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National Issues

It's Not Fraud, It's Alienated Voters PDF  | Print |  Email
By James Sample,   
October 30, 2007

Branch Rickey, the legendary baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson, said luck is the residue of design. When it comes to managing voter registration, bad luck — in the form of a fundamental right arbitrarily denied — is the residue of misperceived risk, poor design and even worse execution.

Misperceived risk: voter fraud

Americans are quite familiar with imperfect election administration. Human errors by election officials, technological glitches, voter intimidation and missing ballot boxes occur somewhere, in some election, approximately as often as it rains. 

Proponents of laws that do not address these irregularities but that do result in substantial disenfranchisement of legitimate voters, market a misnomer and conflate the above problems with “voter fraud.” 

But voter fraud they are not. Voter fraud, to the extent it exists at all, involves real people casting ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote. 

As a practical matter, voter fraud involves extraordinary criminal risk, including prison and fines, for almost zero personal gain. 

Unsurprisingly, exacting scrutiny of the 2004 election in Ohio revealed a possible voter fraud rate of 0.00004 percent. Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning. Granted, lightning does strike, but we’re not yet ready to pass legislation requiring a dome for the planet.


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