Tag Archives: Nevada voting

A Little Help For The Fraudulent Election Commission: Nevada Edition

I’m not sure why an investigation of election irregularities is necessary, at least as far as Nevada is concerned, when the information a person would want is easily located in the Reports from the Secretary of State (pdf)  However, there’s some information contained therein which needs a bit of explication and expansion.  Details below, first the Secretary of State’s description of the 3 (that would be only three) incidents of prosecutable election related crimes, then the follow up.

Roxanne Rubin

“In 2012, EITF agents arrested a southern Nevada woman charged with
attempting to vote twice in the same election. Roxanne Rubin early voted in
the 2012 general election at a polling location in Clark County. Later the same
day she appeared at a different Clark County early voting polling location and
attempted to vote a second time. The poll worker conducted a routine
computer database search which indicated that Rubin had already voted and
informed her of this. Rubin responded that she had not already voted, but a
search of the computer database reconfirmed that she had already voted at a
different polling place. Poll workers did not allow Rubin to vote and reported
the incident to the Clark County Registrar of Voters’ office, which notified the
Secretary of State’s office. Rubin was taken to the Clark County Detention
Center, and charged with one count of voting more than once in the same
election, a Category “D” felony.”

The outcome of this case was a plea deal for Rubin, who offered an interesting defense of her actions.

“A Nevada Republican arrested for voter fraud in the 2012 election, after claiming she was trying to test the system’s integrity, pled guilty and accepted a plea deal Thursday, forcing her to pay almost $2,500 and promise to stay out of trouble.

Roxanne Rubin, 56, a casino worker on the Las Vegas Strip, was arrested on Nov. 3, 2012 after trying to vote twice, once at her poling site in Henderson and then at a second site in Las Vegas. The poll workers at the second site said that she had already voted, but Rubin said that she hadn’t and insisted on casting a ballot, which the poll workers refused to allow her to do.

Rubin said that she was trying to show how easy it would be to commit voter fraud with just a signature. “This has always been an issue with me. I just feel the system is flawed,” she told the AP Thursday. “If we’re showing ID for everything else, why wouldn’t we show our ID in order to vote?”

Rubin, like many Republicans, claim that the threat from voter fraud — which is close to non-existent — is why voter ID laws need to be in place. But Nevada has no voter ID law — other than for first-time voters who didn’t show ID when they registered to vote — and she was caught anyway.”  [HPost]

There’s more than a handful of irony in this case.  A Republican, filled with the thoughts of all those “illegals” voting, decided to “test” the system — and got a conviction for a class D felony.  In short, the system worked.  And now, the second case:

Ortencia Segura 

The EITF also worked on a case in 2014 involving an undocumented
immigrant who registered to vote under a false name and cast ballots in the
2008 and 2010 federal elections in Nevada. Ortencia Segura was charged with
one count of an act concerning registration of voters and one count of
possession of personal identifying information for the purpose of establishing
false status and/or identity. She pleaded guilty to willfully and unlawfully
giving a false answer to the Washoe County Registrar of Voters and falsifying
her application to register to vote.
An immigrant living in the country illegally has pleaded guilty in Reno to violating election laws after she registered to vote in Washoe County under a false name and cast ballots in the 2008 and 2010 Nevada elections.

This is one of those cases that gets cited as “proof” there could be massive fraud perpetrated by those “illegals.”  However, as in the previous case, there’s a kicker.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Hortencia Segura-Munoz was sentenced Wednesday to 103 days in jail. But she was given credit for 103 days already served on the single gross misdemeanor count of “conspiracy to commit violations concerning registration of voters.”

Segura-Munoz also was ordered to pay $1,000 in costs and fees. She originally was arrested on two felony charges of voter fraud.

Prosecutors say she registered as a Republican, but it’s not known which candidates she voted for or if her voting affected any close elections.  [KOLO]

We might reasonably surmise she voted the way she registered?  And now we come to the third and last prosecutable case in the state of Nevada:

Tina Marie Parks

“Most recently, in July 2016 EITF agents arrested a Pahrump, Nevada, woman
accused of falsifying voter registration applications. Tina Marie Parks, an
employee of the community organization group Engage Nevada, is charged
with 11 felonies related to fraudulently marking the party affiliation of three
people while assisting them to register to vote and attempting to register to
vote herself while being a convicted felon without her voting rights restored.
Parks is currently awaiting trial.”

This third case really isn’t about fraudulent voting at all, it’s about fraud committed on registration forms, and yet again — we have a fly in the ointment.

A Pahrump woman was arrested Wednesday on 11 felony charges involving allegations she falsified party affiliations while registering voters before the June 14 Nevada primary, the secretary of state’s office said.
An arrest warrant issued for Tina Marie Parks listed bail at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond.
The arrest follows an investigation conducted by the state’s Election Integrity Task Force after it received complaints from voters who said Parks, while working for the conservative outreach group Engage Nevada, filled out their applications and listed the wrong party affiliation.
In two instances, voters said Parks marked their party as Republican. Another was marked as nonpartisan. All three told investigators they wanted to register as Democrats.  [LVRJ]

It’s hard to draw any major conclusions from a data set of three, only two of which involve actual voting, but all three are related to voting related frauds by those identified as Republicans.  Only one involves voting by a person not a citizen of the United States, one was a deliberate attempt (unsuccessful) to game the system, and one was in violation of voter registration statutes.

However, much like the motive in the unfortunate Rubin case, the mythology lingers on in conservative Republican circles that there must be massive voting fraud in this country —  Why else would Democrats win elections in urban areas? Why else would Republican candidates of ideological purity and righteousness lose at the polls?  For those who cannot admit that the GOP didn’t run a very good candidate, or that the candidate didn’t have an appealing message, the answer must lie in the mists of Machine Politics of Yesteryear.   The hard fact my well be that Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the old machinery redundant.

After the New Deal provided jobs, the precinct captains and ward bosses were no longer the place to find employment.  After Social Security was enacted, the donations from the wards and precincts weren’t necessary to put food on the tables of elders in the neighborhood.  True, there are still some effective political organizations in the US, but in the wake of Medicare, Medicaid, and employment training programs their activities are now more overtly political and far less covertly economic.

Anchors Away

There are some emotional anchors for the mythology, which underpin the conservative fears in the face of overwhelming evidence that voting fraud is definitely not a significant problem in the US, and that states are perfectly capable of handling what few instances there are.

Frankly, one of the anchors is embedded in racism and racial stereotypes.  “They” must be voting against us, if we (read: white) aren’t winning.  “They” aren’t “real Americans.”  The roots go back to Black Codes, Jim Crow, and the segregated South of the Lost Cause.  They also catch on to elements of anti-Semitic, anti-Irish and anti-Italian sentiment of this earlier era.  The latest targets of these attacks are those people of Mexican or Central American heritage.  The target may change but the anchor doesn’t.  Commission member Chris Kobach is still on national television peddling the debunked North Kansas City case of Somalis illegally voting in the Rizzo-Royster Case. As long as these contentions go unchallenged the argument will live on.

Another anchor, related to the one described above, is the the Tip of the Iceberg argument.  If there is one instance of voting fraud then there must be much more hidden from our view.  It’s hard to present a rational argument to counter this irrational perspective.   Present the fearful with:

“And yet the numbers indicate that voter fraud is incredibly rare. According to NBC, a News21 analysis of 2,068 instances of alleged fraud nationwide during the elections between 2000 and 2012 pinpointed just 10 cases of voter impersonation in a pool of about 146 million total voters.” [aol]

The rejoinder nearly always resembles something like, “Well, prove that there aren’t millions of illegal voters who get away with it.”

A third anchor relies on another a fear of the potential.  If an enhanced fear of actual voting fraud is statistically irrational, then the fear that there is an immense potential for ever more fraud is based on little more than an unadulterated sense of peril.  The dead-voter-fraud argument is illustrative of this kind of anchor.  If the rolls of Precinct 10 in West Elk Hair contain the names of two individuals who are now deceased, then there is the Potential for two acts of voting fraud.  This argument only works IF ballots are cast in those two names.  It’s an uncontroversial fact that the dead don’t vote. However, if one amasses a long list of names which have not yet been removed from voter rolls then the argument contends that this represents a distressing potential for voting fraud — and again those of good faith in the system are called upon to defend a negative:  Prove that none of these people voted.

The infamous Cross Check voter suppression project is also related to this Potential Argument.  If James Smith is registered to vote in Ottumwa, IA and James Smith is registered to vote in Sarasota, FL then there is Potential double voting.  Probably not. Especially not if one is James L. Smith and the other James R. Smith, or if one is 22 and the other is 37, or if any other test is applied, which in some Cross Check cases seems to have been missing.

When we whittle away the “anchors” and examine the background of voting “fraud” fears in this country we are left back at the starting gate — there are simply some people who do not want other individuals who are unlike themselves voting in local, state, and national elections.  This is NO way to run a republic.

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Nevada Secretary of State’s Office, Where 3 Is Greater than 520

There are a couple of news items which should cause us some concern, other than the inability of the current President to speak the words, “The Russians hacked into our elections.”

First, there are the efforts by the Russians to continue their intrusions into our elections:

“Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.”  [CNNI]

Secondly, there’s James Clapper’s assessment that the Russians are prepping the battlefield for 2018. (video)  This should raise some concerns from Nevada’s election officials.

Thus far Nevada’s chief election official, the Secretary of State, has agreed to hand over such Nevada voter registration data as is a matter of public record to the Pence/Kobach Commission, and not the full list of information Kobach’s Commission has requested…without any reference as to whether his Commission will pay for the data as any other political institution or agency would be asked to do.  The security of the information, given the increased Russian interest in our elections, is highly questionable.  Nor is the question answered about the rationale for the Commission in the first place.  However, it does sound a bit like Nevada’s Election Integrity Task Force which receives plaudits and plenty of attention in the Secretary of State’s Biennial Report for 2015-2016. (pdf)

The EITF ferreted out some cases of voting irregularities rising to the level of prosecutable offenses: One case of double voting in Clark County in 2012; one case of an undocumented immigrant voting in Washoe County in 2014; and one case in Nye County of improperly completed voter registration forms in 2016.  That’s IT.  Three cases.  Adding a soupçon of context:  In 2012 there were 1,016,664 votes cast.  In 2014 there were 552,326 votes cast, and in 2016 there were 1,125,429 votes cast in Nevada.  In 2012 there were a total  of 1,082,705 active voters on Nevada rolls; there were 1,193,194 active voters on Nevada rolls in 2014; and, in 2016 there were 1,334,959 active voters on the rolls.  [NVSoS]  Somehow, this context wouldn’t seem to justify a “Task Force” on any subject.

There are some other numbers which seem to call for greater attention and concern, and these are located in the Nevada Executive Budget for FY 2016-2017 (pdf).  One of the performance measures included in the Secretary of State’s budget concerns the number of electronic viruses neutralized by its IT personnel.  The actual numbers are available for 2011 (300), 2012 (375), 2013 (391), and 2014 (407), with projected numbers for 2015 (442), 2016 (480), and 2017 (520).  See a trend? The budget descriptors don’t indicate if these were malware, spyware, or someone trying to hack into corporate records, but the steadily increasing number from 2011 onward isn’t comforting…and now we have more Russians running loose in the country, “setting up the battlefield for 2018.”

However, our Secretary of State seems to have her own battlefield, as of last April, when she alleged there was voting by non-citizens in the 2016 election as a result of Department of Motor Vehicles practices (based on a March memo of understanding about the practices which bears her signature.)  It’s July, and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has yet to make public any information confirming or substantiating her allegations.   We might be excused for believing, on the basis of this information that in her office 3 is of greater concern than 520.

 

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Filed under Nevada politics, Politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

The Happy Hackers Act HR 634: A Second Look

Let’s return for a moment to HR 634, otherwise known in this space as the “Happy Hackers Act of 2017.”

The link above should take you to the text of the bill as introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS).  In one page the bill terminates the Election Assistance Commission, puts the OMB in charge of “transition,” fobs the duties off on the dysfunctional FEC, and off we go into the wild west of happy hackers.

The bill was introduced on January 24, 2017 and was reported out on a 6-3 party line vote in the House Committee on Administration on February 7th, the same day Democrats filed objections  (pdf) to the measure with the House Committee on Administration.  Democrats noted that the EAC plays a “critical role in holding voting machine vendors accountable and ensuring certification standards remain high.”

Placing jurisdiction over federal election system regulation in the hands of the FEC is cynical at best and destructive at worst.  Atlantic magazine reported in December 2013 that the FEC was “broken” amid a flood of cases of questionable money flowing into campaigns, with feuds boiling between commissioners, and a hack attack attributed to agents of the Chinese government. Two years later the New York Times reported the FEC was incapable of curbing election abuses in the upcoming 2016 elections.   On February 20, 2017 the Chairwoman of the FEC resigned.   It is into the hands of this commission, now with one independent,  three Republicans, one Democrat, and one vacant seat, that the House Administration Committee wants to place the future of voting machines and certification standards.   The ill-advised HR 634 would place certification standards in the hands of an underfunded, understaffed (300 employees to cover 8,000 election jurisdictions in 50 states plus the District of Columbia) agency.  This is conducive to yet another layer of backlogs as questions raised about voting machine security and certification standards would be added to an already debilitated commission. If the intention is to slash oversight on voting machine/system security HR 634 would certainly accomplish that goal.

We’ve been the unfortunate recipient of hacking into our elections at the hands of the Russian government (2016) a conclusion reached by 16 intelligence agencies and the intelligence community leadership, despite the President’s feckless commentary on the subject; and if security standards are unenforced then we’re at even greater risk of intrusion into what has heretofore been unavailable to Russian hackers — the actual vote tally itself.

It’s unfortunate the bill was reported out of committee last February, it would be even more lamentable if the bill were to make it to the floor for a vote; and yet

more calamitous should the bill pass the House of Representatives.


Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) can be reached at 5310 Kietzke Lane #103, Reno, Nevada 89511; 905 Railroad Street #104D, Elko, NV 89801; or 332 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Representative Ruben Kihuen (D-NV4): 313 Cannon Building, Washington, DC 20515; 2250 North Las Vegas Blvd #500, North Las Vegas, NV 89030

Representative Jacky Rosen (D-NV3): 8872 S. Eastern Avenue #220, Las Vegas, NV 89123; 413 Cannon Office Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Representative Dina Titus (D-NV1): 2464 Rayburn Office Building, Washington, DC 20515; 495 S. Main St. 3rd floor, Las Vegas, NV 89101.

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Questions Remain About Nevada Crosscheck Program

I must admit I’m not fundamentally opposed to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program – IF it will prevent Allistair Barrenfarm Gotrocks IV from rolling his Bentley to his convenient polling precinct in the Hamptons early on some fine election morning, then hopping into his Bombardier Global 8000 to his equally convenient polling station for his second home in Florida; while his absentee ballot is counted in his resort community of Ketchum, Idaho.  This, I could do without.  However…

As RollingStone magazine pointed out last August, this isn’t the ulterior purpose of the Crosscheck Program.   The process was supposed to have included names (including middle names and initials) birthdays, and Social Security numbers.   If the voting officials in a particular state don’t require the Social Security number, the birthday, and the middle name all that the Crosscheck list presents is a mass of very common names.  And, the bias begins:

“This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”  [RollingStone]

The response from Nevada, which participates in the Crosscheck program,  was a bit confusing.  A Nevada official replied to the Crosscheck question by saying:

“I can’t comment specifically on their study. What I can say is that in Nevada, we follow the federal and state procedures when it comes to removing voters from the rolls. We don’t look at a person’s name. We don’t actually collect demographic data on voters, so we don’t know race, ethnicity on any voters in our list.” [News4]

How can maintenance of up to date voter registration lists be done without looking at names? Either John P. Smith, of Henderson, NV has voted in the last two general elections – or he hasn’t.  He’s either been declared dead by Social Security officials – or he hasn’t.   The official from the Nevada Secretary of State’s office got a bit more specific:

“Wayne Thorley, Nevada’s deputy secretary of state for elections, counters that the program just matches data and doesn’t target anyone.
“Just because someone comes back as a match on the Interstate Crosscheck list, it doesn’t automatically trigger cancellation of their account,” he said. “And then, further investigation is done by the state.”
He said Nevada also uses the Electronic Registration Information Center to match names from the Crosscheck list with DMV records. Voters then get a postcard to verify their address and if they don’t respond and don’t vote in two elections, they’re dropped from the rolls.” [PNS.org]

It seems that names do matter?  However, there are still questions which might be raised about how the Crosscheck list is actually used in Nevada. For example:  What further investigation is done by the State?  Does this mean that the election officials just compare the voter registration with DMV records?   The NAC can provide us with a bit more clarification regarding how the Secretary of State’s office is to handle voter lists:

NAC 293.462  Verification of information by Secretary of State. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)  On each business day, the Secretary of State will check the contents of the statewide voter registration list by:

     1.  Determining whether any person is included as a registered voter in the statewide voter registration list more than once.

     2.  For every registered voter who submitted an application to register to vote on or after January 1, 2006, comparing the driver’s license number, identification card number or last four digits of the social security number of the voter set forth in the statewide voter registration list, if any, with the information in the appropriate database of the Department.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

At least Nevada officials must incorporate at least part of the Social Security number in the “investigation.”  But when we’re just starting to get comfortable there’s this section which isn’t quite so clear:

“NAC 293.466  Correction of inaccurate or duplicative information; casting of provisional ballot in certain circumstances. (NRS 293.124, 293.675)

     1.  If a county clerk receives notice from the Secretary of State or another county clerk that the statewide voter registration list contains information that is potentially inaccurate, duplicative or otherwise requiring verification, the county clerk shall, not later than 5 calendar days after receiving such notification, take such action as is necessary to correct the information in the statewide voter registration list and in the computerized database established pursuant to NAC 293.454.

     2.  If the county clerk is unable to obtain the correct information relating to the voter that is described in subsection 1 before the day of an election, the voter must show such identification before any ballot may be cast, except that a voter may cast a provisional ballot pursuant to the provisions of NRS 293.3081 to 293.3086, inclusive.

     (Added to NAC by Sec’y of State by R018-07, eff. 9-18-2008)”

What would make a state election official think a registration was ‘potentially inaccurate?’ Duplicative? “Otherwise requiring verification?”  If a Crosscheck list shows a John Paul Smith registered to vote in Richmond, VA and a John P. Smith registered to voter in Henderson, NV, then does this make John P. Smith liable for be investigated as “otherwise requiring verification?”  The Nevada Revised Statutes make this a little more clear:

“NRS 293.675  Establishment and maintenance of list; requirements pertaining to list; duties of county and city clerks; cooperative agreement with Department of Motor Vehicles; verification of information in conjunction with Social Security Administration; agreements with state agencies to obtain information necessary for list; information may be requested from or provided to chief election officers of other states.

      1.  The Secretary of State shall establish and maintain an official statewide voter registration list, which may be maintained on the Internet, in consultation with each county and city clerk.   2.  The statewide voter registration list must:

      (a) Be a uniform, centralized and interactive computerized list;

      (b) Serve as the single method for storing and managing the official list of registered voters in this State;

      (c) Serve as the official list of registered voters for the conduct of all elections in this State;

      (d) Contain the name and registration information of every legally registered voter in this State;

      (e) Include a unique identifier assigned by the Secretary of State to each legally registered voter in this State;

      (f) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 6, be coordinated with the appropriate databases of other agencies in this State;

      (g) Be electronically accessible to each state and local election official in this State at all times;

      (h) Except as otherwise provided in subsection 7, allow for data to be shared with other states under certain circumstances; and

      (i) Be regularly maintained to ensure the integrity of the registration process and the election process.”  (emphasis added)

If (e ) above requiring the unique verifier is applied then the probability that a person can be purged from voter registration lists is diminished, especially if this means both the full name and the Social Security number.  We’re still not quite out of the woods yet.

We’re still going to have to deal with domestic migration, especially in Clark County:

“People moving to Clark County from other places in the United States are at a five-year high, data released by the U.S. Census on Thursday show. The number of people moving into the county from within the U.S. outnumbered residents moving out from July 1, 2014, to July 1, 2015. The net increase, which has been rising for the past two years, was close to 25,000, with foreign migration accounting for an additional 8,000 new residents.

Clark County has grown incrementally over the last five years, rising from 0.7 percent growth in July 2011 to 2.2 percent growth in July 2015. What has changed is that domestic migration is driving that growth. Births minus deaths, or natural population change, once paralleled domestic migration numbers in the county from July 1, 2011, to July 1, 2013. The year before that, Clark County saw negative domestic migration. In the years following, domestic migration comprised most of the growth.”

[… ]  Just who are the new residents? January data of new Nevada driver’s license applicants show that a third, or 20,000, are from California followed by Texas and Florida at 3,000 each.

Perhaps more telling is that roughly half are in the 19-to-39 age range. Sure, some could be college students, but mostly, they are assumed to be part of the growing workforce that accompanies job growth.”  [LVRJ] (emphasis added)

The age range is important – 19-39, as in  eligible to vote.  How many “domestic migrants” to Nevada didn’t bother to tell California county clerks they moved, never intended to vote in a California election again, intended to be permanent residents in Nevada and register there?  The Didn’t Bother Factor drives some of the right wing conspiracy theories about the number of ineligible, i.e. potential duplicate, voters – particularly among the followers of Purger In Chief Kobach of Kansas:

“In January 2013, Kobach addressed a gathering of the National Association of State Election Directors about combating an epidemic of ballot-stuffing across the country. He announced that Crosscheck had already uncovered 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” in 15 states, and that the state of Kansas was prepared to cover the cost of compiling a nationwide list. That was enough to persuade 13 more states to hand over their voter files to Kobach’s office.”  [RS]

In the fevered minds of conspiracy theory advocates 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” is the same things as real ballot stuffing felons.  Some of these people are the same ones who believe “3,000,000 illegal votes were cast for Secretary Clinton in the last election.”  First, there was no epidemic of ballot stuffing across the country.  Secondly, this canard was spread by none other than Dick Morris, and promptly debunked. [Polifact]  Third, that didn’t stop the Federalist Society from climbing on board the “potential” fraud bandwagon citing conservative sources and 20 instances of fraudulent voter registration applications in Virginia.  Not actual voter fraud mind you, just fraudulent applications which obviously were caught. One of the more intriguing claims in the Federalist piece is that we can’t know how much voter fraud is going because people don’t report regular criminal behavior. Under reporting is not proof of criminal behavior, and arguments by analogy break down faster than just about any other form.

Since the Crosscheck program has been so problematic that Florida and Oregon have dropped it, and since the implementation of it has been plagued with the issues cited in the RollingStone article, Nevada should seriously consider dropping its participation.  Failing that, Nevada could consider specifying more clearly what the Unique Verifiers are in NRS 293.675 – requiring state election officials to compare middle names or at least initials, and Social Security numbers.   No county clerk’s office should be handed a list without the assurance of state officials that mistakes have not been made concerning ANY potential duplication.  The use of a faulty list to “improve election integrity” is self defeating and frankly makes no sense whatsoever.

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Warning: Vote Suppression Scheme includes Nevada

Crosscheck Nevada For those happily thinking that vote suppression schemes like CrossCheck are happening somewhere else, and that Republicans might be pulling shenanigans in lands far away – be WARNED as of 2013 Nevada joined the CrossCheck system.  And, not to his credit then Secretary of State Ross Miller bought into it.

First, consider the source, Kris Kobach. “So far, in his career, Kobach has been the guy that John Ashcroft tasked with weeding out foreign travelers in the wake of 9/11—and Kobach’s program was so deeply involved in racial profiling that it was shut down. He also was the author of Arizona’s notorious “Papers, Please” law.” [Esquire]

Second, consider HOW operation Cross Check works.

“Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.” [RS] (emphasis added)

The “could be” part of the sentence is important because it forms the basis of the vote suppression efforts.

“Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.”  [RS]

How do 7.2 million people get to be “suspects?”  The methodology is incredibly sloppy.  If this isn’t by design then it’s at least a way to get the “most suspects possible” from a limited number of registrations.

“We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.” [RS]

It’s easy, if all the James Browns are lumped into one group then all become “suspect” and their voting rights denied on election day, as potential fraudulent voters.  Now imagine being a Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore, or Taylor in the United States – the top ten surnames in the 1990 census.  If Robert C. Brown moved to Nevada and didn’t bother to de-list his name from the Ohio rolls, Robert F. Brown could be struck from the list as a “potential” fraud. And, even if Robert C. Brown had absolutely NO intention of voting in Ohio, he’d still be viewed as a “potential” fraud.

RollingStone’s report continues:

“We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”

Including Nevada.  And who gets caught in this trap?

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.” [RS]

Why is this important? Because 27% of Nevada’s population is Hispanic.  9.3% of the Nevada population is African American. 8.5% is Asian. [Census]  What of the Social Security numbers and birthdays that were supposed to rectify this weakness in the Cross Check database?  The Social Security numbers weren’t on the lists Rolling Stone found.

According to the report, those entrapped by the Cross Check scheme are notified by a small print postcard which requires a response to the Secretary of State’s office.  It’s no secret who is less likely to return the post card – the young, the unemployed, those who move from job to job, minorities, women, and those in lower income brackets.  Precisely the people the Republicans don’t want voting.

The ACLU of Nevada has some voting tips for citizens of the state:

Check your voter registration status at least 30 days before the election. Locate your polling place and note the hours of operation.

Vote before Election Day, through early voting or absentee voting if possible. If you plan to vote at the polls, go early in the day to avoid the last-minute rush.

Bring identification even if it’s not required.

Read all instructions carefully. Take your time. Ask for help if you need it.”

We might want to add some additional tips – If you have a very common last name – If you have a surname which is common among ethnic minority populations – If you are a student – If you have moved recently – If you live in a neighborhood or precinct with a significant percentage of ethnic minority group population – Mark your calendar, perhaps on October 4th, and make certain of your voter registration well before the November 8th election.

Your vote counts – make sure it’s counted!

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A Small But Significant Win? NV Voting Rights Case sent back to Federal District Court

ballot box There was a small but perhaps significant win yesterday for those who believe that ALL eligible citizens in Nevada should have to opportunity to register to vote.

“A federal appeals court on Thursday revived a lawsuit alleging that the Nevada Health and Human Services Department has been disenfranchising potential low-income and disabled voters by not providing registration materials to clients at its offices as required by federal law.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed in 2012 by the National Council of Las Raza and two branches of the NAACP, had been dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Clive Jones after he determined the groups had no standing to bring the claims.

A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, reviving the complaint that Nevada state officials are violating Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 by failing to make voter registration materials available to people who visit their offices.” [LVRJ]

Note, the Appeals Court isn’t saying that the NV HHS was, in fact, in violation of federal statutes, but that the District Court erred in declaring that the original plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file their suit.  Voting rights groups were pleased with the decision:

Voting rights groups Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented the plaintiffs along with the law firms Dechert LLP and Woodburn and Wedge, applauded the decision.

“Today’s decision is a victory for low-income voters in Nevada and the community groups that serve them,” said Brenda Wright, Vice President for Legal Strategies at Demos. “The Ninth Circuit’s decision recognizes the fundamental importance of access to the courts in protecting the right to vote. We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit has rectified a miscarriage of justice by reinstating our clients’ voting rights claims.”

In its opinion, the Court rejected Nevada’s argument that the plaintiffs—organizations that conduct voter registration drives in low-income communities throughout the State—were not harmed by the state’s violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and therefore lacked “standing” to challenge them. 

“The Court recognized that Nevada is answerable to community groups that have been forced to pick up the slack for the State’s failure to fulfill its legal obligations,” said Sarah Brannon, Director of Project Vote’s Government Agency Voter Registration Program.”  [more at Demos]

This, of course, will not please the “election integrity” crowd who will assert that voting is a sort of privilege, a reward for being a “taxpayer” – as if members of minority groups, and those who need social services aren’t “real” taxpayers.  They will, no doubt, continue to whine that their lack of success in some elections can’t possibly be because they lack candidates who appeal to a majority, ergo it must be because the “other side” cheated in some conspiratorial way.  In short, any election they don’t win must necessarily be fraudulent.

No, a “fraudulent” election is one in which there is ample evidence of voter suppression, indications that minority community members were sent misleading and downright inaccurate information, activities such as those of the infamous Nathan Sproul, sweeping voter roll purges, and such suppressive legislation as photo IDs which are difficult for rural, elderly, and non-white voters to access.

Here’s hoping the Federal District Court will take a more constructive view of the issues raised in this case, and will direct that more eligible individuals will be encouraged to participate in Nevada elections.

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Filed under elections, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting

ALEC and Nevada GOP launch vote suppression bills

vote suppression

It isn’t quite true to say that vote suppression bills are “a solution in search of a problem,” because the “problem” as seen by ALEC and associated Republicans is that too many people are voting, thus placing a permanent GOP majority in doubt.  Here’s a portion of AB 266, the perfectly predictable photo ID bill:

“Section 2 sets forth the acceptable forms of proof of identity which are: (1) certain government-issued documents or identity cards that show a recognizable photograph of the person to whom the document or card is issued; (2) a voter identification card; or (3) certain documentation from an administrator of certain health care facilities that are licensed by the State.”

What’s the problem? Just show the election officials your driver’s license? That, according to the Brennan Center isn’t a solution to the real problem – encouraging more people to participate in our electoral politics.

“Approximately ten percent of voting-age Americans today do not have driver’s licenses or state-issued non-driver’s photo ID. Based on Americans’ moving patterns, many more do not have photo ID showing their current address. And getting ID costs substantial time and money. A would-be voter must pay substantial fees both for ID cards and the backup documents needed to get them-up to $100 for a driver’s license, up to $45 for a birth certificate, $97 for a passport, and over $200 for naturalization papers. The voter may also have to take several hours off of work and travel significant distances to visit government offices open only during select daytime hours. Finally, many identifying documents cannot be issued immediately, so potential voters must allow for processing and shipping, which may take from several weeks to an entire year.”

As the Brennan Center relates, there’s nothing “free” about the documentation needed to get voting photo identification cards, even though the card itself is supposed to be issued at no charge.  And, who are those most likely to be suppressed by this legislation?  No surprise here:

“The impact of ID requirements is even greater for the elderly, students, people with disabilities, low-income individuals, and people of color. Thirty-six percent of Georgians over 75 do not have a driver’s license. Fewer than 3 percent of Wisconsin students have driver’s licenses listing their current address. The same study found that African Americans have driver’s licenses at half the rate of whites, and the disparity increases among younger voters; only 22% of black men aged 18-24 had a valid driver’s license. Not only are minority voters less likely to possess photo ID, but they are also more likely than white voters to be selectively asked for ID at the polls. For example, in New York City, which has no ID requirement, a study showed that poll workers illegally asked one in six Asian Americans for ID at the polls, while white voters were permitted to vote without showing ID.”

Whose vote is in jeopardy?

Predictably that would be elderly people, students, people with disabilities, low income Americans, and people of color.  We’ve covered this territory before in terms of Nevada voting, especially in rural areas.  The geography of this state, and the fact that most of the population tends to live in just two counties, means that rural voters are also at risk.

It’s also no surprise that some of the same people who walked off the ALEC gang plank into the depths of vote suppression are the same who made the same march previously, see here.  AB 266 also brings back memories of Senator Roberson’s 2011 SB 373.

How does this fly in the face of American judicial principles? 

Here’s a reminder:

“If you signed your registration form in Nevada declaring under penalty of perjury that you are at least 18 years of age, are a citizen of the United States, are not among the classes of persons held ineligible, and are a resident of the state.  The burden of proof that you have committed perjury rests with the state.

The burden of proof always rests with the state — in any prosecution for anything.  If a person is alleged to have voted once in Clark County and again in Nye County that would call for a prosecution of a crime under NRS 293 — but the burden of proof rests with the state.   If a person is alleged to have voted using an assumed identity, then this calls for prosecution, and once again — the burden of proof rests with the state.

Any suggestion that the citizen be required to “show proof of citizenship” at the polls is not only redundant, but shifts the burden of proof from the state to the individual.  That’s not the way the American system of jurisprudence works.  It’s not the way the American judicial system has ever worked.

A person in any court in the United States is never presumed guilty until he or she can demonstrate innocence.  A person need never prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she did not commit a burglary, an arson, a theft, a manslaughter — the burden of proof always rests with the state.  Demanding “proof of citizenship” at the polling stations presumes that unless a person can “prove” otherwise he or she is a fraudulent voter upends the very foundation of our criminal justice precepts.” [DB]

Fancy Focus Group Terms Don’t Hide The Intent

Conservative Republicans are fond of using terms like “election integrity,” as if there was something amiss in our current system.  There isn’t.  The one question these advocates of vote suppression don’t want to answer is:  How many cases of voter impersonation fraud have been identified in this state?  As of August 2014, there were 31 cases of voter impersonation fraud in the entire country, and not one case was associated with a Nevada election. [WaPo]

But, but, but…sputter the advocates, “Photo ID will make people feel better about their elections.”  That’s false, too.  When researchers from Harvard and Columbia put this to a statistical test, the results didn’t support this contention:

“Because actual evidence of voter impersonation fraud is rare and difficult to come by if fraud is successful, reliance on public opinion as to the prevalence of fraud threatens to allow courts to evade the difficult task of balancing the actual constitutional risks involved. In this short Article we employ a unique survey to evaluate the causes and effects of public opinion regarding voter fraud. We find that perceptions of fraud have no relationship to an individual’s likelihood of turning out to vote. We also find that voters who were subject to stricter identification requirements believe fraud is just as widespread as do voters subject to less restrictive identification requirements.” (emphasis added)

Conclusions

Vote suppression bills are precisely that – legislation intended to make it more difficult for groups least likely to need or afford photo identification to vote in state and national elections.  They are promoted by associations like ALEC, which produces the model legislation, in order to secure a permanent GOP majority in elected bodies.  Let’s slip out on the tree limb and conjecture that if the elderly, students, the disabled, and the poor were voting for eliminating the minimum wage, enhancing corporate tax breaks, and terminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau … the GOP would be demanding same day registration, and ALEC’s bill mill would be going full bore.

Vote suppression bills are unconstitutional. Discrimination should be the last thing found in polling stations. Further, to place the burden of proof on a “defendant” is counter to the very basic principles of American justice.

Vote suppression bills serve no one except corporate interests, as the Harvard/Columbia research reports – they don’t even make people feel any better.

AB 266, and its companions SB 169, and AB 253 should find their way to the bottom of some committee file cabinet – and not their way to the Governor’s desk.

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Filed under Nevada, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting