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The "Most Corrupt Election" in Years?

In a post below, Jim Lindgren remarks that this year's election has "easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime." This seems a bit much to me. There have certainly been many election irregularities — indeed, I've posted quite a few items that may raise eyebrows — but I don't think there is much basis for saying that this election is the "most corrupt" since 1952 (the year Jim was born). Further, from what I've seen thus far, it does not look like corrupt election practices actually affected the outcome in any national races.

One reason that election corruption may appear to be on the rise is that cases of voter registration fraud, election irregularities, and the like may receive more press attention. The internet and 24-hour news cycle can catapult stories about local electoral mischief onto the national stage. Add to that the fact that partisans on either side highlight events that cast their political opponents in a negative light, even if the actual facts are rather insignificant. So it might appear to some that there is more bad stuff going on, but I haven't seen any solid evidence that this is in fact the case.

smitty1e:
The media bias and funding irregularities alone make it a strong contender.
11.4.2008 10:14pm
J. Aldridge:
The biggest corruption has come from federal courts. States are no longer able to enforce voter qualifications.
11.4.2008 10:15pm
therut (mail):
The thing that makes me angry is all the money and time and agony spent and bills passes to fix the system. Everyone was screaming fix the system after 2000. Nothing has been done and money as usual is wasted. No one cares. State politicians are crooked on both sides and the people sit around doing NOTHING about it. Good grief. We are a 3rd world republic already. Just another wasted .gov money spending time wasting big nothing.
11.4.2008 10:17pm
big guy (mail):
If Jim was indeed born in 1952 then the Kennedy election was probably the most corrupt in his lifetime.

Fortunately a byproduct of the electoral system (that I don't think our founding fathers intended) tends to blunt the force of corruption.
11.4.2008 10:18pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
How about the apparent rise of multi-state voters? Folks who are registered to vote in more than one state, and then do so. Not enough on their own to tip presidential elections, but there ought to be a way for states to check each other's rolls for voters also registered in their own state long before an election . . . not after.
11.4.2008 10:23pm
RPT (mail):
Well, here go with the Rationalization Express leaving the station.

1. Where is the evidence of "funding irregularities?" Citation to the Rumsfeld Rule is not sufficient.

2. Please identify any instances of "voter fraud", that is any vote anywhere that was cast and counted and should not have been.

3. Re media bias, please call me afteer you have finished your review of Gov. Palin and Sen McCain's medical records.

It is my expectation that this will be a long and heated thread (unless comments are prematurely terminated) but that there will be NO EVIDENCE (as those of us who are lawyers use that term) of the foregoing.
11.4.2008 10:23pm
courtwatcher:
To Prof. Lindgren, smitty1e, and others:
Why does "media bias," if it exists, make the election "corrupt"? Do you think the government has an obligation to police the media's neutrality, even though media companies are private and even though the first amendment protects their speech? And do you think that our privately-owned media companies have an obligation to do run their businesses in a way that is explicitly calculated to provide neutrality, rather than to make a profit in whatever way they see fit? If so, from what principles does this obligation arise?
11.4.2008 10:26pm
Cold Warrior:
I say this in all seriousness:

From what I have seen and heard -- fact, not hysteria; both sides; not just one -- this was probably the cleanest, least corrupt election in my lifetime.

Really. In a race in which perhaps 140 million people voted, with election monitors (both sides) watching like hawks, I've heard of perhaps a dozen documented cases of possible voter fraud. Those "Mickey Mouse" registrations? The system worked; it caught them and weeded them out. On the other side: "voter intimidation?" Just hasn't happened.

No, I'm not naive enough to believe that there were only a dozen suspect votes cast in this election. But 0.001%? Maybe 0.0001%? Something on that order? I think that is a success.

Stop complaining. Get on with it. It was, as international election monitors say, "a free and fair election."
11.4.2008 10:31pm
big guy (mail):
RPT,

Please elaborate on point number 3. I've casually reviewed all four of the candidates medical records as reported in the mainstream media. McCain's was light on skin cancer details. Biden's omitted any reference to his aneurysms. Palin's was a detailed summary. And Obama's was but a note from his doctor saying he was in generally good health.

How does this relate to media bias exactly? I would be interested to know.
11.4.2008 10:31pm
Case2L (mail):
Prof Adler, I was a poll observer in Cuyahoga country today, and I noticed that some people from the Obama campaign came by the precinct, and got the lists of all the people who had voted (and thus also those who had not voted). Late in the day we noticed quite a lot of people coming in, right before the close, and most of them said that they only came in because they were getting calls from the Obama campaign asking why they hadn't voted yet. Not sure if that is corrupt per se, but it sure stank of dead fish to me. I reported it, but apparently it was happening all around Cleveland and there was not much that could be done about it.
11.4.2008 10:33pm
Pauldom:

Not sure if that is corrupt per se, but it sure stank of dead fish to me. I reported it, but apparently it was happening all around Cleveland and there was not much that could be done about it.

Are you suggesting that these people weren't who they said they were? I'm trying to figure out what is "corrupt" about people turning out to vote.
11.4.2008 10:40pm
frankcross (mail):
Thank you. I realize this is just a blog. But Jim, or anyone else, shouldn't make sweeping generalizations based on limited anecdotal evidence.
11.4.2008 10:45pm
RPT (mail):
Big guy:

My understanding is that there was no public release of any medical records from either Palin (just a letter last night) or McCain (a lot of pages shown to several journalists in a room; no copies allowed). This is of concern because both had recent medical issues of some controversy. If there was a greater release, please confirm.

Thank you.
11.4.2008 10:47pm
Thang (mail):
Case2L
Years ago, at least in Illinois, each party would have a poll watcher at each polling place with a voter list checking off the names of voters who voted. Several times a day that list would be checked so that precinct workers could contact voters favoring the party (or candidate) to remind them to vote. The only difference from what you described is who prepares the list of voters who voted.
11.4.2008 10:49pm
Bruce:
I agree with big guy, my guess would be 1960 was way more corrupt than anything we're seeing this year.
11.4.2008 10:49pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

1. Where is the evidence of "funding irregularities?" Citation to the Rumsfeld Rule is not sufficient.


RPT, you are joking, right? Beyond the philosophical argument of whether it was appropriate for Obama to renege on his promise to accept public financing and public financing limits, there are
- clear and well documented cases of fraudulent contributions in massive amounts, facilitated by
- a credit card system that would have gotten a commercial company's credit account closed in about 38 seconds (I build these systems, and I've got a close friend who struggles with them in her "adult oriented business"; this is no joke)
- massive contributions from outside the USA, including
- contributions we know were made illegally because they were made by Obama's own kin.
11.4.2008 10:50pm
Cold Warrior:
Case2L, I'm confused.

I imagine that in Ohio these poll watchers are allowed to look over the voter lists to see who has and has not voted. And I imagine that the Obama workers did their job, going out and trying to round up the nonvoters before the polls closed.

In my state, I requested a mail-in ballot. About 3 days after I got it, some Obama campaign worker called my home to say that the records didn't show that I'd returned my ballot yet.

I was impressed. (I also thought it was odd, since I'm not a registered Democrat, and their prompting could very easily have caused me to add one more vote to the McCain count.)
11.4.2008 10:50pm
Case2L (mail):
No reason to doubt they were who they said they were, but it seemed odd that anyone could find out who had not voted yet, at any given time, for the purpose of calling all those registered to one party to go out and vote. Its not fraud by any means, and I don't even think it is corrupt, but it just doesn't feel right, especially when I learned that the decision allowing this to take place only came about in the past couple of weeks.
11.4.2008 10:51pm
Anderson (mail):
Thanks for the sanity, Prof. Adler. It's in short supply on the right-hand side of the aisle right now.

Also:

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
11.4.2008 10:51pm
Is this really happening?:
The real story here is the unaccounted, foreign donations that poured into Obama's coffers via his web site -- it wouldn't shock me if it was 10% of his $600M haul.
11.4.2008 10:51pm
DangerMouse:
I see no obligation to provide evidence of corruption. The meme is the only thing that matters. After all, if liberals can play "selected not elected" for 8 years, why can't conservatives? Besides, there's plenty of evidence. ACORN and the MSM have done much more than enough to provide numerous years of enjoyment de-legitimizing Obama's presidency. The stories today were particularly interesting. Republicans thrown out of PA poling places, Black Panthers intimidating voters, the perennial shredding of absentee military ballots, etc.

His fraudulency, Obama the first. Gotta love it.
11.4.2008 10:52pm
Cold Warrior:

it seemed odd that anyone could find out who had not voted yet, at any given time, for the purpose of calling all those registered to one party to go out and vote. Its not fraud by any means, and I don't even think it is corrupt, but it just doesn't feel right,


It's called organization and hard work. And I'm guessing that's a big reason why Obama won Ohio.

Should it be illegal to share the voter lists with party organizers? I'd say so, since I don't like all these hangers-on hanging around. But it's legal, and it won't change (things like this are what keep us frozen permanently in a 2-party system).
11.4.2008 10:54pm
Oren:


- a credit card system that would have gotten a commercial company's credit account closed in about 38 seconds (I build these systems, and I've got a close friend who struggles with them in her "adult oriented business"; this is no joke)

If you worked with these systems, you'd know that the merchant gets penalized $25 for each chargeback (on top of the amount of the transaction that is returned to the cardholder). If it is in fact true that Obama's CC security was inadequate, then he will bear significant costs.
11.4.2008 10:54pm
loki13 (mail):
Prof. Adler,

I've been relaxing and surfing the web and watching (happily) the election returns since getting home from poll monitoring &I just came across this post.


Thank you.
11.4.2008 10:54pm
anonimator:
"I see no obligation to provide evidence of corruption. The meme is the only thing that matters. After all, if liberals can play 'selected not elected' for 8 years, why can't conservatives?"

And therein lies the Republican war with reality. That war has cost our nation dearly.
11.4.2008 10:57pm
Oren:

Thanks for the sanity, Prof. Adler. It's in short supply on the right-hand side of the aisle right now.

Reading these posts reminds me of reading some far-left blogs over the past few years. There is a total determination to fit everything to the narrative.
11.4.2008 10:58pm
Sarcastro (www):
DangerMouse: spite: if it's good enough for those low down commie liberals, it's good enough for you!
11.4.2008 11:00pm
DangerMouse:
Once again, Sarcastro, we agree!
11.4.2008 11:15pm
csm:
Lindgren's story looks to me like a shameless opportunity to link to this site's sponsor, PJ Media, and the NY Post, another worthless conservative tabloid rag.
11.4.2008 11:15pm
Order of the Coif:
Absolutely corrupt. Obama is in it up to his neck. $300 million of untraceable credit card "contributions." My "guess" that they are illegal funds supplied by Soros and foreign sources is just as good as Obama's lack of knowledge. The election was bought, Chicago-style, and that will remain the permanent stain.
11.4.2008 11:20pm
RPT (mail):
"Charlie:

- clear and well documented cases of fraudulent contributions in massive amounts, facilitated by
- a credit card system that would have gotten a commercial company's credit account closed in about 38 seconds (I build these systems, and I've got a close friend who struggles with them in her "adult oriented business"; this is no joke)
- massive contributions from outside the USA, including
- contributions we know were made illegally because they were made by Obama's own kin."

This is what you call evidence. What cases? Where? Documented by whom? "Massive contributions"? By whom and how much? In what court will such fluff be admitted. This is nothing.
11.4.2008 11:21pm
Sarcastro (www):
DangerMouse Spite, but no arugula or Brie!

One must have principles, after all.
11.4.2008 11:22pm
RPT (mail):
"Mouse:

I see no obligation to provide evidence of corruption."

What do you do for a living? You'd lose in my court.
11.4.2008 11:23pm
Cold Warrior:

What cases? Where? Documented by whom? "Massive contributions"? By whom and how much?


Anecdotal crap. I saw a thread on NRO's The Corner about this. Certain readers would fill out the Obama campaign contribution online form with silly fake names and real credit card numbers. According to some of these readers, the Obama campaign would sometimes accept the contribution.

Which doesn't surprise me. I mean, commercial online vendors are going to go out of their way to make sure a credit card number matches the rightful cardholder's name. If they don't, they're going to be shipping merchandise without getting paid for it. But a campaign contribution? Why bother? Even if the transaction is voided, you're not really out anything (except perhaps the 25 bucks another commenter said the credit card companies charge, and I suppose that's probably below the average contribution ... in other words, anyone doing a cost-benefit analysis would say, "set the security standards low; we've got nothing to lose.")

Once again, this is mostly sour grapes. According to some of those same NRO commenters, the McCain campaign rejected more name-number mismatches. Which goes to show that the McCain campaign was irrationally suspicious of donors, and may have foregone many potential contributions by people who made typographical errors, etc.
11.4.2008 11:42pm
DangerMouse:
One must have principles, after all.

Of course. Arugula and brie are for girly-men.
11.4.2008 11:56pm
geokstr:
RPT (mail):

- clear and well documented cases of fraudulent contributions in massive amounts, facilitated by
- a credit card system that would have gotten a commercial company's credit account closed in about 38 seconds (I build these systems, and I've got a close friend who struggles with them in her "adult oriented business"; this is no joke)
- massive contributions from outside the USA, including
- contributions we know were made illegally because they were made by Obama's own kin."

This is what you call evidence. What cases? Where? Documented by whom? "Massive contributions"? By whom and how much? In what court will such fluff be admitted. This is nothing.

The Obama campaign turned off the credit card security checks that every (that's like in EVERY) on line merchant must have to do business, and that the McCain campaign had in effect. Verifying the AVS number, and the crosschecking of names and addresses against those on record with the credit card companies were not done at all. The Obama campaign is unwilling to release the names of it's small donors, while McCain's donor lists are available immediately for all contributions. Tens of millions of Obama's dollars came from overseas. Lots of donations from foreign nationals in foreign currencies, with names and addresses that were made up, sometimes by just hitting keys at random, or made with prepaid credit cards. And even after they had to fess up about disconnecting all the security checks, Obama's campaign still refused to reset them.

I'm considering doing some MS Excel pivot tables on the lists when they finally become available in the next few months. I'll bet there will be a lot of interesting things to find. If he even bothers to release them that is.

This has been documented and even reported on by so many people in the last two months that you must be deliberately ignorant of it. I would list lots of links to all this, but, frankly, because of your snotty attitude, you can do your own damn research. I'm not surprised to learn that you are a lawyer.
11.4.2008 11:56pm
Cold Warrior:
geokstr,

I'm sure our posts crossed in the ether, but what do you say in response to my post? Even if you are trying only to capture legal contributors, isn't it perfectly rational for a political campaign to set the security settings at the minimum level?
11.5.2008 12:00am
Thomas_Holsinger:
I agree and disagree in part. This is somewhat of a definitional issue concerning the term, "election". It absolutely is not the most corrupt in terms of either the Presidential election (1876?) or in terms of all federal and statewide elective offices (1888 comes to mind there). Even in 20th century terms, corruption in terms of falsified voting returns (from whatever cause) is a lot less widespread these days than in the 1950's.

But this election is definitely THE most corrupt in a long time in its combination of organized, top-down, criminal conspiracy direction in fraudulent voter registrations and overt criminal fund-raising combined. And that direction came from the Democratic Party leadership and the Obama campaign.

In terms of organized criminal fund-raising alone, IMO the Nixon campaign in 1972 (CREEP) was worse, but there the Republican Party leadership was not involved - GOP Senate leader Bob Dole even coined the term, "CREEP".

More than campaign finance laws died with the organized criminal conspiracy of the Obama campaign. Financial disclosure laws died too. They are no longer enforceable as both sides will ignore them in the future.
11.5.2008 1:04am
Randy R. (mail):
"The election was bought, Chicago-style, ":

Really? You mean I get a check for voting for Obama?
Well, that's just the icing on the cake.
11.5.2008 1:11am
Randy R. (mail):
'But this election is definitely THE most corrupt in a long time in its combination of organized, top-down, criminal conspiracy direction in fraudulent voter registrations and overt criminal fund-raising combined. "

Any evidence, or just nervous paranoia?
11.5.2008 1:13am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Randy,

President-elect Obama and ACORN have had a long and fruitful relationship. Congressional Democrats steer federal funding to ACORN who in turn spends that money on electing Democrats.

A conspiracy is an agreement to act in concert to perform an unlawful act, or to use unlawful means to perform a lawful act. This is one of the latter.

You should also consider how removal of credit card verification protocols from the Obama donation website gave credit card thieves an opportunity to "ping" potential credit card numbers to determine which were valid numbers, and the other criminal uses which can be made of such information.
11.5.2008 1:24am
Thomas_Holsinger:
oog, "act in concert to achieve an unlawful end", not "to perform an unlawful act". Preview is my friend.
11.5.2008 1:37am
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 3:32am
James Lindgren (mail):
frankcross:

Some of the evidence is quite obvious. See my new post.

Given how ACORN runs registrations and how campaigns collect money over the internet rather than by check, how could it be otherwise?

Have you read the accounts. ACORN is not the League of Women Voters.
11.5.2008 3:44am
Thomas_Holsinger:
IMO the greatest single instance of voter fraud in the 2008 election was the entire state of Michigan, with the fraud being principally intended to secure passage of a "court-packing" initiative concerning Michigan's state supreme court. This initiative is the means by which Michigan's thoroughly corrupt Democratic machine will maintain its power despite it ruining the state economically.

This massive statewide criminal conspiracy was also why the McCain campaign withdrew from Michigan so early.
11.5.2008 11:07am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Further, from what I've seen thus far, it does not look like corrupt election practices actually affected the outcome in any national races."

So what? What does that have to do with the corruption of the election? Suppose 100 people vote, one candidate steals 20 votes, yet still loses by 51-49. Does that mean the election was not corrupt? Would you recommend prosecutors drop any plans to bring indictments for corruption if it didn't effect outcomes in national races?

What standard do you use to identify corruption in an election?
11.5.2008 11:08am
Thomas_Holsinger:
Elliot123,

It depends on prosecutorial resources. Prosecution of voting fraud which determines the outcome of an election has higher priority.

Please keep in mind that federal voting fraud prosecution is principally done by DOJ's Civil Rights Division, and those guys are so biased, partisan (Democratic) and unprofessional that federal judges have criticized their DOJ superiors for not enforcing discipline. And failure to enforce discipline has been a definiing characteristic of the Bush administration.

I.e., the DOJ Civil Rights Division does not prosecute voting fraud which benefits Democrats.
11.5.2008 11:52am
Elliot123 (mail):
True, but before making a decision on whether to proceed with a prosecution, the corruption has to be recognized. I'd suggest neither the outcome of the election nor the prosecutor's decision determine the level of corruption. Both occur after the events constituting the corruption.
11.5.2008 1:31pm
sjalterego (mail):
Well I am glad we are at least having a debate over this. I saw the quote in the original post and just shook my head. Lindgren, within this blog post explains that his statement is based on three things:

1. illegal voter registrations,

2. illegal campaign contributions, and

3. the press's performance.


he claims to document thousands of illegal registrations, millions in illegal campaign contributions and the press's performance.

None of that matters standing by itself for a number of reasons.

1. Illegal voter registrations. First, illegal registration by itself doesn't really impact the election. It is only voting by those who are illegally registered that should count as fraud. There is, so far, very little evidence of that.

Furthermore, Lindgren doesn't cite anything to support his point that THIS election had MORE voter fraud than PAST elections. Simply citing thousands of voter fraud cases in this election does not prove there was more than in the past nor that there was more proportionally than in the past.

Additionally, if illegal registration is fraud, is illegal suppression also fraud? More provacatively, was "legal" suppression (e.g., discriminatory laws and practices that denied the franchise to blacks) a form of "corruption." I would venture to say that in several elections that took place AFTER Lindgren was born, there were hundreds of thousands of black voters whose votes were "suppressed" in numerous "corrupt" methods.

2. Illegal campaign contributions. First, I largely disagree with Campaign Finance reform laws. However, the rules are the rules and it is corrupt to have such rules if they are not enforced fairly or if one side or the other violates them excessively in comparison to another.

I would argue that if both sides violated the complex Campaign Finance reform laws equally there really isn't any "corruption".

Furthermore, nothing Lindgren has posted has convinced me that either side engaged in massive illegal campaign finance practices. What is the evidence. Yes some money might not be "traceable" but does that mean it was, by definition, ilegal and/or corrupt.

Lindgren's "slip" is showing when he comments that Obama's broken promise to accept public finance and limit his private contributions might be viewed as a form of corruption. How is that possible? Politicians break so many promises how is it that this one (assuming it even was a "promise" and a promise that everybody knew he broke, long before the vote)constitutes "corruption".

3. The press's performance. Others have already adequately addressed this issue. Let me reiterate, even if demonstrably true that the press was biased in favor of Obama and that their reporting was demonstrably biased, how is that corrupt? The press (there is no monolithic press, more accurately each press person )can do as it wishes. The public can consume the news it wishes. If the public disagrees with a news source it has alternatives. There have never been more alternative news sources.

There is no longer any FCC "fairness doctrine". Does Lindgren wish to bring one back?

Nothing about the press coverage of this election is or was "corrupt". This is true even if we concede that, on balance, the press was pro-Obama or anti-McCain.

If you are going to make such a bold claim, be ready to back it up.
11.5.2008 1:59pm
sjalterego (mail):
I see that in his response Lindgren concedes that


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


However, why does he get to define what sort of "corruption" we should talk about. Furthermore, his argument really isn't assisted by asking for others to provide evidence of other elections that are more corrupt.

He made the assertion that this election was more corrupt than any other in living memory. It is his obligation to back that up which he has at least (unconvincingly to me) attempted to do.

I think his strongest argument MAY be related to illegal campaign contributions. However, the evidence on that is very sketchy and will take a long time to assemble into a coherent body of "evidence". None of the largely anecdotal "evidence' he cites, convincese me that his contention is likely to be born out. Moreover, as a philosophical matter, I don't believe that campaign contributions, legal or illegal, really ought to be regulated or that violating the laws respecting them counts very strongly as a form of "corruption."

Last, although he does not explicitly state this, his argument is not that this election was the most corrupt, but rather that Obama's campaign was the most corrupt. All the evidence Lindgren cites is to indicate corruption by Obama's campaign. He does not provide evidence that bilateral corruption cummulatively makes this election more corrupt than past elections. He provides only evidence of Pro-Obama corruption.

If this is his argument, I'd like to see him clarify his statement from this has "easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime" to Obama's campaign has "easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime." At least then we can know what we are arguing about.
11.5.2008 2:16pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
sjalterego,

Michigan is the big example of voting fraud in the 2008 election. It was really raw.

I said in another thread that the campaign finance and disclosure laws are now dead letters. Obama's campaign flagrantly violated them. I'm sure his DOJ mininions will try to enforce those against Republicans only, but as a practical matter they can't be enforced if enforcement is purely partisan.
11.5.2008 3:01pm