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Changes That We Are Not Likely To See After the Election.

In a prior post, I suggested some of the changes in party dominance of American institutions that are likely to result if (as fully expected) the Democrats win today.

What we are unlikely to see over the next four years is progress on serious defects in the press and the electoral process that this election revealed.

It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, and yet this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime.

First, we have never had so many illegal campaign contributions, including illegal foreign contributions, as we had this year.

Second, (in my lifetime at least) we have never had so much systematic election fraud; that the tens — or more likely hundreds — of thousands of illegal voter registrations have not been a major campaign issue is appalling -- and it's worrisome for our democracy.

Unfortunately, (as everyone knows by now) Obama has long ties to ACORN and its affiliated groups (as a trainer of staff, as their lawyer, as a foundation board member voting them funds, as the proponent of federal legislation allowing them to receive millions in federal funds, and as the head of a presidential campaign hiring them for services to the campaign). I would hope that the new president would bring a RICO action going after the most corrupt national political organization to surface in my lifetime. I won't be holding my breath.

Last, the press's performance in 2008 has been appalling. Unfortunately, we have a mediated democracy, mediated by the press. Until the newsrooms are integrated politically, it is difficult for citizens to get the information they need to make informed decisions.

I hope that the voting today is not so close that it was likely determined by voter fraud or tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. As to what the election would have looked like with a fair — that is, evenly biased — press, that is a counterfactual about which we probably don't have enough information even to make an informed guess.

UPDATE: Jonathan Adler disagrees with me, and Orin Kerr chimes in as well. Unfortunately, they don't offer any good reasons for doubting my claims, other than increased press coverage. In a new long post, I support my claims with both evidence and argument and ask Jonathan to do the same.

Hoosier:
Last, the press’s performance in 2008 has been appalling

The fix was in from the beginning. Other than that, coverage was well.
11.4.2008 1:26pm
Steve:
If people still believe that a hundred Mickey Mouse registrations mean that a hundred Mickey Mouses will be showing up and casting votes on Election Day, there's really nothing left to say to them.
11.4.2008 1:26pm
alkali (mail):
I hope the voting is not so close that sore losers seek to intentionally undermine the legitimacy of a free and fair election by spreading ill-considered and unfounded speculation about non-existent voter fraud and purported illegal campaign contributions.
11.4.2008 1:26pm
Hoosier:
"swell"
11.4.2008 1:27pm
Donny:
Your ridiculous partisanship makes Obama's victory that much more sweet.
11.4.2008 1:29pm
Armen (mail) (www):
First, we have never had so many illegal campaign contributions, including illegal foreign contributions, as we had this year.

Your "evidence" (and I'm really, really using the term loosely) for unprecedented foreign contributions is some guy in Spain who says he got e-mails from the Obama campaign? The same mass e-mails automatically generated and sent to all the e-mails on their list? That's it? We need to overhaul the election system because some Spanish guy's e-mail address ended up on a campaign distribution list? You don't think clicking "unsubscribe" would solve that problem?
11.4.2008 1:31pm
Patent Lawyer:
As I've posted elsewhere, we've already got 3 reports of serious, serious problems in Philadelphia. (Black Panthers intimidating Republican voters and poll watchers; Republican poll watchers being ejected from voting locations; machine breakdowns) The most plausible pro-Republican predictions are guessing a race that comes down to PA.

If the race comes down to PA, and PA is decided by less than 1% (especially if less than 10K votes), the real crisis begins.
11.4.2008 1:32pm
Alex Bensky (mail):
The Mickey Mouses are probably ACORN workers just trying to fulfill their quotas. Problem is that there are a lot of false registrations that aren't Mickey Mouses (or Mice).

In Michigan, for example, we were told in October that 98% of the eligible popultion had registered. This is simply quite unlikely or there is a wave of civic-mindedness heretofore undetected.

If I were a cynic I'd say that the registration problem, and for that matter dumping armed forces votes in Virginia, would be a vital national issue if Republicans were doing it. If they had it should have been but same for both sides.
11.4.2008 1:33pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The fraudulent registrations are a non-issue. In addition to the fact that the organization that is accused of producing them, ACORN, is also the organization that reports them and flags them when submitting them to election authorities, there is simply no evidence that any significant number of fraudulent registrations translate into fraudulent votes. This is a pure red herring, used by the Republicans as cover for their massive vote suppression efforts.

As for the press, even if one buys the claim that the MSM has a leftward bias, there is a vast right-slanted segment of the mass media, ranging from Fox to Rush Limbaugh. Moreover, blogs and other internet sources are increasingly important and range all over the political map.
11.4.2008 1:37pm
Philosopher:
What a ridiculously biased post. The evidence of illegal contributions to Obama is scant and is based largely on conjecture. In any event, the rationale behind reporting requirements is that it allows voters to see who may be influencing politicians. In this case, it's highly unlikely that Obama will be influenced by individual donors who gave him $50 over the Internet, which is why the disclosure of small money donors isn't required.

As for your claim that this election has had the greatest amount of "systematic election fraud" of all time, you've offered nothing substantial in support of that outlandish claim. The few examples in the post you link to are of registration fraud, not vote fraud. What's appalling is that registration is so difficult and cumbersome in this country. Registration should be near-automatic. Why aren't we registered during the census, for instance, or when we file tax returns? Any fake people who are registered won't show up at the polls with proper identification anyway. If you think the few examples you provide represent the greatest electoral fraud in our nation's history, you might want to read some books before making outlandish claims.
11.4.2008 1:39pm
Waldensian (mail):

Until the newsrooms are integrated politically, it is difficult for citizens to get the information they need to make informed decisions.

What do you suggest?
11.4.2008 1:40pm
RPT (mail):
"I hope that the voting today is not so close that it was likely determined by voter fraud or tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions. As to what the election would have looked like with a fair -- that is, evenly biased -- press, that is a counterfactual about which we probably don’t have enough information even to make an informed guess."

Prof Lindgren:

How in the world can you work professionally as an "empiricist" if you make such silly and unfounded hyperbolic allegations for which you have no evidence.
None of the "information" in Reynolds' screed shows that any "fraudulent" votes have been cast or counted, or that any "illegal contributions" in any amount, much less "tens of millions of dollars". Really, is there any connection to reality here, or is this just flaming rhetoric? Is this what we have to look forward to if Obama wins? Allegations which are known to be false, or made with a conscious disregard for truth or falsity, i.e., actual malice? Where is the professionalism?
11.4.2008 1:40pm
PLR:
Second, (in my lifetime at least) we have never had so much systematic election fraud; that the tens — or more likely hundreds — of thousands of illegal voter registrations have not been a major campaign issue is appalling – and it’s worrisome for our democracy.

On the bright side, it is plausible that the New Regime will decriminalize the agricultural product that you apparently have been enjoying.
11.4.2008 1:40pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Obviously another hack job by Lindgren to further the republican -- What's that? He said Obama was one of the most honest and decent candidates we've had?

Obviously another hack job by Lindgren on behalf of the democrats -- What? He said McCain was honest and decent, too?

How the heck am I supposed to make you look like a hack if you're going to be reasonable?
11.4.2008 1:42pm
Anderson (mail):
I would hope that the new president would bring a RICO action going after the most corrupt national political organization to surface in my lifetime. I won't be holding my breath.

I seem to recall that the Democratic Party has long favored "motor voter" and other modes of indirect voter registration, which would very likely cover 99% of the voting-eligible population.

But the Republicans typically oppose that.

And then we're supposed to get upset about ACORN?

Here's my acronym in response: GMAFB.
11.4.2008 1:42pm
LN (mail):
People, please follow the links. Lindgren is hyperventilating because some people overseas got emails from the Obama campaign. Hilarious.

I'm trying to imagine what he would do if the election came down to one state that happened to be governed by Obama's brother, and if the Supreme Court made a critical ruling that it explicitly marked as unfit for precedent for future cases. Why, his head might explode!

Fortunately Obama is on pace for over 300 electoral votes. Sad sad wingnuts.
11.4.2008 1:44pm
wolfefan (mail):
Bill Poser (among others) nails it. It's not unprecedented fraud upon the voting system, it's unprecedented fraud perpetrated upon ACORN by those it hired to collect signatures.

I signed a petition to put Ron Paul on the ballot in VA. The guy collecting the signatures didn't ask to see any ID and has no idea if I put my right name down or not. Even if he had proof that I had used a fraudulent name, he would not be allowed to strike it from the petition. I collected signatures for John Anderson years ago; if someone had signed "Mickey Mouse" on the petition, there was nothing the Anderson campaign could have done about it other than not turn in that petition, which would have meant all the legit signatures wouldn't be counted.

Prof. Lindgren, you have written about this a lot, but I have never seen you say what you thought ACORN should do when it found a bad signature. What would you have done with a petition that had, say 25 legit names on it and 25 obvious phonies?
11.4.2008 1:46pm
The General:
It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, and yet this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime.


Yes. John McCain and Alan Keyes are decent and honest men.

However, Barack Obama is not. He is a Chicago street thugh politician. He consorted with anti-American terrorists and radicals and then lied about it. He went to a racist anti-American church for 20 years and fit right in, and lied about it. He uses thug tactics to intimidate and silence critics. He filed complaints with the DOJ to silence political advertising he doesn't like. He accepts fraudulent campaign contributions and refuses to take even minimal steps to ensure that the donations are legal. He said people who wear flag lapel pins are fake patriots. His campaign frequently labels any sort of criticism as racism. Those are not the actions of an honorable man. They are the actions of a tyrant.
11.4.2008 1:46pm
Anonymouse Troll:

Patent Lawyer:
As I've posted elsewhere, we've already got 3 reports of serious, serious problems in Philadelphia.

If only there were some non-partisan poll watching group to help out.
11.4.2008 1:47pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
I think the evidence of McCain's decency is vastly overstated - had his dad and grandfather not been admirals, he'd have never made it out of the USNA, nor had any kind of career. He is bright, funny and self-deprecating, that doesn't make him decent or honest.

hgb
11.4.2008 1:53pm
JimF (mail):
In regards to the poll watchers being kicked out. A local TV station went there and apparently they kicked out both democratic and republican watches due to space constraints. I'm not sure I can agree with doing it, but at least it wasn't partisan.
11.4.2008 1:56pm
JimF (mail):
Hmmm ignore the previous post apparently there have been more reports of that since this morning.
11.4.2008 1:58pm
Something Wicked:
I would hope that the new president would bring a RICO action going after the most corrupt national political organization to surface in my lifetime.

Too late. Alberto Gonzales has already left the Justice Dept.
11.4.2008 1:59pm
James Lindgren (mail):
If you don't think that probably hundreds of thousands of illegal registrations is a big deal, I wonder what is wrong with you.

Reverse the party involved and then rethink it.

Remember the reports that in Milwaukee in 2004 they ran out of ballots because there were so many more votes cast than there were people registered to vote. Remember the reports in Detroit that many precincts had over 90% turnouts (it appears that the workers just filled in ballots for those who hadn't shown up yet). In 2000, in NM, a statewide candidate worked for INS (and thus had access to immigration lists). In that election, according to (unconfirmed) online reports at the time, Democrats sent out ID cards to legal aliens who had applied for citizenship, encouraging them to vote. While one will never know, it is quite possible that was the difference for Gore in that state, which he was losing until a cache of ballots was discovered a day or two after the election.

There is nothing inconsistent with voting enthusiastically for Obama and actually caring about voter fraud.
11.4.2008 2:00pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I'd agree that freedom of the press is necessary for a well functioning democracy, but would question if the current billion dollar companies operating under freedom of the press are necessary. We should probably do whatever we can to accelerate their financial failure.
11.4.2008 2:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
Second, (in my lifetime at least) we have never had so much systematic election fraud; that the tens — or more likely hundreds — of thousands of illegal voter registrations have not been a major campaign issue is appalling – and it’s worrisome for our democracy.

More like an unprecedented volume of allegations of voter fraud in a preemptive attack on the legitimacy of an undesired election result.


Last, the press’s performance in 2008 has been appalling. Unfortunately, we have a mediated democracy, mediated by the press. Until the newsrooms are integrated politically, it is difficult for citizens to get the information they need to make informed decisions.


Politicians have whined about biased media for as long as we have had the media and Republicans in particular have whined about the "liberal media" (or, more recently, "liberal media elites") for every single election in my lifetime. I don't see this election as being any different.
11.4.2008 2:05pm
Thales (mail) (www):
This post and the Reynolds article are embarrassing in their lack of credible sources and the inferences they make. It is interesting that Reynolds does not spend a singles sentence discussing the documented vote-suppression and trickery efforts afoot in many states (e.g. the robocalls and fliers instructing voters that November 5th is election day for Democrats, and that the police will be out in force checking voters for outstanding arrest warrants and parking tickets, that people whose homes have been foreclosed on will be unable to vote, etc.) Meanwhile, Reynolds provides nothing other than lax credit card identity verification for his claim that massive illegal foreign contributions have gone to Obama. How does he know? He also intimates that Obama has outsourced registration to ACORN . . . and the evidence of this is? Finally, since ACORN is required by law to turn in registration cards, even if it thinks they are invalid, and has a practice of flagging the dubious ones, the connection between registration fraud or overzealousness and election fraud remains pure conjecture.
11.4.2008 2:06pm
Sarcastro (www):
First, I would like to commend Donny for his hubris. Counting chickens before they hatch is a sport everyone can enjoy!

Second, I would like hope we have some kind of Muslim reform in this election, where candidates come clean about their Muslimness. I think everyone can agree with this nonpartisan recommendation.
11.4.2008 2:06pm
Yankev (mail):

I hope the voting is not so close that sore losers seek to intentionally undermine the legitimacy of a free and fair election by spreading ill-considered and unfounded speculation about non-existent voter fraud and purported illegal campaign contributions.
Yes, ignore the house where 13 non-residents cast votes illegally. Let's stick to the proven strategy of spreading ill-considered and unfounded speculation about state troopers turning black voters away from the polls, or a Democratic led but bipartisan county board of elections causing deliberate shortages in voting machines at precints expected to vote for John Kerry.
11.4.2008 2:10pm
SG:
but I have never seen you say what you thought ACORN should do when it found a bad signature. What would you have done with a petition that had, say 25 legit names on it and 25 obvious phonies?

I'm not Prof Lindgren, but I'll respond. ACORN should change their incentives such that they don't pay their field workers for fraudulent registrations.

A very simple change (they already are screening for bogus registrations, right?) that would align their field worker's incentives with what ACORN claims to want (registering voters). They'd receive a better work product and probably save money at the same time.

The fact that they continue to pay field workers for fraudulent signatures (remember, this didn't start this year) says that they value the bogus registrations - revealed preference and all that. Do you have an innocent explanation for why they would value bogus registrations?
11.4.2008 2:13pm
Metoo:

probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president

You must be thinking about when Obama's earlier campaign got his rivals eliminated from the ballot on technicalities. Or in his Senate race when his campaign got the sealed divorce records of his opponets released to the public. Or when he stayed in a 'hate' church that accused the US Government of infecting black men with AIDS. Yes, Obama, Good and Decent.
11.4.2008 2:14pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
Thanks for proving his pont, Yankev.
11.4.2008 2:15pm
Kazinski:
Last week my wife logged on to Barrack Obama's website and gave him a $30.00 contribution, she then recieved an email confirmation from the Obama campaign for $2300.00, which had been charged to her credit card.

As humiliating it is to admit that I can't control my own wife, and that not only is she voting for Obama, she is sending him money, I think this incident illustrates what is going on in the Obama campaign. I don't blame Obama personally, other than not being able to control his staff, but there are going to be some prison sentences served. Did Obama recruit LaRouche staffers to man his online fund raising operation?
11.4.2008 2:15pm
Donny:
Sorry Sarcastro, I'll re-phrase:

Your ridiculous partisanship makes Obama's extremely likely victory that much more sweet.
11.4.2008 2:15pm
Metoo:

I hope the voting is not so close that sore losers seek to intentionally undermine the legitimacy of a free and fair election by spreading ill-considered and unfounded speculation about non-existent voter fraud and purported illegal campaign contributions.

You mean like the 2000 election?
11.4.2008 2:16pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
The evidence of illegal contributions to Obama is scant and is based largely on conjecture.


The evidence is scant because the Obama campaign personally ensured that it was scant. And you see no conflict of interest there, I bet.
11.4.2008 2:17pm
PC:
That you for the Fair and Balanced(TM) post Prof. Lindgren.
11.4.2008 2:18pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
SG: ACORN should change their incentives such that they don't pay their field workers for fraudulent registrations.

Perhaps you could explain how they should do this. I understand they switched from piece rate to hourly rate for this purpose, but it hasn't seemed to have solved the problem.

Your superior solution is ...
11.4.2008 2:18pm
Sagar:
"It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, ... ".

I call BS on this claim. Take 2000 for example, there wasn't a big issue with Bush and Gore's indecency or dishonesty. Why are McCain and Obama considered most honest and decent. There are several examples to the contrary on each of them - just ask their opponents.
11.4.2008 2:19pm
Sarcastro (www):
[All I'm saying Donny is not to jinx it.]
11.4.2008 2:20pm
byomtov (mail):
The Timmerman article about foreign contributions is a joke. See here for one discussion.

Be sure to read the comments, which make some good points.

Touting this nonsense, and the credit card issue, which has been amply explained by commenters on this site, among other places, is to label yourself a partisan hack.
11.4.2008 2:20pm
Metoo:
I was driving down the road behind a car that had two bumper stickers. One was an Obama/Biden sticker. The other was a "He's not MY president" sticker (meaning you-know-who, of course)

I laughed out loud. Wonder what that person will say when, over the next 4 years I have a "He's not MY president" sticker on My car. Bet they won't like it. Bet they have lots of vile things to say about it.
11.4.2008 2:20pm
big guy (mail):
I'm not sure where you get "we have never had so many illegal campaign contributions, ...we have never had so much systematic election fraud..."

We haven't all had those problems. It seems to be confined to a single political party.

Also, most honest candidates? I'm still waiting for something substantive to come from Obama that sounds honest, other than his disdain for someone who isn't running for President. He's changed his policies so often based on time and audience that I can't follow what he actually intends to do.
11.4.2008 2:22pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"... two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time,..."

You must be joking. After McCain's amnesty bill went down in flames-- twice, he changed his spots and campaigned for border control. During the primaries he repeatedly promised that as president he would secure the borders first. But on Sunday, he let the cat out of the bag. In response to a question in New Hampshire, he reverted to the old amnesty-first McCain clearly showing the mendacious McCain we all know and don't love.

If Obama were Pinocchio, he would be a pole vaulting champion. "That's not the Tony Rezko I knew." "That's not the Reverend Wright I knew." Every time this guy gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he says "What cookie jar."

So much for the honest part.
11.4.2008 2:26pm
JamesInSeattle (mail):
James - voter fraud is a serious issue. Voter _registration_ fraud isn't the same thing at all. Republican failure to understand this is just baffling to most people.

It's completely telling that you just repeated vague claims, not actual evidence. It's been a few years - give us evidence, not just unsourced accounts of things you heard from a friend of a friend.

Our system of registering voters is just pathetic, I'll definitely give you that. If you're a citizen, you should be able to vote, and as a nation we need to spend the resources to make it happen correctly, everywhere.
11.4.2008 2:28pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

fliers instructing voters that November 5th is election day for Democrats


God, that joke flyer never gets old.

Any person who falls for that flyer should be permanently barred from voting anyway.
11.4.2008 2:28pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Yes Bob from Ohio, but anyone who distributes that flier or programs robocalls to the same effect should be prosecuted for fraud--do you disagree?
11.4.2008 2:29pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Kazinski:

I've made multiple contributions to the Obama campaign via their website. So has my wife. So have many of my friends. I haven't heard of one single instance of an inaccurate charge. So I'm guessing, based on my modestly wider pool of anecdotal evidence, that what happened to your wife was highly atypical.
11.4.2008 2:30pm
Steagles:
How 'bout a post on (GOP) systematic voter suppression efforts. Or does voter suppression not count when deciding whether a "fair" election has taken place.

Let's call it a draw this year. And give the Democrat party credit for gaming the system better than the GOP this go 'round.

By the way, anyone recall any posts about the shortage of voting machines in Democrat districts in Ohio in 2004? Fraud of another kind perhaps?
11.4.2008 2:36pm
ofidiofile:
The General:

Yes. John McCain and Alan Keyes are decent and honest men.


riiiggghht. like when keyes carpetbagged into illinois to challange obama, and actually took a slave reparations stance to improve his chances of winning?

and remember when john mcCain was pro-choice? and then, suddenly, before the election, he reverses his stance to get the republican nomination and better his chances of winning?

but yeah, except all that, perfectly "honest and decent".

hahaha, keep on poppin' the blue pills....
11.4.2008 2:36pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
voter fraud is a serious issue. Voter _registration_ fraud isn't the same thing at all. Republican failure to understand this is just baffling to most people.

It's completely telling that you just repeated vague claims, not actual evidence


Yes. What it is telling, is that there's no effective way to detect or prove voter fraud. That is because voting is anonymous to a degree that registration is not.

Registration exists BECAUSE the controls on voting itself is insufficient. But your argument is predicated on the assumption that a corrupted registration pool is no big deal.
11.4.2008 2:38pm
SG:
SG: ACORN should change their incentives such that they don't pay their field workers for fraudulent registrations.

Perhaps you could explain how they should do this. I understand they switched from piece rate to hourly rate for this purpose, but it hasn't seemed to have solved the problem.

Your superior solution is ...


I thought I described it. Pay piece work for valid registrations. Field workers don't get paid for the bogus ones.

We've been told they flag the bogus ones, right? Give an advance based on those and claw back whatever gets rejected by the county clerk. It doesn't seem that difficult, and surely a whole lot saner than either paying piece work for any registration or paying hourly.

That is, if your goal is to maximize the number of valid registrations and minimize the number of invalid ones. But if you wanted invalid registrations, then ACORN's existing incentive structure is exactly right.

Where's the difficulty? What am I missing?
11.4.2008 2:49pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

First, we have never had so many illegal campaign contributions, including illegal foreign contributions, as we had this year.

Exactly. Who is Shi Sheng Hao, why did Hao give McCain $70,000 on a single June day, on his way to contributing more than $120K to McCain and the RNC, and why does the man who answers the door at his supposed Chicago address insist Hao lives "overseas." From the Chicago Tribune story:


Before September 2007, Hao's name had never appeared in the 15-year-old federal database of campaign contributors. Since then, however, his donations have topped $120,000 — including $70,100 on a single June day to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Over the same time frame, a network of Hao relatives has kicked in more. The take from this group over the last 13 months exceeds $269,000, a small amount to Democrats but most of it to McCain and the Republican National Committee, records show.

Hao didn't register to vote at the northwest suburban address attached to his donations until October 2007, a month after he wrote his first political check, $25,000 to the RNC.

The circumstances surrounding Hao's sudden and prolific political activism are curious and his whereabouts unclear. His name isn't listed on property records or the mailbox at the unassuming tract home listed on his donations. Hao lives "overseas," insisted a man who answered the door at the Roselle home recently.
11.4.2008 2:53pm
LM (mail):
Nothing brings people together like ritual. So now that the smearing of the candidates finally winds down, let's share this traditional moment when the poisoning of the wells begins.
11.4.2008 2:56pm
Smokey:
alkali:
I hope the voting is not so close that sore losers seek to intentionally undermine the legitimacy of a free and fair election by spreading ill-considered and unfounded speculation about non-existent voter fraud and purported illegal campaign contributions.
You should really read the links in the article before posting something that reaveals such ignorance.

And Armen needs to look up the definition of "evidence."

People who claim there is not rampant election fraud should visit Watsonville, CA. A Mexican guy who has waited almost 15 years to become legal, by doing things the right way, was on the radio explaining how it works in Watsonville [and no doubt numerous other locations]:

The labor contractor hires through Mexican subcontractors, who in turn work with the local Democrats. Ag workers are registered to vote if they want work, their absentee ballots are collected, and *voila!* a few thousand more votes for your favorite spending initiative.

Ever since Motor Voter was passed in California, it's been Katy Bar the Door. Practically anyone with a pulse can be registered to vote and receive an absentee ballot.

Anyone who truly believes there isn't plenty of voter fraud in California knows nothing about the lax voting standards in the state, or human nature.

"Non-existent voter fraud"??? Alkali's naiveté is cute, isn't it?
11.4.2008 3:02pm
PC:
Where's the difficulty? What am I missing?

Just guessing here. There may not be any sort of feedback to ACORN to allow that system. I agree that it would make sense to implement something like that.
11.4.2008 3:02pm
Smokey:
Bill Poser:
The fraudulent registrations are a non-issue. In addition to the fact that the organization that is accused of producing them, ACORN... blah, blah, apologist, blah, etc. etc.
Some folks actually believe that voter fraud is a "non-issue"?? Sheesh. Get a clue:
ACORN has been accused of voter fraud in 13 states since 2004 and was convicted of falsifying signatures in a voter registration drive last July... [source]
11.4.2008 3:09pm
Yankev (mail):
See http://www.electionjournal.org/
Nope, no voter fraud here, folks -- just a few obviously bogus registrations that ACORN could not have been expected to catch. Move along, Move on, now.
11.4.2008 3:13pm
SG:
Just guessing here. There may not be any sort of feedback to ACORN to allow that system. I agree that it would make sense to implement something like that.

There may not be an established feedback path, but the voter rolls are a matter of public record. It should be straightforward to match the registration info they submit against the published voter rolls.

They should already be doing this (at least doing spot-checks) if they care about with the number of actual voters they're registering. It's an easy QC measure.

That's why I don't understand the defense of ACORN. They have to choose to do things this poorly. The fact that press on, even after conviction, says very strongly that the fraudulent registrations are (at least part of) their goal, not some lamentable but unavoidable byproduct. They pay for bogus registrations. They get what they pay for. My question is: Why are they willing to pay for it?
11.4.2008 3:22pm
skippy (mail):
After reading Mr. Lindgren's post, evaluating the links provided and reviewing the comments, I must conclude that Jim Lindgren is a douche nozzle.
11.4.2008 3:33pm
Guest12345:
Anybody who says that Obama hasn't received illegal donations just isn't paying attention. Just last week his campaign was caught accepting donations from his (non-Citizen/non-permanent resident) Aunt. After having this pointed out to them they had to return the money.

This story details $50,000 in fraudulent donations that the Obama campaign has had to return.
11.4.2008 3:35pm
deepthought:
What is needed is for federal elections is a national database of voters, tied to the national census. Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School and the Election Law Blog, proposes that the solution is to:


. . . . take the job of voter registration for federal elections out of the hands of third parties (and out of the hands of the counties and states) and give it to the federal government. The Constitution grants Congress wide authority over congressional elections. The next president should propose legislation to have the Census Bureau, when it conducts the 2010 census, also register all eligible voters who wish to be registered for future federal elections. High-school seniors could be signed up as well so that they would be registered to vote on their 18th birthday. When people submit change-of-address cards to the post office, election officials would also change their registration information.

This change would eliminate most voter registration fraud. Government employees would not have an incentive to pad registration lists with additional people in order to keep their jobs. The system would also eliminate the need for matches between state databases, a problem that has proved so troublesome because of the bad quality of the data. The federal government could assign each person a unique voter-identification number, which would remain the same regardless of where the voter moves. The unique ID would prevent people from voting in two jurisdictions, such as snowbirds who might be tempted to vote in Florida and New York. States would not have to use the system for their state and local elections, but most would choose to do so because of the cost savings.


In addition to uniform standards for registration, each state should have a uniform method for voting. Here in California each county uses different methods, let alone different machines. This situation showed up in early voting this year when Los Angeles County only had one site for early voting because their electronic machines had been decertified while Orange County had early voting locations in malls, community centers, and other locations where large groups of people gather. It's embarrassing that our voting standards and systems are basically at a third world level. What's next, inked fingers?
11.4.2008 3:36pm
EH (mail):
So I'm guessing, based on my modestly wider pool of anecdotal evidence, that what happened to your wife was highly atypical.

Occam's Razor holds that Kazinski's wife might be lying about the amount she intended to donate and that the figure is correct.
11.4.2008 3:36pm
alkali (mail):
Remember the reports that in Milwaukee in 2004 they ran out of ballots because there were so many more votes cast than there were people registered to vote.

No, actually, I don't remember that. (Googling, it seems there was a dispute before the election about whether a request for substantially more printed ballots than registered voters was appropriate. The mayor argued that some ballot spoilage was inevitable and it was not possible to know in advance which precincts needed additional ballots.)

Remember the reports in Detroit that many precincts had over 90% turnouts (it appears that the workers just filled in ballots for those who hadn't shown up yet).

That does not appear to be a registration fraud problem, but wrongdoing by election officials, if true. For what it's worth, I agree that erroneous or expired registrations would compound the effect of this kind of wrongdoing.

Question: If you see 90% voter turnout in an African-American neighborhood and immediately infer criminal activity, doesn't that make you a ... oh, never mind.

In 2000, in NM, a statewide candidate worked for INS (and thus had access to immigration lists). In that election, according to (unconfirmed) online reports at the time, Democrats sent out ID cards to legal aliens who had applied for citizenship, encouraging them to vote.

Ah, unconfirmed online reports. In any event, this doesn't seem to have anything to do with registration fraud, but with other problems in the registration system.

While one will never know, it is quite possible that was the difference for Gore in that state, which he was losing until a cache of ballots was discovered a day or two after the election.

There was a miscount of absentee ballots in NM. Even if you assume that the miscount actually resulted from election officials forging a bunch of ballots after the fact, that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the problem of aliens registering to vote.

There is nothing inconsistent with voting enthusiastically for McCain and actually making reasoned judgments about unsourced and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
11.4.2008 3:38pm
SG:
What's next, inked fingers?

I fully support inked fingers, along with a drastic curtailment of early/absentee voting.
11.4.2008 3:39pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Yes Bob from Ohio, but anyone who distributes that flier or programs robocalls to the same effect should be prosecuted for fraud--do you disagree?


Yes, I disagree.

What constitutional statute criminalizes such conduct other than by perhaps government officials?

The federal Voting Rights Act bans intimidation and threats. Such a flyer is neither.

A person has no duty to provide accurate voting information to morons.
11.4.2008 3:41pm
RPT (mail):
"The evidence is scant because the Obama campaign personally ensured that it was scant. And you see no conflict of interest there, I bet."

You may have heard of the "beyond a reasonable doubt" or the "clear and convincing" or the "preponderance" standard.

This is the famous Rumsfeldian "lack of evidence is not evidence of lack" standard. The lack of evidence is overwhelming in favor of conviction! Can you write the jury instruction for this?
11.4.2008 3:46pm
Andrew Janssen (mail):
The last corruption-free election in this country at the presidential level was probably Washington's two terms.

And anyone who calls this election the "worst ever" needs to go read about Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel J. Tilden in 1876. Cleveland-Blaine, Harrison-Van Buren, and the Adams-Jefferson rematch are also excellent examples of the depths to which people are willing to sink to get elected.
11.4.2008 3:55pm
alkali (mail):
Following up the above, here is why I don't credit the sincerity of the purported concerns for voter fraud expressed in JL's post and elsewhere:

1) They are frequently based on unsourced or thinly sourced anecdotes, or on urban legends spread on conservative web sites (see my comments on JL's comment above)

2) They frequently feature speculative extrapolation from figures which aren't well supported to begin with (JL: "tens -- or more likely hundreds -- of thousands of illegal voter registrations")

3) They are frequently targeted at minority groups, mostly African-Americans and Latinos (see my comments on JL's comment above)

4) No serious effort is made to acknowledge obvious explanations for the phenomena criticized, or such explanations are dismissed as naive on the basis of no authority

5) No serious effort is made to suggest remedies, except for limiting electoral and campaign participation by minorities and lower-income persons (for example, no serious discussion of Rick Hasen's universal registration proposal, no discussion of how other democracies handle those issues)
11.4.2008 4:03pm
JosephSlater (mail):
EH: Perhaps, but far be it from me to try to stir up trouble in the Kazinski household.

Beyond that, what Alkali said.
11.4.2008 4:09pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
Here's an easy way to eliminate fraudulent votes. Print the ballot on your IRS tax return. Have a simple IRS form for those who don't owe taxes or have a refund due. Just change tax day from April 15th to election day.
11.4.2008 4:44pm
JeremyR (mail):
I really don't understand why we can't simply ink people's thumbs. Is it foolproof? No. But pretty close when it comes to actual physical voting.
11.4.2008 4:51pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
"...this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime."

Ah, to be young again.
11.4.2008 4:54pm
Smokey:
alkali has been been a good little apologist for all the different examples of rampant voter fraud, hasn't he? But what about ACORN's conviction? Where's the excuse for that? [I'm sure one will be ginned up.]

And Andrew Janssen is right about past elections stolen via voter fraud, just like what ACORN does. Human nature doesn't change. The difference today is that George Soros is on record as paying hundreds of $millions to ACORN and similar groups, and Soros has a long history of using his money to subvert the electorate's vote.

There's plenty of voter fraud in Obama's organization, and its sub-organizations like ACORN. Let ACORN handle ballots, and there's voter fraud. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.
11.4.2008 5:02pm
Morat20 (mail):
Ah, yes. We're already into "McCain didn't lose, it was stolen" territory.

Well, have fun with that. I promise the sane folk -- McCain and Obama supporters alike -- will find your utter fascination with the stolen election of 2008 to be hilarious.
11.4.2008 5:03pm
Joe - Dallas (mail):
I think the election has been/will decided in a large part to election fraud in the form of campaign financing. $700m buys a lot of positive coverage. 250% increase in donations, get real -
11.4.2008 5:04pm
Joe - Dallas (mail):
I think the election has been/will decided in a large part to election fraud in the form of campaign financing. $700m buys a lot of positive coverage. 250% increase in donations, get real -
11.4.2008 5:04pm
Joe - Dallas (mail):
I think the election has been/will decided in a large part to election fraud in the form of campaign financing. $700m buys a lot of positive coverage. 250% increase in donations, get real -
11.4.2008 5:04pm
rrr (mail):
Simply unbelievable evasions, distortions and justifications by the obamabots commenting here (which furthers my change of heart on lawyers--I use to read law blogs because I assumed tight arguments and good logic. Now I see that it's just the ability to argue, yell loud and call names). This stuff makes it clear why, from day one, should Obama win, I'll give him the same kind of support and b.o.d. that the likes of such have demonstrated. Look, it's easy: "Not MY President."
11.4.2008 5:08pm
Pierre Owner Bouncer Pink Flamingo Bar & Grill (www):
Two of the most honest men we have had running for office??? Are you serious? Exactly who authorized the credit card fraud Obama has been running? Obama has lied about every single major figure in his life...Wright, Ayers, Dohrn, Rezko, Pflegar, Khalidi...my gosh exactly when did lying become honest?
11.4.2008 5:11pm
alkali (mail):
alkali has been been a good little apologist for all the different examples of rampant voter fraud, hasn't he?

Two examples were provided. I couldn't find support for either.

But what about ACORN's conviction? Where's the excuse for that? [I'm sure one will be ginned up.]

While it is perfectly possible for a nonprofit entity to be convicted of crimes, ACORN has not been convicted of any crime to my knowledge. Certain ACORN employees have been convicted of submitting false registrations. To my knowledge, ACORN cooperated with the law enforcement authorities that brought those criminal cases.
11.4.2008 5:16pm
ofidiofile:
rrr:

Simply unbelievable evasions, distortions and justifications by the obamabots commenting here (which furthers my change of heart on lawyers--I use to read law blogs because I assumed tight arguments and good logic. Now I see that it's just the ability to argue, yell loud and call names). This stuff makes it clear why, from day one, should Obama win, I'll give him the same kind of support and b.o.d. that the likes of such have demonstrated. Look, it's easy: "Not MY President."


funny, though, you don't mention any one of their supposedly flawed arguments, hmm. you dittoheads are sooooo damn cute and sad!

and don't feel that you have to justify your "Not MY President" invective to little ol' us - we both know that justification is all that it is.

(and just so you know, i vote libertarian, so don't try giving me any of that "Obamabot" drivel.)
11.4.2008 6:05pm
Fx:
Yes. John McCain and Alan Keyes are decent and honest men.

However, Barack Obama is not. He is a Chicago corrupt politician. He consorted with anti-American terrorists and radicals and then lied about it. He went to a racist anti-American church for 20 years and fit right in, and lied about it. He uses thug tactics to intimidate and silence critics. He filed complaints with the DOJ to silence political advertising he doesn't like. He solicits, enables and accepts fraudulent campaign contributions and refuses to take even minimal steps to ensure that the donations are legal. He said people who wear flag lapel pins are fake patriots. His campaign frequently labels any sort of criticism as racism. Those are not the actions of an honorable man. They are the actions of a tyrant. (Borrowed liberally from a prior post.)
11.4.2008 6:08pm
SukieTawdry (mail):
I can't comment on whether Barack Obama is an honest man, but, sorry, Jim, he has not been an honest candidate. He's not been honest about his past, his associations, his activities, his legislative "accomplishments." He has denied, concealed, obfuscated and spun, and, when necessary, outright lied. He has refused to let us see medical records, college transcripts and test scores. He declines to discuss in anything but the most general terms large swaths of his life which remain a mystery to this day. He conceals who he really is and what he really believes as a matter of political expediency probably because he knows the real Obama is not electable. He refuses to safeguard his campaign contribution apparatus from fraud and exhibits an entirely cavalier attitude about the whole thing. Honest? No. And, really, how decent a man can a dishonest candidate be?
11.4.2008 6:16pm
John Steele (mail):
So let me get this straight. We've got all these highly questionable donations and illegal foreign donations all going to one campaign, that of Mr. Obama; there is ample evidence that the McCain campaign has taken every step to prevent this kind of misuse and fraud. The Obama campaign has wilfully and intentionally disabled all the security checks designed to prevent credit card fraud and you still think that we have "two of the most honest and decent men running for president ..."? In what universe?
11.4.2008 6:30pm
Sarcastro (www):
I can't comment on whether Batman is an honest man, but, sorry, Jim, he has not been an honest candidate.

He's not been honest about his identity, his associations, his activities, his crime fighting "accomplishments."

He has denied, concealed, obfuscated and spun, and, when necessary, outright lied.

He has refused to let us see his face, college transcripts and test scores. He declines to discuss in anything at all and large swaths of his life remain a mystery to this day.

He conceals who he really is and what he really believes as a matter of political expediency probably because he knows the real Batman is not electable.

Also he uses all this new fundraising and doesn't limit it at all!

Honest? No. And, really, how decent a man can a dishonest candidate be?

I will accept nothing less than personally spending hours stufying Batman's life through some sort of time device provided by the candidate. Anything else and he's hiding something.

/Penguin>
11.4.2008 6:35pm
LM (mail):
Sarcastro,

That's a great clip.

I always had a feeling Rocky shouldn't trust Micky, but I could never put my finger on why. I can't believe I forgot his real identity.
11.4.2008 7:39pm
Brett Bellmore:

My question is: Why are they willing to pay for it?


Well, you've got two boxes of registrations you're giving elections officials, the one you say is legit, and the one you say is full of fraudulent registrations which you're legally obligated to turn in anyway. And which you can pretty much rely on overworked elections officials ignoring, because you've made sure they got too many registrations to examine them all before the election.

Who's to say they're correctly sorted?
11.4.2008 9:04pm
first history:
I think the election has been/will decided in a large part to election fraud in the form of campaign financing. $700m buys a lot of positive coverage. 250% increase in donations, get real -

Oh, please. The only Republican who has supported public financing is McCain. Republicans should be grateful to Obama--he's destroyed a system they don't like.
11.4.2008 9:10pm
James Lindgren (mail):
I just posted a "Response to Adler on Corruption."

Jonathan takes issue with this statement of mine in an earlier post:


It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, and yet this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime.



To support this claim, I pointed to three things:

1. tens or hundreds of thousands of illegal voter registrations,

2. illegal campaign contributions, including illegal foreign contributions,

3. the press’s performance.

I concluded by hoping that “the voting today is not so close that it was likely determined by voter fraud or tens of millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions,” a hope that was borne out by the substantial margin for President-elect Obama.

Jonathan disagrees with my conclusion, but the only arguments that he raises in response are that:

(1) “it does not look like corrupt election practices actually affected the outcome in any national races,” and

(2) “it might appear to some [because of more press and internet coverage] that there is more bad stuff going on, but I haven't seen any solid evidence that this is in fact the case.”

Jonathan’s first point essentially agrees with my assertion in my original post, so that’s not grounds for disagreeing. I would dispute Jonathan’s second point quite vigorously and would ask him which year since 1952 was more corrupt and what arguments or evidence he has for such a claim. In some of the early elections (eg, 1952, 1956, and 1960), African-American voters were suppressed quite substantially by poll taxes and the like, but that is not the sort of "corruption" I was talking about. As I made clear, I pointed to the extent of phony registrations, illegal contributions, and press bias.

FRAUDULENT VOTER REGISTRATION

In my post, I linked as evidence to John Fund’s piece at Politico:


Anita MonCrief [is] an ACORN whistle-blower who worked for both it and its Project Vote registration affiliate from 2005 until early this year . . . . MonCrief, a 29-year old University of Alabama graduate who wanted to become part of the civil rights movement, worked as a strategic consultant for ACORN as well as a development associate with Project Vote and sat in on meetings with the national staffs of both groups. She has given me documents that back up many of her statements, including one that indicates that the goal of ACORN's New Mexico affiliate was that only 40 percent of its submitted registrations had to be valid.

MonCrief also told me that some ACORN affiliates had a conscious strategy of flooding voter registration offices with suspect last-minute forms in part to create confusion and chaos that would make it more likely suspect voters would be allowed to cast ballots by overworked officials. Nate Toller, who worked on ACORN registration drives and headed an ACORN campaign against Wal-Mart in California until 2006, agrees.



Here is a small sampling of the fraud that has been uncovered so far:


Indiana — More than 2,000 voter registration forms filed in northern Indiana’s Lake County filled out by ACORN employees turned out to be bogus. Officials also stopped processing a stack of about 5,000 applications delivered just before the October 6 registration deadline after the first 2,100 turned out to be phony.

Connecticut — Officials are looking into a complaint alleging ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration cards in Bridgeport. In one instance, an official said a card was filled out for a 7-year-old girl, whose age was listed as 27. 8,000 cards were submitted in Bridgeport.

Missouri — The Kansas City election board is reporting 100 duplicate applications and 280 with fake information. Acorn officials agreed that at least 4% of their registrations were bogus. Governor Matt Blunt condemned the attempts by ACORN to commit voter fraud.

Pennsylvania — Officials are investigating suspicious or incomplete registration forms submitted by ACORN. 252,595 voter registrations were submitted in Philadelphia. Remarkably, 57,435 were rejected — most of them submitted by ACORN. . . .

Texas — Of the 30,000 registration cards ACORN turned in, Harris County tax assessor Paul Bettencourt says just more than 20,000 are valid. And just look at some of the places ACORN was finding those voters. A church just next door is the address for around 150 people. More than 250 people claim a homeless outreach center as their home address. Some listed a county mental health facility as their home and one person even wrote down the Harris County jail at the sheriff’s office. . . .



That’s not all. So far this year at least 14 states have started investigations against ACORN. Talk about a culture of corruption. It is so bad that Representatives of Congress have asked for the Justice Department to investigate.

ACORN has registered over 1.3 million voters this year. If their GOAL is only to have 40% of them legitimate, then there probably are hundreds of thousands of illegal registrations. Indeed, just the short list above includes over 70,000 fraudulent registrations. Jonathan, I've never heard of national registration fraud on such a grand scale.

In Indianapolis, over 105% of adults eligible to register are registered. That’s more registered voters than there are adults (national rates of registration are only 72%).

Jonathan, if you have any reason to think that any other election in my lifetime had a similar level of phony registrations, please explain the basis for your claim. Before ACORN, we never had a national organization that was set up to promote so much voter registration fraud, so I can’t see how you would defend that claim. Organizations such as the League of Women Voters were never engaged in systematic registration fraud like this.

ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

There are at least seven reasons to believe that illegal campaign contributions are more widespread in 2008 than in any election since at least 1952:

1. Computer use is higher and online contributions are easier to make than they have ever been before. Just a few years ago, most contributions were made by check, which left a paper trail.

2. The incentive and desire by foreign nationals to contribute to Obama is higher than in any prior election. (Before this year, I don’t remember any foreign public officials publicly admitting that foreign nationals were raising money for American presidential candidates.)

3. The Obama campaign disabled the normal credit card address verification feature on their website so that making illegal foreign and excess US donations was made much easier.

4. According to foreign newspaper and internet reports, the Obama campaign has repeatedly sent requests for money to foreign nationals who are prohibited from contributing.

5. There are many false names and occupations on the released lists of donors.

6. There are many suspicious patterns and amounts of donations just in the incomplete data that was reported.

7. The Obama campaign has refused to release the list of donors under $200 as the McCain has done.

Because illegal contributions are so much easier to make than ever before, it would be strange if there weren’t more illegal contributions. Why wouldn’t there be more illegal foreign contributions this year when the Obama campaign is the first to send frequent emails to foreign nationals asking for money? Jonathan, do you know of any reports that Kerry, Gore, or Bush did this in prior years?

There are many reports of illegal fundraising and illegal contributions. Here is just one summary:

SNIP

Gadhafi is not the only foreign official to talk about foreigners making donations. According to one internet account, a prominent Spanish official admitted on TV that he had donated to Obama’s campaign.

More accounts of registration, voting, and contribution irregularities are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

CONCLUSION

In my original post, I gave three reasons why in my opinion 2008 was the most corrupt election in my lifetime (even if, as I expected, it probably didn’t affect the outcome):

1. illegal voter registrations,

2. illegal campaign contributions, and

3. the press’s performance.

I was quite specific about the three facets of this year's corruption.

I have supported the first two with arguments and evidence. Given the massive illegal voter registrations this year, I find it hard to see how Jonathan could disagree on my first point.

On my second point, I don’t see how there couldn’t be more illegal donations this year, given the switch from donations by check to donations by computer, the lax controls, and the frequent fundraising emails to foreign nationals. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that the greatly increased press reports of illegal donations are just the result of better reporting (as both Jonathan and Orin seem to imply).

The third type of corruption – press bias — is so obvious and so widely recognized by the public and by many elites that I doubt that Jonathan would challenge me on that, so I won’t waste his time on that point in an already very long post.

I gave three reasons why this election was the most corrupt since 1952. Jonathan, please indicate which election since 1952 was more corrupt than this one, and why? You never say (nor does Orin in his post).
11.5.2008 3:33am