Disappearing Voters

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Posted on : 9/07/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

Slate recently published a story about disappearing voters in Milwaukee, WI.

Sixty percent of Milwaukee’s black voters have disappeared.

Democrats have feared for years that one of the particular challenges of running campaigns in 2012 would be simply locating their voters.  The party’s constituencies (young people, immigrants, minorities) tend to be among the most mobile demographic groups.  And as NPR speculated this week in an analysis of battleground-state foreclosure figures, the housing crisis will likely only have made things more difficult for Democrats looking for their supporters.
The focus on the story is on how our tough economic times have caused people to move frequently.  And while I will readily admit that people losing their homes or people moving frequently due to rent issues has to be a big problem, I also want to suggest that there may be another factor in play.

Fraudulent voting causing names and addresses to appear in voter rolls that cannot be confirmed in person.

The police review of irregular voting in the 2004 election clearly indicates that there were hundreds of votes cast that could not be reliably tied back to a legal Wisconsin resident.  One district attorney pegs the number of questionable votes as closer to 4,600.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found myriad voting problems occurred in Milwaukee and other parts of the state in the 2004 election, the one later investigated by the Milwaukee police and state and federal prosecutors.

Three of the newspaper’s findings provide some perspective:

1. In Milwaukee, there was a discrepancy between the ballot count and the number of people listed as having voted of about 7,000.

(Investigators were later able to whittle the discrepancy to 4,600 votes, or 1.67 percent of the 277,000 votes cast in the city.)

2. Some 1,300 on-site voter registrations in Milwaukee could not be processed for a variety of reasons, including missing addresses and missing names. More than 140 of those who voted listed addresses outside the city.

3. At least 278 cases statewide where felons may have improperly voted, though the number was likely considerably higher, since only a partial review of those who voted was possible.

The Journal Sentinel reports prompted a joint federal-state investigation in 2005. Those investigators found more than 200 cases of felons voting illegally in Milwaukee and at least 100 cases of double voting in the 2004 election, numbers that echoed the newspaper’s findings.

About a dozen cases of voter fraud were pursued, with mixed results, but then-U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic concluded there had been no findings of widespread fraud.

Then-Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann said in June 2005 he was troubled by the 4,600-vote discrepancy that remained, suggesting that questions will linger about whether systematic fraud occurred in the city.

"I have a reservation about those 4,600 votes," he said.
This apparently is a continuing problem in Wisconsin.

Just another reason for us to undertake comprehensive elections reform to ensure that every legitimate voters gets a chance to vote, and that there their vote is counted while at the same time preventing illegitimate votes from being cast.

[just....erg -Ed.]

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