The Reality of Voter Fraud Yet Again

Fraudsters caught!

Via Fox News: Fourth resident of Florida Villages retirement community arrested on charges of voter fraud.

Charles Barnes, 64, was released on $2,000 bond Tuesday after being taken into custody by the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, jail records show. He is also facing one count of casting more than one ballot at any election. 

Voter registration records indicate that Barnes was not affiliated with any political party in Florida at the time of the 2020 presidential election and he risks up to five years in prison if convicted, according to WKMG

[…]

Halstead is accused of voting in person in Florida and by absentee ballot in New York during the 2020 election, according to an arrest report. 

Barnes joins a handful of other malefactors. See another Fox News story with the following very dramatic headline: Florida The Villages residents accused of voter fraud in 2020 election after DeSantis pledges crackdown. No doubt folks who just read the headline would think that some massive amount of fraud had been discovered by the “crackdown” instead of it being the gateway to a story about three(!) arrests.

Jay Ketcik, 63, was arrested last week on a charge of third-degree felony fraud.

Joan Halstead, 71, was arrested two weeks ago for voting in person in Florida and by absentee ballot in New York during the 2020 election, according to an arrest report. 

Both Ketcik and Halstead entered not guilty pleas and records show they both intend to attack “the sufficiency” of the charges.

John Rider, 61, was also arrested at the beginning of the month on a similar charge, but an arrest report did not say why he was facing the charge.

Ketcik and Halstead are registered Republicans, according to online records. Rider does not have a party affiliation. 

For those keeping score at home, of the four accused, two were registered Republicans and two did not have affiliations Given that the number of cases here are too low to mean anything, the party ID of the accused really doesn’t mean all that much either, but we yet again have the irony that the identifiable party ID of the fraudsters being Republicans (although I did note a bipartisan set of cases, two Dems and two Reps, back in July).

Now to be clear, these individuals broke the law and ought to be prosecuted.

But, let’s also be clear with what we see here, which is not much in the grand scheme of things. These are people either who don’t understand that they can’t vote in two jurisdictions or who just assumed they could get away with it for whatever reason. And yes, absentee voting allows such a situation to exist. Let’s also note that numbers here are, relative to the overall vote tallies, essentially zero.

These scenarios allow the claim to be made that fraud is real but to do so without any acknowledgment of proportionality.

And so we get people like DeSantis and his performative “crackdown” from the headline linked above.

DeSantis pledged on Nov. 3 to create a Florida police force dedicated to election crimes.

“We are going to create a separate office at the state level solely dedicated to investigating and prosecuting election crimes in the state of Florida. We’ll [have] sworn law enforcement officers as part of this, we’ll have investigators, we’ll have the statewide prosecutor that’s able to bring the cases,” DeSantis said at a West Palm Beach event in November. 

“I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that,” he added. 

No doubt fear has been struck in the hearts and minds of Florida’s retirement community. The hammer has decidedly come down.

I would be remiss in not noting the following:

He also vowed to crack down on ballot harvesting by increasing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony, and to tighten restrictions on drop boxes. 

“I don’t even think we should have drop boxes,” said DeSantis.

Of course, there is no evidence linking drop boxes with fraud (although I suppose a former New Yorker could cast a legal Flrodia ballot in one whilst casting an illegal one in New York via mail–perhaps DeSantis is concerned about guilt by association?). Regardless, the only thing that drop boxes do is make voting easier, and we can’t have that, now can we?

All snark aside: cases like these show that actual illegal voting is a small and inconsequential activity. Also: voter ID in and of itself would not stop this kind of activity unless we had a national ID system that definitively detailed a voter’s place of residence.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, Voting
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Matt Bernius says:

    I am glad you were on this story. I had almost included it in my post on the Arizona report earlier this week.

    Also, I just realized that post should have included links to your extensive writing on that topic. I am still getting used to writing in a multi-author environment! I will update that one later today.

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  2. steve says:

    Can you explain what happens if someone is caught ballot harvesting? It is illegal. Are the ballots harvested considered fraudulent? How do they handle them? Thinking of the Georgia reports.

    Steve

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  3. Scott F. says:

    And yes, absentee voting allows such a situation to exist.

    And, as these examples show, absentee voting has solid controls that enable detection of fraud.

    As I’ve poked around trying to understand the huge numbers of rank & file Republicans who have bought into the election fraud idea, I’ve found it’s GOP politicians who have glommed onto drop boxes and absentee voting as mechanisms that increase fraud. The politicians have to establish a means for fraud to give cover to their suppression tactics.

    But for the typical Republican voter, belief in election fraud isn’t so much about a fear we lack sufficient controls for cheating than in their conviction that there’s “just no way” their guy (who they love) could possible lose to the other guy (who they hate). The only possible explanation is Democratic cheating. They’ve not only accepted the election fraud lie, but they have also bought into the fiction that their worldview is the majority view of the broader population.

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  4. @Matt Bernius: No worries! (And no expectation of cross-referencing).

    @Scott F.:

    And, as these examples show, absentee voting has solid controls that enable detection of fraud.

    Indeed.

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  5. CSK says:

    @Scott F.:
    A resounding “yes” to your final paragraph. I spoke to a Trump supporter (not a crazed fanatic) shortly after the 2020 election. She was dumbfounded that Trump had lost. I tried to explain to her that more people couldn’t stand Trump than liked him. That seems like a simple and reasonable explanation to me, but she had a hard time accepting it. She asked me why people couldn’t just overlook Trump’s multitudinous character flaws. And I said, “Because they were too big and too numerous to overlook.”

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  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    My suspicion is that voting in you state of residence and at your vaca home has long been common. The difference now is that computers make cross checking simple. Since we live in a resort community, we know several people who have second homes here and the most common heard complaint after taxes, is that they want to be able to vote here (so they can oppose anything that doesn’t benefit them).

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  7. Matt Bernius says:

    @steve:
    I am waiting for more details to come out on that before blogging about it, but I have been tracking the story. I am also waiting for more reliable reporting.

    The laws on ballot collection (collecting completed absentee ballots and turning them in en mass) vary from State to State and I haven’t had a chance to read the Georgia statue.

    The current details on this one appear kinda sketchy when I read through them on Thursday.

    [Update]
    USAToday has a good rundown on what is currently known about this story. While Ballot Harvesting is illegal in Georgia, it should be noted that it’s a different issue than election fraud as the GA SoS has noted that the votes themselves are not considered fraudulent (see above link).

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    DeSantis pledged on Nov. 3 to create a Florida police force dedicated to election crimes.

    What this of course means is that the FL GOP is going to harass minority voters for de minimis violations of obscure rules to discourage them from voting.

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  9. Gustopher says:

    And so we get people like DeSantis and his performative “crackdown” from the headline linked above.

    If DeSantis cannot find thousands of fraudulent votes, when it’s a given that the Demoncrat Party is cheating everywhere… he’s either incompetent, or he’s in on it, part of the Deep State, Antifa and BLM. He needs to be primaried by a Real American.

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  10. ImProPer says:

    Wow, a Republican purporting a desire to strengthen our Democracy, and defend the sanctity of the vote. I wonder if he will go after those that would conspire to disenfranchise our more vulnerable citizens with an equal zeal.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: “…we know several people who have second homes here and the most common heard complaint after taxes, is that they want to be able to vote here (so they can oppose anything that doesn’t benefit them).”

    Ayup. That’s my generation all right. 🙁

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  12. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Not to mention when you take away all of Benito’s character flaws, there’s nothing left.

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  13. NW Steve says:

    @Scott F.: @Scott F.:

    And yes, absentee voting allows such a situation to exist.

    Absentee voting makes it easier, but it doesn’t make it possible. It would be entirely possible to vote early in NY, get on an airplane, and vote in FL The basic problem is that it apparently isn’t so difficult to be simultaneously registered in two states.

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  14. Monala says:

    @NW Steve: I recall a Republican I know saying that the fact that there were more registered voters than eligible voters across the US was proof of fraud.

    I argued that no, it was prof that there aren’t good systems in place for updating voter rolls. For example, when someone moves to a new jurisdiction and registers there, no one notifies the previous district to remove the person from the rolls unless the voter does it themselves (and most voters don’t think to do this), so they might stay on the old jurisdiction’s rolls for years. Likewise, when someone dies, it can take a while before the board of elections realizes it. Like many things (school districts, Covid policies), this is the result of federalism and our dispersed systems.

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @NW Steve: And that a person “living” (as in owning property in which he or she resides at least occasionally) in 2 different states DOES (or at least should IMO) have the right to vote in both of those states. To prohibit voting in one of them would constitute disenfranchisement. We rely on the good faith of our citizenry to not abuse the franchise and vote only once in the national election. But even if all of them decide to abuse their position, in a nation of 150 million plus actual voters (and an even larger number of eligible ones) we rely on those abusers to be so few as to not sway the outcome. And we may not have a better choice available.

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  16. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    No, there isn’t anything left. But true Trumpkins love him for precisely the things we find so appalling about him: the churlishness, the cruelty, the ignorance, the infantile behavior…

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt Bernius: The 2016 78th District election in Missouri is a good example of ballot harvesting and how it can be abused for electoral fraud. It is a pretty egregious example.

    Bruce Franks filed a lawsuit that overturned the election and he went on to win in a special election a month later. The linked article is pretty good, the Post-Disgrace actually did their job.

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  18. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Monala: “Likewise, when someone dies, it can take a while before the board of elections realizes it.” Believe it or not “notify the county so that your deceased loved one is removed from the election roster” was not one of the checklist items that the estate’s lawyer gave me to do as the estate’s representative for probate. I happened to need to do that because my mom had been called for jury duty and I needed to report that she would be unable to perform that service. Even then, I had to send a death certificate to confirm the fact. Apparently, significant enough numbers of potential jurors claim to be dead in order to avoid jury duty.

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  19. Monala says:

    @Monala: I should add that when I moved to a new neighborhood in the same county, the “remove from old jurisdiction” happened automatically, but that’s because both the new and old district were under the same board of elections. I don’t think this happens when you move to a different county or state.

    ===========

    Here in Washington, a vote by mail state, the drop boxes always seem to me to be much more secure than a USPS mailbox. They are larger, heavier, secured with a padlock rather than a keyhole, and with only a thin slit to insert your ballot rather than a drop down chute like mailboxes have.

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  20. Monala says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: the same thing happened to me when my husband died and was summoned for jury duty not long after.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The only time in my life I was called up for jury duty I unintentionally got out of it by having just moved out of the county. I called them up and said I didn’t think I was eligible because I had just moved and they said, “OK.”

    Done.

  22. @NW Steve: Sure, a person could physically vote in the morning in one state and in the evening in another, if flights were timed properly. But the reality is that the likely route is via absentee voting.

    FWIW: I am a huge proponent of no-excuse vote-by-mail

    Also, to add to this from the OP, I would have no problem with a national voter registration system, which would solve the problem noted in the post:

    Also: voter ID in and of itself would not stop this kind of activity unless we had a national ID system that definitively detailed a voter’s place of residence.

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  23. Michael Cain says:

    @Monala:

    For example, when someone moves to a new jurisdiction and registers there, no one notifies the previous district to remove the person from the rolls unless the voter does it themselves (and most voters don’t think to do this), so they might stay on the old jurisdiction’s rolls for years.

    An increasing number of states have agreements to exchange information that help keep voter rolls correct. That information alone isn’t sufficient — there are a bunch of federal laws about the process to remove a name from the rolls. We are a vote by mail state and the Secretary of State is consulted regularly by other states about our system. She’s been quoted saying she tells them, “Voter rolls aren’t something you just pay attention to every couple of years right before an election — it’s something you do as a continuous process.”

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  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:..national voter registration system,..
    Would this national voter registration system exist solely for voters who choose “…the Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress:..” that then”…meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President,..”?

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: It would seem to me that it would have to be considered in that manner as it seems possible to be eligible to vote in local, county, state, and national legislative elections in two (or more depending on local rules) states.

  26. @Mister Bluster: I see no reason why there couldn’t be a nationally managed voter registration system (other countries, including federal ones, do it).

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  27. Matt Bernius says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Totally agree that case appears to definitely be fraud and going well beyond “ballot harvesting.”

    Time will tell if something similar happened in GA or not.

  28. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Monala: Exactly. When we moved my mother-in-law from Texas to here in 2001, we never bothered to notify the registrar of voters in Ft. Worth that she would no longer be voting in Texas. I don’t know if they had updated their voter rolls by the time she died (5 years later).

  29. Christopher Osborne says:

    I think a nice solution would be to have both states claim the perpetrators as a resident and make them pay income tax…