Electoral College

The Worst Defense of the Electoral College Yet

Will a popular vote produce more fraud?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

My first post is already making waves, with Rick Hasen at the Election Law Blog describing it as the worst defense of the electoral college yet. In his view, the idea of widespread fraud in a popular vote is "ridiculous," given "the tens of millions of voters who would have to be involved." We simply "do not see such election fraud on such a massive scale"—and in any case, "going after one swing state" would be a much easier task for fraudsters.

As I noted, the partisan-fraud concern is just one point in favor of the electoral college, not a slam-dunk argument for keeping it. There may be lots of other, stronger reasons at stake. But I'm still not persuaded by Hasen's claim that a result-altering fraud is unthinkable. The 2000 election had a popular-vote margin of roughly 500,000 (or 0.5%), not tens of millions. The 1960 election had a margin of roughly 100,000 votes (or 0.16%). In some ways, we should expect closer margins in a true popular-vote world, because both campaigns would be laser-focused on getting to 50.1% (or a plurality, etc.)—as opposed to getting to 270, with the popular vote merely an afterthought.

Hasen is entirely correct that the margins in a single state can be much closer. According to the official 2000 tally, the Florida election was decided by 537 votes, or 0.009% of Florida's votes. But Florida was a state whose legislators and local officials often came from different parties and were often at loggerheads during the recount. An election-swinging 1000 votes might have been harder to fake or suppress in Florida 2000 than an extra 10,000 votes would be in each of the ten reddest or bluest states in 2032, depending on our institutions and partisan incentives.

It's also true that we don't see fraud on such a scale right now. But as others have pointed out, right now such fraud wouldn't really help: in a deep-red or deep-blue state, it would risk prosecution and jail time for relatively little benefit. That isn't very strong evidence that such fraud would stay unthinkable in a world where one-party states could bring home the White House. (No one ever calls a single House campaign like NC09 a "Flight 93 election.")

The electoral college is a guardrail, not a guarantee. There can be good reasons for taking down guardrails, when they prevent us from going where we want to go. But we shouldn't assume that, just because we've never plunged over the cliff before, we won't do so in future.

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237 responses to “The Worst Defense of the Electoral College Yet

  1. “It’s also true that we don’t see fraud on such a scale right now. But as others have pointed out, right now such fraud wouldn’t really help: in a deep-red or deep-blue state, it would risk prosecution and jail time for relatively little benefit. That isn’t very strong evidence that such fraud would stay unthinkable in a world where one-party states could bring home the White House.”

    With respect, that change would ALSO bring closer scrutiny to (effectively) single-party states. In a world where Democrats have approximately 0.00% chance of winning in South Carolina, they also do not put much effort into ensuring the integrity of the SC election process. In a world where the SC election could alter the national results, they’re going to send observers and pay VERY close attention. The R’s will be watching the blue states, too.
    I don’t trust either party to play fair. But I pretty much DO expect one party to call shenanigans when the other party gets a little jiggy wit’ it. Now, if we can just get the courts a little bit interested in the various partisan efforts to disenfranchise people who might be expected to vote for the other guys…

    1. The problem is that neither party presently has enough resources to monitor the other in detail in all their strongholds. For instance, Republicans have long known that Palm Beach was a hotbed of election irregularities, it took a (Brooks Brothers) riot to stop the ballot rigging back in 2000, and even then it only worked because the local Democrats had figured out they weren’t going to be able to manufacture enough votes in time.

      The problems have reoccurred every election since, despite knowing that they were going on. It’s a lack of resource issue: The fraud is carried out by tax funded local elections administrators, while the observations and challenges have to be paid for by donations. And even when caught, they can just bull their way forward, aiming to create results that can’t feasibly be reversed.

      Only a fundamental reform that changes the fact that elections are locally administered by political partisans from the same location stands any hope of fixing things.

      1. “The problems have reoccurred every election since, despite knowing that they were going on. It’s a lack of resource issue:”

        The parties spend billions of dollars on elections. Your claim is they aren’t spending enough?

        1. They’re spending it on campaigns, not “elections”.

          Every cent they spend on monitoring what the other side is up to in places where they’re probably going to lose anyway is a cent they can’t spend promoting candidates in places where they can win.

          So it’s well down the priority list, left to local volunteers except in exceptional circumstances like Florida in 2000.

          1. “So it’s well down the priority list, left to local volunteers except in exceptional circumstances like Florida in 2000.”

            And, obviously, that cannot possibly change, even if circumstances are considerably different.

            1. Yes, of course it could change, but neither instantly, nor without dramatic costs.

              It would take years, several election cycles, to ramp up monitoring and challenging to cover every polling place, and the manpower requirements would be enormous.

              And that’s assuming that Republicans would even be permitted to do it without the usual “vote suppression” lawsuits.

              1. “It would take years, several election cycles”

                It might take years, but only one election cycle. Maybe start planning for it while the drive to draft the Constitutional amendment that dispenses with the electoral college starts to look like it will be successful.

                ” that’s assuming that Republicans would even be permitted to do it without the usual “vote suppression” lawsuits.”

                Maybe they could try not actively attempting to suppress votes, as a starting point?
                Instead of looking for ways to disenfranchise citizens who might vote for not-R’s.

                1. Maybe Democrats could stop claiming that anything that even slightly inconveniences a voter is “vote suppression”? I have little hope of it.

                  1. “Maybe Democrats could stop claiming that anything that even slightly inconveniences a voter is ‘vote suppression’? I have little hope of it.”

                    That would be step two. I don’t suspect we’ll get that far down the list, so I didn’t bother to work down that far.

                2. We wouldn’t have to try to suppress votes if you would agree to reasonable and common sense restrictions on voting. There’s no reason Shaniqua should be allowed to vote for Democrats to ensure her Obamaphones stays on or that Rosa should be allowed to vote for Democrats to ensure that her EBT card is available to buy rice and beans for her illegitimate children.

                  1. This clown drags his “Shaniqua” from thread to thread like a perv his rubber doll. The life of a right-wing-loser has to get so sad and lonely; we can’t begrudge him an imaginary playfellow. “Rosa” seems new though. Maybe D-Gross-L is fantasizing about a threesome? If only he could re-channel all this effort and imagination into acting, well, human…….

                    1. Truth must really hurt you.

                3. We wouldn’t have to try to suppress votes if you would agree to reasonable and common sense restrictions on voting.

                  1. Hint for future trolling:

                    1) remember to change sock accounts before double-posting.

                    2) word for word duplication is kind of a tip-off.

                    1. Calling an opponent a troll is a sure sign you’ve lost the argument.

                    2. Or that I am objectively dealing with a troll. I think it’s that one.

      2. Well, I’ll try :

        What evidence is there of voter fraud in Palm Beach?

        Was the Brooks Brothers Riot to stop ballot rigging or stop the recount?

        What evidence is there of ballot rigging in Palm Beach in 2000?

        Given the GOP’s control of Florida’s state government in recent decades, how has this massive Palm Beach fraud by Democrats gone uninvestigated or undetected?

        Given the importance of Florida, how has the GOP not committed resources to expose this massive corruption?

        “Even when they’re caught” you say. When? Who? Caught doing what?

        I’ll help with the “Brooks Brothers Riot” : Realizing that they could not meet the court-ordered deadline, vote canvassers decided to limit the recount to the 10,750 ballots rejected by computer, and moved the counting process to a smaller room closer to the ballot-scanning equipment to speed up the process, with the media 25 feet away. Republicans objected to this change of plans and insisted the canvassers must do a full recount, which was impossible in the time frame. Demonstrators paid by George W. Bush’s recount committee rioted and stopped the recount.

        So there’s my version and there’s your version. Which one was produced by someone whose head is tightly wrapped in tin foil? Hint : Not mine.

        1. Every double punched ballot in Palm Beach was a double punch for Gore and one other candidates. Statistical likelihood of this happening? 0%. None were for any other combination of two candidates.

          How does it happen? A stack of cards put in the punch machine, and punch through. No vote- one created for Gore. A vote for Gore- no change, but possibly you got rid of a hanging had. A vote for someone else- you just invalidated it, a net swing to Gore of 1.

          BTW, demonstrators were not paid for by a Bush recount committee. A local talk show host- a LOCAL talk show host- reported on what was going on. And you’re leaving a large part of the recount story out. Like the fact that the recount was moved to a room OUT OF PUBLIC VIEW, in violation of Florida law. An that Republican observers were thrown out of the room. Leaving only Democrats to count the votes. In violation of Florida law.

          A big question is the media conspiracy. How is it that every MSM outfit managed to report that the polls in Florida were closed- when they were still open in the heavily Republican panhandle? And immediately called the election for Gore. According to election officials in the panhandle, the last hour polling places usually pretty busy. That election- they were virtually empty. Votes were suppressed by wrong information put out by the MSM- Republican votes. Was it by accident? At one time I would have believed it. I don’t now.

          1. Statistical likelihood of your factoid being true? 0%.

            And, yes, the rioters were on W Bush’s payroll, led by John E. Sweeney, a New York Republican who was nicknamed “Congressman Kick-Ass” by President Bush for his work in Florida. I guess that “local talk show” had a pretty wide reach to draw in a New York audience.

            And – ominous hush – the “media conspiracy”. It was such a conspiracy the bungling networks called Florida wrong twice in one night – relying on poor exit polls which – yes – factored in the voting demographics of the panhandle, however poorly.

            Where – we hear – the polling places were empty because of this devious plot.

            Statistical likelihood of this paranoid fantasy being true? 0%

            1. I looked up the actual numbers. It’s not true that all the double-punches involved Gore votes. Most of them did, but there was a significant minority of Bush-somebody else double punches, too.

              Palm Beach election administration has been a festering mess for decades, and you don’t really need deliberate fraud to explain the mess, though it certainly could conceal some deliberate fraud. Difficult to prove from just the numbers, though.

              OTOH, Gospace WAS right about the count being illegally moved to a back room where the election observers couldn’t watch. And that was what the “Brooks Brothers riot” was all about: Stopping an objectively illegal act by the Palm beach election workers.

              1. Three Points :

                (1) Florida state election law on recounts : “Authorized representatives are permitted to be present and object to any decision of the counting team, but the representatives may not otherwise disturb or interfere with the recount” So unless Bush’s reps were Manchurian Republican deep-state undercover moles for the Democrats, yes, there were observers. As I noted above the press was held back 25ft.

                (2) You can believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or the Bumble before or after Hermey pulled his teeth. I can’t control that. But irregardless, the Brooks Brothers Riot was about stopping the recount, not some bogus excuse on observers.

                (3) Election fraud is a microscopic problem, and we’re talking electron microscope here. But I’d guess 85-90% of what fraud exists is absentee ballot abuse – including the mess down in North Carolina. Isn’t it strange absentee ballot voting is almost never part of any GOP “election security” bills? No it isn’t. Because voting security is just about making harder for the other side to vote. You see that, right?

                1. grb, are you having trouble with reading comprehension today? Brett and Gospace are agreeing with you about what the law says. They are claiming it was violated. Quoting the text of the law says nothing about whether or not it was obeyed.

                  For someone accusing others of conspiracy theories, you seem to be suffering from more than a few yourself. You also seem to be making some fundamental logical errors. Chief among them is the old “absence of evidence =/= evidence of absence”. You might be right that election fraud is a small problem. But you cannot prove it while simultaneously claiming that any attempt to test for it is automatic evidence of voter suppression.

                  1. Then prove it, because I don’t take their crap seriously. It should be embarrassingly easy to come up with news account saying the recount was violating the law on observers, but you can’t, can you?

                    Because that’s not what occurred, and you’re full of shit. I just read four separate accounts of the BBR and your fairy tale isn’t mentioned even once. Because. It. Didn’t. Happen.

                    Also, two points : With 130 million votes cast in 2016 and just a few score cases of fraud the minuscule degree of voter fraud isn’t my opinion but plain fact, unless everybody is in on this jokey conspiracy of yours. And what does ” attempt to test for it” mean? I’m trying to understand the bizarro logic behind that statement. How is any of the GOP’s faux voter security bills an attempt to test for anything?

                    And given you ignored it, a re-ask : Why don’t the GOP bills deal with the real weakness of voter security : Absentee ballot fraud?

          2. How does it happen? A stack of cards put in the punch machine, and punch through.

            5

            It takes 5 ballots in a single machine to get ‘hanging chads’ and ‘dimpled chads’

            With one ballot you can’t get a hanging chad or a dimpled ballot. The perforations just don’t allow it when the stylus is pushed through.

            With 5 you get 2 definitely through, one that might go through or might hang, one that hangs, and one that can only dimple because it’s pressed to the bottom of the hole.

            But how likely is this to be true?

            Well, right before the 2000 election, in 98, Democrat Xavier Suarez was removed from the mayoralty of Miami because of massive vote fraud.

            Where did the biggest problems occur in Florida? Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

            So how likely is it that this is true? How likely is it that the people busted for vote fraud tried it AGAIN? 100%? Nah, that’s silly. 99.9999999%

            Yeah.

      3. ” …it took a (Brooks Brothers) riot to stop the ballot rigging back in 2000…”

        Brett, your take on the 2000 election in Florida is a pretty hilarious bit of fiction.

        1. It is unambiguously true that the Palm Beach election workers at some point during the recount moved from a publicly observable location to a back room which election observers were not allowed into. And the Brooks Brothers riot occurred after this took place.

          You are, of course, free to think that they’d had an innocent motive for illegally preventing election observers from watching what they were doing. You’re also free to think that illegality had nothing to do with the subsequent ‘riot’.

          I’m free to think you’re an idiot.

    2. It’s almost as if you haven’t read either of Sachs posts. Sure the Ds would want to keep a close eye on shenanigans in deep Red States and the Rs would want to keep an eye on shenanigans in deep Blue States. But wanting ain’t getting.

      It’s much harder to keep an eye on things in enemy territory – you have fewer resources that know the turf, your watchers face intimidation, the officials are all from the other side. There’s a reason why when there’s a close result the two parties fly in teams of lawyers and experts and other cheeses. It’s because they don’t have unlimited resources readily to hand in each State.

      Even in contested States like Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan where the Ds have big city strongholds that provide the bulk of their votes, the Rs have a lot of trouble trying to keep an eye on what’s going on in places like Broward, Philly and Detroit. You wil recall that when Rs do try to keep an eye out for wickedness in the big City districts, there are cries of “voter suppression !” and large guys with baseball bats moving the R pollwatchers along. A National Popular Vote would make every big City a potential vote manufacturing center, multiplying the challenge tenfold.

      1. “It’s almost as if you haven’t read either of Sachs posts”

        Hold on to that thought, because it’s EXACTLY like you didn’t read my comment.

        ” It’s because they don’t have unlimited resources readily to hand in each State.”

        Did you notice that I started out by pointing out that nationwide direct election is a hypothetical, and that in that hypothetical, some things would be different? Guess what? When I said that, I meant that things would be different.
        Specifically including the parties would spend more on making sure that all the nationwide elections were run fairly, including the ones in states controlled by “the other guys”, rather than choosing to ignore them, as they largely do at present.

      2. Not to mention the fact that the authorities can be downright hostile to election monitors.

        1. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve created. The power to destroy a planet is insignificant compared to the power of the Force.

      3. Maybe if the GOP quit trying, quite blatantly, to suppress votes, the wouldn’t be accused of it so often.

        Rob three banks, and when you walk into a fourth one people are going to suspect your intentions, even if you really just want to make a deposit.

        1. Is this the suppression that leads to record minority voters? Keep being an idiot bernard.

          1. “Is this the suppression that leads to record minority voters?”

            The fact that they’re bad at suppressing minority voters doesn’t prove that they aren’t trying. (And then confused that the minority voters don’t want to join the “big tent”)

        2. Maybe if the Democrats quite lying, quite blatantly, about voter suppression, they wouldn’t be accused of being idiots, like you bernard.

          1. GOP officials have been recorded talking about how their policy was hoped to suppress voters.

            On the other hand, the speculation and outright fictions y’all are positing to prove voter fraud is ridiculous. The only wide-scale fraud uncovered is by your side.

            1. So after reading through those links, it appears to be not an actual recording but an interview after the fact with a disgruntled former employee. You don’t think that some of those comments might have been tactical attempts to gain leverage in his lawsuit against his former employer?

              I’m not saying I have evidence that he’s lying. But I’m not sure he deserves unconditional credibility, either.

              1. Don’t think you read the links carefully, because the NYT link at least had multiple examples from multiple sources, including some hot mics.

                1. Ya lost ’em at “NYT”.

      4. I’ve been an election judge in Pennsylvania and Maryland for over 30 years, and in both those states you must have Democratic and Republican judges in equal numbers at every stage of voting. You can cling to your myth of massive voter fraud and “wickedness in the big city districts” if you want, but I have never seen any convincing evidence that it happens. I know first hand that it didn’t happen in the Philly polling places where I was a chief judge.

        1. If we went by convictions for Jay walking youd think nobody ever jaywalkers. Yet every God damn day I see at least one.

          1. Except no one has even seen voter fraud, it’s all speculation based on jankey evidence that falls apart upon any kind of examination.

    3. You never find anything you don’t look for and refuse to see….

      1. huhwut?

      2. They’ve looked.

        They’ve even made shit up – see Texas. Nothing there.

        1. They haven’t looked dumbass. You cant look after the fact for fraud. Hou cant prove someone voted as someone else since they didnt have to provide ID. You say really stupid shit.

          1. You cant look after the fact for fraud.

            Isn’t that exactly what happened in NC?

            ID laws are fine – if you’re willing to subsidize getting an ID. But for all their arguments that lack of evidence is actually proof of a widespread Dem plot, y’all are steadfast against anything to avoid the cost of your policies.

            Add in that the same cohort tends to argue for contracting the franchise, and I wonder…

          2. “You cant look after the fact for fraud.”

            If you look for it before the fact, you won’t find it because it hasn’t happened. We don’t like to prosecute people for the crimes they haven’t committed.

            “You say really stupid shit.”

            He’s not in your class.

  2. Hasen has become somewhat of a political hack in the last couple of years, it’s rather sad.

    1. Well, he always seemed like a hack to me. But he used to be an interesting one. Now he’s just a bore, simply regurgitating the same ol same ol propaganda.

      1. Previously he was just a partisan. I distinguish them from hacks.

        1. Ha ha, pots and kettles come to mind.

  3. The people on TV say that when you divide the number of voter-fraud convictions by the number of votes, you get a very small number, so obviously voter fraud isn’t a problem.

    1. Divide the number of speeding tickets by the number of drivers. Divide the number of jaywalkers convicted by number of people who walk. Lots of stupid arguments one can make.

    2. To have a conviction you actually must have people investigating and prosecuting that voter fraud. Lack of convictions reflects the lack of personnel so assigned. Otherwise known as a zero observance policy.

  4. I would like to see a country where we had popular vote elections, but ranked choice voting for every federal office (presidential tickets, but also senators and representatives).

    -dk

    1. I would hazard a guess that it really wouldn’t make much difference. People who vote consistently either for one party or against the other party will continue to do so, and there are enough of them to determine elections. You won’t get a better choice out of that, just a different way of getting what you get now.

      1. If you added ballot access reform, you’d lower the threshold for third party success, which would force the major parties to clean up their game.

        Of course, they know that, which is why they’re so absolutely determined to block any such reforms.

        1. “If you added ballot access reform, you’d lower the threshold for third party success, which would force the major parties to clean up their game.”

          You’re assuming your conclusion, instead of providing evidence to support it.

          I’m not assuming your conclusion, and seeing no evidence to support it. Hmmm. Do I take the leap of faith?

          1. Ranked choice allows people who’d like to vote 3rd party, but are afraid of wasting their vote and causing the opposing major party candidate to win, to make a third party candidate their 2nd choice.

            Ballot access reform would spare third parties having to spend enormous resources just getting on the ballot, and starting the general election campaign exhausted and broke.

            I spent most of my adult life as an activist in the Libertarian party, it’s not like I didn’t pay attention to and reason about these things. That’s a large part of why I left: Because I’d figured out it was hopeless as long as the major parties were in control of the election system.

            1. “Ranked choice allows people who’d like to vote 3rd party, but are afraid of wasting their vote and causing the opposing major party candidate to win, to make a third party candidate their 2nd choice.”

              Does the guy who finished second get a different kind of prize from the guy who finished third?

              “I spent most of my adult life as an activist in the Libertarian party”

              So there’s no excuse for your not knowing that it’s a loser? There aren’t enough libertarians to win elections, and that’s if you could get all the libertarians to agree with each other, which they do not.
              This has nothing whatsoever to do with binary politics. To win elections, there have to be more of you than of any other party. To do that, you either need to swipe away people who already belong to another party, or capture people who don’t belong to any party, or both, at scale and not one or two at a time.

              1. Try this as a thought experiment, instead, Brett.

                Imagine a voting system where you get TWO votes, one for, and one against. Anyone with more AGAINST votes than FOR votes is ineligible for office.

                That’s going to give you third-party winners. The party A voters will all vote against the party B candidate, and the party B voters will all vote against the party A candidate, and the party C candidate, with a handful of FOR votes but not AGAINST votes, is the only one eligible to win.

                Of course, then the state that implemented this system sends a delegation of party C candidates to Congress, where they get ignored unless they ally with party A or party B.

                1. This is a terrible idea, especially for executive elections. Because of ballot spoiling or undervoting, it has a very decent possibility of producing no winner at all, which is a nightmare scenario for an election system.

                  Let’s say most people vote For Clinton and Against Trump, or vice versa, but then a number of people don’t cast any “for” votes and just vote against one of the candidates. You might end up with every candidate being excluded, and nobody being allowed to be the winner.

                  Even without that edge case, a party winning a seat or office on the back of a minuscule level of support as compared to their opponents is a badly designed election system which should not be countenanced.

                  1. ” Because of ballot spoiling or undervoting, it has a very decent possibility of producing no winner at all”

                    If none of the candidates is more popular than not among the electorate, then producing no winner is an accurate result.

                    The lesser of two evils is still evil.

            2. Ranked choice allows people who’d like to vote 3rd party, but are afraid of wasting their vote and causing the opposing major party candidate to win, to make a third party candidate their 2nd choice.

              It’s better than that. If you really wanted Ralph Nader, but prefer Gore to Bush, you can vote Nader first, and Gore second. At the very least there will be more expression of the minority’s taste, but at least over time the “minor” parties get more mind share, and debate commissions, which sometimes give debate access to parties which get a percentage of the vote last cycle, will seat the minor parties.

              -dk

              1. Ranked choice is a good idea, IMO.

                It gets third parties some attention, and could be useful in deciding, for example, who gets to participate in debates.

                I think it would be especially good in state legislative elections, where a third party rep or two might actually sneak in.

                1. “could be useful in deciding, for example, who gets to participate in debates.”

                  Or, and this is a crazy idea, I know… the people who hold the debates could decide who gets to participate in debates. If you don’t like who the current debate-hosting-organizations let in, get your organization together and host your own, inviting YOUR choice(s).

                  1. Kind of difficult when the major parties are boycotting any debate that doesn’t exclude the third parties.

                    1. “Kind of difficult when the major parties are boycotting any debate that doesn’t exclude the third parties.”

                      So, it’s not a debate if the big guys don’t show?

                2. Ranked choice is overly complex. Acceptance voting makes third parties more viable without the complexity. In acceptance voting you just vote for as many candidates as you like. If you hated Trump you could vote for every other candidate, or just Clinton and Stein. Or some other combination.

            3. Ranked choice allows

              ….the left to screw with the election results.

              All of these schemes, non-partisan primaries, jungle primaries, ranked choice, top two–ALL OF THEM were devised to make it easier to commit various types of fraud.

              Ballot access should be as simple as paying for your name to be on the ballot.

              1. “Ballot access should be as simple as paying for your name to be on the ballot.”

                Of course! Buy your way onto the ballot! No way for THAT to be corrupted!

    2. At least for legislatures, ranked choice voting does not really break two party systems. The principal example is Australia, where two parties (Labour and the Liberal/National coalition) dominate the House of Representatives, currently holding 142/150 seats. Australia’s Senate by comparison is elected under a proportional representation system, and the two major parties only control 57 out of 76 seats between them.

      Since their last election was a “double dissolution” where both chambers were fully elected, it’s a good case oint in the two systems. Ranked choice got 95% of the seats in the hands of the two major parties, and proportional representation got 75% of the seats in the hands of the two major parties.

      Proportional systems are simply much friendlier to third parties than ranked choice.

      1. It’s fundamentally a chicken-and-egg problem. A third-party isn’t significant until after it’s won enough elections to influence national politics. To influence national politics, it has to be big, with lots and lots of members all over the country. But they can’t get big, with lots and lots of members all over the country, until they can win a bunch of elections.

        The closest a third-party came to national significance (in my lifetime) was in 1992. Before that, you have to go back to Teddy R. But sticking with 1992, it’s not even clear whether most of the people who joined the Independent Party actually MEANT to join the Independent Party, or meant to not join any party. Depending on who you ask, they altered the outcome in 1992 without electing anybody, or they didn’t affect the outcome in 1992, and either way they quickly disintegrated back into triviality.

        1. ” Before that, you have to go back to Teddy R”

          Try 1968. George Wallace won the electoral votes of five states.

          1. And the Dixiecrats in 1948.

    3. Meh.

      If we’re doing massive reforms, how about multi-seat proportional elections for every position where there’s more then one chair.

      Also, lets do away with the 1929 law that capped? the size of the House at 435, and bring district size back down to pre-1900s levels. Throw in the afore-mentioned multi-seat proportional voting and we’ll explode the size of the House, making it much easier to third party (or just non-orthodox party members) to get in.

      This may mean we’ll have to move the House of Representatives out of DC, but that’s probably a good thing. Heck, with modern technology, each state could just house their representatives locally. But if telecommuting is too modern, we could still relocate the House of Representatives to somewhere else.

      Ideally we would also move the Senate out of Washington DC to a different location from the house, putting both halves of congress in their own locations distinct from the executive branch, which is a “win” as far as “ease of nuking all of them” goes. And for the fun of it, let’s bump Senators up to three Senators for each state, so there are no years where the senate map (dis)favors anyone: every state has a seat up every election. Alternatively, still bump it up to three, but have them all elected on the same year and go with proportional voting on that too.
      ________
      ?Strictly speaking, we can get more then 435 when a new state is added. But after the next reapportionment it goes back down.

      1. All excellent ideas!

      2. Number of Congresscritters should be (state’s population)/(smallest state’s population). I’m surprised no AG from a larger state has taken the fixed number of 435 to the Supreme Court to get a writ of mandamus ordering Congress to do their job and ensure that the states are proportionally represented in the House as required by the 14th Amendment: 2: Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. A limitation of 435 for members ensures they are not apportioned among the states according to their respective numbers.

        1. As of the 2010 census, Wyoming, the state with the lowest population, has 563,626 residents. Total US population at the same point was 312,846,492 residents but that includes the residents of the District of Columbia and the various territories which arguably shouldn’t be counted since their representatives are non-voting. Excluding DC and the territories drops the applicable US population to 308,143,815. Dividing by Montana gives a the count of representatives of 547.

          That doesn’t seem like evidence of rampant distortion to me.

  5. “But Florida was a state whose legislators and local officials often came from different parties and were often at loggerheads during the recount.”

    Except that the only official who really mattered, Katherine Harris, was both the Florida Secretary of State and also the co-chair of Bush’s Florida campaign. There’s a huge problem with concentrating so much power of the electoral process into the hands of a single partisan player.

  6. Percentage terms are not really the right metric for election fraud – absolute numbers matter a lot more, and the absolute scale required to tip even the 1960 election is so large as to be impossible to disguise.

    A fraud involving 100,000 flesh and blood voters being hoodwinked (as in NC-09) or themselves engaging in fraud would be far too easily caught. A conspiracy on that scale would require hundreds or thousands of participants at a minimum, and no such large conspiracy would stay secret.

    Of course there is the risk of a state going fully onto the path of top-down orchestrated fraud, as we see in failed democracies, but that is a different category of risk which can be handled through legislation under the republican form of government clause of the Constitution which would certainly empower the federal government to step in if all meaningful elections in a state were corrupted by massive orchestrated fraud.

    1. California legalized vote harvesting, which is the most observable step in absentee ballot fraud, a possible large scale ballot fraud mechanism.

      Can you imagine the reaction if the Trump administration, citing the Republican form of government clause, tried to force them to stop it?

      1. “California legalized vote harvesting, which is the most observable step in absentee ballot fraud, a possible large scale ballot fraud mechanism.”

        Oregon went to 100% vote-by-mail, and the number of fraud cases in Oregon is… underwhelming. There was a case of one county clerk who marked undervoted ballots. And got caught.

        1. How would you know? With vote harvesting, a harvester could collect large numbers of opposing votes and just throw them away. How would anyone know?

          1. Right, and when you combine the “harvesting” with same day registration, the Democrats have literally legalized cheating.

            1. Jealous, much? Why didn’t YOUR guys think of that?

              1. Because we have ethics. Your people don’t.

                1. “Because we have ethics.”

                  My error. I didn’t realize you were a Democrat.

                2. When you call for purging your opponent, that’s not ethics.

              2. James Pollock — you have a lot of snark, but do you have a real answer? How would anyone know if a vote harvester in California simply disposed of opposing votes?

                1. The person whose vote doesn’t show up at the election office knows that they voted.

                  Oregon has vote by mail. Lists of registered voters who haven’t submitted a ballot yet is freely available… both parties obtain these lists, and call the people on THEIR lists who haven’t turned in a ballot.

                  They also BOTH call people who are registered as non-partisan, and when your ballot goes in, the push-poll phone calls just mysteriously stop.

                  1. Hmm. Maybe it’s because I’m not in one of those states, but I find it hard to imagine that more than a negligible number of people check to see whether their vote was counted. And as for the parties calling people, surely most people tune out calls like that. I certainly do.

        2. “Oregon went to 100% vote-by-mail”

          The fact that Dems have then won every close statewide race is purely a coincidence.

          1. You’re unfamiliar with the Oregon Republican party. The fact that they don’t even bother to field candidates for all the statewide races, and the candidates they DO offer being just awful, has a lot to do with it. (The closest they came to winning the governor’s mansion was when they offered a basketball player instead of a polititician with a political history. He lost, and promptly left the state.)

        3. Vote by mail is not ballot harvesting.

          1. “Vote by mail is not ballot harvesting.”

            Thank you for that BRILLIANT observation. In other news, fire is not wet.

            1. Apparently you needed the “brilliant” observation, as you conflated the two.

              When a post about ballot harvesting was made, you responded with a post about vote by mail.

              I simply pointed out the two were not the same thing.

              1. “When a post about ballot harvesting was made, you responded with a post about vote by mail.”

                Yes. A person of normal intelligence might be expected to see how they are related, without having to have it spelled out for them.

                Then you came along, and showed that assuming normal intelligence was… generous.

    2. Actual flesh-and-blood voters might not need to be involved. Let’s remember that the classic trope for vote fraud is dead Chicagoans showing up at the polls…

      Serious vote fraud would probably wind up taking place at the county level, where registration occurs and where votes are counted. County clerks in one-party counties, largely free from oversight by the other party, could pad the voter list with fictional people or corpses, then report them as having voted the right way.

      1. ” Let’s remember that the classic trope for vote fraud is dead Chicagoans showing up at the polls…”

        Which is harder to get away with, when the other party has observers who have Internet, and therefore the ability to identify dead people casting ballots.

        ” County clerks in one-party counties, largely free from oversight by the other party, could pad the voter list with fictional people or corpses, then report them as having voted the right way.”

        Which is why they won’t be left free from oversight. And somebody’s going to notice when Malheur County, Oregon, suddenly has 4 million registered voters.

        1. Only if the other party has access to the people who have cast ballots.

          1. “Only if the other party has access to the people who have cast ballots.”

            Or can count. If the 10,000 or so folks who live in Malheur County have cast 4 million ballots, something is up.

            1. So, we’ve gone from “observers who have Internet, and therefore the ability to identify dead people casting ballots.”

              To only being able to determine fraud in those districts which have 3.99 million extra ballots cast over the number of residents.

              Amazing how those goalposts move, ain’t it.

              1. “Amazing how those goalposts move, ain’t it.”

                You’re the one moving them, so you tell me.

                Was it difficult taking two different cases, and dumbing yourself down enough to get them confused with each other?

      2. I explained why precinct-level fraud is tough to do in a comment below this one. Yes, it’s possible for an old Chicago-style machine in theory to do it, but it’s really a lot harder today since cross-referencing databases is a much more viable tactic, and people did for example raise a bunch of flags when voters were reported in OH whose DoBs would have made them extremely old. But it was a data entry error from carryover registrations from the 70s of people who didn’t provide a DoB back then.

        Is it possible to fudge a few hundred votes if you’re in a position of trust? Probably.

        A few hundred thousand? No way.

        1. Unless the databases are flawed, or are easily “proven” to be inaccurate.

          For example, a recent case where Texas “showed” 58,000 people illegally voted .

          1. That could be fixed if we adopted a national ID tied to citizenship. But we’d need 100% compliance with that first.

            Which gets to an underlying problem: the US has no cohesive unified system to track who our citizens even are, nevertheless what state they’re voting in.

            1. Yeah, see recent issues with E-verify to see how that works out.

          2. Once you have a list of names which may be suspicious, it isn’t too hard to investigate and check. The issue with the Texas list is that it had an obvious flaw in that it didn’t account for naturalization, and so was wildly overinclusive.

            1. Except now you’ve gone from “Cross reference databases” to “Individually check each suspicious person”. Which is a heck of a lot more work.

              Moreover, any false positive will be broadcast by the media. True positives…ignored.

              1. “Except now you’ve gone from “Cross reference databases” to “Individually check each suspicious person”. Which is a heck of a lot more work.”

                Egads. They went from step 1 to step 2 of a list of things to do to prevent election fraud.

                Step 1: Cross check submitted ballots to various databases

                Step 2: Investigate the ones that seem iffy.

                So, for example, you’d check the “people who voted” list against your “people who died recently” list, and look into those names that appeared on both lists.
                You’d also check the “people who voted” list against “people who recently registered to vote in other districts”, and look into those names that appeared on both lists.

                Sometimes you’d find that, for example, two people with similar names lived in the district, and one voted, and one didn’t because he was dead. And sometimes you find that, Oops, that person registered to vote in a different county but still showed up to vote in their old one.

                As an armchair lawyer, you’re not very good at law. But as an armchair technologist, you’re abysmal at understanding technology.

                1. Sigh…

                  Your random insults aside, you’ve clearly never done any real database work, with the various issues involved in checking, cross checking, tracking down the individual pieces of data, tracking down the errors, and trying to piece together what needs to be re-entered in manually due to operator error. That’s before actually getting access to the necessary databases.

                  Your example here is simplistic at best.

                  Part 1 here is getting access to the voter database. That’s not straightforward. Recently a presidential commission tried to get this information. And most states refused. It’s hard to find fraud if you can’t even get access to the information.

                  Part 2 is getting access to the secondary databases needed. And THAT’s not straightforward.

                  Part 3 is sorting and parsing the databases into usable systems that can be cross checked efficiently

                  Part 4 is tracking down all the errors and discrepancies

                  Part 5 is resolving them, sometimes with personal calls and follow ups.

                  The best way to do some of this is with personal identifiers, like social security numbers. But there are laws against disclosing that information. So, you’re left with Joe Smith in Chicago, Jo Smith in Chicago, Joe Smith in Cook County, and Joey Smith in Madison, and they all might be the same person, just with errors. Or not.

                  1. “Your random insults aside, you’ve clearly never done any real database work”

                    Your observational and/or prognostication skills are also pretty bad. You guessed wrong on that one, too.

                    “Your example here is simplistic at best.”

                    I wanted you to be able to follow.

            2. The issue with the Texas list is that was never intended to be accurate, just long.

  7. I’m old enough to remember when some not-very-progressive types argued against ditching the Electoral College because it would lead to less progressive results as democrats tried to run up the score in the then Solid South rather than compete for narrow wins in competitive states often represented by liberal republicans, like New York and Illinois.
    I guess you could call this trolling avant la lettre.

  8. The electoral college is a guardrail, not a guarantee. There can be good reasons for taking down guardrails, when they prevent us from going where we want to go.

    One almost surely could keep the ostensible guardrails while curbing the unearned structural amplification of poorly educated, economically inadequate, backwater voices at the Electoral College.

    I doubt anyone invited to participate by the Volokh Conspiracy would favor such an approach, though. (Free beer — excellent beer — to Prof. Sachs if he demonstrates that I am wrong about this blog’s predictable, paltry partisan proclivities in this context.)

    Carry on, clingers.

    1. Offer of free beer expires in 48 hours (because I don’t want to waste time checking for an unlikely response).

    2. What level of schooling should someone have before they’re allowed to vote?

      1. Half-educated, can’t-keep-up Republicans are entitled to vote, but their stale thinking and bigotry should not benefit from undeserved amplification.

      2. “What level of schooling should someone have before they’re allowed to vote?”

        Enough to count up all the way to 18.

    3. Arty, the useless idiot.

      Carry on, moron.

  9. The hard point stands: fraud which advances the cause of locally dominant partisans is far more likely to succeed than fraud in contentious swing states.

    1. So why not make every state a contentious swing state?

      1. Going to wave your magic wand and make that happen?

        1. Stop fantasizing about my magic wand.

    2. Theories are all well and good, but until you have any proof of fraud this is a solution in search of a problem.

      1. There will never be proof of fraud unless the party which benefitted from the fraud participates in publicizing the proof.

        1. Not counting the convictions. Oregon imprisoned an election official for filling in undervoted ballots with her choice of candidates. DOZENS of ballots were affected.

        2. One party can block the investigations of the other? That doesn’t seem right.

          1. One party can block the investigations of the other?

            One party can block the investigation of itself.

            1. “One party can block the investigation of itself.”

              No, they can’t. How would they do that? Arrest the investigators for investigating?

  10. Some commentators suggest that fraud involves real voters. Some does.

    But a kind of fraud which could swing a national plebliscite election would be an extra 1 million votes from California or New York. Votes not associated with any actual person.

    1. This would be remarkably hard to execute without being caught.

      In order to administer local elections, the state government (or county government or whoever does the hands-on administration) has to deliver highly granular voting data. That is, each and every precinct must be accounted for, and the math has to check when you sum all the precincts votes.

      This means you would need to alter the vote counts for thousands or tens of thousands of precincts, making sure not to produce wildly implausible outcomes (e.g. 50/50 D/R for Governor, then 85/15 D/R for President), and keeping the total number of votes cast right.

      AND you would have to make sure nobody who worked those precincts checked your published numbers against the raw totals they got on election night.

      There’s just so many balls to keep in the air to pull this off, and so many people spread in so many locations who would need to be in on it, that you can’t do it.

      Could you corrupt one or a few precinct results? Probably. There might be a few hundred votes you could flip that way (though it’s still very high risk of getting caught).

      Could you corrupt 10,000+ precinct results? No way.

      1. An excellent point.

      2. Feh. All you have to do is gradually ramp up the absentee ballot fraud, and people just assume all those shut ins vote Democratic.

        1. Are you advancing the premise that the R’s wouldn’t think of engaging in fraud, or that they’re just too inept to do it properly? Both are laughable, but for different reasons.

          1. No, my actual position is that Republicans and Democrats both engage in vote fraud in their strongholds, but Democrats can get away with it more because they’ve got stronger strongholds. You just don’t get those 90% plus Republican precincts, the way you do Democratic.

            1. “You just don’t get those 90% plus Republican precincts, the way you do Democratic.”

              You need to get out more, see more of the country.

              At least half the counties in Oregon are 80%+ Republican. They happen to be unusually sparsely populated, but the people who DO live in them don’t register as D’s. They’re almost all in the same Congressional district. The D’s have majorities in, like 3 counties, and there’s 3-4 that are evenly split, and the rest are all R majorities.

      3. It’s actually not that difficult. All you would need to do, is tweak a few percentage points, then up the overall voter participation.

        For example, would you be “surprised” if voter participation in a given state jumped from 42% to 65% between 2014 and 2018 in given state, netting millions more votes?

        1. Each voter gets signed in at the poll books. You have to specify individual people who voted in each precinct. If the precinct poll books show 200 voters signed in, and 300 votes come from that precinct, it’s a huge red flag.

          Plus you’d have to produce phony results for all the other races too, unless you were gonna suggest that 1/3 of voters undervote massively and don’t vote downballot at all, which would also be a huge red flag.

          1. Except for the mail in ballot. Which, if it accounted for a massive proportion, say 30%, well, none of them check in.

            1. “Except for the mail in ballot. Which, if it accounted for a massive proportion, say 30%, well, none of them check in.”

              So all you have to do is make up a bunch of extra mail-in ballots, each with a forged signature on it that matches the voter’s (and which the actual voter can be asked to verify without jeopardizing the integrity of their secret ballot).

              1. You seem to have missed recent rulings that the signatures don’t actually have to match.

                1. Indeed. He also missed the case in Denver, regarding a ballot measure. They collected 189,000 signatures. Of those, only just under 115,000 were determined to be valid.

                  That’s a lot of fake signatures. The Colorado election board did…nothing.

                  The news tracked down one of the supposed fake signatures by contacting a person. It was a fake.

                  1. They used to have this problem in Oregon… paid canvassers were paid on a “per signature” basis, and it turned out that many of them turned in signatures that weren’t kosher. So now, paid canvassers are paid by the hour, and the ones who aren’t paid proudly trumpet this fact.

                2. Having a little trouble following your citations for this proposition.

          2. If the precinct poll books show 200 voters signed in, and 300 votes come from that precinct, it’s a huge red flag.

            And yet, there exists such precints in the recently past election, and no one does anything because the vote went the way the local politicians wanted it to go.

        2. would you be “surprised” if voter participation in a given state jumped from 42% to 65% between 2014 and 2018 in given state, netting millions more votes?

          I was surprised when the Secretary of State was found to have lots of government emails on her private server.

          But I was NOT surprised when no one in the Obama DOJ did anything about it.

          1. Are you surprised that Jared and Ivanka use personal email for government business.

            Do you expect Barr to do anything about it?

            Are you surprised that Trump used an insecure cell phone?

            1. Are you surprised that Jared and Ivanka use personal email for government business.

              Do you expect Barr to do anything about it?

              I’ve yet to see the rigor of evidence we saw with Hillary regarding the government business stuff.

              1. I’ve yet to see the rigor of evidence we saw with Hillary

                FFS.

          2. “I was surprised when the Secretary of State was found to have lots of government emails on her private server.”

            You shouldn’t have been, given that this practice had been common in the previous administration.

            1. You mean when there wasn’t a standardized email for all federal agencies, and so several prior administration officials had their own emails servers, but all stopped doing so once there was a federal standard?

              And then the subsequent administration decided not to follow the forward march of technological progress, and pretended that technology was 10 years older as their rationale for ignoring federal law and regulations?

              Look, I get it. If I were a member of the Clinton family I sure as hell wouldn’t want any way for anything even close to personal to get peeped on by my political enemies – but just because I can understand why she would want to doesn’t excuse it.

              1. “You mean when there wasn’t a standardized email for all federal agencies, and so several prior administration officials had their own emails servers, but all stopped doing so once there was a federal standard?”

                That hasn’t happened, so, I guess so, yeah, before that happened.

        3. For example, would you be “surprised” if voter participation in a given state jumped from 42% to 65% between 2014 and 2018 in given state, netting millions more votes?

          I would be astonished, as would anyone with any common sense.

          1. Indeed. And yet that exact situation happened in California.

            1. Indeed. And yet that exact situation happened in California.

              But since the locally preferred candidates won, no one is looking into such things.

              1. If the locally preferred candidates won, that’s how elections are supposed to work. When it’s a problem is when the locally-preferred candidates DON’T win.

                1. When the locally preferred candidate wins by an extra 10 million fraudulent votes, that’s a problem when the 10 million get scored in a national count.

                  1. “When the locally preferred candidate wins by an extra 10 million fraudulent votes, that’s a problem when the 10 million get scored in a national count.”

                    The extra 10 million don’t get scored in a national count. We don’t have national elections.

                    Also, a precinct that records 10 million extra votes is PROBABLY going to get a closer look-see, and definitely would if those 10 million extra votes DID count.

                    1. The extra 10 million don’t get scored in a national count. We don’t have national elections.

                      And the value of keeping it that way is what is suggested.

                    2. “‘The extra 10 million don’t get scored in a national count. We don’t have national elections.’
                      And the value of keeping it that way is what is suggested.”

                      Try reading all the way to the end. You missed the

                      ” a precinct that records 10 million extra votes is PROBABLY going to get a closer look-see, and definitely would if those 10 million extra votes DID count.”

                      part.

                  2. Your argument would seem to fly in the face of how unusual NC looked, sparking an investigation.

                    1. Is NC a hard red state, where the benefitting party had the opportunity to cover stuff up?

                      I didn’t think so.

                    2. “Is NC a hard red state”

                      Yeah, thanks to gerrymandering.

      4. This would be remarkably hard to execute without being caught.

        You mean, kind of like the FBI taking active steps to support one candidate over the other?

        And if that candidate won, who is going to do anything?

      5. Could you corrupt one or a few precinct results? Probably. There might be a few hundred votes you could flip that way (though it’s still very high risk of getting caught).

        You could corrupt exactly one precinct, adding ten million votes, so long as no one did anything about it afterwards.

        1. “You could corrupt exactly one precinct, adding ten million votes, so long as no one did anything about it afterwards.”

          Sure, and you could also do it if you were the last person alive on Earth. Most of the rest of us are sticking with a real-world scenario.

          1. In the real world, the DOJ, and the FBI, actively particpated in the election of the President of the United States, strongly favoring one candidate.

            Rigging 10 million votes is no less real world than that.

            1. Sorry, I meant the REAL real world, not the partisan fantasy “real world”.

              1. The REAL real world has included corruption every bit as dastardly as rigging an election, and but for the fact that the wrong candidate overcame the corruption and won anyway, we’d only have a sinking feeling that something was rotten in there, as compared to hard evidence of the corruption.

                Kind of like we now have with California. It’s highly likely that several California elections were fraudulently decided. We know that because of the fact that Democrats won all close contests. All of them. How did that happen? No hard proof, but common sense tells us that it was rotten.

                But authorities in California aren’t going to show us anything, because their candidates won.

                1. “The REAL real world has included corruption every bit as dastardly as rigging an election”

                  No shit.

                  But, the fact that something happened once is not considered proof that it’s happening again now.

                  “We know that because of the fact that Democrats won all close contests. All of them. How did that happen?”

                  There are more Democrats in California than Republicans. Democrats didn’t win in South Carolina in any of the last six elections. How did that happen?

      6. AND almost every state requires there to be equal numbers of Democratic and Republican election judges at each precinct, including chief judges. In Maryland, both chief judges have to physically accompany the results to the board of elections, where both major parties are also equally represented.

        1. AND almost every state requires there to be equal numbers of Democratic and Republican election judges at each precinct, including chief judges.

          Proving, um, that since there are “Republicans” present, that the result is untarnished no matter how implausible?

          I’d point out that David Souter was appointed by a Republican.

          That GW Bush for G’s sake was a Republican.

          Republicans are not reliable guardians of the constitution.

          1. “Republicans are not reliable guardians of the constitution.”

            We agree on that. But they ARE jealous guardians of their own power, which is why I trust they’d call shenanigans on anybody’s attempt to mess with the election that didn’t benefit them, and (hold on to your hat) the same is true of the other guys.

            1. Republicans have been complicit in shenanigans, for both power and money.

              Keep in mind: without the Electoral College, one corrupt precinct could decide the national winner, so long as the benefitting party was willing to protect the fraud.

              1. “Keep in mind: without the Electoral College, one corrupt precinct could decide the national winner”

                Most democratic countries don’t have an Electoral College, and yet they manage to run national elections. So, let’s stop pretending it isn’t possible, eh?

                1. Most democratic countries don’t have an Electoral College, and yet they manage to run national elections.

                  Not sure what the point is here, surely you’ve heard of election fraud in nominally democratic countries.

                  1. “surely you’ve heard of election fraud in nominally democratic countries.”

                    If you’re working from the premise that they don’t have any democratic elections, NO WONDER all your conclusions are wrong.

    2. Large conspiracies are notoriously difficult to keep both together and secret. A small conspiracy doesn’t have sufficient reach to throw a national election, UNLESS things are so closely balanced that there’s only a small difference between the two sides, OR something artificially narrows the field of contention. The electoral college makes most states irrelevant in Presidential elections. One party outnumbers the other in those states that they’re not competitive, and there’s not POINT in trying to rig an election in a state that isn’t competitive… either it isn’t necessary, or it isn’t believable.

      1. Large conspiracies are notoriously difficult to keep both together and secret.

        Only when the candidate being supported loses.

        So long as the supported candidate wins, no one will investigate.

        1. “Only when the candidate being supported loses.”

          Tell that to Nixon. He was under the impression that he won.

          1. Nixon was guilty not of winning the election, but of losing the support of his party.

            If Republicans had stood behind Nixon, no harm would have befallen Nixon.

            1. So, if Republicans had only stood behind their corrupt President, he could have stayed their corrupt President, is your takeaway?

              Well, they seem to have learned that lesson, at least.

              1. He certainly was corrupt, but one thing he wasn’t guilty of was stealing an election.

                Actually, as I read the history, they thought that by breaking into the Democratic party headquarters, they’d be able to find evidence that the Democrats were trying to steal the election…

                1. “He certainly was corrupt, but one thing he wasn’t guilty of was stealing an election.”

                  Nor did anyone say he was.

                  “Actually, as I read the history, they thought that by breaking into the Democratic party headquarters, they’d be able to find evidence that the Democrats were trying to steal the election…”

                  If that’s the lie you choose to believe, that’s the lie you choose to believe.

                  1. So, if Republicans had only stood behind their corrupt President, he could have stayed their corrupt President, is your takeaway?

                    It’s a true statement, albeit a hypothetical. The real point is, if the benefitting party is willing to support a corrupt election, the corruption will stand, perhaps pending some violent coup.

                    The prime benefit of election fraud is that your party is actually in power.

                    1. ” The real point is, if the benefitting party is willing to support a corrupt election, the corruption will stand”

                      And there’s STILL the counterexample of Nixon. He won, and he was absolutely willing to accept the results of his corruption. But it didn’t stand. There were people on his side even knowing he was corrupt… but not enough of them. Just like there are people who support Herr Trumpenfuhrer, despite knowing full well that he’s incompetent. For now, there ARE enough of those… because the R’s don’t want to admit they nominated and elected an incompetent, and the D’s don’t want to chance the possibility of Donnie the T being replaced with a guy who actually knows how to operate the government.

                    2. But it didn’t stand. There were people on his side even knowing he was corrupt… but not enough of them.

                      That’s what I said. Nixon’s party did not support him.

                      If they would have supported him, he would have avoided the known consequences.

                    3. “That’s what I said. Nixon’s party did not support him.

                      If they would have supported him, he would have avoided the known consequences.”

                      The claim was, large conspiracies are difficult both to keep together and secret.

                      The counterclaim is “Only when the candidate being supported loses.”

                      Nixon won. But his conspiracy BOTH came apart, AND became public knowledge.

                      What, exactly, does “Nixon lost the support of his party” have to do with it? He lost the support of his party because his conspiracy came apart and his corruption became public knowledge.

                    4. He lost the support of his party because his conspiracy came apart and his corruption became public knowledge.

                      Nixon lost the support of his party before the hard evidence became public.

                      If the party had supported him, he would have survived as president, and held onto a fig leaf, regardless of the fact that it really did smell rotten.

                      For one, Deep Throat would never have come forward if he didn’t think some powerful Republicans had his back if he got found out. Woodward and Bernstein would have remained as they were.

    3. Verifying a random sample of votes can catch that. There is a list of people in whose names votes were cast. Pick a random sample and confirm that they, indeed, voted.

      1. Indeed, and the last time I heard of an effort to do that, the Democrats went to court and got an injunction stopping it, claiming it was “voter intimidation”.

        For a party that claims there’s no ballot fraud, the Democrats sure act like a party that’s guilty of it.

        1. Bingo.

        2. That wasn’t a random sample.

          1. I don’t know the particulars here, why does randomness matter in this case. All randomness gets you is representativeness, but if you’re trying to prove presence of a non-randomly distributed effect you wouldn’t want a random sample anyway.

            1. If there are concerns about suppressing the vote, targeting Latino last names is pretty blatant.

              1. If you’re trying to “suppress the vote”, doing it immediately AFTER the election would be remarkably stupid. Too late to effect the election just passed, and too early to effect the next election.

                And that’s what we’re talking about here: Getting a list of people who supposedly voted absentee, and tracking them down to confirm that they really did.

                Moderately related: I was a volunteer in a campaign in the mid 90’s that was concerned about the possibility of ballot fraud in a district in, IIRC, East Detroit. As part of our campaign efforts, we were dropping a literature packet at the home of every single registered voter in the district. And keeping track of cases where the address listed was not a valid address.

                It was remarkable how many people were who were registered to vote in that district had given as their residence party stores or empty lots.

                1. “If you’re trying to “suppress the vote”, doing it immediately AFTER the election would be remarkably stupid.”

                  Not really, no. The most effective suppression would be constant, and the next most effective would come at unanticipated times, so as to catch voter-activists unawares.

                  1. They were found to be targeting minorities with that tactic, Brett. Don’t pretend this was some good-faith anti-fraud initiative.

                    It is remarkably stupid, because they didn’t even need to target minorities – having your address screwed up doesn’t mean you’re a fake voter. But it does make it a lot more likely you’re lower class!

                    But they couldn’t help themselves, I guess, and went with the ‘Lopez’ targeting to boot.

        3. ” the last time I heard of an effort to do that, the Democrats went to court and got an injunction stopping it, claiming it was “voter intimidation”.”

          Here’s one you haven’t heard of, then.

          In Oregon, the list of voters who haven’t yet submitted a ballot is freely available. BOTH parties get the list, and push registered members of their party to go and turn in a ballot. BOTH parties also call people who are registered as non-partisan. And various political operations run push polls that don’t waste their time trying to influence people who’ve already turned in a ballot.

          Plus, of course, the parties are free to contact their own registered voters at any time and ask them about their intention(s) to vote in the next election.

      2. Verification would catch fraud. But the mere hypothetical possibility of verification would completely negate the promise of confidentiality of your ballot.

        Or are you merely saying that you’ll call the person and only ask the binary question “did you vote” rather than “how did you vote”? “Did you vote” is easily scammed by anyone with the will and the means to conduct the fraudulent votes in the first place. You just have to corrupt the verification contact information. It’s the equivalent of sending in a change of address form right before I run your stolen credit card number through the roof.

        1. “Verification would catch fraud. But the mere hypothetical possibility of verification would completely negate the promise of confidentiality of your ballot.”

          No, it doesn’t.

          In Oregon, you mark your ballot. Then you put it into an envelope. Then you put that envelope into another envelope, and you sign it. Then you mail it to the County election clerk.

          They verify the signature on the outside envelope, then remove the outer envelope. They mix the inner envelopes, then extract the ballots from inside them and run them through the vote-counting machine.

          The verification stage produces the opportunity to verify that a voter cast a ballot (or not), but doesn’t require examination of the ballot itself.

          1. Voting by mail in Washington State works exactly the same way.

  11. Vote fraud is basically non-existant in this country. Abolishing the electoral college will not change that.

    1. Except for where it exists. North Carolina is a recent case example.

      1. Where it was caught. Because the weird artifacts produced by fraud aren’t that hard to catch.

        1. 1. Moved goalposts. Fraud doesn’t exist to “well it does, but it’s caught by odd artifacts”

          2. It’s a catch-22. If Fraud existed that didn’t have “weird artifacts”, then it wouldn’t be caught, so would it really exist if it wasn’t caught?

          1. You’ve proved it might exist, but you set out to prove it does exist.

            Speaking of moved goalposts…

    2. Everything is rare when you go out of your way to make sure you don’t find what you’re supposedly looking for.

    3. This is the “perfect crime” fallacy.

      There’s no such thing as a perfect crime, eventually the crooks always get caught. Contra: if there were a perfect crime, you’d never know about it.

      Voter fraud is rare, but it’s precisely the sort of thing that’s hard to catch at scale.

      Is retail voter fraud common and meaningful (ex voting twice) almost definitely not.

      Is scaled voter fraud common and meaningful? We have no way of knowing, precisely because we disable all of the checks needed to readily verify the results.
      Can an individual verify that they voted? No (this would be easy to implement)
      Can and individual verify that their vote was counted as they intended? No (slightly harder to implement)

      1. “Can and individual verify that their vote was counted as they intended? No (slightly harder to implement)”

        More than slightly, unless you’re comfortable with disposing of the secret ballot.

        1. “More than slightly, unless you’re comfortable with disposing of the secret ballot.”

          Or understand cryptography. Modern information security has three branches… confidentiality, message integrity, and availability. These are not mutually-exclusive.

    1. Don’t know why my post isn’t showing. At any rate, I responded to Sachs claim that the very low popular vote margins in the elections of 1960 or 2000 show that the number of votes that a conspiracy to steal a presidential election would “only” be a few hundred thousand. What Sachs fails to recognize is that the popular vote margin of an election is not known in advance with precision. Even the most accurate poll is going to have a margin of error that would equate to a minimum of about 5 million votes nationwide. So Hasen, in suggesting that a successful election theft would have to involve millions of votes, is much closer to the mark than Sachs.

      Sachs suggests that having an Electoral College is an essential “guardrail against fraud.” There is a straightforward test of that hypothesis. We have 50 states, all of which elect their governor by direct popular election. Some of them have been doing so for over 200 years. If it were so easy to steal a direct popular election of a chief executive, there ought to be a long, long list of governor’s election where the existence of fraud was proven to the satisfaction of all parties. There isn’t.

      1. That’s a good point. The states are the “laboratories of democracy” and all that jazz.

      2. I don’t think he said it was an essential guardrail. Just a guardrail.

        1. It is a largely pretextual guardrail, handy for those who want to privilege certain jurisdictions with unearned amplification of votes for unattractive reasons.

      3. Washington State, 2004 Governor’s election. Look it up.

        1. A single bullet-point is not a long list. At best, it’s a short list.

        2. As a resident of Washington State for nearly 20 years, I do not need to “look up” the 2004 Governor’s race, as I remember it. For those who may not, the race between Democrat Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi was extremely close. Rossi was very narrowly ahead; however, a manual recount resulted in Gregoire being certified as the winner by a margin of about 130 votes.

          Please note that in my comment, I specified that I was talking of cases “where the existence of fraud was proven to the satisfaction of all parties.” In Washington 2004, the Republicans made a list of allegations of fraud, but when they went to court, their claims were rejected across the board.

          1. Were they rejected by judges appointed by Democrat Party governors?

            1. The judge who heard the case, John E. Bridges, was in fact initially appointed by Democratic Governor Booth Gardner in 1988. However, as a trial judge in the Superior Court system in Washington, he had to be reelected every four years. He retired in 2012, which means that he was reelected at least once between hearing the 2004 election case and retirement. He served in Chelan County, which is solidly Republican: McCain, Romney and Trump all got 55-57% of the vote in the county.

              1. So what? Judges are almost always reelected barring scandal.

                1. So if there was no scandal about this judge…

                2. So, given how angry Washington Republicans were about the 2004 governor’s election–and as a Washington resident, I can remember the anger very well–if the judge’s handling of the case had been at all partisan, his solidly Republican county would not have reelected him. Obviously.

  12. Stopping fraud is a legitimate concern. It may be an ancillary benefit of the electoral college, but that’s a tough argument to make, either that it’s by design or by accident.

    Either way though, stopping fraud is not the implicit or explicit purpose of the electoral college, and you can stop fraud with or without the electoral college.

    As such, susceptibility to fraud is not a concern when discussing whether to keep the Electoral College. Make the right choice for the right reasons, and then tinker with the system to prevent fraud and disenfranchisement. But don’t act like preventing fraud is a relevant concern when making the decision.

    1. In fact one can make the argument that the Electoral College *enables* electoral fraud in one-party states, by making it not worth while to prosecute those cases of fraud. And that is just corrosive to democracy in general.

      1. You could, but that presumes that no one in the down-ballot races cares enough to pay attention.

        1. In one-party states, the “meaningful” down-ballot races are the primaries, not the general. The electoral college doesn’t affect primaries, and vice-versa.

  13. The Democrats commit voter fraud in every election. They promise people free stuff to vote for them. That’s the very definition of fraud.

    1. How is that fraud if they follow through on the promise?

      1. They’re defrauding the taxpayers (90% of whom are Republicans) who have to pay for their promises.

        1. You don’t know what fraud means, I see.

          1. Hold on. I want to find out how the Democrats are avoiding paying sales taxes.

            1. (If it works, I’m going to go register as a Democrat).

  14. It’s worse than fraud. Nothing stops states from lowering the voting age to 12 or engaging in other perfectly legal tricks to increase their turn out.

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