There may be more of these.


Actually, there is something wrong with this cute meme that came across my Facebook feed. In order for search engines to find it, I’m providing a transcript:

In America you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to find a single case of in-person voter fraud.

…So why are Republicans passing voter ID laws all over the country?

Source: Politifact

So what’s wrong with the wording? It should read more like this:

In America on a yearly average there are more people killed by lightning than there are demonstrated cases of voter fraud.

How’s that? And where are these numbers coming from? For the cases of voter fraud you can go to people who have researched the issue. Here is something from Kevin Drum in Mother Jones four years ago. The actual research was carried out by The New York Times:

In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.

For people struck by lightning we go to Wikipedia:

According to the NOAA, over the last 20 years, the United States averaged 51 annual lightning strike fatalities, placing it in the second position, just behind floods for deadly weather. In the US, between 9% and 10% of those struck die, for an average of 40 to 50 deaths per year (28 in 2008). The chance of an average person living in the US being struck by lightning in a given year is estimated at 1 in 960,000.

Yes, death by lightning is a ruthless killer, and the United States government needs to do something about it. So let’s tell everybody to stay out of thunderstorms, and then let’s go after those voter fraudsters.

Not really. If voter fraud were the real issue your friendly representative in government would not even turn off the TV. Could it be there is something besides voter fraud at issue? Surprise, surprise!

North Carolina’s Republican Party has had an interesting response to a recent appeals court ruling that said a number of voting restrictions passed by the state’s GOP legislature were enacted with the intent to discriminate against minorities, specifically African Americans. In their scramble after the ruling, party operatives and local Republican officials have perhaps inadvertently provided more evidence that the restrictions were passed with the intent to discriminate.

What is being called a “smoking gun” is a memo sent to county election officials:

The most egregious example was a memo sent by North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse to county election officials urging them to continue to push for reductions in voting access, in which he explicitly spelled out a partisan motivation.

In particular, the memo included language indicating rules should be implemented favoring Republican candidates:

“Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans,” Woodhouse wrote. “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”

There is little doubt the intention was to shape local voting schedules to make it more difficult for poor people and minorities to vote. In his Mother Jones report, Drum cites the situation from Indiana:

Once that sinks in, the electoral significance becomes obvious. In 2007, shortly before the Crawford decision was handed down, the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race released a study of Indiana voters showing that among whites, the middle-aged, and the middle class, about 90 percent possessed photo ID. Among blacks, the young, and the poor—all of whom vote for Democrats at high rates—the rate was about 80 percent. Overall, 91 percent of registered Republicans had some form of photo ID, compared to only 83 percent of registered Democrats.

Likewise, an NAACP report in 2011 concluded that the recent flood of new voter ID laws had a “disproportionate impact on minority, low-income, disabled, elderly, and young voters,” prompting an NAACP official to dub these laws “James Crow, Esquire.” Attorney General Eric Holder last year blocked South Carolina’s new photo ID law, noting that more than 80,000 minority voters in the state don’t have driver’s licenses.

And the matter of voter fraud never came up.

What made me think of all this was the following that appeared as a “Suggested Post” (paid advertising) on my Facebook feed:


Thanks, Governor, for reminding me. Maybe the voters of Texas can do something for you in return two years from now.


One thought on “Subterfuge

  1. Pingback: The American President | Skeptical Analysis

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