Looking, Very Closely, for Voter Fraud

While she portrays True the Vote as nonpartisan, it grew out of a Tea Party group, King Street Patriots, that she founded in Texas. An examination shows that it has worked closely with a variety of well-financed organizations, many unabashed in their desire to defeat President Obama.

A polished and provocative video, circulating among Tea Party activists, seeks to raise a “cavalry” to march on swing states and identifies True the Vote as a participant in the effort, called Code Red USA.

In the past year, Americans for Prosperity, an organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers, and other Republican-leaning independent groups have sponsored meetings featuring Ms. Engelbrecht and other True the Vote speakers. A spokesman for Americans for Prosperity said that the group had hosted events including True the Vote speakers but that election integrity was not a focus of his group.

Election integrity has become a focus for other activists, including James E. O’Keefe III, a video producer known for his undercover stings of the now defunct community organizing group Acorn. He recently aimed his camera on North Carolina voters in what turned out to be a botched attempt to show that foreigners had registered.

Voter registration has occupied a contentious corner of American history for decades. The perception that voting is ripe for fraud stems in part from the condition of voter rolls in many jurisdictions. The Pew Center on the States issued a report in February finding that more than 1.8 million dead people remained on voter rolls and that about 2.8 million people were registered in more than one state. Another 12 million registrations contained flawed addresses, it said.

Even so, there have been few cases of widespread fraud, according to the Justice Department. A bipartisan commission in 2005 found little evidence of extensive fraud, even while recommending the use of voter identification.

While there have been some recent criminal cases involving local elections, the Justice Department said in a statement that the record has not shown that significant “voter impersonation fraud — the type of fraud that many states claim their voter ID laws are aimed to prevent — actually exists.”

But Ms. Engelbrecht said, “Anyone who tells you that election integrity efforts are a solution looking for a problem is way misinformed.”

True the Vote is now using proprietary software to accelerate the process of challenging voter registrations. It says its databases will ultimately contain all voter rolls in the country. Using computers, volunteers can check those rolls against driver’s license records, property records and other databases, turning the process into an assembly line production.

But when True the Vote vetted petition signatures in Wisconsin’s recall election, the state’s Government Accountability Board reported that the process was “at best flawed.” The group raised questions about thousands of signatures that the board deemed valid.

New York Times
9/16/12