In an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown this morning, Heritage Foundation senior fellow Brian Darling argued for the importance of Florida-style voter suppression laws in order to stop potential voter fraud. But when pressed by Todd to identify any actual examples of voter fraud, Darling appeared stumped:
DARLING: And there’ve been examples of voter fraud… in Florida. Look at ACORN.TODD: Where is this voter fraud? I mean it is not this giant…DARLING: We’ve had recent examples.TODD: We’re talking about one or two people here, one or two people… and we’re not even a hundred percent sure.DARLING: We just had a Michigan Congressman [Republican Thaddeus McCotter] resign… not run for re-election because he gathered signatures… his campaign gathered signatures that couldn’t be validated.TODD: Yeah, but that’s a case of petition signatures being valid. I mean that’s a different law here.DARLING: Yeah, but it’s very hard to catch voter fraud. Look at what James O’Keefe did. He walked into DC, he didn’t have any ID. One of his guy video…TODD: Did he vote?DARLING: No, he didn’t vote. TODD: See?DARLING: He didn’t vote. But he asked for a ballot and they were gonna give it to him.TODD: Right, but you’re actually proving the point here. That the fraud didn’t take place because they prevented it.DARLING: But it’s very hard to catch the fraud. That’s why you have to do it before Election Day. If you try to do it on Election Day, you’ll never catch any of the fraud.
Watch the video:
Stricter voter ID laws would do nothing to stop candidates like McCotter from submitting invalid ballot petitions. Nor would they stop cases like the ACORN example, in which a few individuals plead guilty to submitting bogus voter registration forms in hopes of getting paid more for voter registration. In both instances, the existing laws proved more than sufficient to address the problems.
The one example of the sort of fraud these strict voter ID laws allegedly aim to stop that Darling could cite was conservative filmmaker and convicted law-breaker James O’Keefe. O’Keefe’s approach was to break a law intentionally to prove how easy it is to break a law and to then claim that the law is insufficient because he could break it. This strategy is similar to going into a convenience store, pretending to shoplift a candy bar, and citing that as evidence that the store needs to do a background check of every customer before they come into the store. And, as Darling concedes, even O’Keefe didn’t actually vote.
And, as ThinkProgress reported previously, in the one instance O’Keefe recently claimed to identify voter fraud, the two alleged non-citizens who he claimed should not registered voters both proved to be naturalized citizens.
It is very hard to catch voter fraud because it is exceptionally rare. In fact, studies have shown individuals are more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit it. People generally don’t commit voter fraud because they realize that it is immoral, because it is illegal and they fear being punished, and because it is an extremely inefficient way of affecting an election.