Friday, February 29, 2008

Paddy's minority report on voter fraud

Paddy McIlheran, a member of the Journal Sentinel editorial board, thinks that "the Milwaukee police" found vote fraud. He's just beside himself, apparently having just learned that there were some mistakes made in the election more than three years ago -- mistakes first reported, and reported extensively and repeatedly, by his own newspaper.
But 2004 included much more, enough that U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic could report afterward that he stood by his initial assessment: There was clear evidence of vote fraud, even if most cases would be impossible to prosecute.

Now, the Milwaukee Police Department’s report serves up 67 pages of cases, addresses, numbers and this conclusion: “The task force believes fraud was committed.” It quotes one of its investigators: “I know I voted in the election, but I can’t be certain it counted.”

The details are damning, with investigators repeatedly blaming not mischance but the flawed combination of an inept election apparatus and the nation’s most porous voting procedures.
Perhaps Paddy Mac should read Milwaukee's daily newspaper, the Journal Sentinel, which pays him to write such drivel.

In its front page story, he might have found this:
In a statement, Police Chief Edward Flynn said the report's findings are the views of the investigators, and the department would not take a stand on the policy issues.
In other words, it was not the Milwaukee Police Department but some still-unidentified detectives who took it upon themselves to recommend policy changes in the state's voting laws. Their assignment was to investigate for possible criminal behavior, of which they admitted they found almost none.

Then there's US Attorney Biskupic, the guy who reportedly almost lost his job because Republicans didn't think he was aggressive enough in trying to suppress the vote. McIlheran says Biskupic said there was "clear evidence of voter fraud." But Paddy didn't say how much. Here, again, is what the JS said in its lead story:
In the end, U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic said there had been no findings of widespread fraud. About a dozen cases were pursued, to mixed results.
In other words, a handful of cases of proven fraud among 277,000 votes cast in the city.

Then there's the editorial, representing the view of the paper's editorial board, of which Paddy is a member. It says, among other things:
A Milwaukee police investigation of a badly managed general election in 2004 describes a litany of, well, bad management.

This is old news. The Journal Sentinel has reported extensively on this, and, shortly after the 2004 election, a city task force noted many of the same problems.

But here's what you should consider if you agree with the report's recommendations to eliminate same-day registration and create a voter ID requirement. The city and the state have had at least two major elections since 2004. There was the 2006 November election and the state primary election earlier this month. Both had good turnouts, and both went swimmingly...

Almost as an afterthought, the report recommends, "in the absence of any substantive change," that election inspectors be given "adequate training and resources" to do their jobs well.

Fortunately, cooler heads already moved that final and best recommendation to the front of the line a while ago. They did so because, as the report seems to document, true incidences of voter fraud were few.
Just consider Paddy's rantings the complaints of an editorial board member who had a chance to make his case to his colleagues on the editorial board, lost the argument, and now feels compelled to make a fuss about it. No one else on the board behaves that way. But, then again, no one else uses terms like bien-pensant when a 25-cent word would do. Perhaps a tribute to the late William F. Buckley, Jr.? Not in his league, Paddy. Not now, not ever.

(Cross-posted at Uppity Wisconsin.)

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