Posts Tagged Vote Fraud

Could Election Fraud Cost Republicans the Minnesota House?

It’s not the most likely scenario, but it’s certainly possible, and explaining how highlights the difficulty of detecting fraud after the fact.

Minnesota State House

For the 2020 election, the coronavirus allegedly made voting in person too dangerous to contemplate. Minnesota, like many other states, responded by trying to implement universal mail-in voting. In its case, this took the form of mailing an absentee ballot application to everyone on the voter rolls.

As John Hinderaker at Powerline documented, the process they used opened up a massive loophole:

If you receive this invitation, as I did, no identification is required to obtain an absentee ballot. You may have a Minnesota driver’s license, or maybe a Social Security number. (Who doesn’t?) But failing that, or if fraud is your object, you can check the third box. In that case, “Your identification number will be compared to the one on your absentee ballot envelope.”

“Your identification number” is not explained in the enclosed materials, but it can only refer to a bar code on the Business Reply Mail envelope that is included with each absentee ballot application. This obviously affords no ballot security. It merely will document that an application for an absentee ballot was submitted, and a ballot corresponding to that application was later cast. It provides no assurance as to who filled out that ballot.

As Hinderaker points out, this loophole is complicated by the country’s notoriously sloppy voter rolls. In many states, including Colorado, it’s very difficult to get yourself removed from the voter rolls if you move out of state, and even address updates often lag months or even years behind the move. Having walked precincts here in Denver consisting largely of apartments, I can personally attest to this.

The net result is that someone living in an apartment where multiple previous residents are still listed as voting residents could have filled out those absentee ballot applications and voted as those people. To get caught before Election Day, it would be necessary for the person in question to still be living in Minnesota, to inquire as to why they hadn’t received an application, to protest, and then to have the Secretary of State or the County Clerk investigate the possibility of upstream fraud. A Secretary of State who would promulgate such a lax process in the first place would be extremely unlikely to investigate such failures.

Given that Trump lost Minnesota by about 7 1/2 percentage points, it’s unlikely that this particular form of fraud would have been widespread enough to cost him the state. But that doesn’t mean that other races couldn’t have been affected. In this case, control of the Minnesota State House of Representatives could have been switched.

Prior to the election, the Democrats held the chamber by a 75-59 margin. As in many other states, Republicans made significant gains at the state legislative level, and on Election Night it appeared that they had narrowed the gap to 70-64. However, four state representative seats were decided by fewer than 200 votes, and those districts went 3-1 for the Democrats. Flip the three Democrat wins, and the House is split 67-67, requiring some sort of power-sharing agreement. The Minnesota State Senate is already controlled by the Republicans, so the stakes in being able to serve as a check on the state’s Democratic statewide officeholders, including the execrable Attorney General Keith Ellison, is considerable.

Each state house district consists of roughly 20,000 voters, so it would take only 1% of the ballots in any of these races to be fraudulently cast using the method described above to potentially swing the race the other way.

The problem is that such fraud would likely be incredibly expensive to detect and virtually impossible to cure. Consider the district where the Democrat won by 40 votes. If only 50 ballots had been mailed out without any ID provided or required, investigators would have to go investigate each and every of those ballots, and prove that there was something amiss. The manpower and time alone would be prohibitively expensive, and would be multiplied by at least a factor of 4 for the other three districts in question.

What’s more, once the ballot is separated from the envelope, there isn’t (or shouldn’t be) any way of reconnecting the two. If there were, it would mean that a sufficiently motivated election worker with access to the ballots and envelopes would be able to find out how any given voter had voted.

Does this mean that the Democrats necessarily retained control of the Minnesota House of Representatives fraudulently? Of course not. It does mean that it’s at least plausible, and demonstrates the extreme difficulty of dealing with fraud after-the-fact. It renders facile claims of fraud-free elections ludicrous, and it increases the chance that someone will try something like this in the future. And allowing this kind of loophole to exist is what damages the credibility of the election system, not those of us calling it out.

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Banana Democrats

There’s an area of Colorado, near Buena Vista in the south-central part of the state, known as the “Banana Belt” for its temperate climate.   It’s unknown if State Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) had that in mind when he claimed that HB13-1303 will turn the state into a “banana republic,” but his comments remain accurate nonetheless.  The new law will, among other things, lower the residency requirement to 22 days, pre-register 16-year-olds when the get their drivers licenses, replace precinct voting with vote-by-mail and the occasional vote center, and permit same-day registration to cast regular ballots.  It will require that mail ballots be sent to all registered voters, and will do away with the “Inactive Voter” status, which voters attain by not voting for several consecutive elections.

To many Republicans, this one included, these changes sound like a stamped, self-addressed invitation to vote fraud.  Vince Carroll of the Denver Post has detailed some of the problems with the bill.

The bill would retain all the current means of registration – including being able to register using a utility bill and the last four digits of your Social Security number the license plate you saw outside, and then to proceed immediately to vote, using a regular ballot, not a provisional one set aside for after the registration was verified.  County clerks had argued in favor of the bill, claiming that the SCORE system currently used to track voter registrations could easily be expanded to statewide use, and that once a statewide system is set up, there will be little trouble tracking voter registrations.

The fact is, the system we have now is manifestly riddled with bad registrations, old registrations, and dead people.  And the very same people who wrote this bill, in collusion with the legislative Democrats, are the ones who not only stand in the way of cleaning up the rolls, but have tried to pry open the system with a judicial crowbar in the past.

I’ve been directly involved in a number of campaigns that involved going door-to-door for signatures.  I don’t even bother with apartments, since the odds of the registrant matching the resident are somewhat south of hitting a given number on a roulette wheel.  The voter rolls for these precincts are literally (not figuratively) filled with bad registrations.  And it’s no good saying it’s not a problem because we’re only 6 months away from the last election.  Since Colorado routinely has odd-year elections for ballot initiatives and school boards, we’re also only 6 months away from the next one.

The groups that were called into help write the bill – notably not including the Secretary of State’s office – have, in the past, sued the Secretary of State for ridding the voter rolls of dead people, criticized him for trying to get non-citizens off the registrations rolls, and filed suit in 2004 seeking to permit anyone to vote the full ballot anywhere, without any form of identification.  In the decision in that case, the judge noted that:

But at the moment, if I were to try to design a system that maximizes the chances that fraudulent and ineligible registrants will be able to become fraudulent voters, I’m not sure I could do a better job than what Plaintiffs are asking me to do in this case—allow voters to vote wherever they want without showing any identification.

The entire opinion is worth reading, and I’ve quoted salient paragraphs from it at length before.  For the moment, bear in the mind what that quote says about the character of Common Cause and the other co-conspirators to this hijacking of our electoral system.

The Democrats who wrote and voted for this bill have to be well aware of these fact.  These are elected state representatives and state senators.  Every last one of them – especially the Democrats who tend to come from urban areas – is a professional politician who got elected by working these very precincts.  It beggars the imagination to believe that they are so unacquainted with their districts that they don’t know how detached the voter rolls are from reality.  And that’s now, before these changes are put in place.

The only conclusions to draw are that the Democrats who voted for this bill are at best unconcerned about the integrity of our elections, and at worst see elections as a whole not as contests to be won, but as boxes to be checked off in the ratification of their power.

We are all from Buena Vista now.

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Democrats on Vote Fraud: What, Us Worry?

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A Zombie Bill For Zombie Voters

The Denver Post is reporting that the Colorado Senate Democrats, determined to send mail ballots out to Zombie voters (voters listed as, “inactive, failed to vote”), have found a Zombie  bill for their purposes.  The bill is all the more troubling since the Democrats have blocked virtually all efforts to clean up the voter rolls, ensuring that ballots will be sent out to valid addresses and ineligible or dead voters.

Here’s how they did it.  Watch closely.

First, the players.  The Republicans control the House 33-32.  The Democrats control the Senate, 20-15.  House Bill 1267 would have shortened the window for early voting.  It was passed by the House, and killed by a Senate Committee, 3-2, on a party-line vote.  Senate Bill 109 would send out mail ballots to inactive voters, and it passed the Senate, but was killed in the House Committee on a party-line vote.  However, in the House, it had a Republican sponsor, Rep. Don Coram, which means that had it not been killed in committee, it might well have passed on the House floor.

So the Democrats in the Senate Committee moved to reconsider HB-1267, resurrect the bill, in effect, so they could amend it with the substance of SB-109, the Zombie Voter Bill.  Once passed by the Senate, the re-animated HB-1267, with the form of the old bill but the substance of the new one, would return not to a House committee, but to the House floor, where it would be voted on.  This would at least put Rep. Coram in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between voting against a bill whose substance he had previously supported, or voting for it, an becoming the only Republican to support the Zombie Bill for Zombie Voters.

Last year, when the Senate Democrats began playing these sorts of games, with Senate President Brandon Shaffer killing bills by committee inaction, Republicans essentially shut down the body until they relented.  And that doesn’t even include the spectacle of the Democrats filibustering their own Congressional redistricting map.

A Republican House leadership committed to playing hardball probably has many more choices that I can think of, but two immediately come to mind.  The House Speaker has considerably leeway in when to schedule floor votes.  If Coram is willing to avoid voting for procedural matters, he can probably avoid voting on the substantive matter.

Second, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  House Republicans in committee could do the same thing with any Democrat bill they killed, including SB-109, and replace its language with a favored, popular, but Democrat-hostile bill such as HB-1111, the bill the Senate Democrats just killed to have a statewide referendum on voter photo ID.  This would send that bill back to a floor debate and vote by the entire Senate, where it might not pass, but would put the Democrats in the position of airing their flimsy, fraud-friendly arguments in a more visible forum.


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