The Minnesota chapter of the ACLU is ready to do just that.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota today offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who prove a case where someone in the state has been charged or convicted of impersonating a voter.
State ACLU Executive Director Charles Samuelson said his organization put up the bounty to show that a Republican-proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show a photo identification at the polls is not needed.
Samuelson said ACLU attorneys have not been able to find in single case of voter impersonation during the past 10 years.
The sponsor of the bill says this proves nothing.
In response, the sponsor of the voter ID bill, Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, noted the U.S. Supreme Court has found that “voter impersonation is incredibly hard to detect and it nearly impossible to prosecute, yet it has said we know for a fact that it occurs.”
In Minnesota? “Of course,” Kiffmeyer said.
Actually, no, and that’s the point the ACLU is making. We don’t know for a fact that it occurs. We know that a small number of felons have voted while on parole, making them ineligible. We don’t know that anyone has impersonated a registered voter in order to vote while ineligible or to vote multiple times. Those are the only crimes this bill would address, and we have no documentation that they’ve happened here.
Even the Supreme Court decision that Kiffmeyer is talking about cites Tamany Hall (almost 150 years ago) as it’s major proof that this type of voter fraud can happen, while documenting incidents in a few states that are mostly absentee ballot fraud, not in-person fraud–and not in Minnesota. Kiffmeyer says we know “for a fact” that it happens here, but where she gets those facts is another question.
Another local Republican is a little more straightforward on the point of the bill.
This recruitment to vote – or encouragement, to be more charitable – is most common, of course, when you are nearest the country’s tallest buildings and less likely in the hinterlands where everybody knows everybody down at the fire barn. There has got be a reason why I keep losing, and I wonder why the ACLU never acts on my behalf. I want to win, too! I can count on one hand the people whom I have voted for who have actually won something, especially locally.
Well, all I can do is keep plugging away and hope for the best, but with each passing election cycle, I feel increasingly disenfranchised.
I think that word does not mean what he thinks it means. But he goes on.
The Republicans who propose the amendment to require the photo ID are not nearly as blunt as I am. I think what they are after is probably the same thing I am after, which is another way of saying that the voters who show up by virtue of having been captured in a net dragged around by activists don’t seem to vote for Republican candidates. It is not at all fraud. It is just disappointing.
I’ll offer $1,000 to charity to anybody in the ACLU who can provide me evidence that an encouraged voter ever voted for a conservative candidate.
In other words, my vote is intellectually arrived at; planned, if you will. You might not like my decision, but at least I know who I am voting for. I haven’t been talked into voting, and I don’t need free cigarettes, and I’ll figure out a way to get to the polls on my own, even in a snowstorm.
He’s perfectly fine with making it harder to vote–as long as he wins. So is Kiffmeyer.
In the meantime, The Pew Center on the States has found that our voter rolls have a very different problem. The process of maintaining them is hugely costly. The mostly manual process results in a very high rate of errors. It doesn’t remove people who are dead or who have registered in another precinct, or even another state.
This, however, is not what our lawmakers who say they’re concerned about fair elections are paying attention to. Why? From the full report (pdf):
In the 2008 general election, 2.2 million votes were lost because of registration problems, according to a survey by researchers at the California Institute of Technology/Massachusetts Institute of Technology Voting Technology Project.12 Additionally, 5.7 million people faced a registration- related problem that needed to be resolved before voting, according to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study.13
Still, even among those who try to register at a motor vehicles agency, the results are mixed, at best. For example, nearly 25 percent of those who attempted to register at a Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration office in 2007-2011 did not make it onto the state’s voter rolls.23
According to data from CCES, people who moved within the two years preceding an election are most likely to have registration- related difficulties at the polls.26 Mobility issues particularly affect military personnel— especially those deployed overseas and their families—who were almost twice as likely to report registration problems as was the general public in 2008.27
Clark County, NV, which includes Las Vegas and has been particularly hard hit by home foreclosures, is a good example of the burden mobility puts on election officials. In a six-month period, spanning the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, more than 150,000 of its nearly 700,000 active registered voters—more than 20 percent— moved from the address on file with the county election office.28
In other words, the problems with the current voter registration processes disenfranchise people. Not in some whiny, “Oh, my party didn’t win everything” sense. Not in some hypothetical, “There may be bad people out there doing something bad” sense. In the sense that about 1.5% of the voters in the 2008 general election were never counted.
That’s disenfranchisement. That’s disenfranchisement that this proposed law would not cover. That’s disenfranchisement that, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t being addressed by any proposed legislation. But our Republican-controlled state legislature is apparently just fine with that.
No, it’s the hypothetical fraud we need to worry about, and before we’ve even demonstrated it’s a problem, we need to do more to make it harder for people to get their votes counted. That’s okay, though, because they don’t really know why they’re voting anyway.
(Update: Kiffmeyer in particular has no excuse for saying we know this happens here. As Rieux points out in the comments, and I should have noted earlier, Kiffmeyer was our Secretary of State for part of the last 10 years covered by the ACLU bet. She was defeated in her reelection attempt in part because she campaigned on the voter fraud issue, while her opponent campaigned on what we actually need–an update of our procedures that would bring them into the current century.)