Yesterday, an Alabama woman plead guilty to eight counts of falsifying absentee ballot applications in a 2013 City Commissioner's race. Janice Lee Hart was one of three individuals charged in the voter fraud scheme that resulted in the re-election of the sitting Dothan, Alabama commissioner Amos Newsome. Newsome's girlfriend was also allegedly involved in orchestrating the effort.
Cautionary Tale: Alabama Woman Pleads Guilty to Absentee Fraud
We know voter fraud, particularly in absentee voting, is very hard to detect without proper safeguards like voter ID and proper voter registration list maintenance so how did officials uncover the scheme? Perhaps it was because the candidate implicated in the fraud won by only 14 votes yet somehow managed to win 119 of 124 of the absentee ballots cast in the race. That obviously raised a few eyebrows and led to an investigation which uncovered the illegal activity.
This is a cautionary tale to states who look to exclusive vote-by-mail states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as the future. It is very difficult to detect absentee voter fraud. In this instance, there simply weren't many ballots cast and the fact that in such a close election the absentee votes were so inexplicably lopsided in favor of one candidate made further investigation a no brainer. How does one detect similar schemes when there are millions of votes cast in a close race? Most of the time it is impossible. In this instance, the criminals were too stupid to realize the fraud would be obvious but that will not always be the case.
While better than nothing, RNLA does not believe that minimal safeguards like comparing a voter's signature on the absentee ballot application materials with that in the voter file is enough to deter and detect fraudsters from trying to sway a close election. And right now there isn't much to deter people from trying. Most states have little to no absentee voting ID requirement beyond the minimum imposed in HAVA and state and local law enforcement resources are not there to properly investigate claims of voter fraud. It is simply not a priority. (And we know Holder's DOJ has obviously shown no interest in going after voter fraud.)
States need to resist the seduction of vote-by-mail.