Under Construction B

This Cannot Happen Again

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers, wanted to delay the state’s primary elections. The State Republican Party knew that the Governor wasn’t really concerned with the health of the voters. There was a State Supreme Court seat at stake. The incumbent was a Republican. Obviously, the Governor was delaying the election to help the judge’s liberal opponent. After all, that’s what they would have done if the situation were reversed.[1]

Wisconsin’s Republican Party took the Governor to court demanding that he hold the election on April 7th as scheduled. They won. This was the result.

There were two important outcomes of Wisconsin’s chaotic and dangerous election:

  1. In spite of the risk, Wisconsin voters were so incensed by the behavior of the leaders of the Wisconsin Republican Party that they came out in large numbers … and voted for the incumbent’s liberal opponent. Jill Karofsky became the state’s Supreme Court Justice Elect.
     
  2. Fifty-two cases of COVID-19 have been connected directly to Wisconsin’s April 7th election.


Unless there is a safe, effective, and widely available vaccine developed and produced before November 2020, Wisconsin’s ill-fated election could be repeated nationwide. We must enact mail-in voting before this year’s Presidential election.

Voter Fraud and Who Commits It

Of course, President Trump[2] is opposed to vote-by-mail:

As usual, Mr. Trump has conflated one of his favorite excuses … that he lost the popular vote because “millions of people voted illegally” … with a settlement about removing inactive registrations from voting rolls. The settlement says nothing about illegal voting.  Of course, the President was unable to make his point and then shut up. On April 8th, he exposed his real reason for opposing mail-in voting.

Trump Spilling the Beans Highlighted

There is evidence that Mr. Trump is correct. Making it easier for U.S. citizens to exercise their right and responsibility to vote “doesn’t work out well for Republicans”.

But what about the other part of the sentence? Does voting by mail create a “tremendous potential for voter fraud”? Let’s look at some statistics on voter fraud collected by the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. The sample includes information related to voter fraud cases that occurred between from 1982 through 2020.

Number of Voter Fraud Cases per Year

This graph shows cases of voter fraud brought before the courts[3] in the years 1982 through 2020. The distribution is obviously skewed toward the present, but I suspect that has more to do with the availability of records than in a sudden rise in voter fraud. The years showing the most cases are, in descending order, 2011, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2009, 2012, 2013, and 2018.

What does the graph tell us about these years? Half of them were Federal Election years and the other half are not. One quarter of them were Presidential Election years.[4] The year with the most election fraud cases by far … with almost twice as many cases as the next highest … is not a Federal Election year.

The years shown in the graph are the years that the courts decided the the case. On the average, these cases take about a year from complaint to decision. It’s fairly safe to assume that the actual voter fraud occurred a year earlier. Let’s look at 2010, 2019, 2015, 2016, 2008, 2011, 2012, and 2017. Not surprisingly, the Federal Election year and Presidential Election year ratios remain the same … at one half and one quarter respectively. 2012 was a fairly contentious Presidential Election year … and 2016 was unlike any in my memory.[5]

Some varieties of voter fraud are likely to occur only during an actual election. These include:

  • Altering The Vote Count
  • Duplicate Voting
  • Fraudulent Use Of Absentee Ballots
  • Illegal Assistance At The Polls
  • Ineligible Voting
     

Other types of voter fraud can occur well in advance of a particular election:

  • Ballot Petition Fraud
  • Buying Votes
  • False Registrations
     

Voter Fraud Cases per Cause

I’ve ignored the cause “Election Overturned” on the assumption that it refers to legal decisions that may be the result of one of the other types of fraud. I’ve left the cause “Miscellaneous” out of the lists because it implies, “Because we’ve found so few cases of several types of voter fraud, we’ve lumped them together in this category.”

Since we’re discussing voter fraud that might be encouraged by mail-in voting, I’m going to focus on “Fraudulent Use Of Absentee Ballots” (obviously). “Duplicate Voting”, and “Ineligible Voting”. Here’s a pair of graphs  of the “Fraudulent Use Of Absentee Ballots” cases:Fraudulent Use Of Absentee Ballots

The graph on the left divides the states according to their Electoral College votes in the four presidential elections in this century[6] … 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. If the state voted Republican in all four elections, it is represented by the red bar. If it voted Republican in three of the four elections, it is represented by the pale red bar. If the state voted Republican in two elections and Democrat in the other two, it is represented by the purple bar. If it voted Democrat in three of the four elections, it is represented by the pale blue bar. If the state voted Democrat in all four elections, it is represented by the blue bar.

The graph on the right divides states according to how their Electoral College votes in the 2016 presidential election only. If the state went for Donald Trump, it is represented by the red bar. If it went for Hillary Clinton, it is represented by the blue bar. If the state split its Electoral College votes between the candidates, it is represented by a purple bar.[7]

Now that we have the color coding out of the way, let’s talk about what the graphs portray. In both graphs, the “solid red” (Republican or “Trumpist”) states are the most guilty of “Fraudulent Use of Absentee Ballot”. If we combine the “pale red” (3 quarters Republican or “Trumpist”) with the “red” and “pale blue” (3 quarters Democrat) with the blue, it’s hard to decide. Here’s the data for the “Fraudulent Use of Absentee Ballot” cases:

  • 70 cases came from red states.
  • 17 cases came from pale red states.
  • 17 cases came from purple states.
  • 22 cases came from pale blue states.
  • 51 cases came from blue states.

Combining counts from the red and pale red states, we account for 87 of the  177 cases (about 49%). The purple states provided fewer than 10% of the cases. Together, the blue and pale blue states accounted for 73 cases (a bit more than 41%). When it comes to using absentee (aka mail-in) ballots to commit voter fraud it appears that is the right rather than the left that has been caught cheating … at least during the 21st Century. I guess President Trump was right when he “tweeted” that mail-in voting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans”. Mail-in voting seems to expose the tendency of some of them to cheat.

In his rant to the Press, the President mentioned “bundling” as common form of voter fraud related to mail-in ballots. I think that he was referring to someone “graciously” offering to deliver mail-in ballots, collecting as many as possible, then either modifying them or “losing” them. I was only able to find a reference to one such case. It was reported in February of 2019. The guilty party was a Republican operative. I’m sure Mr. Trump as shocked.

Let’s move on to “Duplicate Voting”. Here are the graphs derived from The Heritage Foundation’s statistics.

Duplicate Voting

Once again, we find a majority of the cases occurred in states dominated by the Republican Party. Let’s look at “Ineligible Voting”.

Ineligible Voting

Here we have a different story. It’s a split decision. Most voter fraud cases described as “Ineligible Voting” came from states that voted for the Democrat in three out of four presidential elections. In 2016, the majority of such cases came from states that went to President Trump. Let’s take a look at the distribution of the “Ineligible Voting” cases. Perhaps they represent Democrats trying to prevent Mr. Trump’s election.

Cases of Ineligible Voting per Year

As shown in the graph above, “Ineligible Voting” cases spiked in 2011. Since the most local elections tend to align with federal elections, we can assume that the 2011 cases were the result of elections in 2010 or, perhaps, 2008. It seems reasonable to believe that the cases most likely to draw the attention of The Heritage Foundation would be those related to national elections. Every two years, all 435 members of the House of Representatives are elected by the citizens of their respective congressional districts. Let’s look at the results of the elections for the House of Representatives in the years surrounding 2011.

2006 and 2008 United States Elections 700W

These maps show the results of the 2006 and 2008 congressional elections. In 2006, the Democrats won 233 seats and the Republicans won 202 seats. In 2008, the Democrats won 257 seats and the Republicans won 178 seats. The Democrats moved toward 2010 controlling 59% of the seats in the House of Representatives. If the bulk of the 2011 “Ineligible Voting” cases began as a result of Democrats committing voter fraud in 2006 and/or 2008, it was working. Could they continue making gains in 2010?

2010 United States Elections 450

In 2010, the Republicans gained 63 seats giving them about 55% control of the House. If Democrats committed voter fraud in 2006 and 2008, they forgot how to do it by 2010 … or, most of the guilty had been caught.

2012 and 2014 United States Elections 700W

These graphs show that the Republicans retained control of the House in 2012 and 2014. The Democrats regained a few seats in 2012, but the Republicans took them back plus a few more in 2014. Democrats would not regain control of the House of Representatives until 2018.

Were the Democrats responsible for the 2011 “Ineligible Voting” spike? Did they take control of the House of Representatives (and the Presidency) in 2008 by cheating? Perhaps, they were. If so, what does “Ineligible Voting” mean? In most of the descriptions I read, the reason the vote was declared ineligible was not defined. The few reasons sited for ineligibility were:

  • The voter was a convicted felon.
  • The voter was not a U.S. citizen.
  • The voter’s registration had expired.
  • The voter plead “Ineligible Voting” in exchange for a more serious charge being dropped.
  • The voter failed some arcane requirement such as a signature mismatch. 

It’s interesting to note that 93.5% of the pale blue states went to Donald Trump in 2016, but we’re looking at states that were blue prior to 2011.[8] With no clear evidence that the Democrats were not responsible for those “Ineligible Voting” cases, we’ll have to assume that they were.

So What have We Learned?

Republican party leaders in many states and President Trump are opposed to mail-in voting. They say that mail-in voting presents an opportunity for wide-spread voter fraud. Not surprisingly, when state and local Republican Party officials take their opposition to court, they present no evidence connecting mail-in voting and voter fraud … because such evidence is practically non-existent. The voter fraud connection is for their voters’ ears; not a judge’s.

President Trump spreads the voter fraud to “the faithful” on Twitter while simultaneously showing no concern about revealing the two real reasons for his opposition:

Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it. Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.

Mr. Trump believes that “Democrats are clamoring for it” is reason enough for his followers to oppose it. After all, it’s reason enough for him. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud” is more fresh meat for his ravenous hoards, but the phrase, “for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans” shows his real reason. One wonders whether that addition was driven by his Ego or his Id.

Why Doesn’t Mail-in Voting “Work Out Well for Republicans”?

Is it true that mail-in voting is detrimental to Republican candidates? Perhaps President Trump is just trying to mold public opinion so that he can contest the November election should he lose. Does mail-in voting really do something that “doesn’t work out well for Republicans”? Yes, it does. Mail-in voting tends to improve voter turnout. 

Why Would Improved Voter Turnout Hurt Candidates?

Mail-in voting improves voter turnout. Why would this hurt Republicans? Consider these graphs of data collected by Gallup, Inc.:

Voter Party Registrations 2004 through 2020
This graph shows voter registrations for the years 2005 through 2020. In 2004, Republican registrations had a slight lead over both Democrat and Independent registrations. In 2005 and 2006, Democrats had a similar slight lead. In 2007, both Republicans and Democrats lost ground to a soaring increase in Independent registrations. In 2008, both parties seem to have retrieved some voters from the ranks of the Independents[9] with the Democrats taking a slight lead. By 2009, Independents took back the lead and have maintained a sizable registration lead over both major parties. Bill Clinton once said, “Democrats want to fall in love; Republicans just fall in line.” What do Independents do?

Voter Party Leanings 2012 through 2020

This graph may provide an answer. It adds those who, though not registered as Republicans or Democrats, agree and vote with one of the major parties. This is particularly true for a presidential election. After all, the only time a third party candidate has won the Presidency is … well, never. As the graph shows, from 2012 through 2020, the Democrats and those with Democratic Party leanings have been in the majority. Under these conditions, if every registered voter were to vote in accordance with their political leanings, the election would not “work out well for Republicans”.

Clearly, they would want to discourage those who would vote for the Democrat  from exercising their right. Mail-in Voting … and Early Voting ,,, make it easier to vote. The easier it is to vote, the more likely it is that the election will have a large turnout. The larger the turnout … and distribution of political leanings …, the more likely it is that the Democrats will win. Republican opposition to mail-in voting is about voter suppression.

My regular readers know how I feel about Donald Trump. Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for “Trump: The Art of the Deal“, recently wrote an excellent article that presents a lot of insight into what drives our President. Simply put, the only thing Donald Trump cares about is winning, … and, to win, he must dominate someone else.

What about Republicans in Congress and at the State level? Some of them truly believe in their party’s core values and, are less likely to bow at Trump’s altar. Some just want to remain in power. A few, the true Trumpists,  may really agree with what they believe to be President Trump’s values. A (hopefully) small number probably agree with the President’s single real value … winning no matter what.[10]

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End Notes
  1. The Republicans believed that the supporters of liberal candidate Jill Karofsky would stay home in fear of the pandemic, but Republican voters would, as always, fall in line.
     
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  2. I still hate writing “Trump” with the title “President” in front.
     
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  3. The cases shown in the graph include all cases brought before the courts. Most led to a conviction, but some ended in acquittal.
     
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  4. In the United States, any year that is evenly divisible by two is a Federal Election year. Any year that is evenly divisible by four is also a Presidential Election year. The terms of all members of the House of Representatives and those of one third of the members of the Senate expire every two years. The Federal Elections that occur between Presidential Election years (eg., 2010 and 2018) are called Mid-term Elections because they are in the middle of the President’s term.
     
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  5. The first Presidential Election that I recall occurred in 1952. The 1960 Presidential Election is the first one that really had my attention.
     
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  6. The 2000 Presidential Election was the last one of the 20th Century. The Gregorian calendar has no year zero. The end of any century is the “century year”, e.g. 100 for the 1st Century or 2000 for the 20th Century.
     
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  7. Two states, Maine and Nebraska, distribute their electoral votes proportionally based on the state’s popular vote. They are the only states that can be purple in a single presidential election.  In 2016, Trump won all of Nebraska’s electoral votes; Maine split its electoral votes between the two trump and Clinton. The only voter fraud cases in Maine related to the 2016 election were for duplicate voting.
     
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  8. Remember, a state was defined as pale blue if it went to the Democrats for 3 out of 4 of the 21st Century Presidential elections. The 93.5% that went to Trump in 2016 had to have gone to the Democrat’s nominee in 2004, 2008, and 2012 by definition.
     
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  9. In 2008, there was no incumbent president. Some states, like mine, have open primaries wherein Independents get to choose in which primary they want to vote. Many don’t. It seems reasonable to assume that some voters switch from Independent to Republican or Democrat in order to help select a candidate for one of the major parties.
     
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  10. President Trump makes it very clear that he wants the vote of those who believe that Great=White … particularly for those who want someone to hold inferior and blame. What those followers do not understand is that their beloved leader considers them to be inferior too. Howard Stern, who has known Donald Trump for many years, spoke candidly about him on his SiriusXM radio show.
     
    “The oddity in all of this is the people Trump despises most, love him the most,” said Stern on Tuesday. “The people who are voting for Trump, for the most part … He wouldn’t even let them in a f*cking hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.”
     
    President Trump is a racist, but not a White Nationalist in the normal sense. The only thing he cares about is winning. He will use and abuse anyone that serves that end. The only thing he fears is looking like a loser … in accordance with his twisted impression of what a loser looks like, … and perhaps, a bigger bully than himself, like Vladimir Putin.
     
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