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Fighting the Scourge of Voter Fraud

Voter-ID-e1301046802166Via the Des Moines RegisterIowa voter fraud probe nets few cases, no trials since July 2012

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz has little to show for a voter fraud investigation that has gone on for nearly 18 months and cost the state almost $150,000.

Schultz, a Republican who has made ballot security his signature issue since taking office in 2011, struck a two-year deal with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation in July 2012 to assign an agent full time to investigating voter fraud cases.

Since then, according to figures provided by the secretary’s office, the effort has yielded criminal charges in 16 cases, of which five have resulted in guilty pleas and five have been dismissed. None of the cases has, as yet, gone to trial.

This outcome comports with what we already knew about voter fraud in the United States:  it is essentially a non-existent problem.

The five cases are are follows:

Three of the guilty pleas involved registration by felons whose voting rights had not been restored, including one who also was not a U.S. citizen.

A fourth case concerned a woman who obtained and cast an absentee ballot on behalf of her daughter, while a fifth was an identity theft case in which a man registered to vote while applying for a driver’s license in the name of his dead brother.

However, it is worth noting that the investigations have not been free:

The DCI has been paid $149,200 for its efforts so far and could receive up to $280,000 out of the secretary of state’s budget.

In the grand scheme of things, not a huge amount of money, but without a doubt there were better ways to spend it.

However, the Secretary of State feels vindicated:

Schultz said the investigations have proved the existence of voter fraud in Iowa and bolstered his case for more scrutiny at the polls and verification of voters.

“Before, the narrative was that there’s no such thing as voter fraud,” he said. “That’s obviously changed. Iowans expect us to do something when we know there’s a problem.”

It is unclear to me how finding five cases of voter fraud in a state of over three million people is proof of a problem.

Understand, I believe that voter fraud is a serious issue and one that can clearly damage the very fabric of democracy.  However, this ongoing obsession over statistically insignificant issues warrants the spending of public funds to pursue, let alone justifying public policies that can make it harder for legitimate votes to be cast.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    And how many of those five cases would have been prevented by the voter suppression integrity measures proposed or enacted by Republicans? Zero.

    Oh, and four of them concerned voter registration, not actual votes. So one whole vote, absentee cast by the voter’s mother. I’m sure that one vote swung a bunch of elections.

    It’s simple. The vote fraud crusade is a very thinly veiled attempt to disenfranchise the wrong type of voters: Democrats.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 3

  2. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @mantis:

    Agreed. Republicans present this as being a solution to a problem, and for them it is. It’s just a solution to a different problem

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  3. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    At least there’s a metric here. Just how do we measure the bugbear of the left, “voter suppression?”

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 29

  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Take the number of citizens in your state over the age of 18, subtract the number who have acceptable ID, and *pouf*, you have the number of people who are no longer able to vote.

    Helpful hint: It’s probably a tad bigger than 5.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2

  5. Miguel says:

    How many charges have been brought against those residing in grave yards turning out by the hearseful to cast their votes? They have been known to vote early and often.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 28

  6. Steven, it’s not like you to tip-toe around the problem.

    The front is that they are protecting the ballot against foreigners, felons and those cheating.

    The reality is that they’re protecting against poor people, black people, and kids who are too lazy to do what’s proper to vote. “Oh, I can’t vote? Whatever, let’s go to FroYo”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  7. anjin-san says:

    Voter fraud is real! Black people are still voting…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    Just as it is better that a hundred innocent men go to jail rather than that one guilty man go free, so it is better that a hundred registered voters be prevented from voting rather than one ineligible voter be allowed to vote…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  9. @Christopher Bowen: I am just being sarcastic about the alleged problems.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. Tillman says:

    What a waste of taxpayer money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  11. @Jenos Idanian #13: I suggest that you aren’t paying attention. Any process that makes it more difficult for otherwise law abiding citizens to vote can have the effect of suppressing the vote. It certainly amounts to more than 5 cases.

    I discussed some of it here: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/more-on-voter-id/

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  12. anjin-san says:

    @ Steven L. Taylor

    Yes, but Jenos knows he can annoy us by prattling on with this nonsense. Thus his life has meaning.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  13. Grewgills says:

    @mantis:
    On the bright side, they stopped 80% of the fraud before it could impact the elections. Every vote counts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Grewgills says:

    @Miguel:
    The undead are powerful and hide all trace of their villainy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Let me clarify: One side has statistical analysis and suppositions.

    The other has documented cases with names and dates and criminal convictions.

    In the real world, one concrete example trumps a thousand theories.

    From your linked article, with emphasis added:

    The study notes that roughly 11% of eligible voters lack the types of government-issued photo IDs that these states now require. As such, there are a substantial number of persons who face disenfranchisement as a result of these laws because they may well not be able to obtain the appropriate ID, or may have to engage in substantial efforts to obtain said ID.

    “May” is what is commonly known as a “weasel word” — an indicator that the author believes something might be true, but can’t prove it.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 24

  16. Tony W says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    In the real world, one concrete example trumps a thousand theories.

    Fine. Then how many concrete examples of multi-hour lines to vote in poor black neighborhoods will convince you that the Republicans are an explicitly racist party actively working to suppress minority votes because they most often go to the opposition?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  17. @Jenos Idanian #13: The fact that you think 5 cases of confirmed fraud are proof of your position, but evidence that 11% of eligible voters have been placed in a position that makes it more difficult for citizens to exercise a fundamental right is not significant underscores the bankrupt nature of position. Or, at a minimum, an unwillingness to admit when evidence for your position is paltry.

    Forget the term “voter suppression” and focus on the clear evidence that these laws undeniably make it more difficult for a large number of poor, elderly and/or minority voters to access the most fundamental right of citizenship in a representative democracy.

    Beyond that, the notion that you think finding 5 cases warrants such laws (and indeed, those laws did not even catch these five), or paying out almost $300k of state funds was money well spent indicates, again, intellectual bankruptcy. See, if the Secretary of States of Iowa had demonstrated a nontrivial amount of fraud, I would have to change my position. That is how intellectual honesty works: in the face of evidence one has to revise one’s positions. In your case you are taking a truly insignificant number of cases and doubling-down on the righteousness of your position.

    I am both not surprised, yet also a bit amazed, that you find 5 cases to be solid support for your position.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven, this what happens when one side has intelligent thoughtful people who allow facts and reason to guide them to a viable conclusion, and the other side has Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  19. Ben says:

    This isn’t 5 cases of voter fraud, though. It’s 1 case. And 4 cases of voter registration fraud. And the 1 whole huge stinking case of voter fraud they actually found was an absentee voter, so the voter ID law wouldn’t catch her.

    So in other words, this exercise has confirmed exactly what liberals have been saying the whole time: there is practically NO SUCH THING as in-person voter fraud. There are a few sprinkles of voter registration fraud, and any actual voter fraud there is likely to be, is almost certainly going to occur via the mail. So all of these in-person voter ID laws are completely useless for their stated purpose, and the only possible reason to push for them is as a pretext for a different purpose.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  20. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The other has documented cases with names and dates and criminal convictions

    You’re right. Iowa has spent a great deal of time and money to prove this isn’t a problem at all. They still plan to “fix” it, of course, by creating a real problem for a lot of people. They’re like a guy who stabs you to take your mind off the pain of a stubbed toe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  21. @Ben: Indeed. This is the broadest possible net (and with a full-time, dedicated investigator) and yet…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  22. C. Clavin says:

    Funny that Jenos thinks that AGW, supported by 99% of the qualified scientists in the field, is a hoax.
    But Voter fraud by 5 people in a population of 3,000,000 is a crisis.
    And supressing the vote of 11% of that 3,000,000 (330,000 voters) is not a problem at all.
    What a macaroon.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  23. Gavrilo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Kristina Bentrim, a schoolteacher from Cedar Rapids, went to vote in the March 5 casino referendum, only to discover someone had already showed up, claimed to be her and cast a vote.

    After proving she was the real Kristina Bentrim, she was given a provisional ballot and her vote was counted. But the impostor’s vote was, too.

    The incident was turned over to the county sheriff, Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said, but investigators had no way to identify the impostor. The case went nowhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  24. @Gavrilo: So is your point that there was one other potential case?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  25. And therefore?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  26. mantis says:

    @Gavrilo:

    There’s no evidence of fraud there. It might have been a fraudulent vote, and it might have been an error by the poll worker. Such things do happen occasionally.

    Also, from the article you linked:

    “This was first impostor that we ever had, and probably one of the first reported ones in the state,” he said.

    Clearly worth disenfranchising many thousands of Iowa voters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @Gavrilo:
    So Gavrillo…you are saying that a single case….of which no documentation is offered other than the word of the guy that wasted 150,000 of the taxpayers money…justifies supressing the votes of 330,000 people?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  28. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The fact that you think 5 cases of confirmed fraud are proof of your position, but evidence that 11% of eligible voters have been placed in a position that makes it more difficult for citizens to exercise a fundamental right is not significant underscores the bankrupt nature of position. Or, at a minimum, an unwillingness to admit when evidence for your position is paltry.

    And yet liberals will use the same argument you are using to try and convince Americans we should pass more laws to reduce “gun violence”. The fact that you think x cases of shootings are proof of your position, but evidence that 99% of gun owners have been placed in a position that makes it more difficult for citizens to exercise a fundamental right is not significant underscores the bankrupt nature of YOUR position.

    Why is it OK for you to insist the system does not need fixing to exercise one right but does need fixing to exercise another. Either it’s a fundament right or it’s not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  29. @Jack: Except that I am not arguing about gun policy here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  30. Jack says:

    Here. So because you haven’t gone on a gun rant today, your previous positions should be ignored?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  31. slimslowslider says:

    @Jack:

    oh good lord.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  32. mantis says:

    @Jack:

    The fact that you think x cases of shootings are proof of your position, but evidence that 99% of gun owners have been placed in a position that makes it more difficult for citizens to exercise a fundamental right

    1. When a fraudulent vote is cast, it doesn’t kill a bunch of people.
    2. It’s incredibly easy, not difficult to get a gun in this country.
    3. Making people register their guns or restricting sale of some types of weaponry is not a threat to democracy. Voter suppression/disenfranchisement is. Hell, its not even a threat to the second amendment.
    4. There are a lot more gun deaths than fraudulent votes. It’s a real problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  33. Gavrilo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    A. Voter fraud is real, as this link demonstrates. So, go ahead and move those goalposts.

    B. That the actual number of confirmed cases of voter fraud is small is irrelevant. The actual number of hijacked airplanes is also small. That doesn’t mean we should dismantle the TSA. There is value in having more integrity in the voting process aside from simply reducing fraud.

    C. The people of Iowa, as in the rest of the country, overwhelmingly support photo id. Why do you insist on ignoring that inconvenient fact?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Maybe I haven’t had enough caffeine yet…but I can’t even figure out WTF your talking about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  35. Tillman says:

    @Jack: The consequences of exercising each of these fundamental rights are, to put it mildly, very different.

    Not to mention that the trend lately has been greater freedom for gun rights but greater suppression of voting rights. You’d be screaming bloody murder if it was the reverse.

    Unless, that is, you display the consistency you find lacking in Dr. Taylor’s position, and support repealing these photo ID laws?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  36. Jack says:

    @mantis: Either it’s a right or not. There are no qualifiers. 300 million guns were NOT used to shoot up a school last week. Disenfranchising all present and future gun owners for the actions of a miniscule minority is not acceptable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  37. @Jack: Well, two things:

    1) Even if, for the sake of argument, you find my position one some other topic problematic, that has no bearing on the quality of my argument on this topic. It certainly has nothing to do with the evidence at hand.

    2) I am unaware that I have a propensity to rant about guns. I have written about guns in the past, although I can’t recall the last time that I did. I know that I have noted that we have a lot of guns in this country, and that we have a lot of gun-related deaths (far more, by the way, than examples of voter fraud). Still, I am not sure what it is you are ascribing to me, position-wise.

    (Actually, I think that the last time I wrote about guns was here: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/he-forgot-his-handgun-was-in-his-bag/

    I think my highly controversial position in that post was that people ought not be so careless with their weapons. Such a position is, no doubt, naught for a hair’s breadth away from outright confiscation, yes?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  38. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Are you being purposely obtuse or are you normally this stupid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 13

  39. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: They are the same argument. For voting, we cannot disenfranchise the masses to a miniscule percentage of illegal votes are not counted. For guns, we must disenfranchise the masses to ensure a small percentage of shooting do not happen. You are arguing both sides of the argument depending on the topic. There is no consistency.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  40. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I apologize if you have not written a pro-gun control article, I may be confusing you with someone else. Yet my position is valid as you can see by the responses I have received. Your posters want it one way for voting yet another way for guns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  41. Jack says:

    @Tillman: I’m not screaming for voter ID laws. You are screaming against them. Please find that same passion when it comes to fighting against more gun laws.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  42. @Jack:

    Either it’s a right or not. There are no qualifiers.

    But this is patently untrue. Rights can be qualified. I cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. I can’t say “f*ck” on network television. I can’t do my yard work in the nude. Few rights are 100% unregulated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  43. Tillman says:

    @Jack: Voting requires registration. You have to be a part of a publicly-searchable database of voters in order to vote in an election. I know this because I receive mail from outside groups insisting I vote in every election, telling me which elections I’ve voted in and which I haven’t.

    You try to impose something similar on gun owners, who have the capacity to kill efficiently versus voting for an oppressive government that slaughters people (which is rather inefficient), and I find your claim that any gun owner is being disenfranchised by increased regulation hilarious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  44. slimslowslider says:

    @Jack:

    So are you saying the folks “screaming” for voter ID laws should also be “screaming” for more gun laws?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  45. C. Clavin says:

    What everyone here is missing is that the 5 cases in question…or even the entire 16…are way below the systems ability to even count the votes. We are talking about .0005%.
    So in effect people like Jenos and Gavrillo are arguing to abridge the rights of a significant number of people…11% or 330,000 voters….in order to solve a problem that Shultz himself spent $150,000 proving is insignificant.
    Again…limit the rights of 11% of the people in order to stop a .0005% problem…a number the system itself is incapable of capturing.
    This is basic math kids. If you are unable to do even basic math then maybe you shouldn’t cling to your views like a rabid dog on a bone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  46. @Jack:

    They are the same argument. For voting, we cannot disenfranchise the masses to a miniscule percentage of illegal votes are not counted. For guns, we must disenfranchise the masses to ensure a small percentage of shooting do not happen. You are arguing both sides of the argument depending on the topic. There is no consistency.

    Setting aside what I may, or may not, think about guns, this is a nonsensical position. Owning a gun and voting are not the same and therefore one cannot pretend that they should be handled in the same way in terms of policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  47. Tillman says:

    @Jack: I wouldn’t really call this screaming. More like “snarking.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  48. @Jack:

    Your posters want it one way for voting yet another way for guns.

    Do you think that all guns should be registered?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  49. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But this is patently untrue. Rights can be qualified. I cannot yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. I can’t say “f*ck” on network television. I can’t do my yard work in the nude. Few rights are 100% unregulated.

    Wrong. You can do all of those things. There is no prior restraint. You just must be willing to face the consequences of your actions. You and you alone. There is no blame assigned to other patrons of the theater or other network broadcasters.

    I am willing to face the consequences of MY gun use, but I (and all other law abiding gun owners) should not be punished due to the unlawful actions of a minority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  50. @Jack: Do you think persons under 18 should be banned from owning (and firing) firearms?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  51. beth says:

    The gun control measure that actually made it to a vote in Congress was for better background checks. So let’s focus on the measures that have actually been proposed, not the “they’re going to take away all our guns” fevered nonsense that one hears. The bill wanted people to show ID to buy a gun and make sure those buying guns hadn’t lost their legal right to own a gun. Sounds exactly like the voter ID laws you champion. Why are you giving Steven a hard time?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    Voter ID laws are illogical in that they don’t address a real problem.
    Background checks are logical in that they address a real problem.
    See how that works, pumpkin?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  53. @Jack: Do you think that guns should only be fired on the first Tuesday, following the first Monday in November (and other dates set by law)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  54. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes they are the same. As a matter of fact, owning a gun is specifically spelled out in the Bill of Rights telling the government what it cannot do. Voting is actually a lesser right. Most people do not know there is no right to vote in a federal election (Bush v Gore; SCOTUS).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  55. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    There is no prior restraint in background checks.
    Aren’t you embarrassed to be ranting about your need for a penile prosthesis in public?
    The NSA is probably reading this!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  56. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: No calvin, because the criminals are not going to undergo a background check, the get others to buy the gun for them or they steal it. Get it puddin?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  57. Dave W. says:

    @Gavrilo:

    A. Voter fraud, the kind of which photo ID laws is designed to prevent, is only one *possible* explanation of the scenario presented by your link. It is not the only possible conclusion. You cannot rest your case upon this one anecdote or the study which is the subject of this post, as discussed by other commenters.

    B. The actual number of confirmed cases of voter fraud is important. If these laws prevent 5 fraudulent votes but prevent even 6 people from casting a legitimate vote I think it is a very fair argument to make that the law does more harm than good. Your TSA analogy actually works against you here. The TSA, while maybe necessary, could go about their task in a smart, less intrusive way. Instead, they choose security theater to give the appearance of protection while being more of a nuisance than necessary. Voter ID laws would give the appearance of secure elections but would make the elections just as secure as they currently are while preventing 100s, if not 1000s of people from casting a legitimate ballot.

    C. While democratic support of a law is an important factor, it is not the sole determining factor. Taking away someone’s fundamental democratic right to vote should not be determined by popular support.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  58. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Yes, all police and military have small penis problems too. We’ll be sure to hire you for the next war so you can go out a whack all the bad guys with your massive member. I’m sure they will quake in fear once they see the shadow it casts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  59. BTW: I have no problem with voter ID, as long as all citizens are easily, universally, and freely provided ID.

    I think we ought to have automatic voter registration as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  60. Jack says:

    @beth: Who says I’m chanpioning a voter ID law. I’m championing consistency. The last law that was defeated in teh senate did a WHOLE LOT MORE than just run a backgroun on purchasers. It also would make a criminal out of people loaning a gun between family mambers and friends among a whole host of other crappy suggestions. Less that 1% of guns are bought at gun shows and criminals are not goung to start running background checks for the purchasers of their guns out of their trunk. It reduced in no way CRIMINALS getting their hands on guns while drastically increasing the wickets law abiding gun owners must navigate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  61. @Jack:

    Wrong. You can do all of those things.

    Well, indeed. One can break laws and regulations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  62. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    I get that you are a member of the cult and have all the NRA talking points memorized.
    In Colorado, since the new laws went into effect, 72 criminals have been stopped from buying a gun.
    That fact is probably not in your talking points.
    Look…I’m not going to change your mind. You’ve been indoctrinated. You have drank the kool-aid.
    So go stroke your gun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  63. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Exactly, criminals, by their very nature, will not abide by laws or more gun laws. Infringing on the masses because of the actions of the few is wrong when it comes to voting and it’s wrong when it comes to guns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  64. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Yeah, how’d those new Colorado gun laws work out last Friday, puddin’?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  65. @Jack: And hence, there is no need for the criminal code or any regulations whatsoever. I see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  66. Jack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: There are already thousands of gun laws on the books. Do you want to try to make murder illegaler?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  67. @Jack: You miss the point.

    Also: I notice you have avoided my consistency questions above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  68. matt bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    One can break laws and regulations.

    And, just to fully connect the dots, those laws and regulations are impositions on rights.

    If a right was unencumbered as claimed, then there would be no crime committed.

    Hence we get to the many Supreme Court decisions that focus on deciding whether or not a certain action feel within one’s (regulated) rights (and therefore wasn’t a crime).

    BTW, on the entire “Right to vote” thing in relation to Bush v. Gore, it’s helpful to have the entire passage that you are citing:

    The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZPC.html
    [mb: Emphasis mine]

    So what you seem to miss is that while the SC recognizes that the Constitution does not grant a right to vote in Federal Elections (instead leaving that decision to the States), once a State decides to enfranchise its citizens, the rights of the voters are then protected in keeping with the Constitution and, more importantly, its Amendments (not to mention the various laws and decisions which have been developed around the Constitution).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  69. matt bernius says:

    Two other points on voting to further complicate the “no right to vote thing.” One, in regards to Bush v. Gore, slightly further on in the decision the SC specifically recognizes that:

    The right to vote is protected in more than the initial allocation of the franchise. Equal protection applies as well to the manner of its exercise. Having once granted the right to vote on equal terms, the State may not, by later arbitrary and disparate treatment, value one person’s vote over that of another. See, e.g., Harper v. Virginia Bd. of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 665 (1966) (“[O]nce the franchise is granted to the electorate, lines may not be drawn which are inconsistent with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment”).
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZPC.html

    It should also be noted that the Constitution does explicitly call out a right for citizens to participate in the election of Senators (17th Amendment). I suspect that the only reason there isn’t a similar provision for voting for the Presidency is that, from the early days of the Country, no state settled on a system of delegate selection that *did not* involve a public vote.

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  70. Pinky says:

    @Jack:

    Yes, all police and military have small penis problems too. We’ll be sure to hire you for the next war so you can go out a whack all the bad guys with your massive member. I’m sure they will quake in fear once they see the shadow it casts.

    Jack, it’s bad manners to hijack a thread, but that’s as funny a comment as I’ve ever read.

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  71. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gavrilo:

    A. Voter fraud is real, as this link demonstrates. So, go ahead and move those goalposts.

    I don’t think Steven ever argued that voter fraud *never* happened. That’s a foolish position. What most of us argue is that it happens so rarely as to be essentially non-existent.

    BTW, this is a similar argument put forward by people who claim that present voter-id laws don’t disenfranchise.

    Further, most of us point out that when actual voter fraud happens (versus voter registration fraud), it typically occurs in a way that Voter-ID laws don’t address (i.e. through absentee ballots).

    B. That the actual number of confirmed cases of voter fraud is small is irrelevant. The actual number of hijacked airplanes is also small. That doesn’t mean we should dismantle the TSA. There is value in having more integrity in the voting process aside from simply reducing fraud.

    If you are suggesting that “integrity” is a key metric, then we must ask if whatever process integrity is gained via these protections is equal to the integrity lost through disenfranchisement.

    Supporters argued that poll taxes and tests were necessary to maintain the “integrity” of the process. Yet, I think most would agree that the resulting disenfranchisement caused by them harmed the overall integrity of voting in the localities where they occurred.

    C. The people of Iowa, as in the rest of the country, overwhelmingly support photo id. Why do you insist on ignoring that inconvenient fact?

    Again, the devil is in the detail. Steven, I know from previous posts and comments here, supports Photo ID with key provisions (i.e. “As long as all citizens are easily, universally, and freely provided ID”). I support that as well.

    Unfortunately, when we look to the implementation of these programs, it has been the case that their provision make it very difficult for certain socioeconomic groups to get IDs without significant effort. And when you take a further step back and note that those groups are typically associated with the minority party in most of these States, things become even more problematic.

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  72. Matt Bernius says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Unfortunately, when we look to the implementation of these programs, it has been the case that their provision make it very difficult for certain socioeconomic groups to get IDs without significant effort.

    I realize that some will say that the concept of “significant effort” is irrelevant to this conversation — i.e. if voting is important to you, then you should do whatever it takes to vote.

    I will humbly submit that this rational can easily be applied in support of poll taxes as well. After all, if voting is important to you, then you should save throughout the year to ensure you can pay to vote when the time comes.

    Registering to vote cannot be a frictionless process. But it is necessary to ask what is a fair amount of friction. Further, to decide what a fair amount of friction is, statistics suggest we probably should not begin with the assumption that a suburban or rural middle class mode of existence is the “default” position for all Americans.

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  73. C. Clavin says:

    @Jack:
    So your argument is unless a law is absolutely perfect then it’s pointless? Unless it stops every single incident then there shouldn’t be a law?
    Eliminate DUI laws. Eliminate thievery laws. Eliminate arson laws. Eliminate pollution laws.
    I think that pretty much sums up your lack of logic and perspective on the topic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  74. Gavrilo says:

    @Dave W.:

    A. Without a photo id requirement, there is absolutely no way to know if that scenario was fraud or an error on the part of a poll worker. That’s the point. If that individual had been required to show id, there wouldn’t really be any question that it was an error.

    B. Requiring photo id does not equal disenfranchisement. Is it disenfranchisement to require that a voter be registered 30 days prior to the election? Is it disenfranchisement to require that a voter only be allowed to vote in his or her designated polling location? Of course not. Nor is it disenfranchisement to require a voter obtain suitable identification prior to the election. When Kansas recently passed voter id, the ACLU filed a lawsuit. One of the three plaintiffs that they dug up was a guy who had recently moved from out of state. The guy was in danger of being “disenfranchised” because he was too lazy to unpack his boxes and locate his birth certificate in order to go down to Motor Vehicles and get a Kansas drivers license. In a sane world, this would be comical. But, this was literally one of the three best examples of “disenfranchisement” the ACLU could come up with.

    C. That is non-sensical argument. The Supreme Court has been quite clear that requiring photo id does not disenfranchise anyone as long as the government provides an acceptable process for obtaining that id. That’s why the ACLU has never, ever been able to find anyone who has actually been disenfranchised. Even the little, old, blind, poor black ladies that they use in their lawsuits are able to obtain photo id, usually fairly easily.

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  75. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tony W: Did you even read the article you linked to? I did. Four points I gleaned from it:

    1) The people seemed to enjoy the “lines.”
    2) There was nothing that described how it was the fault of any Republicans.
    3) The Obama campaign used it to push their candidate — apparently quite successfully.
    4) It wasn’t election day, but early voting.

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  76. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The fact that you think 5 cases of confirmed fraud are proof of your position, but evidence that 11% of eligible voters have been placed in a position that makes it more difficult for citizens to exercise a fundamental right is not significant underscores the bankrupt nature of position. Or, at a minimum, an unwillingness to admit when evidence for your position is paltry.

    No, I think those cases are evidence of my position, and your statistics are indicators. I think that my position is more strongly supported, and it makes me wonder that, if we apply statistical extrapolation to those five cases, how many more are not caught.

    I repeat my position: there is more tangible proof of voter fraud than voter suppression, and citing statistics to infer suppression is weaker than actual cases.

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  77. @Jenos Idanian #13: I suppose it is possible that you simply do not understand the argument being had, then. Or, that you do not understand standards of evidence. I don’t know.

    I will have to accept your position: you think that these cases are sufficient evidence for the voter fraud hysteria and then subsequent public policies in question. This perhaps explains your general approach to politics.

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  78. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I repeat my position: there is more tangible proof of voter fraud than voter suppression

    Bullshit. You just ignore the evidence. For instance:

    Ruthelle Frank, a resident of Brokaw, Wisconsin since her birth in 1927, has none of the accepted forms of photo ID under Wisconsin’s photo ID law which goes into effect at the February primary election. In order to get a state ID card, she needs to prove citizenship, but since she was born at home, she has never had a birth certificate. The state Register of Deeds, however, does have a record of her birth and can produce a birth certificate at a $20 cost. There’s one problem though — her maiden name (Wedepohl) is misspelled in the record. That record can only be amended by legal proceeding, and the combined fees will run Ruthelle potentially upwards of $200. The state will not waive any of these fees, and under the new law, if she cannot obtain a state ID card, Ruthelle will be sent away from the polls.

    There are many similar stories, but you will continue to ignore them because you have no argument if you don’t.

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  79. Further, I will note, that I am not arguing “voter suppression” per se, I am arguing two things:

    1) The presence of voter fraud is too small to justify the expense of complexity of the policies being put forth to stop it.

    If you think that $50,000 per case is worth it, I never want to see you argue that you are a fiscal conservative, small government guy ever again.

    2) It is a fact, no an inference, that certain categories of citizens have a lower level of access to certain types of IDs than do others. This means that rules that require a photo ID have the effect of making it more difficult for some voters to vote than others. This is the system for which you are arguing.

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  80. Vast Variety says:

    I don’t believe Iowa has a voter ID law. I always vote via absentee ballot so I’m not entirely sure.

    Ok, I’ve looked, and now I’m sure. My state of Iowa is one of the enlightened ones that doesn’t have a voter ID law. Matt Shultz wasted all of this state taxpayer money in an attempt to prove that the draft legislation he wants passed here is needed.

    I call that a big fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  81. @mantis: But that is just 1 case. Can you find 5?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  82. @Vast Variety: To be clear, my point in the post was not about voter ID, per se, but about electoral fraud in general. One would think that if the Sec of State had a dedicated investigator he could have found more cases if, in fact, a major problem existed.

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  83. mantis says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: I notice you have avoided my consistency questions above.

    Of course he ignores questions the answers to which would reveal the emptiness of his arguments. This is a person who can simultaneously point out there are 300 million guns in this country and claim the right to gun ownership is being infringed. Logic can find no purchase on such soil, salted by the violent, paranoid nonsense of the right.

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  84. Vast Variety says:

    I understand. It’s just anytime the right discusses their fake massive amount of voter fraud going on in the US that there go to fix is voter id’s. How else can Republicans explain why Democrats keep getting elected. It MUST be voter fraud. It CAN”T be because their positions are not in tune with people.

    Please note there is some sarcasm in this comment.

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  85. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    Either it’s a right or not. There are no qualifiers. 300 million guns were NOT used to shoot up a school last week. Disenfranchising all present and future gun owners for the actions of a miniscule minority is not acceptable.

    Are you saying that gun owners are “disenfranchised” by regulations that strengthen background check and restrict purchases of automatic weapons and related munitions?

    How so? People can still purchase weaponry despite such regulations.

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  86. wr says:

    @Jack: Say, Jack, did you know that the anti-smoking movement was secretly run by Nazis attempting to establish the Fourth Reich in America. I learned this from a really neat guy named Harleyrider on the “nanny state” thread. You should run over there and check it out — I think you and he will become fast friends!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  87. Dave W. says:

    @Gavrilo:

    Rather than a point-by-point response, I think I’ll just set my case out in general.

    Voting is one of the most important and fundamental rights we have as citizens of a democratic nation. Therefore, it should be as easy, accessible, fair, honest, and available as we can make it. Those goals will sometimes come into conflict.

    The proposed Voter ID laws and other measures currently being proposed, enacted, and supported by Republican politicians, governments, and voters will do almost nothing to make voting fairer or more honest. Yes, there may be a few cases where the laws prevent someone from voting fraudulently. But, study after study has shown that these alleged frauds are so few in number as to be statistically insignificant. The study that is the subject of this article looked intensely for voter fraud and found 16 cases in what would have been millions of votes cast. Additionally, many of those 16 cases would not have been prevented by these laws. The other laws being passed, other than Voter ID will have an effect, as well. Some of those laws may have benign or positive effects, but some will almost certainly have negative effects (e.g., longer voting lines, restricting available opportunities to vote

    What these laws will do, however, is make voting harder, less accessible, and less available to people who would otherwise be able to cast legitimate ballots. This is done by either making it difficult for people to obtain the necessary ID (commenter mantis above points out one such case or there are the troubles that we saw in Texas most recently; but there are many others if you wanted to check for yourself*) or by putting up unnecessary and unjustifiable restrictions on voting (e.g., North Carolina restricting early voting and closing poll places in poorer areas or universities).The benefits of these laws do not outweigh the costs. No, the government is not saying “We are stripping you of your right to vote” but what they are saying is “We are going to make it harder for you to vote than is necessary to have secure elections.” I am, in no way, saying that these current laws are the moral equivalent of a poll tax or a literacy test, but a comparison in some respects can be drawn. A poll tax or literacy test never outright prevented people from voting, it only made it harder to vote than was necessary–without proper justification–in order to keep disfavored people from voting. Similarly, these laws will make voting much harder than is necessary in order to have fair, honest elections and that hardship will be disproportionately borne by groups disfavored by the proposing party (groups more likely to support Democratic candidates).

    This proposed system will make it harder for some people to vote. This will result in a number of those burdened people not being able to cast their ballot. Which means that there will be fewer legitimate ballots cast than there otherwise would have been. The systems is being proposed to combat a problem that is incredibly insignificant. The costs of this system far outweigh any potential benefits.

    If it can be shown that these new laws will not result in making voting harder, less available, and less accessible or that any such imposition on the voters is justified by a proportionate increase in needed election security, I will change my mind. What I would put to you is the following: “If it is shown that these laws result in more people who were prevented from voting by the hardships put in place than people who were prevented from casting a fraudulent vote, will you still support them?” In other words, if the costs of these laws outweigh the benefits, should they still be enacted?

    *Keeping in mind that I have provided anecdotal evidence, I will state that if a comprehensive study is done on the negative effects of Voter ID laws (similar to the one being done in Iowa) and it is shown that the negative effects are also statistically insignificant, I will have to change my opinion on this point. I have not seen one myself and would welcome any link to said study if a reader knows of one.

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  88. george says:

    People who think voters should show ID should be first pressing the gov’t to give free ID to all citizens. That’s the way its done in Canada and just about all of Europe – the gov’t gives everyone ID, and everyone shows it to vote. It works like a charm – in Canada for instance, the whole political spectrum (from Green to NDP to Liberal to BQ to Conservatives … and actually even the most right wing party, the Conservatives, are to the left of the American Democrats) agree asking for voter ID is fine, because they know everyone has such ID.

    Throwing in a public health option like Canada has would be a nice touch too :)

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  89. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @george: People who think voters should show ID should be first pressing the gov’t to give free ID to all citizens.

    I not only wholeheartedly support this, but would volunteer to dope-slap anyone who opposes it.

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  90. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Such stories are outliers, and reasonable accommodation should be made to assist those few people in such unusual circumstances. (And citizens who were home births will become fewer and fewer as time goes by — unless ObamaCare gets even more disastrous than even I expect.)

    “Bad cases make for bad laws,” and you don’t write laws for the 1% — or even lesser, in this case. You make the law for the majority, and work around the rest.

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  91. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I not only wholeheartedly support this, but would volunteer to dope-slap anyone who opposes it.

    Better start dopeslapping the many Republican state officeholders who oppose this. You should do the same for those who agree to provide free voter ID, but restrict access to said ID to few locations to prevent poor folks and/or those without cars from getting one.

    The 11 percent of eligible voters who lack the required photo ID must travel to a designated government office to obtain one. Yet many citizens will have trouble making this trip. In the 10 states with restrictive voter ID laws:

    Nearly 500,000 eligible voters do not have access to a vehicle and live more than 10 miles from the nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. Many of them live in rural areas with dwindling public transportation options.
    More than 10 million eligible voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest state ID-issuing office open more than two days a week.
    1.2 million eligible black voters and 500,000 eligible Hispanic voters live more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office open more than two days a week. People of color are more likely to be disenfranchised by these laws since they are less likely to have photo ID than the general population.
    Many ID-issuing offices maintain limited business hours. For example, the office in Sauk City, Wisconsin is open only on the fifth Wednesday of any month. But only four months in 2012 — February, May, August, and October — have five Wednesdays. In other states — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas — many part-time ID-issuing offices are in the rural regions with the highest concentrations of people of color and people in poverty.

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  92. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Such stories are outliers

    False. See my post above.

    reasonable accommodation should be made to assist those few people in such unusual circumstances.

    It’s not, and such accommodations are vigorously opposed by Republicans.

    “Bad cases make for bad laws,” and you don’t write laws for the 1% — or even lesser, in this case. You make the law for the majority, and work around the rest.

    Hilarious, coming from the guy who claims one fraudulent vote in Iowa justifies disenfranchising thousands. Do you even think about what you write?

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  93. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    you don’t write laws for the 1% — or even lesser, in this case.

    This is literally what the current voter fraud / supression laws are being written for, and yet you support them.

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  94. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Such stories are outliers…

    “Bad cases make for bad laws,” and you don’t write laws for the 1% — or even lesser, in this case. You make the law for the majority, and work around the rest.

    Tell me you see the irony in writing this response in defense of Voter ID laws, when the thrust of Steven’s article is that in Iowa, a place with no Voter ID laws, the best they could come up with after spending $300k was a single case of voter fraud and four cases of voter registration fraud.

    If we tally those incidents across all votes cast during the period of the study/probe, I’m pretty sure we’ll come up with a number far, far lower than 1% (even if you add in projections for uncaught or prosecutable incidents).

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  95. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Such stories are outliers…“Bad cases make for bad laws,” and you don’t write laws for the 1% — or even lesser, in this case. You make the law for the majority, and work around the rest.

    Yet you are resting your argument on 5 cases voter fraud* out of over 3 million after an extensive and expensive search. That is considerably smaller than your 1% threshold**. I assume now that you have made this argument that you no longer support voter ID laws, that or you are giving up all pretense of consistency.

    * really 1 actual case of voting and 4 or registration fraud
    ** less than 0.00017% of voters at best for your position

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  96. Gavrilo says:

    @Dave W.:

    You’re pulling your argument straight out of your a$$. There is zero evidence that voter id laws suppress turnout. Several states have had the laws in place for several election cycles. Turnout hasn’t gone down in any significant way. In some elections, turnout has actually increased. How come if we have 11% of the population that are “disenfranchised” because they lack photo id, we don’t see an 11% drop in turnout in the states that require it? Furthermore, there is zero evidence that early voting increases turnout. Again, several states have had early voting for several cycles and turnout is not significantly higher than in states that don’t offer early voting. In fact, some research indicates early voting actually suppresses turnout.

    The facts are not on your side. Public opinion is definitely not on your side. All that remains is desperately grasping to a flawed position in order to maintain the illusion that you’re good and fair and righteous and Republicans are racist and bad.

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  97. David M says:

    @Gavrilo:

    The argument isn’t that all 11% will be unable to vote. It’s that the portion of the 11% unable to vote is much, much, much larger than any voter fraud.

    There’s no question that the GOP is currently working to make it harder to vote. Why shouldn’t that be considered a bad thing? Given that their attempts somehow seem to impact minorities more, why isn’t it racist?

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  98. Gavrilo says:

    @David M:

    No, what’s racist is the belief that middle class white people are smart enough or civic–minded enough to take the time to go get the proper id, but poorer minorities are too dumb or too lazy to do the same.

    Thank God black people have your lily-white ass looking out for them. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back.

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  99. David M says:

    @Gavrilo:

    No, what’s racist is the belief that middle class white people are smart enough or civic–minded enough to take the time to go get the proper id, but poorer minorities are too dumb or too lazy to do the same.

    So you clearly don’t understand the issue at all. The middle class people don’t have to take the time to do anything, they already have the ID. There is no additional burden on them

    You’ll notice the Voter ID laws aren’t written as follows:

    1. Provide free id cards for everyone that also double as voter registration
    2. Proactively work to get 98% or more of all citizens their free id card
    3. Require id card (that everyone has) to vote

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  100. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @David M:

    Indeed. Mike Turzai, perhaps inadvertently, at least depicted the intent honestly.

    Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

    I consider it poetic justice that the backlash helped Romney lose Pennsylvania.

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  101. grumpy realist says:

    When someone can explain to me how getting an ID with a picture on it will cut down on fraud with absentee ballots, I might start listening.

    I bet there’s a heck of a lot more fraud with voting by mail than there is with someone showing up at a polling station and pulling a lever.

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