By Rob Roper
The new chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, Jack Lindley, was taken aback by a statistic he came across in the Burlington Free Press. According to the story, there were 10,000 more voters registered in the Queen City since the last election cycle, but the total population of roughly 35,000 hadn’t significantly changed. It’s a situation ripe for voter fraud.
“I suspect that people have been added to the rolls and not removed,” said Lindley, “which allows some phantom votes to creep into
our system.” Lindley said.
“There is a perception in Vermont that we’re sort of an island, and we’re not affected by a lot of nefarious activities going on, but…” Lindley cited the recent outbreak of embezzlement throughout Vermont, his own experiences in the insurance industry. “Ten years ago I didn’t believe fraud was an issue, but I’m telling you right now that fraud in the insurance field is costing the people that buy insurance an awful lot of money in the state of Vermont. I don’t want to see fraud and abuse occurring in Vermont, and I’m going to ask the Secretary of State [Jim Condos] to seriously review how names are removed and put on the checklist…. We need to make sure our checklists are up to date and accurate.”
Lindley is not likely to find a committed ally in Condos. Condos recently penned a piece for the Huffington Post calling incidences of voter fraud “non-existent problems.” More than that, he mounted his high horse to preach to other states that are taking new measures to prevent voter fraud that they should cease and desist. “The very basis of our democracy,” writes Condos, “is under siege…” from such radical ideas as presenting proof of ID at polling places.
The evidence (as well as common sense) is to the contrary.
The Pew Research Center came out with a study indicating that America’s active voter rolls contain 1.8 million dead people. 2.8 million people are registered to vote in more than one state. This creates a plethora of opportunities to game elections.
Just last month, during the New Hampshire primary, the infamous sting videographer James O’Keefe of Project Veritas video-taped several undercover journalists as they obtained ballots in the names dead people. As controversial as O’Keefe’s tactics may be, he demonstrated just how easy it in states that do not require proof of identification (like Vermont) for one person to vote in another person’s (or multiple people’s) name.
O’Keefe’s operators simply looked through the New Hampshire obituaries, identified dead voters, and showed up at polling places and asked for ballots in the names of the dead, which were handed over without contest. Another tactic would be to check voter participation records for registered voters who habitually do not vote.
That’s how easy it is. The question is how often does fraud really occur and does it make a difference? Consider that in Vermont during the 2010 election cycle four races for State Representative were decided by less than five votes, two of them by just one vote.
Artur Davis, a former Democratic congressman from Alabama, has gone on the record with what he knows to be true about voter fraud. For speaking out, Davis has become a pariah in his party. In an interview with the online news site, Daily Caller, Davis said, “What I have seen in my state, in my region, is the most aggressive practitioners of voter-fraud are local machines who are tied lock, stock and barrel to the special interests in their communities – the landfills, the casino operators – and they’re cooking the [ballot] boxes on election day, they’re manufacturing absentee ballots, they’re voting [in the names of] people named Donald Duck, because they want to control politics and thwart progress, People who are progressives have no business defending those individuals.”
As Davis touched upon, the real potential for massive voter fraud comes with the use of absentee ballots, and another recent example from Georgia, where twelve people were charged with voter fraud in a local primary election, bears this out.
Investigators were tipped off when every incumbent on the ballot had a significant lead where votes were cast at the polls, but every one lost in a landslide when absentee ballots were counted. To give just one example of what kind of swing was orchestrated, when the polls closed, incumbent Board of Education member Gary Rentz was winning with 66.3% of the vote (1,090 votes) over his opponent Elizabeth Thomas, who had 36.7% of the vote. However, after absentee ballots were counted, Rentz was losing by a whopping 42.27% to 57.73%.
If they perpetrators of this voter fraud had been a little more subtle, they probably would have gotten away with it, but the example goes to show just how easy it is to manufacture massive amounts of fraudulent absentee ballots.
Calling in to Common Sense Radio, where Lindley was a guest, Secretary Condos said, “I have no knowledge of [O’Keefe’s findings in New Hampshire or the voter fraud in Virginia that resulted in Newt Gingrich not appearing on the ballot).” But… “The level of voter fraud is so minimal and in most cases is identified as really a mistake or an error. An error by the person who was registering or it could be an error by the clerk or the voting registration location…. There are very, very few cases of voter fraud that have actually been alleged and then proven.”
Too often we don’t see what we don’t want to see, and explain it away when we do see it. One person, one vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. It is the great equalizer between rich and poor in our elections. The goal should be that in the United States (and in Vermont) our policies make it easy to vote, but impossible to cheat. It can be done. But first, we have to admit there is a problem.