Archives for category: Fraud

That’s right.

10

Out of 11.2 million or so voters on the official statewide rolls as of April 1, 2012.

Here’s some quick analysis…

Approximately 0.000088496% of the current statewide voter roll may have voted illegally once (or perhaps more) over the past decade or so.

The percentage is even less when you consider the tens of MILLIONS of votes cast in local and statewide elections in Florida since 2006.

Notwithstanding the hundreds of Florida citizens who have been falsely accused by the Florida Secretary of State as being “potential noncitizens” who are supposedly corrupting the integrity of our voting system, it’s great to see that Governor Scott has exposed the myth of voter fraud in Florida.

Or not.

You see, the Florida Division of Elections, in its ill-advised and likely illegal effort to purge the voter rolls of what it claims are “potential noncitizens,” originally identified some 182,000 individuals who fit the bill.

Well, not confident in its list, the (new) Secretary of State, Ken Detzner (you see, the previous SOS, Kurt Browning, who was no angel himself when it came to protecting the right of Florida citizens to vote, resigned when he didn’t have enough confidence in the purge list his office originally generated, but that Governor Scott wanted him to pursue), pared it down to some 25,000 names, and then, finally, to 2,625 names, which his office then shipped off to the 67 Supervisors of Elections to do his dirty work.

Some of the SOEs balked, understandably.

But after the purging was done by the independently elected Supervisors of Elections, Governor Scott proudly defended the Secretary of State’s effort, saying to NPR, “We found that nearly 100 individuals that are non-U.S. citizens are registered to vote and over 50 have voted in prior elections.”

Now, the facts.

First, as I’ve documented elsewhere on these pages, no evidence has been provided by the Secretary of State that the 107 “potential noncitizens” it touted as being removed from its list were indeed noncitizens.

Second, also as I’ve documented here, a majority of the 107 individuals who were removed from the voter rolls were not even on the Florida Secretary of State’s purge list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” that it sent to the Supervisors of Elections. Only 41 of the 107 names were on the SOS’s purge list of “potential noncitizens.”

As for those 41 (out of 2,625) individuals who the SOS identified as “potential noncitizens” and who the SOEs removed from the rolls (presumably after the SOEs–who do the actual purging–received proof), I have crunched the numbers, and identifying exactly 10 who may have cast a ballot.

Here’s the breakdown of the epidemic of alleged “noncitizens” voting, with the county and the last date of the election in which someone using that “potential noncitizen’s” name cast a ballot.

DAD 11/7/2006
HIL 11/7/2006
DAD 11/4/2008
LEE 11/4/2008
PAS 11/4/2008
OKA 11/2/2010
DAD 6/28/2011
ALA PRE-2006
BRO PRE-2006
DAD PRE-2006

Really? That’s it? We should have confidence in the Secretary of State’s new effort to purge Florida voters by matching data from the federal Department of Homeland Security with its own admittedly “obsolete” data?

Frankly, I’d rather trust casting a legitimate vote in Senegal.

No.

But the Florida Secretary of State has claimed that 9 out of the 107 individuals purged from the voter rolls for allegedly being “potential noncitizens” are from Pinellas, Peter’s beloved county on the sandy shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Funny thing is, though, of the 37 “potential noncitizens” the Division of Elections flagged from Pinellas in its systematic effort in April to cleanse the voter list, only one was removed by the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, Deborah Clark, after she reviewed the state’s shoddy work. The other 36 individuals wrongly fingered by Secretary of State Ken Detzner in his unwarranted purge are indeed citizens and are eligible to vote.

Whoops.

Oh, and as if this comes as a shock: 59.5% of those wrongly accused by the Secretary of State who are living in Pinellas County are minorities. And only 1/5 were Republicans.

(You can ask Peter what percentage of registered voters in Pinellas are minorities and Republicans).

But cut the Secretary of State and his crack staff some flack.

His list of 37 “potential noncitizens” residing in Pinellas County was accurate 2.7% of the time.  (Actually, the Division of Elections ill-advised and likely illegal purge has the fingermarks of an individual who evidently is no longer working in the office. Perhaps more on that later…).

The one “potential noncitizen” snagged in the Governor’s expansive and faulty dragnet–a Hispanic man in his 50s, living in St. Petersburg, who registered to vote in 2001 as a Republican(!)–has never cast a ballot in Florida.

Oh well.

The other 8 “potential noncitizens” removed from the voter rolls in Pinellas County–and celebrated by Governor Scott that his purge is working–were in fact identified by and removed from the list by Supervisor Clark.

Of those 8 individuals removed from the county’s list of voters by the SOE, exactly zero are the April 1, 2012 state voter file. That’s a big fat zero. They are not on the state’s list of registered voters, and thus we don’t know anything about them–their party, their race/ethnicity, their age, their past voting history (if any) and most importantly, whether or not they were citizens and eligible to vote.

Seems par for the course.

As I’ve written before, of the 11.2 million registered voters in the state of Florida, the Florida Secretary of State identified 2,625 “potential noncitizens,” and 41 have been removed from the rolls.  And of the 2,625 “potential noncitizens” identified by Governor Scott’s henchmen, there is evidence that perhaps 7 have ever cast a ballot.  It remains unclear, however, as to whether or not they were noncitizens (at the time) and thus ineligible to exercise their franchise.

As I’ve said before, Governor Scott’s Voter Purge must come to a complete halt.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve finally had time to crunch some numbers…

Between April 11 and June 7, 107 residents in 15 of the state’s 67 counties were removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being “potential noncitizens.”  That’s roughly 0.00096% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State.

(Some perspective on the numbers: In the 2008 General Election, some 1,774 voters in Miami-Dade County alone mailed absentee ballots to the Supervisor of Elections, but they were rejected by the county canvassing board.  Another 833 voters, out of the thousands of voters in Miami-Dade County who had to cast provisional ballots in the 2008 presidential election, never had their votes counted.)

But back to the ongoing voter purge in Florida…

According to data I received through a recent public records request from Chris Cate, the spokesman for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, of the 107 registered voters in Florida who were removed from the voting rolls by the Florida Division of Elections, more than a third were purged on May 4, 2012.

Here’s a Table with the date and the number of registered voters who were removed by the Florida SOS.

DATE REMOVED Freq.
4/11/2012 1
4/17/2012 1
4/18/2012 1
4/19/2012 1
4/24/2012 1
4/25/2012 1
4/30/2012 1
5/2/2012 1
5/3/2012 1
5/4/2012 40
5/7/2012 1
5/8/2012 4
5/9/2012 1
5/11/2012 5
5/12/2012 2
5/13/2012 4
5/15/2012 7
5/16/2012 1
5/17/2012 4
5/21/2012 2
5/23/2012 2
5/29/2012 4
5/30/2012 2
5/31/2012 4
6/1/2012 1
6/4/2012 6
6/5/2012 1
6/7/2012 4
6/11/2012 1
6/12/2012 1
6/13/2012 1
TOTAL 107

And as I’ve mentioned before, it is particularly striking that little old Lee County (yep, you guessed it — it was named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee) accounted for more than 41% (44/107) of the suspected noncitizens who were purged from the voter rolls.  As Miami Herald journalist  Marc Caputo reported, Lee County (along with Collier County) continued “with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship” long after the other counties halted the purge because the Florida Secretary of State’s pared-down list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” was flawed and widely discredited.

Indeed, of the 44 registered voters in Lee County that the state removed from the voter file, only two were on the list of 13 potential noncitizens that the Secretary of State sent to Lee County elections officials.

The astounding inaccuracy of the state’s list of 2,625 “potential noncitizens” was quite consistent across the other counties.

Only 41 registered voters residing in 13 counties–this is out of the 2,625 names flagged by the Florida SOS as “potential noncitizens”–were removed from the rolls.

In other words, 98.4% of the 2,625 people identified by the Florida SOS as “potential noncitizens” remain on the rolls because the Supervisors of Elections found insufficient evidence that they were ineligible to be registered voters.

The other 66 individuals who were purged from the state’s rolls were identified by eight county SOEs (Collier, Miami-Dade, Indian River, Lee, Martin, Okaloosa, Palm Beach, and Pinellas), independent of the Florida SOS’s blemished list of “potential noncitizens.”

Some list.

Florida election law review will extend into July.

So says the Associated Press.

“A federal court review of Florida’s new election law will extend into July, just a month before the Aug. 14 primary. A Department of State spokesman on Monday said Florida is prepared to use two election laws if the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., doesn’t rule before the primary.”

My previous thoughts on Florida’s dual election system under HB1355 can be found here.

Professor Michael Herron (Dartmouth) and I look forward to sharing our findings on early voting in Florida in the 2008 election at the 2012 State Politics and Policy Conference to be held in Houston, TX on February 16-18, when we present our paper, “The Participatory Impact of Truncating Early Voting in Florida.” It’s pretty timely, given all the attention that Florida US Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have given to early voting and HB1355.

Here’s our Abstract (tentative):

Over the past two decades, an increasing number of American states have made it more convenient for potential voters to cast early ballots.  Starting with Texas’ adoption of in-person early voting in 1988, 32 states now provide an extended time period prior to Election Day for voters to go to the polls.  Despite the diffusion of and praise by voting rights advocates for early voting, in 2011 the Florida legislature enacted House Bill 1355, which truncated the state’s early voting period from a total of 14 days to eight days and completely eliminated  early voting on the Sunday immediately preceding Election Day.  Critics of the legislation contend the surreptitious goal of the Republican-controlled legislature was to depress African American early voting turnout in 2012.

In this paper, we draw on an original dataset to gauge the potential participatory ramifications of HB 1355 by examining patterns of early voting in the 2008 general election.  By merging the state’s 2008 voter file, comprised of more than 11.3 million registered voters, with the state’s November 2008 early voter file, we are able to assess and study the race and ethnicity, party registration, age, gender, precinct/county registration, and vote history of each registered voter, including those who cast an early ballot, in 2008.

Unlike many studies of early voting in the American states which rely on aggregate-level data, we are able to pinpoint not only which voters were more likely to cast early ballots—specifically their socio-demographic characteristics—but we can also describe on which day during the two-week period in 2008 that they voted.  We employ a variety of multivariate models to test the conventional wisdom that African American voters are more likely than whites to vote early, and vote on Sunday, and that older and partisan voters vote early more often (Stein 1998). In addition, using a voter’s vote history to model early voting, we challenge the growing scholarly consensus—which is based largely on survey data—that early voting merely retains engaged voters (Stein 1998; Neely and Richardson 2001; Berinsky 2005; Kousser and Mullen 2007; Burden, et al. 2011; Gronke, Galanes-Rosenbaum, and Miller 2008) rather than stimulating peripheral voters.

I’ve been writing a lot over the past five months about House Bill 1355, dubbed by many as Florida’s ignominious voter suppression law. HB1355  is being challenge in federal court, and the US Justice Department has yet to grant preclearance of portions of the law which cover five Florida counties covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Defending the law, the Florida Secretary of State is suing in Federal Court to not only uphold all sections of the law, but to strike down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Most of the attention that I and others have given to HB1355 has focused on three areas that the GOP-controlled legislature cracked down on in order to make it more difficult for citizens of Florida to register to vote and cast a ballot, namely:

1) Reducing the number of days for early voting from 14 days to eight days, and altogether eliminating early voting on the Sunday before the Tuesday election.

2) Requiring third-party voter registration organizations to submit voter registration applications within 48 hours of receipt instead of ten days as provided by existing law, and imposing a fine of $50 for each failure to comply with the deadline, and imposing fines up to $1,000 for failing to comply with other provisions.

3) Disallowing voters who move from one Florida county to another to make an address change at the polls on the day of an election and vote a regular ballot, except for active military voters and their family members.

(Less attention has been given to the portion of the law that reduces the shelf-life of citizen initiative petition signatures proposing constitutional amendments from four years to two years.)

Virtually no attention has been given to HB1355′s impact on absentee voting in Florida. The reason is fairly simple: the law has actually made it easier for citizens to cast an absentee ballot, and actually, increases the likelihood of voter fraud.

Absentee ballot fraud is not limited to Miami mayoral races. Just yesterday, several people in Madison County, including a candidate for school board, were arrested and charged with obtaining absentee ballots for other people without the voters’ knowledge or consent.  The candidate and her accomplices then provided an alternate address for the ballots to be mailed by the Supervisor of Elections, and allegedly then retrieved the ballots from the third party locations, brought the ballots to the voter, sometimes with the ballots already filled out, and then had the voter sign the absentee ballot signature envelope.

Tragically, HB1355 eliminates the provision that existed in 2010 when the fraud occurred, making future absentee ballot fraud more difficult to prosecute. Prior to the election code being changed by the Republican legislature in 2011, Supervisors of Elections were required to send absentee ballot to a voter’s registered address, unless the voter was absent from the county, hospitalized, or temporarily unable to occupy their residence.

But these provisions to reduce the possibility of absentee voter fraud were stricken by HB1355.  Instead of being required (with the forgoing exceptions) to send an absentee ballot “By nonforwardable, return-if-undeliverable mail to the elector’s current mailing address on file with the supervisor,” supervisors now may be asked by anyone (even over the phone) to mail an absentee ballot “to any other address the elector specifies in the request.”

HB1355 is an embarrassment, plain and simple. The Republican-controlled legislature’s intention was not to reduce voter fraud, of which there is virtually none when it comes to voter registration and early voting.  The reason lawmakers turned a blind eye to absentee ballots in the state–where there is clear evidence of voter fraud–is because registered Republicans are much more likely to use this form of convenience voting than their Democratic counterparts.  In 2008, Republicans had a 10.8% lead over Democrats voting absentee ballots by Election Day.

Partisan politics in Florida have reached a new low.

I’ve written a considerable amount about the negative impact HB1355 likely will have on early voting in Florida. But the regressive law also affects the ability of Florida citizens to register to vote.

The Republican-controlled legislature’s rationale for the law–steeped in the anti-democratic rhetoric of making voting a privilege, not a right–continues to conjur up vestiges of Jim Crowism. “We’re going to have a very tight election here next year, and we need to protect the integrity of the election,” said Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala. “When we looked around, we saw a need for some tightening.”

With respect to the severe restrictions placed on “third parties” (including individual citizens) interested in helping fellow citizens to register to vote, Republican lawmakers are surely cognizant of the surge of African Americans who registered to vote in Florida prior to the 2008 general election.

As I write with my co-author, Stephanie Slade (who works for The Winston Group, a Republican pollster based in DC) in a recent article on the 2008 election in Florida, “Obama to Blame? African American Surge Voters and the Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Florida,”

Between December of 2007 and October of 2008, an additional 233,130 black Floridians registered to vote, a group of citizens we have referred to as the Obama-inspired African American surge. If these voters turned out at the same rate as the Florida electorate as a whole in the 2008 presidential election (74.6 percent), black surge voters would have constituted 173,915 of 8.39 million total votes cast for all the presidential candidates.

The numbers speak for themselves.

This spring, Republican lawmakers changed the rules to try to ensure that there will be no African American “surge voters” in 2012.

It will be up to the US Justice Department, as well as several interveners (including the ACLU, NAACP, and the League of Women Voters)–but ultimately the federal courts–to determine whether they ultimately succeed in their effort to suppress the vote in Florida.

As I’ve said publicly time and again, I’m unequivocally ambivalent about direct democracy. I’ve written a book critical of the populist rhetoric (faux populism) of ballot measures, and another praising the “educative effects” of direct democracy. My dozens of articles on direct democracy are empirically driven, as I’ve tried to keep a normative-neutral stance in my academic writings. Direct democracy is by no means a perfect system, but neither is representative democracy.

As with every other state, the record of direct democracy in California is certainly mixed.  Direct democracy just happens to be more prevalent in California than most other states. It trails only Oregon in the number of initiatives that have been qualified for the ballot since the state adopted the process in 1911.

Over the next century, hundreds of initiatives will again surely become qualified for the ballot.  Just this last week, Governor Jerry Brown took a courageous step to improve the process by signing Senate Bill 202, which now limits California ballot initiatives to November elections.  Besides the expected charges that the bill will help Democrats by having initiatives on the ballots in higher turnout elections, critics of SB 202 claim that citizens may be overwhelmed by the number of propositions that are expected to appear on general election ballots. Yet since 1912, California has averaged only 6.3 initiatives every two-year election cycle. Certainly, potential voters can handle this level of initiatives. Indeed, the state managed to survive the 1914 ballot, which had more than 40 statewide measures (initiatives, popular referendums, and legislative referendums)!  (Citizens wound up rejecting 11 of the 17 initiatives.)

Despite its flaws,there’s much to admire about the initiative process in California. The state has one of the best disclosure laws on the campaign financing of ballot measures, and as I’ve written elsewhere, it has solid laws regulating the circulation of petitions.

To be sure, reforms could be made to the state’s s initiative process. First, California does not make signatures submitted on initiative and popular referendum petitions, which could reduce fraud in the signature gathering process, as the Supreme Court of the United States recognized in its 2010 decision, Doe v. Reed. Second, is the only state that permits the process where the legislature may neither amend nor repeal an initiative statute. Both of these areas should be addressed by the state legislature in the coming years.

The process ofdirect democracy, as practiced in California over the past century, certainly has exhibited considerable vulnerabilities. There’s room for improving the system.  But over the years, it also has served as a “gun behind the door,” as Woodrow Wilson–a critic of direct democracy–reluctantly referred to the initiative process. It has kept the state legislature in check, given citizens a voice, and helped to engage the electorate and affect candidate campaigns. No political system is perfect, including California’s hybrid democracy, but it has lasted a century and it will no doubt continue to endure for years to come.

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