Voter Fraud: Just Like Rape

As you probably know, the conservative war on “voter fraud” is a solution (disenfranchisement) in search of a problem. There is no credible evidence of voter fraud on a scale that would affect anything but the most closely contested of local elections. That’s not stopping legislators from instituting the modern equivalent of poll taxes and declaring those who have moved recently threats to our electoral system, however.

Yesterday, Christian Schneider offered a possible reason for this in the National Review Online.

Think about all the times you’ve been told that sexual assault occurs more than we think, as victims are hesitant to come forward and press charges. (A claim I believe, incidentally.) What if we just used arrest and conviction statistics to determine how often women are assaulted? Should we assume nobody in Major League Baseball used steroids in the late 1990s because no players were suspended?

Jonathan Bernstein has handled the sports question well at the Washington Monthly. I, as I frequently do, want to talk about rape.

You see, we don’t just tell people that rape happens more often than rape charges. You don’t have to believe it or not based on faith. We’ve done the work to prove it. We have about five decades of studies and surveys under our belts. Here’s the latest.

We’ve surveyed the general population to find out the prevalence of rape victimization. We’ve found out who the victims are, in a demographic sense. We’ve compared these numbers to police reports, so we know not just how much underreporting there is, but who is more and less likely to report a crime.

We’ve surveyed the rapists, too. We’ve found them out there, uncharged and unconvicted, but strangely willing to tell us what they’ve done as long as we don’t use the word “rape.” We don’t have to point to rumors and stereotypes to tell you who they’re likely to be. We know how their attitudes identify them, even though the identification is not precise.

Have you done any of this for voter fraud, Mr. The-Truth-Is-Out-There Schneider? No. You’ve just said the equivalent of, “There are dark alleys out there where lots of rapes could take place without anyone knowing.” Funny thing about that: Once we started studying rape, we found out it almost never happens in those dark alleys. Identifying an opportunity for a crime is not the same thing as identifying a crime.

We’ve also done the work to find out why victims don’t report rape. It’s because we have this messed up society in which the people who should supporting rape victims and investigating and prosecuting rapists don’t. Instead they revictimize the victim.

Police investigate the victim instead of the rapist. Prosecutors refuse cases unless the victim and the crime are too perfect for a jury to have a chance of dismissing. Communities and social circles blame the victims for ruining the lives of the rapists. Friends, family, media, the legal system–all of these tell the victim how the victim brought this on by doing whatever it was that put the victim at a disadvantage somewhere near a rapist.

All of these things matter. The degree of social support offered to a victim is the best predictor of how well the emotional trauma of a rape will be resolved. It makes a sad, appalling sense for a victim to refuse to report a crime. It’s self-protection.

Does any of this happen to those who report voter fraud, Mr. Schneider? Are there any consequences to those who report specific allegations instead of just generally sneering at the inner city? No. In fact, there’s an entire political party just waiting with open arms to welcome accusers, which makes your claims all the more pathetic. There is still no good reason to think there is any significant voter fraud.

Grabbing the mantle of rape victims to cover your factual inadequacies, of course, makes you an asshole.

Voter Fraud: Just Like Rape
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7 thoughts on “Voter Fraud: Just Like Rape

  1. 1

    Have you done any of this for voter fraud, Mr. The-Truth-Is-Out-There Schneider? No.

    Actually, this is not true. There have been major investigations into the prevalence of voter fraud. Only problem is, such investigations always find it’s a minor issue at best.

    It’s not that nobody’s done the work to collect the data. It’s just that the data doesn’t say what Schneider and her ilk wish that it said. D’oh…

  2. 2

    I’ve been an election worker for more than a decade. I’ve occasionally seen incidents that are technically legal but kind of iffy. Usually it involves having a registered but incompetent person (senile or mentally disabled) being “assisted” by a caretaker in the voting booth. (Oddly enough, the people who do it are Republicans.) However, as I have said, this is allowable under state election law and it only involves one or two votes per election in the four precincts I’m involved with. The sort of massive fraud that is being alleged by the Republicans, though, just isn’t happening.

  3. 3

    Communities and social circles blame the victims for ruining the lives of the rapists.

    All the more so now that we have mandatory sex-offender lists. One rape conviction, the jury knows, will utterly destroy the life of this fine man, making it impossible for him to ever coach Little League again.

  4. 4

    The thing that’s most depressing about rape culture is that if the case goes to trial, it’s not the rapist who is being put on trial, it’s almost always the victim. It’s sick and wrong. Imagine a murder trial where they called into testimony that the murdered child “deserved it.” Imagine a robbery case where the store was argued “well, you shouldn’t have put the jewelry on display.” Those would be transparently against justice, and yet it’s accepted in rape trials.

  5. 5

    The worst part is, what they do to try to inflate the incidence of fraud is exactly what they always accuse rape-researchers of doing–muddying the statistics by including things that aren’t the actual crime in question.

    See, the vast majority of “voter fraud” they talk about (such as in the ACORN fiasco) is actually “voter registration fraud”. The workers are usually paid according to the number of signatures they bring back. The more ‘enterprising’ workers bring back sheets filled with bogus signatures. However, no one ever actually uses those registrations to vote–so they just suppress the apparent turnout rate in the affected districts, more than anything else. (If 5% of the registrations are fraudulent, then that 5% will look like no-shows on election day.)

    So, once again, we have a classic case of right-wing projection.

  6. 6

    Stephanie, then James Sweet:

    Have you done any of this for voter fraud, Mr. The-Truth-Is-Out-There Schneider? No.

    Actually, this is not true. There have been major investigations into the prevalence of voter fraud.

    Er, but has Christian Schneider, or any organization he is associated with, mounted any of those “major investigations”? Unless he/they have, it would appear that Stephanie’s statement (“have you done this … ? No.”) is in fact true.

  7. F

    The reason the conservatives are so gung-ho on this, and why they are so certain there is voter fraud, is that it is perpetrated by themselves. Usually it is rigging or bullying of one sort of another, if not what is technically “voter fraud”. In fact, their fight against “voter fraud” is exactly this. It wasn’t enough for them to get the courts to install their candidate as president after all the manipulation which was done in that election. It has only emboldened them and increased their appetite.

    This would be the exact opposite of research into rape and rape reporting.

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