Monday, November 3, 2014

Don't think voter fraud can happen?

Recently, I discussed the arguments for and against stricter voter-ID laws across the United States, specifically focusing on those that require photo-ID of some variety, pointing out using others' works that there was strong argument for and against such laws.

Now, it seems that the potential threat of voter fraud has been demonstrated with both more undercover "operatives" and at least one actual case of it.

Conservative "operative" (not sure what the best word is for him), James O'Keefe showed off video evidence illustrating the major flaws in the states where voting requires no real identification: he was able to impersonate actual individuals on voter registries and on 20 separate places, was not preventing from actually voting. In fact the only thing that seems to have prevented O'Keefe from committing actual voter fraud was his own actions in ending the "undercover operation". 

This however, was not the first time we have heard about the issue of voter fraud in the last 48 hours or so.

News broke on Saturday from New Mexico that a voter in Rio Arriba county (a relatively small county that borders Colorado) attempted to vote and was surprised to find out that someone, he already did vote!

Turns out, after comparing his signature with the signature of the person who did vote under that name, it was confirmed that someone had indeed impersonated this voter. More troubling still, as New Mexico has no real verification mechanism to prove which voter under this same name is the "real" person, he was only able to fill out a provisional ballot, a ballot which may not even be counted. 

One would like to think that this is just an isolated incident and perhaps Mr. O'Keefe's record as a conservative "operative" give you some pause in believing the news of his "undercover operation"..But what if they aren't isolated incidents?

Let me put it another way. I am still a registered voter in the state of Iowa but am stationed in a different state. As such, I have to use an absentee ballot to vote, but let's consider for a moment that this doesn't happen as planned. In my home state of Iowa, a photo-ID (drivers' license for example) is not required to actually vote. You can either have the poll workers find your name on the registry or register right there on the spot. 

Now, since I am some distance from home, I would have no way of knowing that somebody fitting my rough description could just waltz into my local polling station and cast a ballot in my name and there isn't anything those poll workers can legally do to stop it from happening. Only if by a small stroke of luck that they just so happen to know me personally and recognize that it's not me casting that ballot. 

Let that whole scenario sink into for a moment. If it's so simple to commit voter fraud in small communities like the New Mexico AND in major cities as Mr. O'Keefe did, how can we possible say our votes are truly safe?

I'm not going to tell you that new voting laws requiring photo-IDs to vote are going to prevent such scenarios, because they aren't. If someone or someones truly want to defraud the American voter, they could easily come up with some fake photo-IDs (as teenagers have been doing for decades now) and still vote illegally..

But there's no sense it making it EASIER on such would-be criminals by having absolutely NO mechanism for verification either..


All comments and/or opinions expressed in the above work are purely those of the author unless otherwise noted and do not represent that opinions/positions of any political or non-political organization or the Department of the Defense. Any/all distribution of this work MUST contain this disclaimer. 

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