Fraud? You Damn Betcha!

The zombies are back. It seems like only yesterday (okay, it was January) they were walking the sand hills of South Carolina.

The Nation reports from Michigan:

“Some 1,500 people voted under dead people’s and prisoners’ names from 2008-11, according to Michigan’s auditor general. Many might be clerical errors, but this illustrates the need to ensure accurate voter rolls.”

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wrote this in a July 2 Times-Herald column, and she lied.

Brentin Mock continues:

While it’s true that the auditor general initially found close to 1,500 cases in which a dead or imprisoned person appeared to vote, the Department of State’s Bureau of Elections (BOE) said the auditor general was mistaken on all 1,500 counts (pdf; page 17). The auditor general reports that BOE informed investigators “that in every instance where it appears a deceased person or incarcerated person voted and local records were available, a clerical error was established as the reason for the situation. In addition, the Department [BOE] informed [the auditor general] that in some cases, voters submitted absent voter ballots shortly before they died. The Department informed us that the examples provided did not result in a single verified case that an ineligible person voted.” (My emphasis.)

Like model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, the groundless allegations from Michigan are almost a carbon copy of the January episode in which South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) made similar claims:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Attorney General asked SLED to investigate potential voter fraud in the state after evidence that more than 900 dead people appear to have “voted” in recent elections. The evidence was uncovered by Kevin Shwedo, the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, during an extensive review of data related to the state’s new voter ID law, officials said.

Let’s recap what the investigation by the South Carolina State Election Commission revealed after a wasting staff time and taxpayer money on this earlier snipe hunt:

As was suspected from the beginning, the fevered stories of “zombie voters” turned out to be fantasy. This week, state elections officials reviewed 207 of the supposed 950 cases of dead people voting, and couldn’t confirm fraud in any of them. 106 stemmed from clerical errors at the polls, and another 56 involved bad data — the usual culprits when claims of dead voters have surfaced in the past.

Of course, proof isn’t the point of these stunts. Advancing the “voter fraud” narrative is, and these allegations accomplish just what they are intended to. They get front-page headlines and prominent news-at-six coverage with an eye-popping crawler at the bottom of viewers’ TV screens: Dead People Vote! Investigations that reveal the allegations to be bovine excrement end up on page A6. There are no crawlers condemning the state attorney general or secretary of state for running a con on the public. Republican operatives toss these “voter fraud” smoke bombs into newsrooms every few months to keep fresh anecdotes of voter fraud in circulation and, over time, to convince people that it is widespread, that where there’s smoke, there must be a fire … somewhere, one that can only be put out by passing Voter ID laws not designed to prevent it.

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