If you needed to rotate the tires on your car would you accomplish that task by changing the oil? Silly idea isn’t it? Yet that analogy is on target when you look at the Alabama Legislature’s actions in establishing strong voter ID laws. They claim that they are reacting to fraud allegations and a crowd of onlookers, columnists and pundits, are cheering them onward. Unfortunately, only a brief examination of the “evidence” shows no fraud. I am a Certified Fraud Examiner. The definition of fraud is specific (wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain) and to casually alleging such is irresponsible. In order to prove fraud, not only do you have to show what happened, you have to show intent as well. Lacking a confession admitting intent, fraud is proven in court by ruling out all other possibilities. Let’s look at the latest “evidence” and see if it meets the definition of proving fraud. Four counties in Alabama, Macon, Wilcox, Lowndes and Greene, have more voters on the roll than the US Census Department estimated their adult populations to be in 2012 by a cumulative 2934 people. And, these counties vote with a strong Democratic majority. Not only that, but in 2012 former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis alleged that wholesale voter fraud goes on in parts of the Black Belt. Convinced that there is fraud going on? Don’t convict just yet.
Is there a possible explanation other than fraud for the difference? Yes, in fact there are several possible explanations. The Census Bureau’s estimates could undercount the populations of these counties. Only a small underestimation in these counties could account for the entire difference.
But if the estimates are correct it still does not indicate fraud, only that an explanation is needed. Could the rolls simply be out of date? Both of these are possible and are not fraudulent. Secretary of State Jim Bennett is right when he says that the discrepancies create opportunity for voter fraud, but opportunity is not fraud.
The question as to why there is a discrepancy should be investigated thoroughly before corrective actions taken. How can you fix a problem before you know what the problem is? If the voter rolls are out of date, they should be updated. If they are intentionally overstated, then someone should go to jail.
In order to prove fraud, not only do you have to show what happened, you have to show intent as well.
Artur Davis’ allegations should also be fully investigated. Since his allegations two years ago Luther Strange has had plenty of time to look into this, yet we are still waiting for arrests. There have been other allegations of voter fraud in the last few years in Alabama, most often concerning absentee ballot abuse.