The Tiresome, False ‘Democrats Will Steal the Election’ Doomsaying

by Jim Geraghty
I expected quite a few readers to object to this section of the Jolt, but so far it’s only a few:

Voter Fraud: How a Legitimate Concern Turns Into Activists’ Favorite Excuse

Voter fraud, and the fear that nefarious partisan types taint our elections by voting more than once, is a legitimate fear. I refer you to the dogged reporting of our own John Fund, and some of James O’Keefe’s videos showing liberal activists happily condoning his undercover offers to assist them in committing fraud:

When he raised the issue of filling out some of the unused ballots that are mailed to every household in the state this month, he was told by Meredith Hicks, the director of Work for Progress, a liberal group funded by Democratic Super PACS.: “That is not even like lying or something, if someone throws out a ballot, like if you want to fill it out you should do it.” She then brazenly offered O’Keefe, disguised as a middle-aged college instructor, a job with her group.

However, the fear of voting fraud can also turn into a crutch in the minds of Republicans. If every defeat can be attributed to voter fraud, there’s no lesson for Republican campaigns to take from those defeats. And if voter fraud is as pervasive and decisive as some conservatives think, the entire system of elections is a sham; Democrats are destined to cheat their way to victory every time.

While there is clear evidence of fraud or suspected fraud — such as 765 North Carolina residents who voted in 2012 who had the same names, birthdays, and final four digits of a Social Security number as voters elsewhere — the scale of the fraud proven so far is in the hundreds, not the thousands. There are cases where key statewide races come down to hundreds of votes, such as Bush’s key victory over Gore in Florida in 2000, and Al Franken’s election in Minnesota in 2008.

Any fraudulent vote is wrong, a crime, and devalues the vote of everyone else who follows the rules and the law. But at this point, we have not seen evidence that suggests voter fraud occurs on a scale large enough to swing most elections.

Over at The Federalist, Dan McLaughlin examines whether Democrats really do always win the close races in suspiciously convenient ways:

Let’s begin with the very closest races, those decided by less than one percentage point. There have been 27 such races since 1998, and Democrats have won 20 out of 27 . . .

That’s a truly impressive showing, and proof of how very unusual George W. Bush’s victory in Florida in 2000 was. For whatever reason, when statewide races are decided by less than 1 point, Democrats win almost three-quarters of the time. When the margin opens to 1-2 points, that advantage dissipates, and the Democrats win only half the races. . . . The same is true for elections decided by 2-4 points; out of 50 such races, Democrats won 25.

Some people will look at the above figures and conclude, “Ah-ha! It must be voter fraud!”

Still, to fraudulently generate 1 percent of a statewide election’s ballots, a cheater would need to create thousands of votes in most cases. The two least-populated states are Vermont and Wyoming. In Vermont’s 2010 Senate election, 235,065 voted, with incumbent Democrat Patrick Leahy winning handily. One percent of that ballot sum would be 2,351 votes. In Wyoming’s 2010 gubernatorial election, 188,463 people voted, meaning a fraud perpetrator would need to manufacture 1,885 ballots.

In more populated states, a fraudster would need to generate tens of thousands of fraudulent votes to swing the election. Let’s take Illinois’s extremely close gubernatorial election of 2010, where Democrat Pat Quinn won by less than 1 percentage point. We’ve heard all the dead vote and “Crook County” jokes. How many votes do you think the crooks generated?

The margin was 31,834 votes.

Colorado is switching to a vote-by-mail system, which many conservatives fear helps facilitate fraud by having lots of legal ballots floating around through the mail system and in people’s homes. In the state’s key Senate race, Cory Gardner is enjoying a consistent lead in polls, and in the governor’s race, Beauprez is keeping pace with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper.

Comments from conservatives that “Democrats will steal the election” are depressingly common.

Oregon votes entirely by mail. If you believe fraudulent votes by Democrats are common and decisive, how many votes do you think were fraudulent in their 2010 midterms? Take a guess.

Those who were paying attention earlier this week remember that the margin of victory for John Kitzhaber in Oregon’s 2010 gubernatorial election was 22,238 votes. Did some liberal or Democratic group manage to coordinate the creation of voting records for 22,238 people who didn’t exist? Or did they steal the legitimate ballots of 22,238 other people who didn’t notice or didn’t care that their ballots were taken?

Again, this isn’t to say it never happens. Oregon prosecuted nine cases of voter fraud from 2000 to 2010 — but in those cases, the number of fraudulent ballots was a handful per perpetrator.

Don’t let fears of widespread liberal voter fraud deter you from taking action this year, and don’t let anyone tell you your efforts are useless because Democrats are going to steal the election.

One reader pointed out this case from 1982:

Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor’s races in Illi­nois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast. Sixty-five individuals were indicted for federal election crimes, and all but two (one found incompetent to stand trial and another who died) were convicted.

Do conservatives think that today Democratic lawmakers, election officials, and liberal groups work together to generate 100,000 or more fraudulent votes? How often? And how do they manage to keep this entirely under wraps from anyone in law enforcement at any level discovering?

Isn’t there some happy medium between Democrats’ and liberal journalists’ insistence that there’s no such thing as voter fraud, ever, and the claim that Democrats’ election victories are stolen?

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.