Four Reasons to Hold Elections on Election Day

October 24, 2014

Your Vote Matters1. Easier early voting opens the door to more fraud.

2. If you don’t care enough to go vote, you probably don’t care enough to vote well.

3. Longer voting periods mean more expensive campaigns, more money in politics, and more entrenched incumbents.

4. Voting early means voting without all the information.

Coloradan Sarah Hoyt is concerned about her state’s recent changes to its election laws.  Laws that make it “easier” to vote also make it easier to commit voter fraud.

And so they changed two things.  Now all elections are by mail. And there’s same day registration.

. . .

Will you look at that? Register the same day! In case, you know, you never wanted to vote, and were seized with a powerful urge on the first day.

What on Earth is this for except as a mask for fraud?  WHO ignores the elections till the day, and then has a desperate need to vote? And is informed?

And, oh, yeah, if your driver’s license doesn’t have the address you have to pinky swear you live there.

(Read the rest: “Will You (Also) Tolerate This?”)

1. Easier early voting opens the door to more fraud.

She has good reason to be concerned.  John Fund has a whole column about Colorado’s recent changes.

Braced for Voter Fraud in Colorado: A new election law leaves the door wide open for abuse in hotly contested races.”

The law, known as House Bill 1303, makes Colorado the only state in the country to combine two radical changes in election law: 1) abolishing the traditional polling place and having every voter mailed a ballot and 2) establishing same-day registration, which allows someone to appear at a government office and register and vote on the same day without showing photo ID or any other verifiable evidence that establishes identity. If they register online a few days before, no human being ever has to show up to register or vote. A few keystrokes can create a voter and a “valid” ballot. ​Once a ballot cast under same-day registration is mixed in with others, there is no way to separate it out if the person who voted is later found ineligible.

Colorado voters seem to agree that same-day registration is a terrible idea:

Colorado’s system works well enough that when progressive activists placed a measure on the state’s ballot to impose same-day registration in 2002, it was rejected by more than 60 percent of voters despite a massive spending advantage for same-day-registration supporters. “There was general agreement it wasn’t needed and would increase fraud and confusion,” Bill Cadman, minority leader of the state senate, told me.

(Emphasis added.  Read the rest here.)

Any opportunity to vote without showing ID or to vote by mail is a potential opportunity for voter fraud, for someone to vote in the name of other voters (eligible or ineligible).  If this needed any illustration, James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas are happy to provide it; here’s where they showed how easy it would be fraudulently to vote in the name of U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

(Project Veritas also has videos about voter fraud in New Hampshire and Minnesota, as well as apparently a new video about Texas, which John Fund discusses here.)

See also “Illegal immigrants found on the voting rolls in North Carolina”.

Update (October 24th, 2014):  World’s Only Rational Man points us to a very interesting article at the Federalist.  WORM’s take:

Those sorts of contests are often called “tossups”, because they’re as close and unpredictable as the toss of a coin.  With enough tosses it will break close to even.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Right?

Except that Democrats win 3 out of 4 times.

The Federalist article: “Do Democrats Always Win Close Statewide Elections? Let’s check the data on statewide elections between 1998 to 2013.”

For whatever reason, when statewide races are decided by less than 1 point, Democrats win almost three-quarters of the time.

The author, Dan McLaughlin, suggests that this could have something to do with superior Democrat organization at things like “voter mobilization and turnout”, but there’s also the possibility of widespread fraud.

National Review had a great editorial last year about voter-ID laws in general.

In North Carolina, voting now will require approximately the same amount of security clearance as purchasing certain cough medicines or, indeed, purchasing the state’s most famous agricultural product. If good sense is bad news for the Democrats, there’s a lesson in that, too.

2. If you don’t care enough to go vote, you probably don’t care enough to vote well.

John Fund’s more recent column argues that Colorado isn’t the only state where laws to make voting “easier” needlessly make it easier to commit voter fraud.

“The Trouble with Early Voting: When Election Day becomes Election Month, voters cast ballots before they have all the relevant info.”

Early and absentee voting have their place, but they are becoming the rule not the exception.

I think Mr. Fund has it exactly right.  Not many years ago in Ohio, a person could vote absentee (by mail) if he had a particular reason to, such as a handicapped person who has trouble getting around.  Now, “no-fault” absentee voting makes it easy:  Anyone can vote by mail without having to give a reason, up to a month before election day.

Half the states also allow no-excuse absentee-ballot voting by mail.

It’s one thing to say that we should not create artificial obstacles to voting, like poll taxes and literacy tests (I think we all agree); it’s another to say that we should keep making voting “easier” until people who didn’t really want to vote can be persuaded to do so.

In Florida, the state Democratic party urges their supporters to request an absentee ballot; many of these voters then receive an offer from the party to have a worker come by, pick up the ballot in person, and return it to the elections office.

If they aren’t interested enough in politics and public policy to vote without being pushed into it, why should we expect that they’ll be interested enough to get informed and make good choices?  To be clear, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing:  Different people have different interests.  I do not think that everyone needs to be obsessed with politics.  I just think we should let people naturally sort themselves out; people who aren’t really interested in voting shouldn’t have to.  We’ll all be happier that way.

3. Longer voting periods mean more expensive campaigns, more money in politics, and more entrenched incumbents.

Fund again:

How is early voting changing our campaigns? They are increasing their costs and difficulty. . . . Smolka cogently identified one of the main reasons so many state legislatures have approved early voting: “It’s incumbency protection,” he said. “It takes more money and more organization to deal with a longer voting period. It exacerbates their advantages.”

Such concerns are echoed by Christian Adams, a former Justice Department official. “Incumbents and Washington insiders love early voting because they already have the money and staff to monitor the integrity of the voting process,” he told the Washington Times. “They know that challengers and local candidates can’t afford it.”

4. Voting early means voting without all the information.

Nationwide, some 2 million people have already voted, even though scheduled debates haven’t even finished in many states. . . .

. . . “Those who vote a month in advance are saying they don’t care about weighing all the facts,” says Adams, the former Justice Department official. One secretary of state I interviewed compared early voting that takes place before debates are finished with jurors in a trial who stand up in the middle of testimony and say they’ve heard enough and are ready to render a verdict.

(Read the rest here.)

Further Thoughts

National Review argued that the proliferation of no-fault early voting erodes our civic unity and (small-“r”) republican virtue in a 2012 editorial: “Vote Late”!

. . . the mass movement toward early and absentee voting disrupts the rhythms of this republican waltz. It exaggerates the advantages of having the early money lead, preexisting ground game, and known-quantity name recognition of the incumbent. It cuts off critical classes of voters from obtaining the fullest picture of the candidates or changing their mind in light of “October surprises” or acts of God. It makes voter fraud both easier to perpetrate and harder to catch. And it undermines our central political rite — the act that binds We, the People — perhaps in ways we have not even considered.

Some proponents of early voting and no-fault absentee voting hoped that they would encourage participation and increase voter turnout, but economist John Lott devotes a section of his book Freedomnomics to examining the data on that proposition, and concludes that the opposite is true—in addition to all the other kinds of harm they do, such laws actually decrease voter turnout.  He notes that this result may be counterintuitive;

Yet, the result is quite consistent with the general connection between voting turnout and fraud outlined above: by loosening voting regulations, pre-election day voting increases fraud and thereby discourages voters from participating in an election.

In other words, such laws make voters tend to conclude (correctly) that there is likely to be more fraud and thus that their vote is less likely to matter, and they wonder, What’s the point?  Combined with that more intangible erosion of civic unity suggested by the National Review editors, this tends to decrease voter participation.

Objections

As with other things, some liberals try to smear sensible reforms like voter-ID laws and reducing early-voting periods back down (even marginally) as “fighting to take away your right to vote” or racist.  An example is general-practice lawyer Lawrence E. Rafferty in a guest post on the blog of law professor Jonathan Turley.  Mr. Rafferty begins by seeming to agree with the National Review editors’ reverence for our civic rituals.

It was a proud day for me and the countless other 18 year olds who were also voting for the first time.  I can honestly say that I have not missed voting in any election since.

But he quickly moves on to smearing voter-ID laws (“Voter ID Unmasked”!) as “attempts at voter suppression” and calling them the new Jim Crow.

He seems not to notice that he has undermined his own argument in at least two significant ways:

First, the bulk of his essay centers around his claim that Republicans favor such laws not for principled reasons but as a means to the partisan end of reducing Democrat voter turnout.  In his concluding section, he recaps the accusation thus:

Then again, we just may be in the throes of a high-tech Jim Crow, Part Two campaign that impacts not only minorities, but also WASP voters who just happen to register as a Democrat or with a Democratic leaning organization.

The accusation proves too much.  At worst, his argument is not that there is any racism here, but that Republicans are trying to suppress turnout among Democrats, of any color.  The Jim Crow theme, a powerful and poisonous accusation which he makes central to his essay, is no more than an emotionally loaded distraction.  Or, as the NR editors put it above,

In North Carolina, voting now will require approximately the same amount of security clearance as purchasing certain cough medicines or, indeed, purchasing the state’s most famous agricultural product. If good sense is bad news for the Democrats, there’s a lesson in that, too.

Mr. Rafferty adds,

If these photo ID’s are so important, why do some of the states using them, outlaw student ID cards from local universities and colleges, but accept gun license cards that do not have a photo?

Maybe because gun licenses are issued by the state government (and only to people who have first proven their identity with a driver’s license or equivalent), while college IDs are issued by colleges, often with no expiration date (or any date) or means of recalling them?  I know people who have kept their college IDs for years after they were no longer students, to get “student” discounts when buying tickets, etc.  I know people who have deliberately “lost” their student IDs to give (or sell) them to their non-student friends and simply paid the nominal fee for a replacement card.  Such “fraud” is nearly harmless, but it becomes much more serious if the same method can be used to multiply votes.  Student IDs are not nearly as secure as government IDs.

Second, part of his argument is the accusation that officials in a Republican-controlled state abused their power to “lose” votes for the other side.  Whether the particular case is true or not, I will readily concede that state officials sometimes abuse their power—but that’s even more of a reason for protections like voter-ID laws, not less.  As discussed above, without basic protections against fraud, it becomes even easier for those in power to entrench themselves.  Part of his argument is also that unscrupulous private actors outside of the government used their resources to mislead voters and manipulate voting outcomes—but again, there will always be unscrupulous people, and an absence of basic protections against fraud makes it easier for them to use their resources to manipulate voting outcomes, not more difficult.

As to the actual reason for basic protections against fraud, such as voter-ID laws, Mr. Rafferty’s argument is simple:  He offers none.  Instead of addressing the evidence of real fraud (such as that discussed above, or the examples below), he simply calls it “non-existent voter fraud” and says, “there is no evidence that voter impersonation fraud is a problem”.

From that John Fund column:

Secretary of State Gessler says the same-day-registration provisions of HB 1303 create added potential for mischief. “We were told that eleven other states have that system, but during legislative debate, warnings based on the experience of those states were ignored,” he told me.

One of the examples he cites is Wisconsin. In 2008, a 68-page Milwaukee Police Department report confirmed that in the last presidential election, claims that thousands “more ballots [were] cast than voters recorded were found to be true.” The report found that there had been an organized effort by political operatives from out of state to swing the election. It concluded “that the one thing that could eliminate a large percentage of fraud or the appearance of fraudulent voting in any given election is the elimination of the on-site or same-day voter registration system.”

Gessler also point to Minnesota. A statewide watchdog group called Minnesota Majority scoured the 2008 election results and identified 1,099 felons who had voted illegally. Even though violators must essentially admit their crime before they can be charged, prosecutors managed to secure 177 convictions of fraud by felons. Such numbers matter — in 2008, Al Franken won his disputed Senate race by only 312 votes, and a local TV station found that nine out of ten illegal felon voters in that race said they had cast ballots for Franken. The Minnesota Majority report concluded that “while some ineligible felon voters registered in advance of the election and should have been flagged for challenge, the overwhelming majority who evaded detection used Election Day registration, which currently has no mechanism to detect or prevent ineligible voters.”

Or consider Fund’s most recent column, about the new Project Veritas video from Texas:

The video of O’Keefe’s encounters with other operatives is equally disturbing.  He has a conversation with Greenpeace employee Christina Topping, and suggests he might have access to unused ballots from people who have recently moved out of college fraternity houses. “I mean it is putting the votes to good use,” she responds. “So really, truly, like yeah, that is awesome.”

. . .

“Voter fraud is incredibly difficult to detect and prosecute, absent a direct confession,” Gessler says as he notes that in other areas of law-breaking, we do not judge how much of it there is merely by the number of related prosecutions. But he also notes there is evidence of just how easy voter fraud is to commit. Last December, New York City’s Department of Investigation detailed how its undercover agents claimed at 63 polling places to be individuals who were in fact dead, had moved out of town, or who were in jail. In 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, they were allowed to vote.

So Mr. Rafferty is 0 for 2 on the relevant facts, but 1 for 1 on poisoning the public discourse by throwing around accusations of racism.  So much for the arguments against voter-ID laws.

Update (November 5th, 2014): Fixed a bad link.

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3 Responses to “Four Reasons to Hold Elections on Election Day”


  1. […] to last week’s discussion of voter fraud (“Four Reasons to Hold Elections on Election Day”), two […]


  2. […] on the recent topic of voter fraud, more news about how illegal voters may actually be changing outcomes and helping […]


  3. […] discussed here recently, more early voting means more expensive campaigns, more money in politics, more entrenched incumbent….  In Jonah Goldberg’s column last week, he agrees: “Vote Early and […]


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