New York Magazine came to the defense of voter fraud today in analyzing James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas video depicting a white man being offered Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot. Dan Amira’s headline: “James O’Keefe Proves That Pointless Form of Voter Fraud Is Possible.” His argument is simple: sure, you can go into a polling place and obtain a ballot without showing ID. Sure, you may not be the person whose name on the ballot. But why would you possibly do it?
The question is whether anyone should really care. Yes, if you wanted to, you could risk five years in prison and a $10,000 fine to vote for someone else, but we’re not sure why you would, since a single vote, or even a few votes, will never make a difference. (Okay, almost never.) Could a group of hundreds or thousands of fraudsters be mobilized to go around to different polling stations on election day and vote for one particular candidate or issue, possibly altering the outcome of an election? It would be difficult to organize surreptitiously, but sure, it’s probably doable. But it has never happened.
Well, actually, it has happened before. And the point of O’Keefe’s video wasn’t that voter fraud is widespread, but precisely that there are no consequences to it. There’s no risk of a $10,000 fine because it’s virtually undetectable. How do you track down the person who voted for a dead person? Where does the evidence come from?
But regardless of whether voter fraud is already common, O’Keefe has clearly revealed a massive loophole in the system. Why anybody would oppose plugging that loophole is the real question.