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Republicans look for voter fraud, find little

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This photo taken Sept. 21, 2012, shows Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler in his office in Denver. Republican election officials who were swept into office on promises to root out voting fraud say they're doing just that. But they're not finding much so far. After some digging, state officials in key presidential battleground states have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that are less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state.
(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
DENVER -- Republican election officials who promised to root out voter fraud so far are finding little evidence of a widespread problem.

State officials in key presidential battleground states have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected existed. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state.

Democrats say the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks.

"I find it offensive that I'm being required to do more than any other citizen to prove that I can vote," said Samantha Meiring, 37, a Colorado voter and South African immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2010. Meiring was among 3,903 registered voters who received letters last month from the Colorado Secretary of State's office questioning their right to vote.

Especially telling, critics of the searches say, is that the efforts are focused on crucial swing states from Colorado to Florida, where both political parties and the presidential campaigns are watching every vote. And in Colorado, most of those who received letters are either Democrats or unaffiliated with a party. It's a similar story in Florida, too.

Republicans argue that voting fraud is no small affair, even if the cases are few, when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.

"We have real vulnerabilities in the system," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010 who is making a name for himself at home by pursuing the issue. "I don't think one should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability."

The different viewpoints underscore a divide between the parties: Are the small numbers of voting fraud evidence that a problem exists? Or do they show that the voter registration system works?


Last year, Gessler estimated that 11,805 noncitizens were on the rolls.

But the number kept getting smaller.

After his office sent letters to 3,903 registered voters questioning their status, the number of noncitizens now stands at 141, based on checks using a federal immigration database. Of those 141, Gessler said 35 have voted in the past. The 141 are .004 percent of the state's nearly 3.5 million voters.

Even those numbers could be fewer.

The Denver clerk and recorder's office, which had records on eight of the 35 voters who cast ballots in the past, did its own verification and found that those eight people appear to be citizens.

Kevin Biln, an Adams County resident on the list, said he didn't know he was registered and maintains that he's never voted. Another voter on the list, Erica Zelfand, a Canadian immigrant, said she's a U.S. citizen no longer living in Colorado. Robert Giron said he was furious that the 20-year-old daughter he adopted from Mexico was listed as having illegally voted. He said she went to the Denver clerk's office with her U.S. passport and other documents to prove her eligibility to vote.

To Pam Anderson, the clerk and recorder in Jefferson County in suburban Denver, the investigation proves what's already been her experience: Cases of noncitizens on the rolls are extremely rare.

Anderson said the fighting between the political parties over the perception of voter fraud also has less tangible consequences.

"It impacts people's confidence in elections, which is extraordinarily important," she said.


Florida's search began after the state's Division of Elections said that as many as 180,000 registered voters weren't citizens. Like Colorado and other states, Florida relied on driver's license data showing that people on the rolls at one point showed proof of non-citizenship, such as a green card.

Florida eventually narrowed its list of suspected noncitizens to 2,600 and found that 207 of them weren't citizens, based on its use of the federal database called SAVE, or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. The system tracks who is a legal resident eligible to receive government benefits.

Of the 2,600 initially marked as possible noncitizens, about 38 percent were unaffiliated voters and 40 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis by The Miami Herald.

The state has more than 11.4 million registered voters, so the 207 amounts to .001 percent of the voter roll.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, said in a statement that the initiative "is already proving to be a successful process to identify illegally registered voters," which he noted is crucial in a state where the 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes.


In North Carolina, the nonpartisan state elections board last year sent letters to 637 suspected noncitizens after checking driver's license data. Of those, 223 responded showing proof they were citizens, and 79 acknowledged they weren't citizens and were removed from the rolls along with another 331 who didn't respond to repeated letters, said Veronica Degraffenreid, an elections liaison for the board.

She said the board did not find evidence of widespread fraud, noting there were only 12 instances in which a noncitizen had voted. North Carolina has 6.4 million voters.

"What we're finding is there is strong indication that the voter rolls in North Carolina are sound," Degraffenreid said.


Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, last week estimated that as many as 4,000 noncitizens are on the state's voter roll.

The department said it verified 1,000 registered voters who are noncitizens, based on an analysis of about 20 percent of complete citizenship data. She extrapolated the 4,000 number from the most recent U.S. Census' five-year American Community Survey, which showed Michigan has a noncitizen population of about 304,000.

That's as far as the investigation has gone. The figures have not been verified.


Ohio and Iowa, both with recently elected Republican secretaries of state, also are negotiating with the federal government to also use the SAVE database to verify citizenship, although it's unlikely they'll have enough time to do anything before the Nov. 6 election. While Ohio doesn't have a list of names it wants to check, Iowa is looking at verifying the status of 3,500 registered voters.

Last week, Iowa's Division of Criminal Investigation filed election misconduct charges against three noncitizens who voted in gubernatorial and city elections in 2010 and 2011. Among the three are Canadians who told investigators they thought they were only barred from voting in presidential elections.

The three were on a list of about 1,000 names of potential noncitizens who had voted since 2010, which Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz forwarded to the Division of Criminal Investigation.

Early voting in Iowa begins Thursday and Schultz recently told legislators that his office wants to use the information from the federal database "in a responsible manner."

"When somebody casts a ballot you can't un-ring that bell," he said. "If somebody is ineligible to vote and they cast a ballot that's been counted we can't take that back. This is an important election coming up."

Associated Press writer David Pitt in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, last week estimated that as many as 4,000 noncitizens are on the state's voter roll. "

Umm, little evidence?!?!? 4000 votes is more than the McCain win in Missouri in 2008.

AP trying to set the agenda again!

-- Posted by bbollmann on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 5:56 PM

Absolutely a very small concern IMO.

-- Posted by bball15 on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 6:14 PM

Citizens look for government fraud, find plenty.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 6:42 PM

I thought the same thing Triple F. If Republicans wanted to find fraud, all they have to do is look in the mirror.

-- Posted by Simon Jester on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 7:08 PM

Remember the Pennsylvania Republican official who said in a speech "this will assure Romney is elected"? Is there still any doubt about the true motive of this political witch-hunt? This is one of the most shameful episodes in a long history of people being denied the right to vote in our country. Remember poll taxes, and McCarthyism? Seems the Republicans want to resurrect an old snake that's head it was thought had been chopped off.

-- Posted by foxtrot007 on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 7:32 PM

Well said foxtrot!

-- Posted by xoxo on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 8:17 PM

Doesn't anyone remember 2008? A little organization called "ACORN"?(Crooked as a dog's hind leg) Among another problem or three at the polls?

-- Posted by Jack_e7retired on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 8:32 PM

Guess I'll vote democrat as they never commit fraud.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 8:53 PM

When's the last time you heard of someone other than a Democrat/liberal being arrested or convicted for voter fraud? I'm sure whatever you post, I can find 5 Democrats/liberals that have done it since.

AND, the media and liberals continue to lie about the fact that every one of these laws have the protections of provisional voting and government supplied photo ids.

But I would expect nothing less from the party that created a healthcare bill SO BAD that Massachusetts elected a Republican Senator.

-- Posted by bbollmann on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 8:54 PM


Things that make you go Hmmmm.

-- Posted by FreedomFadingFast on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 9:29 PM


voter fraud rarely occurs if you look at the statistics. The new laws don't apply to absentee ballots(possibly due to R's usually having better results with absentees?) Why isn't that addressed in the new laws? Scott Brown's not your typical Republican (against a DOMA amendment, for civil unions, and believes Roe v Wade is settled law), so his victory is not as big a shocker as you may think. He also supported Romneycare. He's in favor of bipartisanship...something that is desperately needed.

-- Posted by gazza33 on Mon, Sep 24, 2012, at 9:30 PM

g33 of course couldn't provide an example.

Folks, g33 wants you to believe low statistics in voter fraud means it's okee dokee and we shouldn't worry. Well in 2008, McCain won MO by 3903 votes of 2.9 Million cast. If just .0013 of the vote in Missouri had been fraud in favor of BHO, McCain would have lost Missouri. That's 13/10000ths. Don't listen to g33 liberals that lie to you about voter fraud. EVERY vote counts.

And, I just sent in two absentee ballots for my kids in Missouri and they had to be Notarized (signed and sworn) before they were sent in. Are you telling me that notaries will sign for people they don't know who they are?

Bottom line folks; g33 just passing along the latest liberal lie.

-- Posted by bbollmann on Tue, Sep 25, 2012, at 6:10 AM


read this and then get back to me http://www.brennancenter.org/content/res... do you refute my info about Scott Brown as well?

-- Posted by gazza33 on Tue, Sep 25, 2012, at 9:07 AM


As you say, EVERY vote counts, and these new laws will prevent LEGAL voters, who have voted in elections for years, from casting their ballot.

-- Posted by gazza33 on Tue, Sep 25, 2012, at 9:09 AM

Thank you g33 for confirming both of my points and continuing to use the typical liberal non sequitur to run from MY first question.

#1 Your article confirms that Voter Fraud is very rare, but it exists. And, even a small amount in a close election is dangerous. Your article confirmed that point for me and I thank you.

Every vote counts, and that is why it is imperative that Voter Id laws be enacted. You liberals expect Ids at your DNC Convention, at entrance to the Justice Department, and when members vote at Union Elections, but you mysteriously and hypocritically fight tooth and nail to prevent requirement of Id when it will stop voter fraud at the most sacred Election Booth.

You know that in every one of these laws there is provisional voting which ensures no legal voter is turned away, yet you still fight it.

You know that in every one of these laws there are programs to get State Ids to people who can't afford them, and yet you still fight it.

And, you conveniently forget that your Federal Government tried to enact an unconstitutional National Id that conservatives like me fought against.


Because you DO NOT believe in the sanctity of the voting booth and support corrupt organizations like ACORN and corrupt motor voter laws that are used to skew the vote in your favor.

Again, send me an article showing a Conservative that has committed voter fraud.

No?!? Well, here's a funny that happened on the way to the election booth... ...just a few weeks ago. As a test of election purity, O'Keefe showed how easy it would be to pick up AG Eric Holder's ballot. If he or someone else had actually voted with that ballot, there would be no way to undo the damage even if Holder appeared later and filed suit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5p70YbRi...

#2 Massachusetts, who hasn't elected a Republican Senator since 1974, elected a Republican Senator who campaigned on being the 51st vote against ObamaCare. There's nothing to argue here; it's fact. Because he's squishy means he didn't get elected after campaigning against ObamaCare?!?! ...a bill so bad that Massachusetts elected a Republican Senator.

And #3... ...still no example of indicted / convicted voter fraud on the conservative side...

...of course, don't waste your time, I'll just have 5 liberals that have committed voter fraud since. We'll just assume you've ceded that point.

To confirm my point, here's the status of the Al Franken election... ...'won' by 312 votes where 1099 felons voted and 177 have already been convicted and 66 awaiting trial.


-- Posted by bbollmann on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:08 AM

Add this...


-- Posted by bbollmann on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:13 AM

In reading about voter fraud over the years, I don't recall noncitizens as heading the list of usual suspects. So taking this sample as some testimony that the problem doesn't exist is ludicrous. It leaves a lot of current voters rolling over in their graves.

-- Posted by blogbudsman on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 10:43 AM

blogbudsman, you witty SOB!!

-- Posted by bbollmann on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 7:51 AM

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