However much truth there once may have been to the tales of big-city machine politicians summoning whole graveyards, zombie-like, to the polls, the prevailing wisdom is it’s by and large a thing of the past. Certainly, we all hope so, and it is reassuring there is little if any evidence nowadays that a lot of people who shouldn’t be voting, dead or otherwise, are casting ballots en masse.
Of course, allegations of large-scale voting fraud and related abuses still surface reliably from one election to the next — though they rarely if ever are backed up by hard data. Typically, it’s Facebook fodder that gets regurgitated in campaign mailers and the occasional stump speech. Snopes.com could have spun off a separate website last year just to debunk all the claims — some even recycled by the current president — of massive voter fraud.
And when it actually does happen, it seems pretty isolated. Even in Chicago, where it once was thought that old voters never died, they just, well, kept on voting. Shortly before last November’s election, the CBS affiliate there dug up some dead voters in an investigative story. The news team merged Chicago Board of Election voter histories with the death master file from the Social Security Administration and came up with 119 dead people who had voted a total of 229 times in the last decade.
Regrettable, of course, but over a 10-year span in a jurisdiction of over 1.5 million registered voters, that’s not enough to keep one corrupt alderman in office or his nitwit nephew on the city payroll. What’s more, the station learned that most of the miscast ballots were likely clerical errors, involving family members with the same names and addresses. The real takeaway is the low number of such instances uncovered in the story.
It’s kind of a slap at the city’s once-proud reputation for election rigging. The elder Mayor Daley must be spinning in his grave — although he probably didn’t cast a ballot last November, either.
ColoradoPols makes a similar point this week regarding an incident a lot closer to home. Pols informs us of a press release from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in Colorado Springs announcing a conviction in a case of voter fraud from last year. From the clerk’s press statement as quoted by the blog:
Toni Newbill pleaded guilty to voting twice under Colorado Revised Statute 1-13-710. The penalty for this crime includes probation, community service, a fine, and other court fees. Ms. Newbill attempted to cast Ralph Nanninga’s ballot in the 2016 Primary Election. Mr. Nanninga passed away in 2012.
The press release quotes Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman:
“Our office takes voter fraud seriously and we’re committed to combating it in every form. We’ll continue to work with various agencies to prevent voter fraud, clean up registration lists, and prosecute those who try to abuse our democratic system.”
Not one to miss a chance to zing the Grand Old Party, Pols scores a direct hit:
To say that Republican elected officials “take voter fraud seriously” is a bit of an understatement, since vote fraud claims formed an outsize component of Republican pre-election messaging in the 2016 elections…
…But never mind all that, now we’ve got a real-life voter who has pled guilty to voting twice! Surely that confirms Republicans’ worst fears of rampant voter fraud, right? The answer is no, for two reasons. The first is that this conviction is evidence the system works. The attempt in this case by a Colorado voter to cast two ballots was not successful, because the voter in question, Toni Newbill, was caught.
And the second reason? Toni Newbill is a registered Republican. The election in which she attempted to cast two ballots was the 2016 primary election…
It turns out that a dead Republican can vote just like a dead Democrat. More to Pols’s point, though, the perp got caught. And the blog gives credit to another Republican for attesting to the overall integrity of the system:
It’s true that Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican himself, pushed back on Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated accusations that the “election is rigged,” but that didn’t stop the rumors from spreading within conservative media.
Alas, we’ll never stop the rumors, but in all likelihood, those who oversee our elections will stop the dead from voting and prosecute their living accomplices.