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Fact-Checking Hit Piece on O'Keefe's Explosive Voter Fraud Story in New Hampshire

Before the electronic ink was dry Talking Points Memo Muckraker‘s Ryan J. Reilly pounced. Reilly’s hit piece is factually wrong and misleading–and that’s just the first few paragraphs!

It was one of the few — if not the only — coordinated efforts to attempt in-person voter fraud, and it was pulled off by affiliates of conservative activist James O’Keefe at polling places in New Hampshire Tuesday night. All of it part of an attempt to prove the need for voter ID laws that voting rights experts say have a unfair impact on minority voters.

In fact, J. Christian Adams, John Fund, and others have documented coordinated voter fraud repeatedly. In 2005, five Democratic politicians went to jail for coordinated voter fraud. Voter fraud almost assuredly happened last year in Missouri when J.J. Rizzo, the winning state representative candidate coached non-English speaking illegal immigrant Somalis to vote for him. (He won the democratic nomination–tantamount to winning the general election–by one vote.)

There’s simply no evidence that requiring a photo I.D. has an “unfair impact on minority voters.” The Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez really had to stretch in South Carolina’s case because, as the Wall Street Journal notes, “8.4% of the state’s registered white voters lack photo ID, compared to 10% of nonwhite voters.” Only in Eric Holder’s so-called Justice Department is the normal variance between different racial groups tantamount to disparate racial impact while the coordinated thuggish behavior of the New Black Panthers against white voters was nothing to see.

Contrary to what the Justice Department and Reilly would have you believe, photo I.D.s are most necessary in the inner-cities where poor and typically minority voters live because so many voters don’t speak English and don’t come from countries with a history of voting. As a boy, I saw this myself as a poll watcher in Little Saigon in Dorchester, MA where Vietnamese immigrants had a hard time voting. Some poll workers would go into the booth and often tell them which candidate to vote for. I saw it again as an election observer in 2010 where a congressman woman electioneered inside a polling place by giving election officials candy and the promise of a congressional internship.

Reilly continues:

Federal law bans not only the casting of, but the “procurement” of ballots “that are known by the person to be materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent under the laws of the State in which the election is held.” [Emphasis his]

The election, by the way, was for a state primary–not a federal election–so I don’t think this attack is even valid but let’s go with it anyways.

If you read the full section that Reilly links to, the section he is quoting is part of larger one. Anyone who “knowingly and willfully deprives, defrauds, or attempts to defraud the residents of a State of a fair and impartially conducted election process…” [Emphasis mine]

O’Keefe has been blunt about the purpose of his video and his activism: to expose fraud. He is seeking to uphold, not deprive, the residents of New Hampshire of a “fair and impartially conducted election process.” How then could he be said to be acting “willfully” to deprive the voters of their say in the election process?

“Procurement” has a precise meaning: “to get possession of: obtain by particular care and effort.” At no point on the video released do O’Keefe’s associates have possession of the ballots in question. It is obvious both to everyone around the people giving out the ballots and the voter himself that he intends only to vote if he shows his voter I.D. In order for a ballot to be properly cast you have to go behind a curtain and fill it out. That his associates took no “care or effort” to keep the ballots is obvious to anyone who watches the videos.

Reilly proceeds to quote Professor David Schultz of Hamline University. Schultz repeats the left-wing canard that voter fraud just doesn’t happen which he wrote about in February 2009. Schultz must have been napping when Al Franken beat Norman Coleman by only 312 votes–in a race where 341 felons were found to have cast a ballot.

Reilly then quotes Rick Hansen, another election law expert, who jokes that O’Keefe should “next show how easy it is to rob a bank with a plastic gun.”

This is sloppy logic from a professor who ought to know better. Unlike the imagined bank robber who threatens to steal or actually steals money under the threat of force and actually tries to commit theft, the unedited video shows that there was no such force, nor was there ever any intent to violate the law. In fact, you could argue that the voters, in offering to show their I.D.s, were going that extra mile in trying to avoid voter fraud. Alas we don’t know what would have happened had they come back and shown their I.D.s because they didn’t return to find out, which is in and of itself indicative that they did not want to commit the fraud they sought to expose.

Reilly then quotes Samuel Issacharoff, a professor of constitutional law at NYU Law School.

“[O’Keefe’s video] means nothing. Why would anybody want to do this? It proves that they don’t update their dead voter information as quickly as they might, but so what? To pull this off on a large scale, you’d need coordination, and presumably somebody would have heard about it.”

The professor, I think, presumes too much. Why would someone necessarily have heard about a fraud being committed? Fraud thrives in the shadows, after all, and the best fraud is that which goes on undetected or in the small towns that New Hampshire has in abundance.

Reilly continues quoting professors:

“Yes, this shows it’s possible to do what they did but you have to ask yourself… how many illegal immigrants would risk a jail term to vote illegally?” Henry Brad of U.C. Berkeley Law said.

Well, here’s are a couple of people voting illegally, though whether they are resident aliens or illegal aliens it doesn’t say. I quote from the December 16, 2011 Chicago Tribune:

Mahmoud Vakili, 67, and his wife Parvin Vakili, 62, pleaded not guilty in Lake County on Wednesday to charges of perjury of the election code and mutilation of election material. They were charged in early November, officials said.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Judge John Phillips asked the couple if they were U.S. citizens, to which each responded: “No, sir, I am not.” Both said they were born in Iran.

According to the Lake County Clerk’s office, Mahmoud Vakili first registered to vote in Lake County in 1988 and his wife in 1992.

Since then, Mahmoud Vakili has voted five times and Parvin Vakili seven times, Clerk Willard Helander said. They most recently voted in 2010.

There’s no word as to which political party they voted for, so I leave it to my readers to surmise.

Despite the glee that O’Keefe and his associates might be prosecuted in Reilly’s manufactured story, it seems unlikely that Governor Lynch would allow his attorney general to prosecute, anyways, despite their “investigation.”

New Hampshire’s Republican legislature has been trying to get a voter I.D. law passed, which Lynch has vetoed. At the very least, the governor’s argument that voter fraud never happens has now been thoroughly debunked. It can happen and happen easily. Why don’t we take minimal precautions to stop it from happening? Could it be that there are groups that very much want voter fraud to happen?

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