Let’s steal an election

Sarah Silverman has once again decided to get involved in presidential politics, following her successful operation, The Great Schlep in 2008. This time she is going after the real problem of Republicans dealing with the non-existent problem of voter fraud by just flat out preventing as many people as possible from voting.

Warning: this video is hilariously profane.

Like I said, profane — but not obscene. You know what’s obscene? Keeping people from voting.

Anyway, I have once again been invited to speak to a classroom of Christian high schoolers about the upcoming election, two weeks from today. This will be my third visit to this school, but this time there will be students who are actually registered to vote in this election, so I might end up costing Obama a few votes.

I have an hour to talk to these kids (who, by the way, are generally awesome) and I’ve been trying to decide on what to concentrate. I am tempted to just start the discussion by asking them if they are concerned with voter fraud, and then, when they say “yes” (almost guaranteed), say, “swell, let’s steal an election.”

Then spend an hour just walking through the logistics of going about stealing an election by registering millions of ineligible people to vote, getting them all to the polls without garnering suspicion, doing this in such a way that nobody ever talks about what would be the hugest scandal in the history of the country, etc. Assuming we actually get far enough so that anyone thinks this is a plausible scenario, then we could talk about how voter ID would or would not foil this plan. Wouldn’t the most likely plan include absentee ballots?

Finally, I’d talk about the number of eligible voters who are caught up in these purges designed to solve the voter fraud epidemic and ask this question: what is the ratio of eligible voters that it is okay to disenfranchise in order to stop one person from voting illegally?

I’ve never gotten an answer to that question from any voter ID supporter.

Author: Wiesman

Husband, father, video game developer, liberal, and perpetual Underdog.

9 thoughts on “Let’s steal an election”

  1. Jon, It amazes me that you freaking liberals are so opposed to this. Valid ID is required for the most mundane of practices from cashing a check to boarding an airplane, or voting in a union election. Why, oh why, are you opposed to this? Does voter fraud occur? Of course it does. It has occurred in Chicago for decades. It occurs in Memphis on a regular basis. Does the fraud result in “stealing elections? Nobody really knows, do they?? With the large number of aliens in the US today, (note, I said aliens, not illegal aliens), I think it is important that we ensure that only bonafied citizens are allowed to vote. While no statistics exist, I would venture a guess that fewer people would be disenfanchised than those who vote fraudulently. Despite what the liberals purport, this is not a racial issue. But, that makes for more interesting press, doesn’t it??

    1. Hey George. I’m not opposed to the general concept of Voter ID at all, actually. I’m opposed to the current set of voter ID laws that are being pushed by Republicans that are designed specifically to keep certain demographics from voting.

      If someone introduced a voter ID law that works like this, I’d be supportive:

      1) You show up to vote.
      2) You give them your name.
      3) They look up your name on their voter roll. Hey! There you are.
      4) They ask for ID.
      5) You say, oh, I’m sorry I don’t have a valid ID.
      6) Oh! They say. Well, let’s look at your record here on this computer that we have here at the poll. Oh, I see you had a driver’s license 10 years ago, and oh, here’s your picture on file. You forgot to smile! Yep, that’s you. Here’s your ballot.
      7) Or… Oh, you don’t seem to have ever had a government ID in our system. Let’s take your picture. Okay, there. Now we enter that into the computer, and you’re all set. Here’s your ballot. Just an FYI, all same-day voter IDs that are issued are subject to later verification. If you’re defrauding us, boy are you screwed! We have your picture right here!

      Basically, voting is a right. It’s not buying beer and it’s not boarding a plane. It’s a basic right. If the state feels it has an interest in protecting itself from fraudulent voting (which despite your claims is not a real problem) then the burden for paying for that process should be borne collectively, not by individuals, as that amounts to a poll tax.

    2. This, right here, is the crux of the issue: you say, “While no statistics exist, I would venture a guess that fewer people would be disenfanchised than those who vote fraudulently.”

      Here is the even divide: conservatives often have a “strong instinct” that poor people wouldn’t “really” be disenfanchised, or at least not that many would, while liberals have a “strong instinct ” that they would be.

      This is an empirical question: how do we find the exact level of difficulty and restriction that minimizes both disenfranchisement and abuse? This is why we need more data, we need more studies, we need more rational investigation about the truth of the matter.

      But what we DON’T need is conservatives saying that we need to ELIMINATE all voter fraud, or even that we should minimize it. Why? Because the statistical fact is that it is a trade-off. The more you crack down to MAKE SURE that nobody is abusing the system, the more eligible voters you alienate. The more you try to make sure that EVERY SINGLE person who should vote is able to, the more cracks you leave in the system for abuse. Neither side can be absolutist about this: the conversation must, must, MUST be able collecting the right data so that we can find the middle-ground where we optimize the two variables together.

      Unfortunately, that’s not the conversation that’s happening in politics right now.

  2. Define “not a problem”. Are you saying it doesn’t exist? Do you have any data that shows it is not a problem. I am not sure how this disenfranchises a certain demographic, unless you mean disenfranchising anyone who can’t prove who they are! Yes, voting is a right conferred on all US citizens who are not in prison or convicted felons in many states. But, shouldn’t we ask that you can demonstrate that right?

    1. George: While I don’t agree that voter fraud is an actual problem right now (because I’ve never seen any evidence to prove to me that it is, and I don’t know why my null hypothesis should be fraud as opposed to no-fraud), I’ll allow the argument that it is a problem. Fine, problem identified — how do we solve it?

      Is there a best way to solve the problem? Probably. Well, at least some ideas are objectively better than others.

      For instance, don’t you think that voter ID laws, like the one in PA that will potentially disenfranchise 100,000’s of poor and elderly residents (including some of my friends and family that have had to deal with this), are worse approaches than the one Jon outlined above? Those 2 approaches would accomplish the SAME THING, but one of them stops/discourages some people from voting and the other doesn’t.

      If you agree that Jon’s approach is better, then you should start to understand that “freaking liberals” are not trying to protect voter fraud. They’re trying to protect voting rights. Fraud-free elections are important to us all, but you have to design one that’s also fair. And when you’re talking about voting rights, the only acceptable definition of the word fair is: every eligible person can do it without having to pay what, in many instances, amounts to a poll tax.

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