Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fake Registration an Unlikely Vehicle for Voter Fraud

Do not fear the ACORN.

Numerous election experts, including Barnard College political scientist Lorraine Minnite and Justice Department veteran Gerald Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center, told ProPublica that fake registrations were an unlikely and unwieldy means of stealing an election.

Such a scheme would have to involve a substantial crew of fraudsters -- tens of thousands of people -- willing to risk the hefty prison sentences and fines if caught.

Michaelson agreed that the scenario is implausible. “We have to distinguish between voter registration fraud and voter election fraud,” he said. He said that officials “inundated at the last minute” with piles of applications can let phony registrants “slip through the cracks” and get on the voter rolls. But he could not name a type of voting fraud that would begin with the filing of false registrations.

The McCain campaign has asserted that phony registrations could facilitate fraud on absentee ballots. “Voter registration fraud can quickly turn into vote fraud -- especially in the case of absentee balloting and in states that do not require photo identification to vote,” the campaign wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey calling for a federal investigation. (The Associated Press, quoting two “senior law enforcement officials,” recently reported that an inquiry is under way. Justice Department spokesperson Laura Sweeney told ProPublica she couldn’t “confirm or deny” an investigation.)

Michaelson said absentee ballot scams have typically involved political operatives telling legitimately enrolled people for whom to vote.

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