The Persistent and Pernicious Rightwing Myth of Voter Fraud (John Fund Edition)

Every election cycle, some distinguished member of the rightwing noise machine writes a piece close to the election about voter fraud and how voter fraud is making the American people lose faith in the institution of voting. This year, it appears John Fund drew the short straw with his piece in National Review published October 7, 2016, titled When Election Officials ignore Voter Fraud, We Need More Oversight.

Mr. Fund peppers his argument with statistics such as the Pew Research Center stating that 1 out of 8 voter registrations is marred by errors, that there are 1046 undocumented migrants (my words, not his – he uses the more pejorative “illegal alien) on the voter rolls in 8 Virginia Counties, and that there are 86 undocumented migrants registered in Philadelphia. He also reports on a sting operation which took place in New York where 63 undercover agents took on the names of people incarcerated, dead, or who had moved out of town and were able to vote in 61 of those incidents.

This, naturally, proves massive voter fraud. Because as everyone knows, most State Federal elections are decided by no more than 61 votes. Or 86 votes, or even 1046 votes. Not to make light of the problem that there are issues with voter rolls because rolls are not kept as well as they probably should be, but the idea that there is massive voter fraud perpetrated because of this has been debunked so many times, it beggars belief that we have to read this particular story yet again. As Mr. FUnd notes himself in his article, The Brennan Center has studied the issue and put it to rest https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/voter-fraud.

Yet, it’s an election year, conservatives are worried about winning elections, so out comes the voter fraud myth yet again.

If Mr. Fund is worried about people losing faith in our elections, perhaps he would care to opine on the voter suppression tactics of conservative governors and State legislators that strike individuals who have voted for decades off the rolls, or those that create onerous Voter ID laws, essentially disenfranchising large swathes of the eligible voting public. See Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, etc. It is important to note that many of these states with strict Voter ID laws passed these laws just after the Supreme Court decided that part of the Voting Rights Act was no longer necessary.

It is also important to note that these Voter ID laws affect people of color the most. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hajnal-voter-id-research-20160908-snap-story.html

Add to that voter purges, and the real reason the American people are losing their faith in voting becomes eminently clear. For instance, this year alone, Ohio has purged at least 200,000 people from the voter rolls. Georgia, over a two year period, purged 327,000 names from its voter rolls. Considerably more than the 63, 86, 0r even 1046 supposedly fraudulent voters Mr. Fund would have you believe are ruining our elections.

Other states have narrowed the early voting window, have closed polling places, and have made the procurement of a Voter ID nearly impossible. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/01/us/critics-see-efforts-to-purge-minorities-from-voter-rolls-in-new-elections-rules.html?_r=0

Indeed, in an attempt to eradicate Mr. Fund’s Voter Fraud problem, 28 states have signed on to Crosscheck, which cross checks voter lists. This would appear to be a reasonable position to take, but as Rolling Stone notes “The outcome (of the Crosscheck program) is discriminatory against minorities.” http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

So, if Mr. Fund really cares so much about the integrity of voting in the US and the loss of faith in the electoral process, perhaps he should focus his attention on policies meant to disenfranchise large groups of voters.

Addendum: While I did not feel Mr. Fund was acting any way other than what was customary for rightwing pundits to behave regarding these mythological voter fraud conspiracies, he needs to understand in no uncertain terms that right now this type of bullshit goes beyond the pale.

Donald Trump and his legion of supporters – who already believe they are somehow victims – are quite willing to believe the election will be stolen and that they will have to take 2nd Amendment remedies to correct this. Mr. Fund, with his cavalier attitude about what this means, does nothing but help give cover to these misguided extremists and incite violence.

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