Monday, September 10, 2012

One fraudulent voter, and 3 things as likely to occur as that

a 3-mile-wide meteorite hitting the earth.   finding an orange lobster.  And one vote actually impacting the outcome of an election.  These three things have about the same percentage chance of happening as a person fraudulently voting in Florida.

This is because among the 10 million voters on Florida's rolls, a months-long search for a virtual tidal wave of fraudulent voters by Republican leaders in the state has turned up but one: a Canadian citizen who pretended to have U.S. citizenship so he could own a gun and vote.  Perhaps not in that order.  The Globe and Mail has the story here.  The man pled guilty and faces a sentence of up to five years and deportation back to Canada; most of the remaining 179,999 persons identified as potentially fraudulent voters were cleared:
Under pressure from the [Florida] governor, the state’s electoral officials had initially flagged more than 180,000 names (many of them Hispanic-sounding) for checking. All but 2,600 of those initially flagged – some of whom turned out to be not only citizens, but military veterans with service in Afghanistan and Iraq – were quickly determined to be bonafide citizens and restored to the voter rolls. 
After further investigation, only one name – Mr. Sever’s – was sent to law-enforcement authorities last spring. Six other “suspect” cases, in a state with more than 10 million names on the voters’ list, are still being investigated.
All that effort to catch one in ten million: curbing voter fraud is a costly lottery.  From Slate:

Here’s the paradox of the new voter ID crackdown, of the 38 states that have debated or passed legislation that puts more demands on voters. The new laws—and in Florida, new executive campaigns—ask voters to show driver’s licenses at the polls, or prove their eligibility with birth certificates, or prove that they’ve never had a felony, or prove that they are citizens of the United States.
Doing that involves navigating your state’s bureaucracies. Those bureaucracies have been shrunk or frozen by years of belt-tightening. They rely on data from other cost-cutting organs of the state. Imagine giving some endomorphic amateur athlete a low-calorie diet and limited access to a gym. He’s training for a mile-long fun run, so there’s no pressure. All of a sudden, you panic about the threat of Sprinting Fraud or something, and you inform the runner of his new task: Run a timed 3.5-mile circuit, tomorrow.
The calorie restriction imagery is apt.  Starve-the-beast led to the strangling of administrators; now those same administrators are meant to spend what little resources they have left to chase after a problem that statistically doesn't even exist, in the meantime cutting off some 2.2 million eligible voters.  A strategy in which the taxpayers, the administrators, and democracy lose should not be a winning strategy.  Yet as we well know, non-voting by certain constituencies will help certain politicians claim victory.

No comments:

Post a Comment