring the slew of voter-fraud cases erupting across the country, Mayer focuses on just a few incidents that Fund and I cite in the book. Then she misreports them.

For example, she claims erroneously that a report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2000 was invalid. The report found that ballots had been cast in the names of 5,412 registered voters after people with matching names had died. In a follow-up story, the AJC noted that a voter in Fulton County, Ga., was included by mistake; he shared a name with his deceased father. Mayer acts as if that one error made the entire investigation illegitimate. She even claims that the Georgia secretary of state, Cathy Cox, said that “the vast majority of the cases appeared to reflect clerical errors.”

That’s not what Cox said, however. As I informed Mayer, the secretary of state actually said that the only way to determine whether the names were clerical errors would be to pull the voter certificate each voter filled out in their precincts on Election Day. And, as I also told Mayer, neither the AJC nor the secretary of state ever pulled the other 5,411 certificates to check the accuracy of the data match.

I know because, at the time the report was published, I was on the election board of Fulton County. The board was never asked for the certificates for Fulton voters. As I told Mayer, after the AJC published the report, board members, including me, asked for the names so we could investigate the issue. Neither the AJC nor the secretary of state would give them to us.

Some of the matches may have been clerical errors; others may have been votes actually cast in the names of dead voters. We will never know, because no complete investigation was conducted. My point was that, if a photo-ID law had been in place, we wouldn’t have had to worry that fraud might have been committed. Mayer could not seem to grasp that point.

Given Mayer’s fascination with the AJC report, I suggested to her that Georgia’s long history of voter fraud would have provided valuable context. The AJC’s George Evans Goodwin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his reports on voter fraud in Telfair County, which included cemetery voting. Jimmy Carter in his first legislative race filed suit over the fraud that cost him the election. In the 1990s, prosecutors in Dodge County won numerous voting-fraud convictions.

But Mayer had no interest in reporting any of that. Instead, she turned to Georgia congressman John Lewis, a man ever eager to repeat the unsupported claims that voter-ID laws make it “more difficult for people to vote.”

Excluded from Mayer’s article was any mention of the study I had sent her documenting the actual election results in Lewis’s home state. Georgia has had a photo-ID law for more than five years, and the numbers refute Lewis’s contention. The voter-ID requirement was in place for the 2008 presidential election as well as the 2010 midterm election. In both elections, the turnout of African-American and Hispanic voters rose dramatically nationwide, and the rate of increase in Georgia was even greater. The same was true in Indiana, which the Supreme Court said had the strictest ID law in the country. Obama won Indiana in 2008, and he was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win there since Lyndon Johnson in 1968. 

But that didn’t stop Mayer from citing the claim of the Advancement Project that conservatives were upset about the high black turnout in the 2008 elections and are promoting voter-ID laws to suppress that turnout. This ugly charge doesn’t even pass the timeline test. The first voter-ID laws (in Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana) were passed in 2004 and 2005 — well before Barack Obama burst onto the national scene. Such revisionist history completely ignores the past ten years of ACORN scandals, which prompted legislators to take a hard look at election-integrity issues. Mayer also neglects to point out that, as an undercover video produced by PJ Media shows, the same Advancement Project that claims photo-ID laws are discriminatory requires individuals to show a photo ID to get into their office in Washington, D.C.