Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Monday, July 8, 2013 7:00 pm

Stop the presses: GOP makes crap up to get bad law enacted

Filed under: Uncategorized — Lex @ 7:00 pm

Remember those 900 dead people who, according to preliminary Department of Motor Vehicles reports, voted in  South Carolina in the late 2000s and early 2010s? Well, the State Law Enforcement Division (S.C.’s equivalent of our SBI) took a look at the more than 200 cases associated with the 2012 election, and guess how many actual fraudulent votes they found.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

You can argue all you like that there really might have been fraudulent votes in the earlier elections. But let’s face it, your best chance of getting away with it would be in a presidential election when turnout is at its peak. And absolutely no fraudulent votes were found in the presidential election, so the odds that there were significant numbers between, say, 2009 and the 2012 primary are just incredibly low.

However, keep in mind that it was the reports of more than 900 dead people voting that enabled S.C. Republicans to enact a voter I.D. law. So now that the justification for such a law is shown to be bullshit, do we get the bad law repealed? I’m not betting the rent.

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1 Comment »

  1. One of the things I find interesting about this issue is the way conservatives are keenly attentive to micro-incentives when it comes to the job-discouraging effects of unemployment insurance or the job-creating effects of slightly lower marginal tax rates, but dismissive of the incentive implications of their claims of vote fraud. On unemployment and taxes, conservatives aren’t wrong, but study after study shows that the magnitude of the effects is small and swamped by other factors. So yes, for example, unemployment benefits do indeed depress job seeking, but by so little that as a real-world matter, it’s totally bogus. (To be fair, the incentive effects can be quantitatively more important when the job market is healthy, but of course that’s when unemployment isn’t a big problem anyway.)

    What about vote fraud? The same theoretical calculus that implies that unemployment benefits discourage job seeking also implies that vote fraud is a dumb crime to commit. The penalties are large; it’s a federal crime! And the benefits are vanishingly small. Regular voters go to the trouble of voting because they see it as a civic duty, or they feel that not voting means not having the right to complain. They don’t do it because they believe that their individual vote will make the difference. But a fraudulent voter has to believe that. Vote fraud isn’t a political statement or a civic duty-in-reverse. If one does it, it’s because one is trying to change an electoral outcome. And the probability of that being successful is incredibly small, too small to warrant risking detection or capture.

    So for the claim that unemployment insurance discourages job seeking, there’s a theoretical argument for why it WOULD happen that’s undermined by the empirical result that it effectively DOESN’T happen. In contrast, for the claim that vote fraud is a problem, theory and data point in the same direction. Not only DOESN’T it happen, but there appears to be no theoretical argument for why it WOULD happen.

    Comment by Andrew Brod — Monday, July 8, 2013 9:28 pm @ 9:28 pm | Reply


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