Ann Coulter: Voter Fraud Never Happens! (Except in These 10,000 Cases)

Ann writes Dec. 9, 2020 in her syndicated column:

The media have been lying about voter fraud for 20 years. The New York Times and The Washington Post will tell you: Let’s get something straight. There are only two cases of voter fraud in history and they were both Republicans.

NEVER? No voter fraud ever?

Nope!

That’s your first clue they’re lying. Liberals don’t try to say partial-birth abortion never happens. They don’t say black men killing cops never happens. They don’t say immigrants ripping off government programs never happens. Only voter fraud NEVER HAPPENS.

Why does Ann not provide evidence for her assertions? Easy. Because there isn’t any. She’s lying. Nobody expert in voter fraud argues it never happens. The argument is whether or not it is a big problem in American politics.

I have no expertise in voter fraud. I’ve spent about 50 hours reading the primary books on the topic, and that effort apparently provides me with more knowledge than the dozens of right-wing pundits who have claimed or insinuated or repeatedly raised the possibility that voter fraud determined the 2020 American presidential election without providing any compelling evidence. As of this writing, there is no compelling evidence to believe that voter fraud may have decided this election. To claim otherwise, is reckless, because once people believe that such an election may have been fraudulent, they then believe themselves victims and are free from all moral constraints. If you think the system is possibly fixed, you no longer have any allegiance to the system, and more behavior akin to the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot is to be expected.

In the past four months, I’ve read six books on voter fraud. I found the first three books that argued voter fraud is not a big problem in American elections far more credible than the three conservative books arguing the opposite (even though my emotional predisposition is in favor of the Republican point of view):

* The Myth of Voter Fraud by Lorraine C. Minnite (2010)
* Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy by Richard Hasen (2020)
* The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown by Richard Hasen (2012)
* If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It by Hugh Hewitt (2012)
* Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy by John Fund (2009)
* Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk by John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky (2012)

If voter fraud was as big a problem as Republicans claim, you’d think they’d try to make a serious case. Instead, they put forward buffoons such as Steve Cortes, John Fund, Kris Kobach, and Hans von Spakovsky. How bad is John Fund? In the second paragraph of his 2009 book Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, he writes: “At least eight of the nineteen hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually able to register to vote in either Virginia or Florida while they made their deadly preparations for 9/11.”

There was no rational reason for the 9-11 hijackers to register to vote and no evidence that they did so. There is no rational reason for people in general to try to commit vote fraud in America because the penalties they face are severe and the odds that their individual votes will change elections are tiny.

Lorraine C. Minnite wrote in The Myth of Voter Fraud:

Yet the multitude of alternative explanations for any one irregularity are ignored by the media, which gets a story of fraud faxed to them in a press release by a political party and wants to avoid the gigantic public yawn sure to follow a report of simple bureaucratic failure. The press is attracted to the potential scandal, corruption, or a brewing political fight, and reporters avert their eyes from the more reasonable but boring explanation. In so doing, they become part of a party-driven campaign strategy to keep down the vote. To get a sense of how this works, let us look at an oft-repeated allegation of voter fraud made by John Fund, Wall Street Journal columnist and author, who proclaimed in his 2004 book Stealing Elections that several several of the 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote.18 Fund asserts, “At least eight of the nineteen hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually able to register to vote in either Virginia or Florida while they made their deadly preparations for 9/11.”19 Fund’s source for this claim is a December 22, 2002, interview he said he conducted with Michael Chertoff, then an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department Criminal Division.20 Fund provides no other corroborating evidence.

As a regular columnist for a national newspaper, Fund writes stories intended to inflame though his language is never partisan or inflammatory. The care he takes in his regular columns to appear reasonable is evident in his book, in which Fund writes that the hijackers “were actually able to register to vote,” not that they did register to vote or were registered to vote. What does it mean to say someone is “able to register to vote”? Fund echoes previous statements by prominent conservatives that the hijackers or their associates may have been registered to vote. For example, more than a year before Fund says he interviewed Chertoff, Diane Ravitch, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, wrote, “Thus far, no reporter has observed that the hijackers were eligible to vote in state and federal elections, despite the fact that they were not American citizens.” Of course, foreign nationals are not eligible to vote, only citizens are eligible to vote under state law. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-Mo.) picked up on the idea that our voter registration procedures are so lax that foreign terrorists can successfully apply when he asserted on the floor of the Senate that a Pakistani citizen in Greensboro, North Carolina, “with links to two of the September 11th hijackers was indicted by a federal grand jury for having illegally registered to vote.”21

In person Fund is less careful in parsing his words. He confused what he meant by “able to register to vote” when he appeared on the CNN Lou Dobbs show on October 24, 2004, to promote Stealing Elections. Here is the exchange:

DOBBS: You point out in your book that eight—eight, was it?—of the 19 . . .
FUND: Eight of the 19.
DOBBS:. . . 9/11 hijackers could have registered to vote?
FUND: No, they did register to vote.

Without explicitly stating it, Ravitch and Fund are referring to the fact, known within weeks of the attacks, that some of the 9/11 hijackers had obtained driver’s licenses.22 Ravitch incorrectly implies this made them “eligible” to vote because the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires that applicants for driver’s licenses be presented with an opportunity to register to vote. But being presented with an opportunity to register does not make a person eligible to vote. No state creates a right to vote or establishes voter eligibility through possession of a driver’s license. By linking the 9/11 hijackers to the “motor voter” law, one of the very first bills signed into law by President Bill Clinton, over the objection of congressional conservatives, both Ravitch and Fund are talking in code, reinforcing the idea held fervently by right-wing partisans that the NVRA has corrupted democracy by opening the door to voter fraud.

…More recent efforts to confirm Fund’s allegation that some of the 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote in either Virginia or Florida have failed to turn up any supporting evidence at all… Fund provides no evidence from Virginia or Florida elections officials confirming the registration status of any of the hijackers…

Fund’s allegation about the 9/11 hijackers was widely circulated and has had a surprisingly long life given that it is poorly documented and very likely false. For example, in protests on the floor of the House over various border security provisions stripped from the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Steven King (R-Iowa), and Sam Johnson (R-Tex.) all repeated Fund’s allegation that eight of the nineteen hijackers were registered to vote.

The lack of scrutiny of voter fraud charges and the ease with which partisans have been able to insert them into the public discourse means that arguments based on demonstrably false information, or no information at all, are entered into the congressional record, sway lawmakers, and are cited by Supreme Court justices as fact. It means pundits who relish the charges and their whiff of scandal will continue to manipulate public understanding.

On the evening of the November 2006 congressional elections, John Fund was a guest on Glenn Beck’s CNN syndicated talk show. Two years had passed since the publication of his book, and because he has yet to be upbraided for any of the misleading information he provides there, Fund must have felt it was safe to again repeat the provocative charge that eight of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote: BECK: OK. To put this into perspective on how bad and out of control our system is—and I don’t think the Republicans or the Democrats really want to fix it—explain how many of the 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote.

FUND: Eight out of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were registered to vote in either Virginia or Florida. They could have easily voted if they’d wanted to.

BECK: And how did they do that?

FUND: Well, we have something called the motor voter law. You can go into any government office building, any transaction you conduct with them, driver’s license, unemployment, whatever you get the check off, [sic] do you also want to register to vote? All the registrations are on a postcard. There’s no question as to whether you’re a citizen. There’s not [a] question as to whether or not you’re a real, live human being. You’re automatically registered. Our registration rules have a lot of people on there who are dead, don’t exist or registered many times over.29

This is a good example of what I call voter fraud politics, the use of spurious or exaggerated voter fraud allegations to persuade the public about the need for more administrative burdens on the vote. I frame my analysis and case studies to explore the politics of fraud allegations—to ask who are the actors, who are the targets, what are the tactics deployed, and what are the factors that account for their success in maintaining barriers to the vote that disproportionately affect certain Americans?

Brian Lowry writes for Kansascity.com Dec. 14, 2020:

Rick Hasen, an election law professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law said Kansas “never should have even taken the case to the Supreme Court in the first place given Kobach’s utter failure in proving his claims of widespread voter fraud and his inept running of the trial.”

In 2018, after a series of missteps in district court, Kobach was found in contempt and ordered to take six hours of remedial legal training on civil procedure. That gave Schmidt little chance of success when he took over in the case for the appeal.

“The Supreme Court has tolerated a number of laws that make it harder for people to register and vote in the name of preventing voter fraud and giving states the ability to run their elections as they see fit. The Fish case shows there are limits to that,” Hasen said, referencing the ACLU’s client Steven Wayne Fish.

“Disenfranchising tens of thousands of people without proof of fraud goes too far under federal law and the Constitution.”

In a phone call, Kobach rejected the notion that his courtroom performance resulted in the state’s loss at the district court level.

He agreed with Schmidt’s office that the high court’s Monday denial represents the end of the Kansas litigation, but he said that the issue of proof of citizenship could still come before the court in the future if a state outside of the 10th Circuit enacts a similar law and it results in a contradictory ruling.

“There’s nothing more the (Kansas) attorney general’s office can do on the case, but I think the issue is far from over. There were a number of states looking at this in the past few years. I think the 2020 presidential election has raised the focus on election security,” Kobach said.

“The rest of the country has a wide open path ahead of it if more states want to pursue proof of citizenship,” Kobach said, contending that the ruling only affects Kansas and the five other states covered by the 10th Circuit.

Kobach said that he was involved in Texas’ failed attempt to overturn the presidential election results in four states, serving as an adviser on Texas’ briefs. The court rejected the lawsuit Friday evening.

Kobach said he would not consider Joe Biden to be president-elect until Congress votes to accept the Electoral College results on January 6, but he acknowledged that few opportunities remain for President Donald Trump to contest the election results after Friday’s decision.

Ann writes:

I bet you couldn’t find EVEN ONE!

How about these?

— JOHN ASHCROFT, 2000

John Ashcroft absolutely had a Senate seat stolen from him in 2000 when a state judge ordered polls in heavily Democratic St. Louis to remain open for an extra three hours. Republicans didn’t even hear about it for another hour. Despite an appellate court striking down the ridiculously lawless order, St. Louis was given an extra 3 1/2 hours to kick out tens of thousands of additional votes. Ashcroft lost the election by 49,000 votes.

Twitter: This claim about election fraud is disputed.

Ann is not telling the truth about what happened. Even if she were, a judge ordering polling places to stay open for an extra three hours is not voter fraud. Republicans failing to hear about it for an hour is not voter fraud. None of what Ann presents here is evidence of voter fraud. John Ashcroft did not believe that voter fraud decided the election. The New York Times reported Nov. 9, 2000:

On the day after, the loser, Senator John Ashcroft, the Republican, announced that he would not challenge the results…

Mr. Carnahan won with 50 percent of the vote compared with 48 percent for Mr. Ashcroft. The margin of victory was about 49,000 votes.

Mr. Ashcroft also said today that he would discourage other Republicans from challenging the outcome of Tuesday’s election, something that Republicans had privately said they might do.

”You have to know when people speak with clarity, how to take orders,” Mr. Ashcroft said today, adding that voters had clearly demonstrated their wishes. ”I reject any legal challenge to this election. I will discourage others from challenging the will of the people in the selection of their United States Senator.”

He added: ”I believe the will of the people has been expressed with compassion. The people should be respected and heard.”

…Republicans had considered a legal challenge, contending that the election of a dead man raised constitutional questions. Late Tuesday, some Republicans here also claimed that Democrats had been given an unfair advantage when polls in heavily Democratic St. Louis were kept open 45 minutes later than in the rest of the state.

Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker ordered the voting extension on Tuesday night, saying a lack of voting booths and equipment had deprived some residents of the right to cast ballots. Judge Baker ordered the polls to remain open an additional three hours, but a state appellate court overturned her ruling, and the polls were closed just before 8 p.m.

Ann writes:

— WASHINGTON STATE, 2004

A week after the 2004 Washington state gubernatorial election, Republican Dino Rossi was up by 3,492 votes against Democrat Christine Gregoire. Then Democratic King county began finding “misplaced” ballots, eventually producing more than 10,000 of them.

Hey, guys! I found another box of ballots under the sink!

So that’s another 800 votes for Gregoire.

Oh wait — you’re not going to believe this …

You found more votes?

Bingo! 600 votes for Gregoire.

An examination of the records later showed that about 1,800 more ballots had been cast than there were voters who had requested them.

Notwithstanding the miraculously appearing ballots, Rossi won the recount a few weeks later, but his lead was cut to 42 votes — easily within stealing distance. Democrat Christine Gregoire demanded a hand recount, and that put her ahead by 129 votes, whereupon she was promptly declared the winner.

Washington voters overwhelmingly believed the election had been stolen and wanted a revote. Democrats didn’t care. Nothing was ever done about the flagrant vote fraud. Washington now has 100 percent mail-in-ballots and no Republican has ever again won the governorship.

Twitter: This claim about election fraud is disputed.

We don’t have any evidence that the five American states using exclusively mail-in ballots have a higher percentage of voter fraud than other states. As for this particular election, Wikipedia says:

The Republican Party filed a lawsuit in Chelan County Superior Court contesting the election, but the trial judge ruled against it, citing lack of evidence of deliberate electoral sabotage.[1] Rossi chose not to appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court, formally conceding the election on June 6, 2005…

King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips was at a Democratic Party office in Seattle on Sunday December 12, reviewing a list of voters whose absentee votes had been rejected due to signature problems, when to his surprise he found his own name listed. Phillips said he was certain he had filled out and signed his ballot correctly, and asked the county election officials to investigate the discrepancy. They discovered that Phillips’ signature had somehow failed to be scanned into the election computer system after he submitted his request for an absentee ballot. Election workers claimed that they had received Phillips’ absentee ballot in the mail, but they could not find his signature in the computer system to compare to the one on the ballot envelope, so they mistakenly rejected the ballot instead of following the standard procedure of checking it against the signature of Phillips’ physical voter registration card that was on file. The discovery prompted King County Director of Elections Dean Logan to order his staff to search the computers to see if any other ballots had been incorrectly rejected.

Logan announced on December 13 that 561 absentee ballots in the county had been wrongly rejected due to an administrative error.[14] The next day, workers retrieving voting machines from precinct storage found an additional 12 ballots, bringing the total to 572 newly discovered ballots. Logan admitted the lost ballots were an oversight on the part of his department, and insisted that the found ballots be counted. On December 15, the King County Canvassing Board voted 2-1 in favor of counting the discovered ballots.

Upon examination of the discovered ballots, it was further discovered that, with the exception of two ballots, none of the ballots had been cast by voters whose surnames began with the letters A, B, or C.[15] There was a further search for more ballots, and on December 17, county workers discovered a tray in a warehouse with an additional 162 previously uncounted ballots.[15] All together, 723 uncounted or improperly rejected ballots were discovered in King County during the manual hand recount…

Republican leaders in Washington claimed there were enough disputed votes to change the outcome of the election and filed a lawsuit in Chelan County Superior Court in order to avoid having the case heard in the more liberal Western Washington counties.[21] King County’s election department (the greater Seattle area) was also targeted for how they handled the ballots, including untracked use of a “ballot-on-demand” printing machine. Also, ballots in six counties were discovered after the initial count and included in the recounts, the most being from King County. The judge hearing the lawsuit ruled that the Party did not provide enough evidence that the disputed votes were ineligible votes, or for whom they were cast, to enable the court to overturn the election.

Controversy over the election’s outcome continued after the certification of the hand recount results. The Washington State Republican Party called into question the discrepancy between the list of voters casting ballots in King County (895,660) and the number of ballots reported in the final hand recount (899,199). They claimed that hundreds of votes, including votes by felons,[22] deceased voters,[23] and double voters,[23] were included in the canvass. As an explanation, election officials claimed that they had yet to finalize the list at the time, and argued that discrepancies in the two numbers are common and do not necessarily indicate fraud. As the election officials had expected, once the two lists were completed on January 5, the two numbers were indeed very close to one another. Also on January 5, 2005, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an article investigating votes in King County apparently cast by dead people.[24] The PI uncovered eight cases of votes attributed to dead people; these included one administrative error, two ballots cast by the spouses of recently deceased voters (one who voted against Gregoire), one case of a husband apparently voting his dead wife’s ballot instead of his own, and a man who legally voted his absentee ballot and then died before election day. One dead woman was marked as having voted in person at the polls.

… On June 6, 2005, Judge John E. Bridges ruled that the Republican party did not provide enough evidence that the disputed votes were ineligible -or for whom they were cast- to overturn the election.[29] Judge Bridges noted that there was evidence that 1,678 votes had been illegally cast throughout the state,[30] but found that the only evidence submitted to show how those votes had been cast were sworn statements from four felons that they had voted for Rossi.[30] He stated that the judiciary should exercise restraint; “unless an election is clearly invalid, when the people have spoken, their verdict should not be disturbed by the court.”[31] Nullifying the election, Bridges said, would be “the ultimate act of judicial egotism and judicial activism.” He also concluded that according to his interpretation of the Washington Administrative Code, “voters who improperly cast provisional ballots should not be disenfranchised.” He also rejected all claims of fraud and the Republican Party’s statistical analysis, concluding that the expert testimony of the Republican party was “not helpful” and that the proportional reduction theory was not supported under any law in the state. Striking another blow against Rossi’s court case, he stated that “the court is more inclined to believe that Gregoire would have prevailed under statistical analysis theory”, rejecting the Rossi campaign’s claim that improperly cast ballots led to Gregoire’s victory.[29]

Bridges did accept the claim that some people voted illegally in the election, but said there was little proof of which candidate benefited from those votes. He ruled that 1,678 illegal votes should be subtracted from the total number of votes cast.[31] Bridges also removed five votes from the final count for two of the candidates: four for Rossi and one for Ruth Bennett.[32] No evidence was brought before the court of any of the illegal votes benefitted Gregoire.[32] The final margin of victory for Gregoire over Rossi was 133 votes…

Judge Bridges’ ruling was seen as a comprehensive defeat for Rossi. The judge admitted nearly every piece of evidence the Republican Party offered and then wrote a thorough, tough opinion rejecting the Republicans’ claims (while criticizing the administration of the election, particularly in King County); Rossi was left with very little legal ground for a successful appeal. After receiving such a negative verdict, Rossi declined to appeal to the State Supreme Court, claiming that the political makeup of the Court would make it impossible for him to win, thereby ending all legal challenges to the election of Gregoire as the Governor of Washington.

I’m not an expert on the 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State. Neither is Ann Coulter. However, when one reads her account of the election and then reads the more detailed Wikipedia account and related links, it is easy to see that Ann’s story is not compelling.

Ann writes:

— AL FRANKEN, 2008

In 2008, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota won his 2008 reelection bid against challenger Al Franken by 725 votes. But for weeks after the election, Democratic precincts kept “discovering” new votes for Franken.

Day after day, votes were added to Franken’s column, while votes were taken away from Coleman. Random error would not continually benefit only one side.

On account of Franken’s charisma shield, Barack Obama, who was running for president that year, won hundreds of thousands more votes than Franken in the same election, on the same ticket, in the same state that year. But during the “corrections,” Franken was winning three times as many votes as Obama .

So the Democrats weren’t worried about believability.

Eventually, all these late-discovered ballots put Franken ahead by 312 votes, whereupon he was immediately certified the winner by the George Soros-backed Minnesota secretary of state.

A few years later, we found out that more than 1,000 felons, ineligible to vote, had cast votes in the 2008 Minnesota election. (To state the obvious, felons support Democrats by about 10-1.) There were 113 separate convictions for voter fraud in that election. That’s not easy: In Minnesota, a conviction for voter fraud requires proof that you broke the law knowingly.

More than 100 convictions for something that never happens, way, way back in the prehistoric days of 2008 — who could remember that?

Twitter: This claim about election fraud is disputed.

Wikipedia says:

The 2008 United States Senate election in Minnesota took place on November 4, 2008. After a legal battle lasting over eight months, the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party (DFL) candidate, Al Franken, defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in one of the closest elections in the history of the Senate, with Coleman’s Senate predecessor Dean Barkley taking third place. Franken took his oath of office on July 7, 2009, more than half a year after the end of Coleman’s term on January 3, 2009.[1]

When the initial count was completed on November 18, Franken was trailing Coleman by 215 votes.[2][3] The close margin triggered a mandatory recount.[4][5] After reviewing ballots that had been challenged during the recount and counting 953 wrongly rejected absentee ballots, the State Canvassing Board officially certified the recount results with Franken holding a 225-vote lead.[6][7][8]

On January 6, 2009, Coleman’s campaign filed an election contest and on April 13, a three-judge panel dismissed Coleman’s Notice of Contest and ruled that Franken had won the election by 312 votes.[9][10] Coleman’s appeal of the panel’s decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court was unanimously rejected on June 30,[11] and he subsequently conceded the election.

…The court dismissed Coleman’s suit “with prejudice” in its final ruling on April 13, finding that his claims had no merit and ordering the Coleman camp to pay the legal costs associated with Coleman’s failure to disclose information about Pamela Howell, a precinct election judge and witness in the case,[9] which was later determined to amount to $94,783.[91] In the same ruling, the court also rejected Coleman’s claim to exclude 132 missing ballots from the recount total and his request to adjust the results based on Coleman’s allegations of double-counted ballots…

In July 2010, Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, conducted a study in which they flagged 2,803 voters in the Senate race for examination, including 1,359 they suspected to be ineligible convicted felons in the largely Democratic Minneapolis-St. Paul area.[110][111] Subsequent investigations of Minnesota Majority’s claims by election officials found that many of their allegations were incorrect. Some of the cases that were submitted involved mistaking a legal voter for a felon with the same name, others involved felons who had had their voting rights reinstated after serving their sentences, and others were felons who illegally registered to vote but did not vote in 2008 election.[112][113][114] Ramsey County officials narrowed their investigation to 180 cases, while Hennepin County examined 216 cases.[115]

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said, “They [Minnesota Majority] seem to have found credible evidence that many felons who are not supposed to be voting actually voted in the Franken-Coleman election. I suspect they favored Al Franken. I don’t know that, but if that turned out to be true, they may have flipped the election.”[116] Columnist Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune called the idea that illegal voting by felons made a difference in the race “unbelievable” and the Minnesota Majority report “good fodder for a right-wing scare campaign.”[117]

As of July 2010, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office had brought charges against 28 people.[111] In August 2010, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office received for investigation 110 alleged cases of voter fraud during the 2008 election. In October 2010, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office concluded that there was enough evidence to charge six people for voter fraud. “Three of the suspects face two felony charges. Three other suspects each face one felony charge.”[118] In October 2010, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that charges would be brought against 43 felons for illegally voting in 2008.

When comparing Ann Coulter’s account of the election with other sources of information referenced in the Wikipedia entry, Ann’s story does not hold up. Throughout her Dec. 10, 2009 column, she shows herself as acting with reckless disregard of the truth.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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