Obamanation: A Day of Truth
Accuracy in Media Conference 9/21/2012
Speaker: John Fund
“Let’s Make it Easy to Vote AND Hard to Cheat; We can do Both”
Transcribed by J. C. Hendershot & Bethany Stotts
FUND: The theme of my brief talk—because I want to get to your questions—is going to be a very simple one. It’s going to address the constant mantra we hear from the critics of voter integrity laws, and that is “There is no voter fraud. It’s not a problem.” All of these efforts, whether they be voter ID laws, whether they be cleaning up absentee ballot procedures, cleaning up voter registration rolls, are unnecessary. They’re a solution in search of a problem. There is no voter fraud.
I woke up this morning to go through my E-mail, and I discovered that the Iowa State Police have arrested three non-citizens for voting—in Iowa, of all places! Two Canadians and one Mexican national. But there is no voter fraud. I am told, of course, that no one would take the effort to vote more than once because, after all, what gain could they possibly derive from it? No one would do this. Last week, a few miles from here—Annapolis, eastern shore of Maryland—as well, the Democratic Congressional candidate had to resign because she had voted in both Florida and Maryland in four separate elections at the same time. But there is no voter fraud.
Bill Clinton mounted the stage of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte two-and-a-half weeks ago to denounce voter integrity laws. He has previously called them “poll taxes,” “the return of Jim Crow,” and, of course, there is no voter fraud. Two and one-half hours before he mounted the podium of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, back in Arkansas, where he used to be Governor, charged with enforcing all of the laws—and he used to be Attorney General, charged with enforcing all of the laws—a Democratic state legislator, a Democratic city councilman in West Memphis, and a police official in West Memphis were all convicted of 45 counts of that which, you know, does not exist. Because, as you know, there is no voter fraud.
Today the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, goes on trial for criminal conspiracy charges in Detroit. He has already served some time in federal public housing. He won reelection a few years ago on the basis of voter fraud—fraud that was so rampant and so extensive the City Clerk of Detroit, Jackie Currie, had to be physically removed from her office, and forced to leave it, because of the voter fraud she had either allowed, or encouraged, as the election official in charge of voting. But there is no voter fraud.
I’m here to tell you—I’m sure Artur Davis addressed this briefly, but Artur Davis is a very brave man, former Congressman Davis, because he has said—and I can’t really say this, but he can—“You talk of voter suppression in voter ID laws or in laws to check out that people are who they say they are.” He said, “The real voter suppression was what I had in my district in Alabama, voter suppression where reform Democrats wanted to change their horrible machine government that was delivering bad public schools so their kids couldn’t be educated, bad roads so they couldn’t get to work, bad services. Whenever they would try to change it, whether it’s Bullock County, Alabama or Greene, County Alabama,” he said, “their votes were stolen. The election was a formality. The Machine always won.” You can fight City Hall, but you can’t fight City Hall if City Hall steals the election. “That’s,” he said, “what is the real voter suppression.”
I’m here to tell you, this campaign against voter integrity initiatives is so hypocritical. The real victims of voter fraud in this country are minorities living in machine areas that constantly have their votes stolen from them, so their cities will never get better, their counties will never get better, their kids will never get educated. And it’s not just in Detroit: It’s in St. Louis. It’s in Philadelphia. It’s in Noxubee County, Mississippi, the story of which will either raise or curl your hair, depending on its predilections. And it’s all in the book outside—shameless commercial plug number one—that I will be signing shortly. That’s who the real victims are!
Look, we are told the last refuge of a scoundrel is a false appeal to patriotism. No, it’s not. In America today, the last refuge of a scoundrel is a false accusation of racism. Yelling “Racism!” in a crowded political theater: That’s all they know how to do. Well, I’m here to challenge that, and I’ll tell you why. A Washington Post poll—by the way, all of the polls are the same, within a couple points, so I’m just giving you the latest one, The Washington Post—74% of Americans believe we should show photo identification at the polls. There are 38 demographic categories that were surveyed by The Washington Post. It carried a majority in 37 out of 38. There was one category where it got 48% support, and opposition got 45% support—in other words, still more people favored it than lost—and that was among self-described progressive Democrats—in other words, MSNBC viewers. Even MSNBC viewers want photo identification at the polls, because it makes sense.
We ask for photo ID for everything:
Want to buy a Sudafed at the pharmacy? ID.
Want to visit your doctor? ID.
Want to go to the emergency room? ID.
Want to buy alcohol? ID.
Want to buy tobacco? ID.
Want to rent a video at Blockbuster? ID.
Want to travel? ID.
Want to cash a check? ID.
Want to get a government benefit? ID.
Want to sign up for Social Security? ID.
First time you go in for Medicare? ID.
You detect a pattern here?
In other words, ID is everywhere. The only thing we don’t ask ID for—the only thing—is voting? “Well,” they say, “all those other things are different.” They’re not a fundamental Constitutional right.
Excuse me? You want to marry? I know some states have unusual marriage laws now, but you want to marry? I don’t care what kind of marriage it is: ID.
Want to enter a federal building to petition for grievances, which is in the Constitution? ID.
Although, I must admit, there are some people who are a little bit behind in the times on this. Eric Holder—the Infernal General—was actually being interviewed the other day on television, and he said the following:
“Mr. General, your opposition to photo ID laws as ‘racist’ and ‘discriminatory’—why is it that the Justice Department asks for you to show ID when you enter the Justice Department’s building?”
“No we don’t.” [Holder said].
And the interviewer’s face just went . . . “What do you mean, you don’t?”
“No, there’s no requirement to show anything.”
“But—but you mean I could visit you, and I wouldn’t have to show—”
“Sure, anybody can come visit me at any time. They don’t have to show anything.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER 1: [Unintelligible] security [unintelligible].
FUND: Yes, especially if you insist that you’re going to push past him, because, of course, there is no requirement to show . . .
We just learned, because of some Freedom of Information Act requests—and Hans Von Spakovsky, my coauthor, has written on this at nationalreview.com, I urge you to look this up—the Justice Department, we now know, because we have the E-mails, mounted a two-year campaign of intimidation, fear, and smear against all of the critics of these procedures in the Department of Justice to stop voter ID laws, coordinating with a group called Media Matters—do you know about this group at all, Media Matters? I mean, Media Matters is the junkyard dog of character assassination. Character assassins don’t even like Media Matters because they find their methods so distasteful.
They would use Media Matters and their friends in the lamestream media.
They would use Media Matters to smear people, and to attack them, impugn their motives.
They would use Media Matters to attack two of their top employees, Christopher Coates, the head of the Voting Rights Division, and J. Christian Adams, who’s written a very good book on the Obama Justice Department.
Now, Coates and Adams are whistleblowers: They were blowing the whistle on the procedures in the Department of Justice to try to stop any efforts to clean up the voter rolls. Well, there’s a whistleblower law.
I’m not a lawyer, I just play one on TV. I’m not a lawyer, but I think they may have been in violation of the whistleblower laws. Because if you’re attacking people in your own Department for blowing the whistle, trying to smear their reputation so they won’t be listened to or believed, I think that’d be a potential violation of the law. This Justice Department is no longer a Justice Department. It is the Ministry of Propaganda. And I think we should treat it is as such for the next, oh, 74 days of its existence, or whatever. I’m more confident than you in the outcome of this election—if we can marshal our forces and fight voter fraud.
Now, it doesn’t mean that voter fraud is a partisan issue. I’ve many examples in my book of Republican voter fraud. In fact, there used to be a lot more Republican voter fraud. Philadelphia, which is a notorious bastion of voter fraud, used to be run by a Republican machine. It’s the reason why Herbert Hoover managed to defeat Franklin Delano Roosevelt there—it was the only big state Hoover won—voter fraud in Philadelphia. But the Republican machine was ousted in the ’50s and was replaced by a Democratic machine that simply refined its methods. There used to be a Republican machine in Chicago. Al Capone was protected by a Republican mayor. And then, of course, the Daleys came in, and went far beyond whatever that poor, feckless machine had been able to accomplish: The Daleys still rule today, directly or indirectly. In the hollows of Kentucky, you can still buy votes in Republican counties. The price is not $20, it’s a fifth of bourbon—they have local content laws, apparently. So there is—look: This is a nonpartisan issue. Now, I do believe that with the decline of the Republican machines; the last one to fall was Al D’Amato’s Long Island machine in New York. I do believe that there is a lot more fraud on the Democratic side because they have more opportunity. But I don’t make any contention that one party’s inherently more moral than the other.
But it is wrong to commit voter fraud, regardless of who does it and why it’s done. It is simply wrong. Unlike Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC, who actually said, “I think it’s perfectly appropriate to vote fraudulently, but just once”—he was not smiling when he said that—we have a “see no evil” culture in this country. There are a lot of people who just don’t want to know what goes on behind the curtain. They just don’t want to know. There are a lot of places where the tradition is just to do things the old-fashioned way, the “Daley Way,” the “Philadelphia Way,” the “Detroit Way,” the “Alabama Way”—whatever it is, they just don’t want to know, which is why, of course, they have to—in order to have any self respect, they have to repeat the mantra “There is no voter fraud.”
Well, you know better, I know better, the American people know better. For those who say this is racist I point you to the Washington Post poll: 74% of all people support photo ID. Among African-Americans it falls to 65%. Among Hispanics it falls to 64%. Among Democrats it falls to 60%.
The Rasmussen survey found, if you ask people, “Do you believe voter fraud is a serious or somewhat serious issue in this country?” 63% of whites will say “Yes,” 64% of African Americans will say, “Yes.” More African-Americans believe voter fraud is a serious issue. Not voter disenfranchisement, voter fraud. Why? Because many of them live in communities where it happens, and they know it happens. It’s not anecdotal, it’s their daily life.
This is a battle that we can win, and we will win, even if we don’t have all of these laws clear the courts in time for the election. Just talking about it, and raising the visibility of this, has had enormous benefits. Voter fraud is an awful lot like shoplifting: one-tenth above the surface, and nine-tenths below the surface, you can never find it out. Voter fraud, like shoplifting, can be dramatically reduced if people just know someone is watching. If people walk into a store and they think it’s a completely risk-free activity to steal something, some will do it. But then you put up a few signs that say prosecutors will be after you, put up some cameras—no one has to watch them necessarily, the cameras just have to be there—and you cut shoplifting 25% to 30%, off the top. I think we can do the same with voter fraud. That’s why groups like Judicial Watch, Truethevote.org, and others are assembling an army of volunteers, lawyers and non-lawyers, to monitor the polls, to clean up the voter registration rolls, and I think they’re going to have an impact.
Look: If it’s a risk-free activity to vote in the name of the dead, you can easily do it today. The Pew Research Center, an impeccably liberal organization, estimated there are 2 million dead people on the rolls today. 2 million. Look: I believe in respecting the dead. I do not believe in representation without respiration.
It is easy right now to vote in the name of the dead. Think about it: All you have to do is look up someone who’s dead, see if they’re registered to vote, walk into their polling place in a state that doesn’t have ID law, and say, “I am this person.” And they’ll hand you the ballot. You know what? The dead are not likely to complain.
You think this is hard? A few miles from here—Northwest Washington, Eric Holder’s neighborhood, he’s been a resident there for 32 years. You’d think they’d know him. You’d think they’d suspect something when a 22-year-old punk with a beard and a goatee, who worked for James O’Keefe, the filmmaker, shows up and all he says is—and, of course he’s white—and all he says is, “Do you have an Eric Holder at Such-and-Such Terrace?”
“Oh, yes. Here’s your ballot.”
Now, he didn’t vote it because that would be a crime. So he said, “I really feel more comfortable if I show my ID first. I’m going out to the car to get it. I’ll be back—I’ll be back faster than you can be furious.”
That’s how easy it is. That’s why we have to clean up the voter rolls. The Pew Research Center estimates one out of eight—one out of eight!—voter registrations in this country are either invalid, or contain major errors. That’s a disgrace. Every industrialized democracy in the world has ID. The evil, intolerant people in Canada have ID laws. Canada! But, of course, we’re different: We’re America. And in America there is no voter fraud.
Thank you very much.
ARONOFF: Got time for a few questions. Ed? Yes? Okay.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: Why would there not be a push for a national voter ID law, picture ID? It seems like it is so simple—should be so simple—and if the vast majority of the public is in favor of it, why would there not be a push for national—for national elections? Why couldn’t that be at least a beginning? It seems like we’re going state by state, and it’s chaotic at this point.
FUND: So you trust the federal government more than the state governments, is what you’re saying?
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: For a national ID law passed by Congress, and approved, I would—
FUND: So you trust the federal government more than the state governments to preserve civil liberties, not to misuse such an identification—
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: It’d be more uniform.
FUND: So you trust the federal government more than the state government: Yes or no?
AUDIENCE MEMBER 2: Yes.
FUND: Okay, we established that. Well, I’ll give you three objections. I’m not completely and unalterably opposed to this idea. However, I know people, like Phyllis Schlafly, who are. I know an awful lot of people who have spoken before this group in the past who are. They would fight you tooth and nail. I think that time is limited, resources are limited. We’re probably better not touching the Constitution, because it—there are Constitutional barriers to this. You know, the states do give—states are given the right to set the time, manner, and place of elections in the Constitution, which means, traditionally, we leave all of these questions to the states. Now, after 2001 and 9/11, we did pass a secure ID law, so all the states do have to follow certain security procedures. You can no longer have things like the New York State driver’s license, which didn’t even have a photograph on it, believe it or not. That was ridiculous. But a national ID card, I think, would be an enormous political fight. I’ll be honest with you: I think that if we had a national ID card in place right now, and Barack Obama were re-elected, of course there would be no problems at all. There would be no abuse. The Obama Justice Department would never, never, never—ever!—do anything to call into question its enforcement of this. Of course.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 4: [Unintelligible] have a national ID [unintelligible] passports.
FUND: Well, yes, but not everyone has one, I understand. But my point is this: I can, in theory, understand where you’re coming from, but I think it’s a heavy lift to get there, and not worth the time and resources, and it would split the conservative coalition down the middle. It really would.
ARONOFF: A couple more. Go ahead.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 5: Yes, John, I’m wondering, after your latest book, whether or not there is any thought, between you and Mr. von Spakovsky, who saw a lot of this stuff firsthand, of entertaining the thought of writing a whole book on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in and of itself. It seems to me there’s a lot of stuff that deserves the attention, all by itself, of one book.
FUND: Well, I appreciate that. The one thing you never want to do to an author who’s just gone through the gestation period of a book is talk about the next book immediately. I think there needs to be a grace period, an interval, before I can contemplate that.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 5: At your leisure, of course!
FUND: Of which I have a great deal, yes. But I appreciate the suggestion, and when I’m not exhausted on this book tour, I will do so.
ARONOFF: Real quick, short ones. Yes?
AUDIENCE MEMBER 6: John, I read that the Irish were going to get rid of their voting machines and go back to a paper ballot. If there is voting fraud, wouldn’t the machines be the place people want to tamper? I mean, how do you feel about paper ballots, and the citizens counting their own votes? Wouldn’t that be revolutionary?
FUND: Well many places have gone back to paper ballots, and that’s fine. Look: I don’t think we should focus on the technology so much as we should focus on simple procedures which make it difficult for people to cheat. We can make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. We do have to worry about machines to some extent. The software should be more open source. We should spend more money on the machines. You know, there’s a reason you trust your ATM machine. There’s a reason some people suspect voting machines aren’t as reliable. We spend about ten times more per machine on the ATM machines than on voting, and, you know, that raises an interesting issue of priorities. You know the job of the Secret Service is not so much to protect the President as to protect our currency. That’s what most Secret Service agents do: They go fight counterfeit currency. They have a zero tolerance for it. They know that you can undermine an entire currency with just a few bad bills. Well, our currency of democracy is our votes, and we’re not doing a good job of policing the currency of democracy.
But back to your question on machines: Our voting machines, unlike many in some places, aren’t connected to a central counting place. You really do—unless you have really, really bizarre software problems—you really would have to do it machine by machine. We have had optical-scan voting machines, which are a form of electronic voting machines, in this country for 40 years. There has never been a proven case, in the optical scan machines that we’ve used for 40 years, of an organized, wholesale effort to manipulate the election. You can do it in a very, very small number of cases, but—you know, the old machines were the ones you really had to worry about. They had zeroes, like an odometer, and people would just run up the score on the machine before the polls opened, so you already had hundreds of votes cast before the first person showed up. So I do agree we have to worry about the machines, but what I talk about in the book, I think, is stuff that’s proven. It’s not speculative, and happens, and we can prevent it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 7: John, Jim Simpson. I wrote an article, a research report, for AIM last—
FUND: Oh, it was excellent. I commend you for it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER 7: Thank you. In it I argue that the National Voter Registration Act was seen by its authors as an intermediate step to national voter registration, universal voter registration, which you and I both are in agreement is a bad idea. To that end, that Pew report that you cite, also their conclusion was that we should go to universal voter registration because of all the messes. But I argue that the National Voter Registration Act is part of the cause of that abominable state of affairs we have now because they’ve actually made it more difficult to clean the voter rolls than it was before. I’d like your view on that.
FUND: Well, something is wrong if one out of eight registrations are invalid or contain major errors. For a state to actually remove someone from the voter rolls, you have to wait five years of them not voting, then you have to wait two more federal elections—basically, ten years. Basically, if someone dies and isn’t removed from the rolls, if somebody moves out of state, if somebody changes their—shall we say—status with the Parole Department, you have to wait ten years to drop them from the rolls. That’s ridiculous. That’s a federal mandate. It’s an unfunded federal mandate. The fact that that was able to get through Congress and Clinton’s signature in a few weeks is a perfect example of what the intent was. I would have to remind you, when it went to court, the lawyer who got it through court, who won the case that basically gave us “Motor Voter” law nationwide—the test case—was an obscure civil rights attorney named Barack Obama, and his client was ACORN.
The lawyer for ACORN sits in the White House today. His Justice Department is completely uninterested in enforcing any voter integrity laws. But we have nothing to worry about, because—remember—there is no voter fraud.