Squashed

A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

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All you need to know about voter fraud in an anecdote

Americas-Liberty has quoted an account of a dog owner fraudulently registering his dog to vote:

Purebred Breeders found this unique story today, Thomas Tolbert in New Mexico is now facing charges after registering this dog to vote!  His intention was to expose flaws in the electoral system and it seems as if he achieved his purpose but not without a penalty.  Buddy, a black Labrador Retriever received his voter’s registration card after his owner applied for one with a made-up birthday and social security number.

He registered the dog at a voter registration booth at the University of New Mexico and says that **he was just curious as to how easy the process is**, apparently, very.  Tolbert says, “Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was. But I made up a birth date, and I made up a social security number and I had a voter registration card in my hand for Buddy two weeks later.”

It’s worth noticing three things.

  1. No dogs actually voted.
  2. The guy who actually committed the fraud may be in serious legal trouble.
  3. The concern seems to be that it’s too easy to register to vote.

In other words, it’s very easy to register to vote. Of course, if you show up at the polls and the person in charge of distributing ballots notices that, say, you’re a dog, you’re not going to be able to cast a ballot. Even if you want to see if you can maybe slip past the poll watchers with a hat and Groucho Marx glasses the penalties of getting caught are high enough that virtually nobody is going to try. Even if somebody does it, it’s extremely rare that we have an election that is so close that one vote is going to swing it. To actually influence an election, you need to do your voter fraud on massive level—and your chances of getting caught as you increase the scale of the operation approach 100%.

The real reason the Republicans are concerned about voter fraud is that it gives them cover to put hurdles between people and voting. See the line I emphasized above? This guy is concerned it might be too easy to register to vote.

So who needs to register to vote?

  1. Young people who recently turned eighteen.
  2. College students or college graduates who recently moved.
  3. People who recently received citizenship.
  4. Populations such lower-income people of color whose voter participation has historically been low.
  5. People with a high level of housing insecurity.

If we believe in one person one vote, we should want as many eligible voters to vote as possible. We make voting as easy as we can. You don’t need to be able to read, write, walk, or speak English to have a voice in society. It’s a beautiful thing.

At least, it’s a beautiful thing if you consider Democracy beautiful. If you’d rather that the people who historically had power maintained it, I can see how this could get a bit scary. I can see how you might be worried about “voter fraud.” But … sometimes “I’m worried about voter fraud” really means “I think we went a bit too far with the universal suffrage thing.”