Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 29, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Voter Registration Fraud


  • With early voting already underway and Election Day approaching, learn about the incidents of voter and voter registration fraud. Patrick Kenney, chair of Arizona State University's Political Science Department, talks about the cases of fraud occurring nationwide.
Guests:
  • Patrick Kenney - Chairman, Political Science department, Arizona State University


View Transcript
Ted Simons
>> Maricopa County is expecting to set records for voter turnout next week. Early voting in the county is already running at a rapid clip. Maricopa County recorder Helen Purcell says she is already seeing lines at early voting satellite locations. And she says about half of the 800,000 mail-in ballots requested have already been turned in. Purcell will be on "Horizon" tomorrow night to talk about voting issues. If you have a lead foot and you'd like to help the state out of its current financial mess, there will soon be more opportunity to do so. By the end of the week, the Arizona Department of Public Safety will have ten new photo enforcement cameras. Here are the new locations that will be added by the end of the week. State Route 51 at Bethany Home, Highland and Thomas road. I-10 westbound at 40th and 24th streets, and eastbound at 16th street and 15th avenue. The other three will be on the U.S. 60 westbound at Gilbert Road, Mesa Drive, and Alma School. Fines from those nabbed by the cameras will go to state coffers.

Ted Simons
>>> As we get closer to the election, it's typical to hear news about voter registration fraud. This election cycle, the talk has centered around the group ACORN which has had some fraudulent voter forms with names such as Mickey Mouse appearing on them. However, the organization did try to ferret out the fraud before national attention was focused on the situation. Here to talk about that case voter fraud and voter registration fraud is Arizona State University Political Science Chair Patrick Kenney.

Patrick Kenney
>> Thank you.

Patrick Kenney
>> It is broad category, voter fraud is a broad category. Two sides, individual level fraud, worrying about with ACORN that people are going to vote that shouldn't, can't, aren't registered, aren't really people. On the other side the tally side that they worry about the organizations, the institutions that monitor and count the ballots. Always worry about that, that people turn in ballots that aren't counted, lost, purposely set aside, counted more than once. Lots of stories about that. Two sides to it, individual voter and the institution.

Ted Simons
>> Voter fraud in general -- historically have we seen a lot of this?

Patrick Kenney
>> Very difficult to know. By almost all accounts, historians, politicians, pundits, definitely some voter fraud that goes along across the United States in pockets of areas in different times. Sensitive about it since 2000, heightened awareness since 2000 because of the problems in Florida.

Ted Simons
>> Things like dead people voting, felons voting, people not having the right identification, using different names. How about hacking into computers; is that a concern?

Patrick Kenney
>> I don't know of any cases of that, but it is certainly a concern. One of the key arguments of all systems moving towards computers. You could hack in there and bother the votes.

Ted Simons
>> With that said, are mistakes, accidents more prevalent, and, again, more of a concern than actually outright fraud?

Patrick Kenney
>> Almost everybody thinks that is the case. We're counting so many ballots. Let me back up. One thing to remember in the United States, the states run the votes, and most of the time that's handed off to the counties, actual execution is at the county level, lots of volunteers there, lots of worries about errors, hard to know how many, oftentimes thought it is kind of randomly distributed, so we don't worry too much about it. Especially the races aren't all that close.

Ted Simons
>> You mentioned ACORN. John McCain's quote was that we could be facing one of the greatest frauds in voter history, and he was referring to ACORN. What is going on here? It sounds to me like a group's contracted with folks to do something, and there may have been nefarious activity there. Does that activity necessarily equate to the wrong people voting and people voting twice and three and four times?

Patrick Kenney
>> Right, not necessarily. What is happening there, they contracted, the people are being paid to actually come up with lists of voters. They generate lists that aren't probably real voters. Since they weren't to begin with, they will not turn up with the polls. They were more concerned about being paid for the number of voters that they came up with.

Ted Simons
>> Headlines that Mickey Mouse is registered to vote in Ohio.

Patrick Kenney
>> Not going to make it, Mickey Mouse is probably not going to make it unless he is registered.

Ted Simons
>> Does it become a wedge issue for whatever party that is having a tougher time of it at the polls?

Patrick Kenney
>> Typically the party behind worries more about it, makes more news about it. A little more news this time, we saw throughout the primary, Democrats are expecting higher levels of turnouts since we maybe have seen since 1960. We will have to see if that is true. Pushing an overall turnout around 60% favoring Obama slightly because a lot of now young voters he has generated to come in there. Republicans worrying to be sure they're all real voters. Old saying in Chicago, vote early and vote often, to be sure those kinds of things don't happen. There is a lot of discussion about it. Both sides are -- lawyers ready to go in case some location is very close and they want to get in and contest those.

Ted Simons
>> Ohio had trouble last time around. I have seen reports that a third of the new registration have some sort of discrepancy. Sometimes a period after an initial that isn't there or should be there, whatever the case may be. How far can you take this in terms of challenging registration and ultimate votes?

Patrick Kenney
>> In the United States, we have a great history of not doing that. We don't tend to contest these elections long after them. Even Al Gore said as soon as the Supreme Court said the vote was to stop there in Florida, he conceded the election. Richard Nixon cited in 1960, lots of irregularities we thought in Illinois, for instance, maybe Texas, and Richard Nixon never contested that vote. Long history that we don't contest them. I don't anticipate there will be that much trouble this year. There is always a pocket, localities, but nationwide, no.

Ted Simons
>> Let's move to voter suppression efforts and how serious those are. Because, again, a lot of activity, conversation that we could be seeing that at certain polling places around the country. What do you think?

Patrick Kenney
>> Historically suppression is a greater issue than fraud. Because the United States went to great lengths in many states and localities to suppress the vote. After the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, it is much more difficult to actually suppress the vote. But as you know, the Voting Rights Act still includes -- I should -- 15 to 17 states are still monitored very closely for their vote. Arizona is one of them because of irregularities and violations of Voting Rights Act over time. Those states are monitored very closely. There is always a worry about that because we have a history of that, and some allegations that turned up again in Miami in 2000.

Ted Simons
>> Talk to us about this, examples that we have heard where people say if you show up at the polls there will be police there to check your I.D. if you have an outstanding warrant, they will pick you up --

Patrick Kenney
>> Those worries are going on. We see little of that. Suppression is more when it was more legal to suppress, ways to keep people from the polls, registration issues, those kinds of things. That has shifted a little about fear of going to the poll. One area that there is some concern about that would be in the Latino community, right, that they would be pressed and pushed on their citizenship at the time that they go. Study done by honor students at A.S.U., looked at states that passed more restrictive measures to number of forms of I.D.s and things, and they didn't find hardly any voter fraud in the states they were looking at.

Ted Simons
>> Interesting. New Hampshire allows people to sign up to vote at the polls. What do you think of that idea?

Patrick Kenney
>> A lot of people have talked about that. Great study done by folks at Berkeley, 20 years old now, shows roughly 10% of the population shows up to vote, thinking they're registered, might cost as much as 10, 15 million votes at any given year, a lot of people say you ought to be able to register, election day registration. I think we could monitor it, but it would be expensive and complicated.

Ted Simons
>> Election, landslide either way or it is nip and tuck all of the way. It is -- common sense dictates that if it is nip and tuck, we will see more in the way of accusations and allegations.

Patrick Kenney
>> That's right. That is where the concern will come in. If it is a landslide, even broader than nip and tuck, two, three percent, that will generate a broader victory in the Electoral College. The popular vote might have been a couple of percent.

Ted Simons
>> If you had -- about a minute here -- if you had to look forward and make some sort of prediction or just look -- what are you most worried -- what do you think will come up in terms of this election as being who knew that a hanging chad would be a problem back then? Is there something out there that you are worried about more than others?

Patrick Kenney
>> Given the polls right now, if they're correct, great configuration of national polls moving in the same direction, show Obama up in a number of states, six, seven, eight, even nine points, if that is true, I don't think we will be worried about voter fraud.

Ted Simons
>> Thank you for joining us.

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