The Corner

Serial Fraud Kept Congressman in Office

A new Washington Post poll found that 74 percent of Americans support having voters show ID at the polls, and a full 81 percent think voter fraud is a problem.

They have reason to be concerned. This month, four staffers for former Michigan congressman Thad McCotter were indicted for forging signatures on petitions to place him on the ballot. McCotter resigned from Congress after evidence surfaced that his district office had been run like a political version of Animal House.

Now, the Detroit Free Press reports that McCotter, Inc. had apparently been forging petitions for years, and he didn’t actually qualify for the ballot in at least the 2008, 2010, and 2012 elections. The Free Press reports that data archivists found that “in 2008, at least 67 of the 177 petition pages submitted were either copies or had been doctored by cutting and pasting dates from other documents onto the petitions.” In 2010, at least 73 of the 167 pages turned in were duplicates, which would have invalidated more than 1,000 of the signatures. In 2012, the scheme had evolved to the point that of the 1,800 signatures submitted by the McCotter campaign, only 244 were valid. But that year, the fraudsters saw their luck run out when a part-time worker for the Michigan secretary of state spotted the fraud. New procedures will make it more difficult to commit such fraud in the future.

Democrats are, of course, outraged. “It’s a real punch in the gut, and I hope that voters out there are really watching and listening,” said Natalie Mosher, who ran against McCotter as a Democrat in 2010. “I’m angry, because I think the voters of the district got taken for a ride by this guy.”

Would that Democrats summoned as much outrage over the long history of voter fraud that has surrounded Michigan elections. In 2005, Detroit city clerk Jackie Currie was removed from office after Detroit mayor Kwame Kirkpatrick won a disputed second term partly on the basis of illegal absentee ballots cast in the names of dead people. Currie’s employees were accused of illegally assisting incapacitated people to vote by absentee ballot. Kirkpatrick himself was later forced to resign after being convicted on corruption charges.

But Democrats have been vociferous opponents of Michigan’s photo-ID law and other measures to clean up the voter rolls. The McCotter scandal should remind all of us that voter fraud is serious business and can be bipartisan. The laws and safeguards against it protect all of us.

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