FW: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice Stevens' refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)

Malla Pollack mpollack at uidaho.edu
Tue Nov 2 12:56:35 PST 2004


An earlier news story stated that the Republican Party was claiming error
based on some thousands of pieces of mail sent to the addresses given by
newly registered voters and then returned as undeliverable.  Does anyone
know the sender of these items? 

Malla Pollack
Visiting Associate Professor 
Univ. of Idaho, College of Law
mpollack at uidaho.edu
208-885-2017 [please note change]
 

-----Original Message-----
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Mark Tushnet
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 12:37 PM
To: Sanford Levinson
Cc: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
Subject: Re: FW: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice Stevens'
refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)

According to a story in yesterday's LA Times, "A challenger [in Ohio] can
contest a person's right to vote if the prospective voter is not: a citizen;
at least 18 years old; voting in the county where he or she lives, or a
resident of the state for at least 30 consecutive days before the vote."  I
wonder (really, I wonder) what information a challenger could have in hand
that would allow him/her to interpose a good faith challenge to a voter on
the first, third, or fourth grounds.

----- Original Message -----
From: Sanford Levinson <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu>
Date: Tuesday, November 2, 2004 3:36 pm
Subject: FW: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice Stevens'
refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)

> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Douglas Laycock [DLaycock at law.utexas.edu] 
> Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 2:32 PM
> To: slevinson at mail.law.utexas.edu
> Subject: FW: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice 
> Stevens'refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)
> 
> 	Could you forward this to Con Law list?  My new e-mail isn't
> registered yet. 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Douglas Laycock
> Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 1:58 PM
> To: 'Volokh, Eugene'; CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: RE: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice 
> Stevens'refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)
> 
> 	I was a poll watcher in Cook County in 1970 and 1972, once in a
> mostly working black precinct on the south side, once in an 
> affluent and
> white suburban precinct.  That's not much of an information base.
> 
> 	I had three jobs.  One was to watch for any violation of the
> rules by the election judges, to look at the machine when it was 
> openedand confirm the count, generally to watch for any evidence 
> of cheating
> within the precinct.  One was to challenge voters not on the 
> precinct'slist of registered voters, a situation that never arose. 
> The third,
> most important, was to check voters off as they voted.  The party
> committee had a list of "plus voters" -- voters in that precinct 
> who had
> indicated they were going to vote for our side.  Plus voters who 
> had not
> voted first got phone calls, offers of rides, and then people knocking
> on their door to bring them to the polls.  The white suburbanites who
> had not seen this operation before were a bit paranoid about it; they
> seemed to think I was "getting the names" for some nefarious or
> intimidating purpose.
> 
> 	I gather that what is at issue in Ohio is partly the same but
> mostly different.  They may still challenge voters who are not on the
> list, some of whom are not registered and some of whom showed up 
> at the
> wrong precinct.  More important, they plan to challenge voters who are
> on the list, claiming that their registration is improper in some 
> way --
> they don't live where they claimed to, they are also registered
> someplace else, they aren't who they say they are (if you register 
> deadpeople, some live person has to go vote for them or it doesn't 
> do any
> good).  
> 
> 	This is a classic problem of Type I and Type II error.  Both
> parties have hired companies to register voters; these companies have
> hired casual workers; there may be fraud from these workers cheating
> their employers or from voters, or party workers, trying to cheat the
> electoral system.  If everyone votes without challenge and no one ever
> checks, there is no deterrent to that sort of thing.
> 
> 	But the challengers can abuse their power by challenging
> indiscriminately, and by racial profiling.  They are only doing 
> this in
> minority precincts.  Some guy in Georgia apparently challenged every
> voter in the county with an Hispanic name.  A challenge brings the 
> wholevoting line to a halt while it is resolved.  One poll watcher 
> bringingmany challenges can create huge backups and cause many 
> properlyregistered voters to give up and abandon the line. 
> 
> 	The voter when challenged may or may not have with him what he
> needs to refute the challenge.  Every voter should have ID, but no 
> doubtsome don't.  He may not have proof of current address or 
> whatever else
> is at issue.  
> 
> 	We need a way to resolve these disputes without stopping the
> line of voters, but we can't staff that; we barely have enough
> volunteers to staff the polling places, and many of those are
> inadequately trained.  There is no right answer here; there is the 
> votefraud of registering ineligible voters, or eligible voters 
> multipletimes; this is surely going on a little bit and might be 
> going on a lot.
> And there is the vote fraud of stopping the line with multiple
> challenges based on little or no evidence.
>  
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
> [conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Volokh, Eugene
> Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2004 12:47 PM
> To: CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu
> Subject: Vote fraud and voter intimidation (apropos Justice Stevens'
> refusalto stay the Sixth Circuit decision)
> 
> I worry both about vote fraud and voter intimidation, but I'm 
> afraid I
> know little about what in practice poll-watchers and other 
> observers can
> do and actually do (either good or bad).  Can anyone who is more
> knowledgeable on the subject enlighten us?  I ask this on this list
> because this factual backdrop would surely be relevant to the
> constitutional questions related to whether such practices ought 
> to be
> allowed or forbidden.  Many thanks,
> 
> Eugene
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