Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

Voting and the integrity of our election are truly a critical part of our democracy, and the Democrats and Republicans have two competing narratives with regard to this topic. Democrats believe that Republicans want to suppress votes, particularly for people of color, as a primary way to gain or hold political power. Republicans, on the other hand, believe that voter fraud is a serious problem that poses a real threat to the integrity of our elections. Who’s right? That’s what I want to answer in this thread. Primarily, I want to collect evidence for both narratives. Now, I have already been reading about this topic, and let me say upfront that the evidence for voter fraud being a serious problem seems scant, while the evidence for voter suppression, in my view, seems far more compelling. Before I begin, I should acknowledge if one or both narratives proves true, they are legitimately serious problems–problems that would demand some corrective action.

13 thoughts on “Voter Fraud Vs. Voter Suppression

  1. A Michigan Republican spent eight months searching for evidence of election fraud, but all he found was lies. from theAtlantic

    That (Michigan) Republican, Ed McBroom, is whom Tim Alberta (who has worked for the National Review) profiled in this article. McBroom and his committed spent several months investigating voter fraud claims in Michigan, which…

    …interviewed scores of witnesses, subpoenaed and reviewed thousands of pages of documents, dissected the procedural mechanics of Michigan’s highly decentralized elections system, and scrutinized the most trafficked claims about corruption at the state’s ballot box in November. McBroom’s conclusion hit Lansing like a meteor: It was all a bunch of nonsense.

    “Our clear finding is that citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan,” McBroom wrote in the report. “There is no evidence presented at this time to prove either significant acts of fraud or that an organized, wide-scale effort to commit fraudulent activity was perpetrated in order to subvert the will of Michigan voters.”

    For good measure, McBroom added: “The Committee strongly recommends citizens use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.”

    Here’s an interview with the reporter of the story, Tim Alberta:

  2. MIchigan judge’s harsh ruling on Trump lawyers.

    (Apropos to the thread on “bad faith,” what Trump lawyers tried to do in Michigan is an example of extreme bad faith.)

  3. Rick Hasen, who I believe is an expert in election law, and Ian Bassin,from Protect Democracy, don’t offer a lot of evidence (I don’t think) for their concerns that Republicans will try to steal future elections, but I’m putting this here as a record of their positions.

    On a side note, I worry a little when people like Hasen and Bassin publicly worry that Republicans will steal the next election. Saying this undermines the faith in the next election. It’s similar to what Trump and Republicans did/are doing.

    What’s crucial here is the evidence and arguments behind these claims. I won’t list them all, but I want to mention one that supports the Hasen’s and Bassin’s claims. In several states, Republicans are changing voting laws. Democrats claim this makes voting harder, and will hurt those who traditionally vote for Democrats. I’ve also heard that some of the changes will give state legislatures more power to overturn votes. (I think Hasen mentions that in the clip above.) Ultimately, the Republicans are changing voting laws–that is not in question. The reasons they cited for these changes have to do with protecting the elections from fraud. Also, they claim that many voters don’t trust the elections. These changes are ostensibly supposed to increase the trust in the electoral process.

    Here is the rebuttal for those two claims:

    1. The evidence for fraud, particularly fraud that could change the outcome of elections, is non-existent. (As one piece of evidence see this Pro Publica piece on a court case on the voter fraud claim, which features experts and political leaders who claim voter fraud is a big problem). Also, see Republicans have insufficient evidence to call elections ‘rigged’ and ‘fraudulent’ an WaPo op-ed by Republican lawyer, Benjamin Ginsberg
    2. If the GOP cared about the lack of trust in the electoral process, they would be speaking out against Trump’s claims that 2020 election was rigged. Trump’s has repeatedly called into question the integrity of 2020 election, starting around the summer of 2020. (And he also did similar things in 2016–e.g., “Millions voted illegally for Clinton.”) Repeatedly and emphatically stating that Biden won the election fair and square would not only go a long way to restoring trust in our elections, but it would show the GOP was operating in good faith. Liz Cheney has come out and done this. That the majority of Republicans either have not done this or have actively promoted Trump’s falsehoods suggests they are operating in bad faith.

    On the last point, I’ll close with Sen. Mitt Romney speech on 1/6, when the Senate was deciding to accept the electoral votes. Several Republicans did not vote to accept these votes, and Romney was urging them to do so. The part that stuck out for me, and is more salient to this pots is Romney’s remarks about voters who don’t accept the results of the election. Romney rightly says that no Congressional audit will convince them Biden won legitimately. He says the best way to address these voters, the best way to show respect to them, is by telling them the truth. That’s the burden and duty of leadership, he says. And the truth is that President Biden won the election.

    1. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appoints former Trump attorney to top elections role from WaPo

      Put this on the side of those who worry that state Republicans will try to install people who will not handle the election with integrity. Here’s some details about the new appointee:

      (John) Scott briefly represented Trump last November, signing on to represent the former president’s attempts to prevent Pennsylvania’s election results from being certified. But he filed a motion to withdraw as a counsel for Trump just a few days later after agreeing with the plaintiffs that they would be best represented by different attorneys.

      It’s important to note that Scott withdrew, which could be seen in a positive way. However, consider this tidbit from the article:

      Dozens of courts nationwide rejected the various lawsuits, with a Trump-appointed judge in Pennsylvania roundly rejecting the campaign’s challenge.

      “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, wrote last November for a panel of three judges — all appointed by Republican presidents.

      My sense is that competent, good faith lawyers would not take on such a case to begin with, and this quote reinforces that impression.

      Finally, if the GOP genuinely cared about restoring trust in the elections, they would not appoint a lawyer who challenged the election results. Scott could oversee the election in competently and responsibly, but because of his association with Trump’s legal challenges, voters will have some basis to question his role in future elections.


      More Trump-y candidates for Secretaries of State positions in three states. And a warning from Tim Snyder.

    2. Wisconsin Republicans are pushing to take over the state’s elections from bipartisan commission from the Chicago Tribune (originally in the NYT).

      Republicans in Wisconsin are engaged in an all-out assault on the state’s election infrastructure, building off their attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential race by pressing to give themselves full control over voting in the state….

      …The firestorm picked up late last month after a long-awaited report on the 2020 results that was ordered by Republican state legislators found no evidence of fraud but made dozens of suggestions for the election commission and the GOP-led Legislature, turbocharging Republican demands for more control of elections.

      Then the Trump-aligned sheriff of Racine County, the state’s fifth most populous county, recommended felony charges against five of the six members of the election commission for guidance they had given to municipal clerks early in the pandemic. The Republican majority leader of the state Senate later seemed to give a green light to that proposal, saying that “prosecutors around the state” should determine whether to bring charges.

      And last week, Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, said that GOP state lawmakers should unilaterally assert control of federal elections,…Republican control of Wisconsin elections is necessary, Johnson said in an interview Wednesday, because he believes Democrats cheat.

      “Do I expect Democrats to follow the rules?” said the senator, who over the past year has promoted fringe theories on topics like the Capitol riot and COVID vaccines. “Unfortunately, I probably don’t expect them to follow the rules. And other people don’t either, and that’s the problem.”

      Related, but tangential note regarding Sen. Johnson’s baseless claim, see The Pattern of GOP Voter Fraud from theBulwark

      The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank, maintains a public database of ballot-fraud cases. A review of the database reveals an astonishing fact: In every listed indictment and conviction for voter fraud or other malfeasance in connection with the 2020 presidential general election, when the culprit’s political affiliation is known he or she turns out to be a Republican or “unabashed conservative.”

    3. Trump allies work to place supporters in key election posts across the country, spurring fears about future vote challenges from WaPo

      “This is a great big flashing red warning sign,” said Jeff Timmer, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and a Trump critic. “The officials who fulfilled their legal duty after the last election are now being replaced by people who are pledging to throw a wrench in the gears of the next election. It tells you that they are planning nothing but chaos and that they have a strategy to disrupt the certification of the next election.”

    4. Texas mail ballot rejections soar under new restrictions
      from AP News

      Roughly 13% of mail ballots returned in the March 1 primary were discarded and uncounted across 187 counties in Texas. While historical primary comparisons are lacking, the double-digit rejection rate would be far beyond what is typical in a general election, when experts say anything above 2% is usually cause for attention.

  4. On a lighter note, here’s one of the few examples of actual voter fraud I’ve read about. The few I’ve read about, 1-2 cases, have been people illegally voting for Trump.

    1. The Trump team and Fox News alleged dead voters. Most cases were either debunked or actually involved Republicans. analysis by Aaron Blake in WaPo

      Blake reviews 11 cases specifically mentioned by Trump associates or on Fox News.

      He also makes a key point:

      But even if you set aside the fact that the proven instances involve fraud by Republicans and Trump backers, not Democrats, these involve not apparent systemic fraud but rather people seeking to exploit unusual circumstances involving recent deaths of their own loved ones.

      However misguided that is, it doesn’t point to anything on a scale that could actually affect any but the closest election results. For this kind of thing to matter, it would need to involve someone, somewhere systematically using dead people to register votes for one candidate or another. Reaching out to the families of those who perished to convince them to commit felonies would seem an extremely risky and onerous gambit.

    1. Because of Senate Republicans. And my understanding is that this is a bill Senator Manchin adjusted, in an attempt to win over Senate Republicans.

      It’s these sorts of events that highlight which parties are operating in good faith. (Can anyone think of an example of Republicans doing something that shows they’re operating in good faith, while also exposing the bad faith of Democrats? I genuinely want to hear examples of this–because right now I can only think of examples of the Democrats exposing GOP bad faith.)

      On a related note, I read an op-ed by Michael Gershon, a WaPo conservative columnist, in which he complained about the lack of urgency from Democrats regarding voting rights. He argued they should be acting more vigorously if they really believed the issue was an emergency.

      I do think the issue is dire, but I also think the Democrats must show they are being reasonable, and also expose Republicans when they are behaving in an unreasonable–or event partisan or unpatriotic way. To me, this is really important–particularly for moderates and independents–at least it’s important to the independent writing this now.

      These kinds of actions are going to justify taking more drastic steps in my view, and lessen the sense that it was strictly a partisan move.

  5. Trump campaign paid researchers to prove 2020 fraud but kept findings secret by Josh Dawsey in WaPo

    The Trump campaign’s commissioning of its own report to study the then-president’s fraud claims has not been previously reported. (Note: Article says the report took place in the final week of 2020.)

    “They looked at everything: change of addresses, illegal immigrants, ballot harvesting, people voting twice, machines being tampered with, ballots that were sent to vacant addresses that were returned and voted,” said a person familiar with the work who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private research and meetings. “Literally anything you could think of. Voter turnout anomalies, date of birth anomalies, whether dead people voted. If there was anything under the sun that could be thought of, they looked at it.”

    The findings were not what the Trump campaign had been hoping for, according to the four people. While the researchers believed there were voting anomalies and unusual data patterns in a few states, along with some instances in which laws may have been skirted, they did not believe the anomalies were significant enough to make a difference in who won the election.

    The research also contradicted some of Trump’s more conspiratorial theories, such as his baseless allegations about rigged voting machines and large numbers of dead people voting.

    The report Trump paid for confirms what pretty much everyone (other than Trump and his supporters) has been saying. The report was never released, because it didn’t support Trump’s claims.

    1. Speaking of keeping findings secret–that debunks election fraud claims (in Arizona): Arizona’s top prosecutor concealed records debunking election fraud claims from WaPo

      PHOENIX — Nearly a year after the 2020 election, Arizona’s then-attorney general, Mark Brnovich, launched an investigation into voting in the state’s largest county that quickly consumed more than 10,000 hours of his staff’s time.

      Investigators prepared a report in March 2022 stating that virtually all claims of error and malfeasance were unfounded, according to internal documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Brnovich, a Republican, kept it private.

      In April, the attorney general — who was running in the GOP primary for a U.S. Senate seat — released an “Interim Report” claiming that his office had discovered “serious vulnerabilities.” He left out edits from his own investigators refuting his assertions.

      Interesting–Brnovich initially denounced Trump’s claims that he won:

      Brnovich quickly affirmed then-President Donald Trump’s loss in Arizona in November 2020, angering fellow Republicans. And he went on to resist Trump’s efforts to overturn the vote. Yet he flirted with claims of fraud as he courted GOP support over the subsequent two years, trumpeting his interim report on a far-right radio show and saying, “It’s frustrating for all of us, because I think we all know what happened in 2020.” It was only in the final days before this past November’s midterm election, several months after Brnovich had lost his Senate primary, that he began to denounce politicians who denied Trump’s defeat, calling them “clowns” engaged in a “giant grift.”

      Seems like a lot of time when into the investigation of electoral fraud:

      The attorney general’s probe stretched through 2022, as Brnovich’s office spent more than 10,000 hours examining claims of irregularities, malfeasance and fraud, records show. At one point, the office set up a command center, and “the review of the audit was made a singular, high-level priority; all hands were assigned to work exclusively on reviewing the audit with other matters being placed on hold unless a matter required immediate action on our part,” a report said. Mayes said the office has about 60 investigators, all of whom participated in the probe at some point, along with lawyers and support staff.

      Another interesting tidbit:

      The memo also reported that some high-profile Republican officials — who had publicly made fantastical claims of fraud — did not reiterate those assertions under questioning by agents, when they were subject to a state law prohibiting false reporting to law enforcement.

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