Overall, voter fraud is quite rare. Between the years of 2000 and 2012, there were only 867 proven cases of voter fraud in the United States. In fact, some studies have found this number to be even lower, depending on the definition of credible voter fraud. One study, which tracked all accusations of voter fraud across the country from 2000 to 2014, determined only 31 of them, out of one billion ballots cast, to be credible voter fraud. Throughout history, both parties have been found guilty of this crime. However, in the years since 2012, the Republican Party has been far more prevalent in the news regarding this matter than the Democratic Party. Case after case of voter fraud has been brought to light, and it seems that just about every one involves Republicans.
The party’s platform stands firm on a no tolerance policy regarding voter fraud, and have been making visible efforts to crack down hard on violators. The 2012 Republican Party platform states, “Honest elections are the foundation of representative government. We support State efforts to ensure ballot access for the elderly, the handicapped, military personnel, and all authorized voters. For the same reason, we applaud legislation to require photo identification for voting and to prevent election fraud, particularly with regard to registration and absentee ballots. We support State laws that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against a significant and growing form of voter fraud. Every time that a fraudulent vote is cast, it effectively cancels out a vote of a legitimate voter.” Considering voter fraud is so uncommon overall, this makes it far more likely that the fraud is reserved to a few pockets of the party rather than to Republicans as a whole, as much of the media proposes.” The party platform goes on to describe voter fraud as “political poison,” explaining that “ It strikes at the heart of representative government. We call on every citizen, elected official, and member of the judiciary to preserve the integrity of the vote. We call for vigorous prosecution of voter fraud at the State and federal level.”
Republican Reactions To Voter Fraud
Many Republican candidates and figures are speaking out against this phenomena that is being being attributed to their party. Others see the rampant accusation as over-exaggeration. Senator Rand Paul, for example, believes that much of the concern regarding voter fraud is due to the hype it has received from the media. “There is still some fraud, and so we should stop that,” Paul told former Obama adviser David Axelrod during a sit-down. When Axelrod stated his view that instances of fraud were probably pretty rare, Paul continued, “It probably is, and I think Republicans may have over-emphasized this.” He then went on to explain that he does indeed support voter ID requirements, but believes that making them too strict could be a hinderance to voters.
Many believe that voting fraud is being emphasized in order to justify the creation of stronger voter ID laws, despite the fact that statistics show voter fraud to be so infrequent as to be inconsequential to elections. Others argue the opposite – that the Republican push for stricter voter ID laws is to show their devotion to the cause of stopping voter fraud in a time where the media is rife with Republicans committing said fraud. The attempt to strengthen voter ID laws included a push to decrease early voting in many states, including the key swing states of North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. On this subject, Paul commented, “I don’t think early voting is biased one way or the other. So I think eliminating it is a mistake for the—Republicans who want to make their whole thing eliminating early voting, I think that’s a mistake.”
Voter ID Law Controversy
While Republicans believe that the answer to voter fraud is to strengthen voter ID laws, others argue that doing so could actually harm the election process. In 2014, when the Supreme Court reviewed a tightening of voter ID laws in Texas, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued, “The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.” Others believe that this may be a good thing. The National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson responded to the concern that stricter laws would bring fewer voters by stating, “If we end up with fewer voters, we may yet end up with better elections.” Another conservative writer in favor of stricter voter ID laws explained why the Democratic attachment to widespread voting is problematic by stating, “The Constitution did not create a direct democracy; it established a constitutional republic. Its goal was to preserve liberty, not to maximize popular sovereignty.” Yet another writer has stated, “The more of these people who are pressured into registering and voting, the greater our party will suffer.” This is the exact reason that Republicans have staunchly resolved to fight against voter fraud.
One particularly notable debate on the topic of voter fraud took place between Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. Clinton, like the majority of her party, believes in the expansion of voter rights. During a speech at at Texas Southern University in June of 2015, Clinton accused Republicans of “deliberately trying to stop” young people and minorities from voting due to their push for stricter voter laws in Texas. “What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other,” she said. Christie, however, was just as outraged at Clinton’s proposals at she was at his. When faced with Clinton’s push for universal voter registration at the age of 18, Christie stated, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. You know, in New Jersey, we have early voting that [is] available to people. I don’t want to expand it and increase the opportunities for fraud. Maybe that’s what Mrs. Clinton wants to do. I don’t know.”
The GOP ACORN Scandal
In November of 2012, Strategic Allied Consulting, the Republican Party of Florida’s top recipient of 2012 expenditures, was discovered to have turned in over 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration forms to the Palm Beach County, FL Supervisor of Elections. The fraud appears to have been run by Nathan Sproul. Sproul is a notorious Republican operative often hired for Republican Presidential campaigns. He has also been accused of numerous other cases of voter fraud in the form of shredding Democratic voter registration forms in multiple states. The firm was paid $667,000 by the Flordia GOP to run voter registration campaigns. However, they also received another, identical payment for unidentified purposes. Strategic Allied Consulting had also handled voter registration campaigns in North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado in the same year. Furthermore, the firm was tied to Mitt Romney’s campaign and Romney hired Sproul as a political consultant in late 2011 despite his long history of fraud accusations. This fraud was deemed the GOP ACORN Scandal after the now-disbanded ACORN, which was accused by the GOP of falsifying voter registration forms in 2008.
The GOP immediately fired Strategic Allied Consulting when this information came to light, with RNC spokesman Sean Spicer stating, “This is an issue we take extremely seriously. When allegations were brought to our attention we severed all ties to the firm.” The party also filed complaints against the company with the Florida Secretary of State’s office. Sproul stated that one employee was responsible for the falsifications within the firm. When the information was publicized Brad Friedman, who runs the electoral watchdog Brad Blog tied it to other Republican voter frauds in California and Colorado at that time, stating “A massive GOP voter registration scheme, which appears to involve the upper-echelons of the national party, [has begun] to emerge.” Former Representative Chris Cannon of Utah compared the 2, and even seemed to place Strategic Allied Consulting below ACORN, stating “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn’t throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”
Investigations of this case were inconclusive as to whether the falsified forms would have led to actual voter fraud, or if they were simply attempts of employees to cover up not having met a quota or goal. Many of the forms were lacking social security numbers, had false house numbers, and dates of birth that did not match the names. These are issues that would have been easily caught and would not have gotten through security on polling day, which led to the speculation that the overall goal of these falsifications may not have been eventual voter fraud.
- Voter Fraud Is Rare – and in This Cycle, It’s All Been Committed by Republicans – AlterNet
- Potential voter registration fraud in Florida: GOP’s own ‘ACORN’ scandal? – The Christian Science Monitor
- Republican Party on Government Reform – On The Issues
- Rand Paul calls out GOP over voter fraud claims – MSNBC
- They Just Don’t Like Voting – U.S. News
- Chris Christie Wonders Whether Hillary Clinton Wants To ‘Increase The Opportunities’ For Voter Fraud – The Huffington Post
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