Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Voting Registration Fraud

voting.jpgOne of the motivators often discussed for voter ID card requirements is voter registration fraud. I believe that ID card requirements are like poll taxes, and are not justified. I believe that they’re not justified even if they’re free, because of personal privacy concerns, regarding addresses. You know, like Gretchen Ferderbar had before her 911 operator ex-boyfriend killed her. Or like Amy Boyer had before she was tracked down and murdered. Or like Salman Rushdie, who can’t vote because he’s very aware that people want to murder him. Government claims that the data will be secured are laughable when you face threats like that. (If you don’t believe me, read the breaches category archive.)

Until last week, I didn’t have data to back that. In “Reed: 55,000 illegal entries scrubbed from database,” [link to no longer works] we get numbers (it’s a good article, and worth reading in full):

The purge of illegal registrations is the result of months of work by county and state elections officials, who began combing the new statewide voter database after its launch in January.

Reed, the state’s top elections officer, said the invalid registrations included 35,445 duplicate records and 19,579 entries for dead people.

But probes of the records found very few cases of potential voter fraud. About 30 cases of possible double voting were forwarded to county officials for investigation, Reed said. (Emphasis added.)

7 comments on "Voting Registration Fraud"

  • I find the UK system to be fairly effective, and it works through recovery not prevention. You are not required to bring any form of authentication, and while you are sent a polling card, this is just to speed up the process.
    Election officers record who has voted, and if someone claims that someone has voted in their name, they are allowed to vote but this fact is recorded. If there enough disputed votes for there to be possibly a change in outcome (very rare) the disputed ballot papers are recovered and resolved.

  • sama says:

    Why do you think that presenting identification is akin to a poll tax? Is that not a rudimentary (even if flawed) method of authenticating someone’s claims of being who they say they are?

  • Adam says:

    I think the registration process is like a poll tax in that the effect is to stop a segment of the population from voting. That may not be the intent or the goal, but that’s an effect, and its an unfortunate one.

  • Agree with Adam: requiring people to obtain gov’t issued ID is worse than requiring said ID for air travel: there are no substitutes for voting, and voting must be open to *everyone*.
    That last bit is the kicker: the vast majority of voting experiences are a breeze. But any non-zero error rate is functional disenfranchisement. There are many sub-groups that do not have valid ID, and they are not distributed randomly throughout the population. As urban real estate prices increase, many cities are moving their DMV offices out of centralized locations, making it harder to get to without a car. Many of these people aren’t the fondest of the government in the first place–witness the successful anti-get-out-the-vote attempts that implied no one with an outstanding parking ticket or warrant could vote.
    The general policy of the DoJ Civil Rights division is that policies that have the effect of biasing turnout, regardless of intention, should be avoided.
    Thanks for catching this, Adam. Very interesting data.

  • sama says:

    functional disenfranchisement, as you put it, is also achieved by allowing those who are nnot allowed to vote (non-citizens, people under 18, felons in some states, people from other jurisdictions) to vote, thereby diluting the votes of those who are legitimate. And of course, people voting multiple times achieves the same effect, and can do so on a vast scale if organized.
    My only point is that if you don’t want ID’s to be used to verify someone’s legitimacy in voting, ID’s which are used from everything to opening a bank account to buying alcohol to being able to drive, then I would like to know what alternate ideas one has. Certainly, something should be required to authenticate people wanting to vote, no???

  • Adam says:

    Hi Rob,
    There’s a much easier solution to the multiple-votes problem, and that’s styling purple finger ink, as I discussed in a post on “Voter ID cards

  • sama says:

    And that stops people who shouldn’t be voting at all or in that jurisdiction how???
    I live in Massachusetts. Elections here are lopsidedly in favor of the Democrat party. How does ink on my finger stop me from driving to NH and voting?

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