The Adventures of Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy

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Wall Street Journal political reporter John Fund has been on the voter fraud beat for years. Back in 2004 and 2005 he had a lot of company, as Democrats-especially the bloggy variety-traded theories that Republicans were hacking electronic voting machines, trashing mail-in ballots (shades of George Galloway) and purging African-Americans from the rolls. In January 2005 bloggers goaded Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer into officially challenging George W. Bush's re-election, and for her services Boxer received hundreds of roses. (Seriously.) The day of the 2006 midterms Greg Palast, a one-man Warren Commission of voter fraud theories, predicted that Republicans would beat the Democrats thanks to 4.5 million "shoplifted" votes. I lurked around the Democrats' election night party before the final Senate results came in and talked to grumbling liberals convinced that Karl Rove would swipe Missouri, Virginia, and Montana.

And then the Democrats won and we didn't hear about voter fraud anymore. The Senate Judiciary Committee has spent weeks grilling Bush administration officials on whether they made up voter fraud scandals out of whole cloth, sending letters to homeless shelters and military bases in the hope that they'd bounce back and create suspician about the voters Democrats were bringing to the polls.

Fund doesn't want to forget about voter fraud. In his newest dispatch on the issue he focuses on Seattle, where

…on Thursday local prosecutors indicted seven workers for Acorn, a union-backed activist group that last year registered more than 540,000 low-income and minority voters nationwide and deployed more than 4,000 get-out-the-vote workers. The Acorn defendants stand accused of submitting phony forms in what Secretary of State Sam Reed says is the "worst case of voter-registration fraud in the history" of the state.

The list of "voters" registered in Washington state included former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, New York Times columnists Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, actress Katie Holmes and nonexistent people with nonsensical names such as Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy. The addresses used for the fake names were local homeless shelters. Given that the state doesn't require the showing of any identification before voting, it is entirely possible people could have illegally voted using those names.

Local officials refused to accept the registrations because they had been delivered after last year's Oct. 7 registration deadline. Initially, Acorn officials demanded the registrations be accepted and threatened to sue King County (Seattle) officials if they were tossed out. But just after four Acorn registration workers were indicted in Kansas City, Mo., on similar charges of fraud, the group reversed its position and said the registrations should be rejected. But by then, local election workers had had a reason to carefully scrutinize the forms and uncovered the fraud. Of the 1,805 names submitted by Acorn, only nine have been confirmed as valid, and another 34 are still being investigated. The rest–over 97%–were fake.

But Fund isn't providing evidence of voter fraud. Acorn's engaging in registration fraud-easy to do, easy to block, and easy to get over-excited about. As Fund points out, nobody actually voted using the ridiculous names supplied by Acorn. The phony registrations are getting played up for many of the same reason Democrats are playing up the Bush-Cheney campaign's direct-mail anti-fraud campaigns: Party politics. Three years ago Washington's Republicans narrowly lost the closest gubernatorial campaign in history after Democratic winner Chris Gregoire paid for a recount that showed her inching ahead of State Sen. Dino Rossi. Rossi is gunning for a rematch in 2008 and part of his campaign narrative will be, to quote Joe Jacobs, "We wuz robbed!" That's not why the state nailed Acorn. Their lawyers determined that Acorn's fraudsters were simply cheating to meet a quota so they wouldn't lose their jobs. But the story gets played up in blogs and by the conservative media because it makes Democrats look like criminal conspirators.

The truth undergirding all of this: America's voting systems are incredibly flawed with machinery, deadlines, and regulations that differ from county to county. And they only ever get fixed when the parties are trying to out-skullduggery each other. Since the parties, not the government, used to run these elections, it seems sort of fitting.

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  1. At the risk of sounding like Cathy Young, voter fraud has always struck me as the sort of thing fueled as much by mutual distrust between the two camps as by any sort of real incidents. Also, I suspect that both sides are just a bit too eager to find some sort of fraud (of either type). Yes, voting shenanigans of both types can and do occur, but I still suspect that the magnitudes are drummed up by both sides.

    If you generate enough noise, you can drown out signal. In fact, with enough noise you can get people to throw up their hands and pull a Cathy Young, and become very cynical about alleged signals.

  2. Voter fraud = my guy didn’t win.

  3. I can’t believe ACORN would do something like that. What’s next, asking to be exempt from the very state minimum wage laws you campaigned to create?

  4. It is also important to know what to do you when you die.

    1) Don’t try to drive a car.
    2) Do not operate heavy machinery.
    3) Do not talk.

  5. This reminds me of the ACORN assholes in Pittsburgh during election ’04.

    They tricked a bunch of college students into signing a “medical marijuana petition.” These students later received a surprise in the mail, saying they re-registered as Republicans.

    Imagine the shock of my liberal former-coworkers at the Pitt student paper.

  6. Bizzaro I love you! Bizzaro I love you!

  7. I’m coming back, so watch your asses!

  8. Taktix:

    a few questions:

    1. do people not read what they sign? if not, very foolish.

    2. since ACORN is a liberal activist group, what would it profit them to re-register people as Republicans? is it possible some people were posing as ACORN reps?

  9. So, Taktix, these are the kids on campus that are always bragging about how smart they are because they’re not Repuglicans?

  10. Taktix:

    a few questions:

    1. do people not read what they sign? if not, very foolish.

    2. since ACORN is a liberal activist group, what would it profit them to re-register people as Republicans? is it possible some people were posing as ACORN reps?

    1. No, this is America.

    2. No one’s really sure who the perpetrators were. They claimed to be ACORN people, and several theories arose as to their real identity, but the leading explanation was that they were ACORN people, once again trying to meet quota. We never really got to the bottom of it.

    Point being, ACORN on the surface offers a great opportunity for college kids:

    Get paid to stand around and look like activists.

    Once you get in, you find out about the quotas and crap. And it’s not just ACORN, there’s all kinds of bogus “activist” groups on both sides.

    Kinda like political Amway-style pyramid schemes.

  11. And then the Democrats won and we didn’t hear about voter fraud anymore.

    It’s funny you should say that, considering that the story about the Democrats’ bill mandating paper trails for electronic machines was on the loop on CNN today.

    It was paired with a story about the California Secretary of State having until Friday to decide whether or not to certify electronic voting machines for the next election, after a trial in which they were repeatedly hacked.

    Dave may not have been hearing much Democratic angst about voter fraud lately, but Democratic officeholders have certainly been active on the issue.

  12. Let’s not use misleading terminology here.

    There were contractors ACORN hired, who defrauded them. They were paid to go regester people, they turned in a phoney work product to ACORN, collected their checks and skipped town before anyone caught on.

    In the middle of a scandal over his party’s president hiring and firing United States Attorneys based on their willingness to pursue bogus voter fraud cases, and facing near-certain electoral humiliation a year and a half from now, John Fund has every motive in the world to try to find a liberal group to smear with charges of tampering with elections.

    The people who ripped ACORN off should be punished, but Fund is just trying to spin a scam pulled ON a liberal group that harmed its ability to help it turn out its voters into a scam pulled BY a liberal group to cheat during the elections.

    The charge against ACORN itself is that it used its funds on paperwork that wasn’t going to result in any more votes for its candidates! Sure, that makes sense.

  13. The problem with Gregoire is that she had 3 recounts, and lost the first 2. Mysteriously, each time she lost more votes were “found”. Eventually enough “lost” votes were “found” and she was certified the winner. I think the recounts were obviously fraudulent even if I can’t prove it. The timing and provenance of the “lost” votes stinks to high heaven.

  14. I can’t believe ACORN would do something like that. What’s next, asking to be exempt from the very state minimum wage laws you campaigned to create?

    They did that in Missouri, too — they campaign for an increase in the minimum wage to “a living wage,” pooh-pooh arguments that it will affect unemployment,and then when the increase passes they ask to be exempt, arguing that if they have to pay their workers more, they won’t be able hire as many activists. Class-A gall.

  15. ACORN has had charges brought against them in almost ten states, and we are to believe it is simply about meeting quotas? Yeah, ok, sure. Maybe it is just the conservative media making this up. Give me a break.

  16. Bopa,

    Oh yes, it’s a secret alliance between ACORN, France and the midget community to register a bunch of false names and then not vote on them.

    Actually, you can do your part to stop this by wearing my patented Taktix?’s Tin Foil Hats!

    ONLY $9.99 EACH!

    Please send cash only…

  17. “Dave may not have been hearing much Democratic angst about voter fraud lately, but Democratic officeholders have certainly been active on the issue.”

    Yeah they have been extremely active, lobbying against measures on a state and federal level that would make voter fraud much more difficult, such as stricter laws on absentee and provisional ballots and their herculean efforts to defeat any bill that would require a valid photo ID to vote. Evidently it is racist to ask someone to spend around $6 for an ID, even when the state offers to pay for them when an individual can’t afford one, such as the case in Georgia.
    But, since joe, the expert on everything, claims that John Fund is lying to ensure electoral success in 2008 (he is a conservative at the WSJ so nothing he says can be taken at face value) it should be self-evident that Mr. Fund is merely casting about for a blameless liberal group to “smear”.

    And as is your M.O joe, you totally ignore evidence that is contrary to your point of view. ACORN has been convicted in Washington and Colorado and has either been reprimanded, investigated or indicted in Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, and Arkansas. Those damn quotas, they will get you every time, right joe? But, hey, they did nothing wrong; it is merely the conservative media trying to ruin their good name. Evidently a group needs to be investigated or indicted by 33% of the states in the Union rather than a mere 25% before we stop attacking the messenger reporting on a given groups electoral fraud.

    Joe you are so predictably idiotic, it has become a nuisance arguing with you. You always claim that your take on an event is the right one and anyone who disagrees with you is not speaking the truth, they are merely obfuscating to hide a more sinister motive, which of all the people on this message board, you are uniquely equipped to divine. It seems your master’s degree has made you more qualified than John Fund, a man who makes a living reporting on these things, when it comes to the field of elections and the law. It now seems I must add elections to your growing list of fields of expertise. Let’s see that now makes you an expert in: Venezualan media and election issues, Cuba and its healthcare system, the United States’ healthcare system, American Indian history, Bariatric medicine, McCarthyism, First amendment issues, University Tenure issues, Gun control law, etc. Oh, I musn’t forget your greatest expertise, regurgitating left-wing talking points and putting them forth as your own original thought. I wouldn’t want to short-change your immense genius. After all, you do have a master’s degree.

  18. How come Seattle is never known for anything good?

    Wait, I used to live there, so I remember now.

  19. Wow, so much hate! I gotta tell you, thug, I don’t really have any feeling about you at all. I guess I just matter a hell of a lot more to you than you do to me. Although I do pity you for your insecurity.

    I still haven’t heard anyone come up with a plausible explaination for why ACORN would want to spend its money on phoney registration cards that won’t provide votes.

  20. Wall Street Journal political reporter John Fund…

    Since he is on the editorial board and a columnint for the WSJ and spends most of his waking hours on Fox News shilling for one of the parties, is it fair to call him a “political reporter?”

  21. No no, de stijl. John Fund makes a living doing shoe-leather reporting on the functioning of the electoral system.

    I know, because a guy who advertises who he hates in his internet handle told me.

  22. “…why ACORN would want to spend its money on phoney registration cards that won’t provide votes.”

    THESE registration cards won’t provide votes… because THIS time they got caught. Last time? The time before?

    Just sayin’…

    CB

  23. Cracker’s Boy,

    How does a registration card filled out as “Mickey Mouse” or “Fruto Boy” turn into a vote?

    Go ahead, walk me though this.

  24. THESE registration cards won’t provide votes… because THIS time they got caught. Last time? The time before?

    Registration fraud only provides any utility when you also have someone who will show up at the election, claim to be Fruto Boy, and vote (which is a felony so you have to incent them in a way that will convince them that it is a marginally beneficial for them).

    Also, you need enough other Fruto Boys to swing the election in a way it wouldn’t have without your intervention.

  25. joe/de stijl – Since “your team” insists that it is wrong to expect anyone to show ID to prove that they are who they say they are, what’s to STOP “Mickey Mouse” or “Fruto Boy” from voting?

    Go ahead. Walk me through that.

    CB

  26. CB
    They can’t walk you through it because it’s just so easy.

    Having a group like Acorn, with their imense resources of time, money and labor, focusing on voter registration is very frightening.

  27. So democrat voter registration fraud is okay because… well, because Dave Weigel, the presiding leftist at Reason, doesn’t see a problem. I’m shocked. Shocked.

  28. joe/de stijl – Since “your team” insists that it is wrong to expect anyone to show ID to prove that they are who they say they are, what’s to STOP “Mickey Mouse” or “Fruto Boy” from voting?

    BTW, I have no team.

    County registrars generally verify addresses and the rolls are examined and purged depending upon the location and the rules in place. Dead people, non-existent addresses, trapping (mail registered mail to see if it’s accepted), felons, re-enfranchised felons, etc. Laws and practices vary by location.

    Can people fraudulently register and vote? Certainly.

    Does it happen often?
    I haven’t seen any evidence that it does. Can you offer an instances of widespread voter fraud (not registration fraud)?

    Should ID be required to vote?
    Dunno. I see valid points on both sides of the issue. In GA, for example, when the bill passed that required ID it would cost $20 to get a state issued ID, you had to get it at the DMV which had no offices in Atlanta proper, and you had to use certain types of identification to verify identity and your addess. This strikes me as an effort to disenfranchise some voters. Being that GA is covered by the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Dept. had to approve the changes which they declined to do.

    However, had the law been allowed to stand we would see less “positive” voter fraud (ie, false registration and voting. This is a good thing in that it discourages the bad actors.

    But we would also see people turned away from the polls who are eligible to vote but who cannot provide the proper ID. This is a bad thing in that in prevents citizens from exercising their right to vote.

    All in all, I prefer that everyone who is eligible to vote should be allowed to vote. Have them cast a provisional ballot if there is a registration question or if the party spotters challenge the voter and then examine their bona fides after the fact if need be.

    State sanctioned disenfranchisement strikes me as a little too close to Poll Tax territory to make me confident in the legislators’ intent.

    BTW, if you think ACORN is the only organization who does this kind of monkey business you are woefully undereducated. This is a “both teams” issue.

  29. CB, what de stijl said.

    This is one of those situations where the solution to one problem raises the specter of the other, and vice versa. If we subject would-be voters to stringent ID requirements, we’re going to prevent some segment of them from voting, potentially flipping an election. If we don’t do enough to secure the vote, we’re going to allow some number of cheaters to cast extra votes, potentially flipping an election.

    I’ve never heard of an election that was swayed by actual voting fraud in my lifetime b. 1973), but I can think of a number of close elections – such as Florida 2000 – where the final margin of victory was proven to be far smaller than the number of people who were improperly prevented from voting.

    I’d say that there are two important rights related to voting – the right of the individual to cast a vote and have it counted, and the right of everyone to have the winner of an election be the person who actually won. If an actual person is being denied the opportunity to vote, that’s a serious rights violation for that person. If the wrong candidate wins an election because lots of people have been improperly forbidden to vote, that’s a serious rights violation. And we know, for certain, that these rights violations have occured. On the other hand, the flip side rights violation – the wrong candidate being declared the winner because of fraudulent votes being counted – hasn’t been a problem in this country for decades.

    If there was no cost at all to making double secret super duper sure that absolutely no improper votes were cast, I’d be all for it. That’s one reason why I’m so wary about electronic voting machines. But there is a cost, in terms of the actual rights violations it would cause, in terms of voter suppression denying citizens their right to cast a vote, and even in tipping elections towards the wrong candidate.

    BTW, where are all of the conservatives who are so incredibly worried about voter fraud when that issue comes up? Oh, right, calling people tinfoil-heads.

    Maybe we ought to just bring back the finger-dye to keep people from casting bogus votes. Unlike voter ID laws, that has the virtue of not denying basic civil rights to anyone.

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