Archive for Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fraud focus

Proposals to eliminate voter fraud look like another solution without a problem for Kansas.

August 15, 2010


Voter fraud is a hot topic in the current campaign for Kansas secretary of state.

On the surface, it seems like a legitimate issue for candidates for a state office that is responsible for running Kansas elections. No one wants Kansas elections to be swayed or decided by illegal voting.

But is voter fraud really a problem in Kansas or another case of a candidate trying to promote solutions for a problem that doesn’t exist?

Republican Ron Thornburgh, who served as Kansas secretary of state for 15 years before resigning in February, says voter fraud isn’t a significant problem in Kansas. Democrat Chris Biggs, who was appointed to complete Thornburgh’s term and is running for election to the office, agrees.

Biggs’ opponent, Republican Kris Kobach hasn’t really presented any evidence that voter fraud is a problem in Kansas, but he nonetheless is proposing some specific measures to eradicate it. He wants to make Kansans prove their citizenship when they register to vote and present a photo ID when they go to the polls.

Such measures would pose unnecessary impediments to legitimate Kansas voters casting their ballots in order to solve a problem that hasn’t been shown to exist.

A 2007 report by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law makes some interesting points about voter fraud. The report, titled “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” found that individual voter fraud was extremely rare in the United States and that a large number of fraud accusations actually were attributable to clerical errors or other easily explainable circumstances: addresses that appeared to be vacant lots but actually held houses, “dead” voters who actually cast legitimate ballots before they died, voters registered in two places who had moved and not canceled their earlier registration, confusion between two voters with the same name, etc.

In other words, there was no intention on the part of voters to subvert an election.

Forcing voters to show proof of citizenship and present photo IDs at the polls seems related to Kobach’s concern about issues related to illegal immigration in the U.S., but there are other issues that should be of more concern to the Kansas secretary of state.

The use of computers to cast and count votes, for instance, presents a far greater threat for election-changing voter fraud. Reports from the 2008 elections about the difficulty many U.S. military personnel stationed abroad had in casting absentee ballots is another issue that may deserve attention.

If voter fraud is a problem in Kansas, the secretary of state should clearly identify and then define that problem then propose specific steps to address it. Unless the problem is verified, there’s no reason to create new legal hoops that make it harder for legitimate Kansas voters to register and vote.


independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

I hope some of the men who get the most votes will be elected. (Will Rogers)

Keith 7 years, 7 months ago

If Kobach wants a serious problem to address, he should address voter turnout. There's more of a problem with people not voting than there is with people not eligible to vote.

texburgh 7 years, 7 months ago

Kobach knows we don't have voter fraud, his real aim is to establish more government control over the individual. "Show me your papers," would be the catch phrase of the Kobach government. Just as it is according to his Arizona immigration law. Do you have a French accent? Did you just pronounce "out" like "oat?" You better have your papers!

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

I see no problem with proving citizenship while registering and showing a photo ID when voting.

If those other issues can be improved as well, great.

Since you're supposed to be a citizen to vote, and you're supposed to be who you claim to be, what's the problem with making sure that's the case?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

But what would the actual effect of these measures be?

Would it reduce voter fraud? Well, there's no evidence that it even happens, so it can't reduce that which doesn't happen.

Would it discourage voter turnout? Almost certainly.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago


Because people are too lazy to simply get the appropriate documentation?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

Voter turnout is typically 50% or less, sometimes much less. Clearly, motivation to vote is already very low for lots of voters.

Which is why I oppose adding one more reason not to vote, especially when it cures a non-existent problem

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

It's not a reason not to vote unless people turn it into one.

I would simply get and use the correct documentation - it's not that hard.

johnadavies 7 years, 7 months ago

Let's face it, Chris discovered that his anti-immigrant efforts didn't work any better in this part of Kansas than being a professor at UMKC! I might shake hands with him again (as I did years ago with Brownback because it's the polite Kansas thing to do) but that still wouldn't mean I'd vote for him! It's like the woman from Topeka talking about her years as a CPA when she was really voted into office more for her personal appeal than her good works! Neither one of them can do more than they can and maybe that would be good enough but I don't really think so! This is my two cents worth!

ebyrdstarr 7 years, 7 months ago

I don' t know. Years ago, I shook hands with Phill Kline because it was the polite thing to do, and I still feel a little dirty.

kansanbygrace 7 years, 7 months ago

This editorial comment reflects my opinion 100%.

Randall Uhrich 7 years, 7 months ago

There's no voter fraud in Kansas and they know it. The republicans launched a massive voter fraud initiative in New Mexico for the last 2 major elections. Know how many legitimate cases they turned up after scouring the entire state? Two! That's right, two, after all that money was spent. They did achieve their objective though: intimidating a huge percentage of minority voters to stay away from the polls. Kobach, we're on to you, you scumbag.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

If minorities aren't committing voter fraud, why would they be intimidated by attempts to prevent it?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

You can be hassled even when you are doing nothing wrong. No excuse for not voting, of course, but the republican tactic is effective and will continue until fair minded citizens put a stop to these un-American activities.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Again, if we instituted policies that require all voters to show proof of their citizenship and identity, why would that intimidate anyone who was a bona-fide citizen and was voting for themselves?

Randall Uhrich 7 years, 7 months ago

Reply to jafs: They're intimidated because they know that whites (usually conservatives) are running the polls, and those whites don't want them voting. No one wants to take a chance on getting hassled or arrested on some trumped up charge, as happened to hundreds in New Mexico. It isn't about preventing fraud, it's about stealing elections. Hundreds of legitimate but 'challenged' ballots were also thrown out. Why vote if it won't be counted? Wake up, fool!

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the insult - it really helps your case here (please note sarcasm).

In my experiences voting, I've seen a number of different ethnicities involved in the process - the polls haven't been "run by white people".

If there is blatant racial discrimination, then let's deal with that issue and prevent it.

If you don't want to vote because you're afraid that it won't be counted, that's your prerogative - I vote anyway.

If the requirement to prove citizenship and identity were instituted, I'd simply get the necessary documentation - problem solved.

Bob Burton 7 years, 7 months ago

Reply to rduhrich,

How can you prove or disprove voter fraud if you can not prove who voted?? Have you ever worked @ a polling place??

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

So Kansas is really full of Democrats, and the only reason all these Republicans keep winning is voter fraud. Hmmm.

voevoda 7 years, 7 months ago

The Lawrence Journal World has run several stories recently about fake IDs and how easy it is to get them. Any high school student or college student who wants to can find a way to get a fake ID that is good enough to pass muster at bars, where the checkers have a lot of experience. So how will a requirement that voters show a picture ID prevent election fraud? Will the workers at the polls, who have this job maybe twice a year, be able to ascertain valid IDs? Would they prevent a person who is validly registered to vote from voting simply because the ID isn't of a familiar type?
Kobach's idea would create more problems and more scandals than it would resolve. As the editorial points out, right now we have pretty close to zero problems and no scandals.

Bob Burton 7 years, 7 months ago


AGAIN!! How can you prove or disprove voter fraud if you can not prove who voted?? Have you ever worked @ a polling place??

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

You're the one assuming that there is massive criminality by voters in our elections.

Care to share with us your basis for that assumption? And asking others to prove that something really isn't happening when there is no evidence that it is intellectually dishonest.

What if I contend that you stole my car yesterday, and that your guilt or innocence depends on your ability to prove that you didn't, even though my car wasn't stolen by anybody? It's a pointless exercise.

voevoda 7 years, 7 months ago

SouthWestKs, Please see my posting on the forum connected with Leonard Pitts' op-ed piece on civility. And yes, I have worked at a polling place.

BigPrune 7 years, 7 months ago

When the T Bus got saved by a voter initiated sales tax increase by an overwhelming amount of voters, the questions came to mind.....Are the people of Lawrence total idiots or was there voter fraud? Some questions came to mind in a past city commission election when a person running for commissioner won at the 11th hour with a large margin by just a couple of precints....Are people stupid, was there voter fraud, or was there poor up-to-date reporting of the straw exit poll results?

When the League of Women Voters worked the polling booths after they endorsed certain candidates or ideas on the ballot years ago, similar thoughts came to my mind, but why wouldn't they?

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

The only incidencts of voter fraud that make a difference are those perpetrated by overzealous pols. ex. providing cigarette in exchange for voting. prodding one to vote with dubious credentials just to get another vote for the party. (No I didn't say ACORN.)

The country is not where it is today on account of any man. It is here on account of the common sense of the big Normal Majority. (Will Rogers)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.