Thursday, January 26, 2017

The real number of non-citizen voters is more like zero

Brian F. Schaffner
Dr. Brian F. Schaffner — Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
My headline quotes Dr. Brian F. Schaffner, a professor of political science at UMass, who penned a November 29, 2016 piece for Politico. I will briefly explain.

The “evidence” of voter fraud isn't evidence at all. It is based upon a statistical misadventure; a flawed projection described in a controversial 2014 paper by Jesse T. Richman and two coauthors. According to Richman, nearly 14 percent of non-citizens living in the United States had cast votes in recent elections. It is an absurd claim per se given the number of people risking exposure, deportation and imprisonment. Add to that registration and voting requirements and it should be obvious that the claim is preposterous.

I will digress for a moment to suggest that Republicans do not care about the truth of voter fraud. They are content to emphasize the potential in order to enact voter verification measures that they know will eliminate eligible voters who tend to vote Democratic. Then they characterize opponents to voter suppression as people who are trying to enable “illegals” to vote. GOPers are in control. The flag-waving, bible-thumping “America First” crowd doesn't require much incentive or proof to do something that is both un-American and dishonest if it keeps them in power. Power is an end in itself.

Returning to Dr. Schaffner, he is one of the coordinators of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study which provided the data-set for Richman's investigation. Schaffner explains (and you really should read the original at Politico) that once you remove participant error, there is no non-citizen voter fraud; at least none that can be reliably elicited from Richman's methodology. Overall, there simply is no evidence of non-citizen voter fraud. Period.

If we want to find election fraud we only need to review the actions of James Comey in the final week before the election. How about the gerrymandering engineered by GOP controlled state houses or existing voter ID requirements? In order to alter the results of elections we are discouraging the voters that one party doesn't like from voting. Even Dick Nixon said, shortly after his reelection in 1972, that he was disappointed in the level of voter participation. We should not only make it easy for every eligible voter to vote, we should require it. It is the consummate act of citizenship. By the way many states, including Florida, have essentially made it illegal for the League of Women Voters to register people to vote.

With a minuscule percentage difference of voters in a couple of states Hillary Clinton would be in the White House today. This morning our blowhard chief executive has gone to war with Mexico and advocated for torture. Oh, and he is building that useless fucking wall. We seem to have the money for that but not to sustain Medicare or sufficiently subsidize the ACA. Trump might have done more damage as I write but I am afraid to turn on the news or read my AP feed. This is all very depressing.

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