Rampant Voter Fraud - A Myth That Persists

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Rampant Voter Fraud - A Myth That Persists

by Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News


One of the most common popular myths we hear at this time of year is that if the first frost hasn’t come yet in late September or early October, it will come with the approaching full moon. It hasn’t in the 65 years that local records have been kept. It comes when cold Arctic air settles over Minnesota on a clear night.

Still the myth persists because it has been repeated so often that it has become a truth in many people’s minds. It is reinforced because we remember cold, clear nights with full moons and a frost in the morning. Proximity is enough to create truth.

Minnesota’s November 2018 election seems very far away. After the grueling, bitter campaigns of 2016, most people probably wish the approaching political season was even more distant. But in just over 13 months we will be voting for a new governor, U.S. Senator, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and members of the state Legislature.

As the campaigns gear up the list of candidates who plan to seek the endorsement of their parties is growing. And, as can be expected, those candidates who have announced they are running are raising talking points that will ensure base supporters they are true blue to the core sentiments of their party’s faithful – those who show up to vote in primaries.

 In a Minnesota Public Radio story this past week, reporter Tim Pugmire points out that four Republican candidates for governor are already talking about voter fraud in Minnesota as if it is a pressing issue that needs fixing. But like a frost coming with the full moon, rampant voter fraud is a popular myth.

Despite overwhelming evidence that voter fraud is exceptionally rare, gubernatorial candidates state Rep. Matt Dean, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, Sen. Dave Osmek, and former party state chair Keith Downey, are all calling for tighter restrictions on voting.

“They can say ‘well, there’s never been a case of voter fraud found in Minnesota.’ How would you ever know?” Dean is quoted in the MPR story. Well, the public would know because exhaustive studies have been done on voter fraud in the state.

Back in the November 2008 U.S. Senate race Democrat Al Franken defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman by just 225 votes out 2,887,646 votes cast. The hand-count of the ballots cast was a grueling process that looked closely at every vote and every voter.

Yes, it was found that 26 felons who had lost the right to vote had voted. For the most part, they voted because they thought once they had served their time their right to vote was restored – it wasn’t. There were seven cases of people using a false identity. So what we have are 33 cases out of nearly 3 million where either mistakes were made or there was criminal intent when voting.

To purify the system, Republicans want stricter laws.

We can’t say it doesn’t matter to them that tens of thousands of eligible Minnesota voters would likely be prevented from voting if their push for stricter laws becomes reality. It does matter, but not in the way that supports a healthy democracy. Knowing that many of the voters who will be disenfranchised would likely vote for a Democrat, they know full well what they are doing.

Many who would be affected by a voter photo ID law are the elderly who no longer maintain a drivers license, the young who don’t bother to get a license preferring to use public transit and avoid the cost as well as hassle of owning a car, minorities who find it more difficult to get a photo ID, and the poor.

In 2012, Republicans got a constitutional amendment on the state ballot that would have required a photo ID if passed to cast a ballot even for registered voters. Minnesota voters defeated the measure. It was estimated that possibly more than 100,000 would have been disenfranchised by this law – all in the effort to stop fewer than a handful of false ballots.

Still, Republican candidates will be again pointing to rampant voter fraud that must be dealt with to ensure the sanctity of our electoral system. Their very effort will reinforce the lie that voter fraud threatens our elections.

Voter fraud isn’t a problem. It is a wedge issue. It is a scare tactic meant to frighten voters. It is an intentional attempt by Republicans to create doubt in our electoral system.

Say anything enough times and people will believe it. Facts don’t matter. Studies have shown that when we are confronted with information that goes against what we firmly believe, that we dig in. We find ways to rationalize what doesn’t fit our beliefs. Often we rely on other false information we have stored.

Repeating falsehoods is a successful manipulation technique.

 “…there are a lot of people that believe cheating is going on, if there’s a way to address that without disenfranchising people we ought to do that,” Johnson is quoted by Pugmire. Johnson doesn’t claim himself that “there is a lot of cheating going on,” rather, he leaves it as an assumption that is true, that is common knowledge.

 “If you want to exercise your franchise to vote, don’t you think you should at least be a little bit more prepared than saying ‘oh that’s right, it’s Election Day today and I need an ID and I didn’t get it.’ I mean, come on. Don’t you take your franchise to vote a little more seriously than that?” Osmek told MPR.

Some people don’t. But it doesn’t mean Osmek has the right to disenfranchise everyone who isn’t as conscientious about voting as he is. It doesn’t mean he has the right to take the right to vote from someone who gets fired up about a candidate, for or against, the day before an election.

The sanctity of a citizen’s right to vote is the last thing on their minds, but it is what Americans have fought and died for since the first shots were fired at the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775.

Russian hacking is a legitimate threat to our elections. Americans trying to cast illegal ballots isn’t.

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