Victims of Voter Fraud: Poor and Disadvantaged are Most Likely to Have Their Vote Stolen
by Horace Cooper
All is not well in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The state has announced the shocking preliminary results of an extensive police investigation of voter registration "irregularities" – a polite word for the ugly reality of voter fraud.
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported, the investigation has resulted in charges filed against 38 people across the state, with a warrant issued for a 39th person who can't be found. "1 According to reports, most of those cases have resulted in convictions, while 26 more cases continue to be investigated "nearly 3 years after the Board of Elections forwarded more than 400 voter and election fraud allegations from 62 cities and counties to the Virginia State Police for individual investigation."2 And Richmond, the city with the highest minority population in the group, had the largest number of election "irregularities" referred for prosecution.3
The scam in several jurisdictions involved left-wing voter advocacy groups asking convicted felons to register to vote even though their felon-status prevented them from casting a legal ballot. These liberal groups would convince the felons that they could register to vote and that their voting rights had been or would be restored. "Don't worry," they essentially said, "just register and we'll take care of the legalities." In the end, Virginia officials now believe, the felons cast illegal votes, which effectively diluted and nullified the votes of law-abiding Virginians.
But there's more than one way to steal votes.
The Virginia scandal comes close on the heels of the voter fraud trials in upstate New York, where Democratic county elections officers and city councilmen from the town of Troy stand trial for absentee-ballot fraud. Four Democrats have already pleaded guilty in a case that highlights who the real victims of election fraud usually are: the poor, minorities, the sick, the old, and other vulnerable members of society.
Democratic Committeeman Anthony DeFiglio pleaded guilty to falsifying business records in the case, and he told investigators that "The people who are targeted [in voter fraud cases] live in low-income housing and there is a sense that they are a lot less likely to ask any questions." Even more disturbing was his admission that "What appears as a huge conspiracy to nonpolitical persons is really a normal political tactic."4
Another Troy Committeeman, Anthony Renna, admitted to forging absentee ballot applications and explained that handing in forged ballots and fake votes ensures that "ballots are voted correctly."
"I knew that the actual voters had not voted the ballots or signed the envelopes, but that did not concern me. I am not the ballot police," Renna told police. "I have been present when 'ballots were voted correctly' by party operatives."5 "Voted correctly" is fraud-speak for a forged application or ballot and it has nothing to do with the intentions of the lawful voter and everything to do with the interests of criminals who flagrantly violate election laws.
And who were the victims of this crime against the public? According to the Times Union, those disenfranchised Troy voters who had their ballots voted for them "correctly" included "public housing residents, college students, the semi-literate, a deaf man, the chronically ill and non-English speakers."6
Lest we think that this sort of thing only happens on the east coast, we should remember the illegal ballots cast by an estimated 5,000 non-citizens in Colorado's elections in 2010. Colorado's Secretary of State reported that a state study found nearly 12,000 people registered to vote in Colorado who were not citizens and were therefore not legally eligible to vote. Of those, the state believes that perhaps as many as 5,000 voted in the 2010 general election.7
Then there is New Mexico, where the secretary of state recently identified over 64,000 instances – or nearly 10% of those who voted – of voter irregularities sent to the state police for investigation.8
And, of course, there are the infamous election frauds perpetrated over the years by the leftist outfit ACORN. In 2004, six St. Louis volunteers pleaded guilty to dozens of voter-fraud charges, including registering the names of dead or non-existent people. It is believed that ACORN's "Operation Big Vote" turned in over 1,500 fraudulent voter registration cards. In 2006, ACORN turned in tens of thousands of suspect voter registration forms to Missouri elections officials, and ACORN workers later admitted to telling registrants who to vote for. And, demonstrating a profound and vexing consistency, four more ACORN employees were indicted for voter fraud in 2007.
ACORN's shenanigans were widespread and well-documented. Kevin Clancy, a former ACORN voter registration worker in Wisconsin, was convicted of election fraud arising out of the 2008 Presidential election, and sentenced to 10 months in jail. He pleaded guilty to falsely procuring voter registration and confessed to submitting multiple voter registration applications for the same individuals. Clancy was part of a larger scheme in which he and his cronies registered each other to vote multiple times in order to meet voter turn-out quotas set by ACORN.
These and other insidious voter-fraud plots prey upon the weakest members of our society. They violate the public trust, they erode faith and confidence in our democratic process, and they ultimately disenfranchise those men and women whose votes should be rightfully counted.
Yet liberals and the Obama Administration turn a blind eye to these travesties. They oppose common-sense solutions and efforts like state voter ID laws and more stringent voter registration requirements specifically designed to discourage voter fraud. Why?
Could it be that, like the voting rights violators of the Jim Crow era, the primary participants in today's voter crimes are Democrats? At least one columnist thinks so. According to Jack Kelly, this year all but one of the states in which election investigations or convictions occurred involved Democrats.9
Instead of distancing themselves from these irregularities, senior members of the Justice Department and advisors in the White House have hindered or delayed efforts to prevent and deter voter fraud.
Already this year, Texas and South Carolina have had to sue the President's Department of Justice in order to enact voter ID laws overwhelmingly supported by the citizens of their states and the country at-large. Polls show that over 80% of the public supports laws that would require voters to show some sort of photo ID when voting at the ballot box.10 The Supreme Court has upheld such laws, ruling in 2008 that "the inconvenience of making a trip to the DMV, gather the required documents, and posing for a photograph surely does not qualify as a substantial burden on the right to vote, or even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting."11 Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito concurred with the plurality opinion, and noted "The burden of acquiring, possessing, and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not 'even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting.'"12 Recent studies have shown little to no evidence that voter integrity efforts hurt minorities. In fact, new photo ID laws in Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi resulted in higher black voter turnout in subsequent elections.13
And still liberal advocacy groups and the Justice Department trample upon the constitutional principle of equal sovereignty and stymie state initiatives attempting to protect the rights of legal voters. If states such as Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kansas (to name a few) can combat voter fraud by requiring photo-ID at the polls, why not Texas and South Carolina? The answer, unfortunately, is political, not legal.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress with overwhelming majorities in both houses, and signed by President Johnson, to keep America's commitment that citizens who are eligible to vote will have their vote count. Upon affixing his signature, President Johnson explained "Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country, men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes."14 The Voting Rights Act was regrettably necessary, as the President admonished, because
Every device of which human ingenuity is capable has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and he manages to present himself to register, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name or because he abbreviated a word on his application. And if he manages to fill out an application he is given a test. The register is the sole judge of whether he passes his test. He may be asked to recite the entire constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state laws. And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write.
Through schemes and plots and invidious conniving, blacks were disenfranchised and denied their right to vote for their representatives and government officials. Those schemes targeted and were carried out most effectively against the poor, the uneducated, and the elderly black Americans. As a result, laws were passed to ensure that every rightful vote was counted.
Then and now the goal of these fraudsters is to thwart those lawfully allowed to vote and ultimately substitute their own preferred representatives and policy initiatives. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, these schemes included separate reading and writing tests for poor and uneducated blacks, as well as fees or so-called poll taxes assessed against those who could least afford them.
Today's schemes often target the same black voters once deprived under Jim Crow. As former Democratic Congressman-turned Republican Artur Davis has acknowledged, voter fraud is rampant in African-American districts such as his former district in Alabama,15 and the schemes are less obvious and even more clever because voters often don't realize that their vote has been negated. In cases of "absentee ballot harvesting" and "ghost voters," citizens may become aware that they've been defrauded either after showing up at the poll and being turned away, or worse, only after the election is over. In both instances, lawful citizens' rights to select the policies or representatives of their own choosing are stolen by the fraudsters. Similarly, non-citizen and felon-voting schemes counteract the intentions of the lawful voter by voting for policies and representatives contrary to the real desires and interests of the legal voter. Counterfeiters print phony money and devalue a hard-earned currency. Election fraudsters print phony votes and devalue the democratic voice of the disenfranchised voters.
Unfortunately, these schemes are common and pervasive. They are hard to stop and even harder to prove in court, which is why states are wise to bolster their election laws, require early registration, ask for photo ID at the polls, and close absentee-ballot loopholes that can be exploited by the fraudsters.
If the Justice Department was truly committed to enforcing voting rights, instead of frustrating the efforts of states and localities to combat election fraud, it would lead the charge to end this type of fraud. Instead of using the Voting Rights Act to delay anti-fraud measures, the Justice Department should use its authority to identify the jurisdictions where voter fraud is pandemic and insist that states take measures to counteract it.
Regrettably, the Attorney General and some of his fellow Democrats do not share this concern. They would rather twist the Voting Rights Act to serve their political agenda than live up to the fundamental ideals it was enacted to defend.
Horace Cooper is an adjunct fellow of the National Center for Public Policy Research. He taught constitutional law at George Mason University in Virginia, was senior counsel to U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and is a founding member of the black conservative leadership group Project 21.
1 Mark Bowes, "Va. Investigates Voter Fraud," Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 22, 2012, available online at http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/apr/22/tdmain01-va-investigates-voter-fraud-ar-1859666/ as of June 11, 2012.
4 See: Eric Shawn, Fox News, "Voter Fraud 'A Normal Political Tactic' in Upstate NY City," January 17, 2012, available online at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/01/17/voter-fraud-normal-political-tactic-in-upstate-ny-city/#ixzz1sy38YyGC as of June 11, 2012.
6 Kenneth C. Crowe II, "Voters are Victims in Ballot Trial," Albany Times-Union, February 12, 2012, available online at http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Voters-are-victims-in-ballot-trial-3308048.php as of June 11, 2012.
7 Debbie Siegelbaum, "GOP Says 5,000 Non-Citizens Voting in Colorado a 'Wake-up Call' for States," The Hill, March 31, 2011.
8 Cleta Mitchell, The Daily Caller, "Setting the Record Straight on Voter ID Laws," January 17, 2012, available online at http://dailycaller.com/2011/07/06/setting-the-record-straight-on-voter-id-laws/#ixzz1szUgsiQV as of June 11, 2012.
9 "This year there have been investigations, indictments or convictions for vote fraud in California, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina and Maryland. In all but one case, the alleged fraudsters were Democrats." The one exception was Maryland. See: Jack Kelly, "Voter Fraud is Real," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 12, 2012, available online at http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/jack-kelly/voter-fraud-is-real-224753/ as of June 11, 2012.
10 82% Say Voters Should Be Required to Show Photo ID, Rasmussen Reports, August 19, 2010.
11 Crawford v. Marion County Election Bd., 553 U.S. 181 (2008).
12 Id. (Scalia, J. concurring).
13 In Georgia, black voter turnout for the midterm election in 2006 was 42.9 percent. After Georgia passed photo ID, black turnout in the 2010 midterm rose to 50.4 percent. Black turnout also rose in Indiana and Mississippi after photo IDs were required. See: Jack Kelly, "Voter Fraud is Real," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 12, 2012, available online at http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/jack-kelly/voter-fraud-is-real-224753/ as of June 11, 2012.
14 Lyndon Baines Johnson, speech on the Voting Rights Act (March 15, 1965).
15 "The most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African-American community is the wholesale manufacture of ballots at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt," according to Mr. Davis. See: Jack Kelly, "Voter Fraud is Real," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 12, 2012, available online at http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/jack-kelly/voter-fraud-is-real-224753/ as of June 11, 2012.