Election integrity: Voter fraud, voter suppression, gerrymandering

How do voter fraud, voter suppression and gerrymandering compare as threats to election integrity?


This Thursday Night Special considers the evidence on these three threats to democracy.


This broadcast began with 18 minutes excerpted from a 46-minute interview with Mac Heller, producer of the movie “Rigged:  The voter suppression playbook“.  The full interview is available on Wikiversity, “Five categories of voter suppression“.


In that interview, Mac said that he has documented (e.g., in the movie, “Rigged”) essentially the same tactics of voter suppression in different states.  He said, “It’s almost like somebody had a plan.”  In fact, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) claims that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) helps plan and manage similar efforts in voter suppression and many other areas that benefit big business and the ultra-wealthy at the expense of ordinary citizens.  The excerpts from Heller are followed by 3 minutes excerpted from an 11-minute interview with David Armiac of CMD on “Voter suppression and ALEC“.


These two prerecorded pieces are followed by a panel discussion featuring Denise Lieberman, General Counsel of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and Lauren Bonds, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas.  A video and transcript of that are available in Wikiversity, “Election integrity, the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition, and the Kansas ACLU“.


Key points are summarized as follows:


Voter fraud

An excellent analysis of voter fraud is the “Findings of fact and conclusions of law in Fish v. Kobach” by Judge Julie Robinson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, a Republican. In brief she found that individual voter fraud is exceedingly rare, while the Kansas Documentary Proof of Citizenship (DPOC) law was a substantive threat to democracy:  While it was in effect, 12.4% of new voter registrations, 31,089 citizens, were denied.  Some of those individuals had DPOC, but it was not recorded, because they registered at a motor vehicle center, which did not have procedures for recording DPOC.  Others were denied, because they were born at home, and they never had a birth certificate.  Others were born in a different state, and getting a copy of the birth certificate was an expense they could ill afford.  One was born in a military hospital, and the records were lost after the base was closed.  Meanwhile, the voting rate among purported noncitizen registrations on a Kansas temporary drivers license match list was found to be roughly 1%, whereas the voting rate among registrants in Kansas more generally is around 70%.  Also, some 400 people in the Kansas Election Voter Information System (ELVIS) had dates of registration before their birth dates, suggesting they had registered to vote before they were born.  Mr. Kobach produced evidence that 39 non-citizens had successfully registered to vote.  He insisted that these were just the tip of an iceberg.  Judge Robinson concluded it was more like an icicle easily attributed to administrative error.


Voter Suppression

Meanwhile, numerous voices are decrying a pattern of voter suppression.  Mac Heller, Founder of the American Issues Initiative and producer of the movie, “Rigged:  The voter suppression playbook” discusses for us “Five categories of voter suppression“:  (1) Make it difficult to register to vote.  (2) Make it difficult to stay registered by purging voter registration roles without reasonable safeguards to prevent purging eligible voters inappropriately.  (3) Make it difficult to vote, e.g., by minimizing the number and staffing of polling places in strongholds of the opposition party and through baseless claims that absentee ballots or vote by mail is rife with fraud.  (4) Try not to count the vote, e.g., with excessively rigid application if signature matching.  (5) Make the vote not matter through gerrymandering.



The so-called “Clean Missouri” amendment of 2018 is supposed to deprive the politicians of excessive power in redistricting. Republican leaders are so concerned, they have made a revision to that amendment Amendment 3 on the ballots in Missouri, November 3.


Before “Clean Missouri” passed, Republican Representative Hannah Kelly said on Apr 24, 2018, “the Clean Missouri Initiative …, if passed, will be devastating to Missouri Republicans.”  Republicans now hold 71% of the seats in the Missouri House and Senate.  Meanwhile a 2018 Gallup poll (the most recent data found at this moment) asked respondents if they were Republican, Democrat or independent, and if independent whether they leaned Republican or Democrat.  47% of Missouri respondents were Republicans or leaned Republican, while 38% were Democrats or leaned Democrat.  This raises the question of whether current 71% Republican majority in the Missouri General Assembly is the unfair result of gerrymandering.


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