Over the last few election cycles, voting irregularities have persisted in a handful of states that continue to fall under the eye of the media and election watchdogs alike. Unlike Florida, who was once notorious for its “hanging chad” ballot confusion that ultimately decided the fate of the 2000 presidential election–and the problems that continued through 2012 in that state– other states have not been able to identify and solve their election problems. That sort of dysfunction leads to greater anxiety among voters, longer lines at the ballot box, and typically delayed results which ultimately weakens faith in the local election system and tabulation process. Then there is outright fraud, that is always out there somewhere on a micro scale, but which becomes more prevalent in those places that have a history of problems. Could there be some surprises this November? Here’s a look at how Democrats could play dirty.
One of the oldest tricks in the book is stuffing the ballot box with votes for your favored candidate(s). These days, with better maintained voter registration lists and stricter ID laws, people have gotten more savvy in finding ways to cheat the system. One way they do so is through the ‘vote by mail’ system whereby ballots are mailed out to millions of households throughout the country. The notion of millions of ballots floating around out there on the streets seems ripe for fraud.
In a recent such case, a former border town mayor in Arizona was caught on videotape filling out other peoples’ mail ballots outside a polling location and then going inside and dropping them into mail ballot drop box, in what investigators say was just one instance in potentially years-long, sophisticated, and coordinated ballot collection scheme.
“Guillermina Fuentes, 66, and a second woman were indicted in December 2020 on one count of ballot abuse, a practice commonly known as ‘ballot harvesting’ that was made illegal under a 2016 state law,” the Associated Press reported. Additional charges of conspiracy, forgery and an additional ballot abuse charge were added in October the following year. “Investigators said it appears she used her position as a powerful figure in the heavily Mexican American community to get people to give her or others their ballots to return to the polls,” the AP reports. “Although Fuentes is charged only with actions that appear on the videotape and involve just a handful of ballots, investigators believe the effort went much farther. Attorney general’s office investigator William Kluth wrote in one report that there was some evidence suggesting Fuentes actively canvassed San Luis neighborhoods and collected ballots, in some cases paying for them.”
Then there is the case of former U.S. Congressman Michael “Ozzie” Myers (D-PA). Yes, that Congressman Myers from the famous ‘Abscam’ bribery and corruption case of 1980 that was made into the popular film ‘American Hustle.’ Myers, who continued to work in Pennsylvania politics, was recently arrested and, at age 79, pleaded guilty this summer to “conspiracy to deprive voters of civil rights, bribery, obstruction of justice, falsification of voting records, and conspiring to illegally vote in a federal election for orchestrating schemes to fraudulently stuff the ballot boxes for specific Democratic candidates in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Pennsylvania elections,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
These are just two of hundreds of thousands of cases of election fraud taking place in the U.S. The Heritage Foundation has even set up an Election Fraud Database where you can search by state “a sampling of recent proven instances of election fraud from across the country.”
Then there are the pollsters, who seem to be up to their usual tricks this cycle. Having been embarrassed in 2016 at what they now called “Trump voter non-response bias,” a condition by which Trump supporters or Republicans overwhelmingly don’t participate in polling projects and thereby skew the sample size to be heavily Democrat, thus rendering the poll unscientific and inaccurate. However, it was recently reported by the New York Times that pollsters had entered a fictitious value into the polling equation to account for this response bias. Pollsters could theoretically be playing an old trick, whereby a false sense of high confidence for a particular party to win is established, and, the thinking goes, that by doing so you can actually drive down turnout because everyone thinks it’s going to go a certain way so they don’t even bother voting. It can be argued that pollsters, in effect, manipulated their own polls towards the end of the cycle to give the appearance that Republicans were on track to handily win control of Congress, simply to drive down Republican turnout.
Being a pollster is one of the few jobs in the world, including CNN anchor, where you can be wrong and continue to be employed. From the polls to the (stuffed) ballot box, Democrats have a history of playing dirty, so don’t be surprised if there are, well, a few November surprises in 2024.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action
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