Report Sounds Alarm on Potential for Vote Duplication in U.S.

The report cites "irregularities that increase the potential for voter fraud, such as improper voter registration addresses, erroneous voter roll birthdates, and the lack of definitive identification required to vote."

by Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal, R.I. / July 27, 2017
Google is testing a new method of voting it hopes will cut election spending and improve decision making. Flickr/Jamelah E.

(TNS) -- PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A report by a conservative research group co-founded by current White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, and chaired by Republican mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, has identified the potential for voter fraud in 21 states, including Rhode Island.

A company owned by two-time Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Ken Block had a hand in compiling the state-by-state voter data that resulted in the report, titled "America The Vulnerable: The Problem of Duplicate Voting."

It said the Government Accountability Institute was unable to obtain voter-roll data in all 50 states, "but nevertheless identified 8,471 potential cases of illegal duplicate voting across 21 states. These instances should be investigated to determine whether two votes were cast by the same person or if identity theft occurred.''

The report cites other "irregularities that increase the potential for voter fraud, such as improper voter registration addresses, erroneous voter roll birthdates, and the lack of definitive identification required to vote."

Block's company, Simpatico Software Systems, analyzed Rhode Island's general election system as "a manageable test-case for potential voter identity issues."

Among the Rhode Island-specific findings: at least 225 of the state's general election voters in 2016 were registered using clearly prohibited addresses.

Another finding: More than 30 percent, or 143,111, of the 466,499 votes cast by Rhode Island voters in the 2016 general election were cast by individuals who did not register to vote with either a Social Security number or driver's license number. ... Confirming the identities of some of these voters is impossible."

"How can Rhode Island even consider rolling back our Voter ID law," Block asked on Tuesday, "when 30.7 percent of the votes cast in 2016 were cast by voters without identifying information in the voter registration system? Is this an example of legislators acting without the data to make good law, or is this push being made with the full knowledge that so many Rhode Island voters cannot be identified by their data?"

Some of the information was extrapolated from Block's findings in Rhode Island, among them: people on voter rolls across Rhode Island who claimed they lived in a UPS store, a U.S. post office, a gas station on Hartford Avenue in Johnston, a cellphone store in a Newport strip mall, and scores of other commercial buildings and vacant lots.

After Block turned his findings over over to state election officials, both the state Board of Elections and the secretary of state's office promised to investigate and purge the state's rolls of voters using bogus addresses.

Block's inquiry was part of the larger state-by-state voter-roll comparison that his company and Virtual DBS Inc. conducted for the Government Accountability Institute. The study was described this way in the report released on Tuesday:

"Using an extremely conservative method of matching names and exact birthdates with other unique identifying information,'' GAI said it identified as many as 45,000 potential duplicate voting matches, and in the process, "more than 15,000 voters who registered to vote using prohibited addresses, such as post office boxes, UPS stores, federal post offices, and public buildings.''

Not all were labeled "highly likely,'' or even "likely" cases of voter-fraud, but worthy of further investigation.

The report also makes a case for the voter-fraud investigation that President Donald Trump has initiated.

Trump's Election Integrity Commission has asked all 50 states for complete voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state. The executive order followed Trump's unsubstantiated claims that millions of people had voted illegally in the 2016 election.

In its own report, the Government Accountability Institute noted: "Elections are sometimes decided by small margins, making voter roll accuracy of paramount importance. Consider the 2000 presidential election between Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. More than 105 million votes were cast nationwide, and the outcome was determined by only 537 votes ... [in] the state of Florida."

Yet, the report says: "The request for publicly available voter registration data and voter history data from state Secretaries of State has sparked a firestorm of controversy in light of President Trump's claim that he lost the national popular vote in 2016 to Democrat Hillary Clinton due to three million illegal votes."

"Many states have resisted the commission's request for data, claiming that it is searching for a voter fraud problem that doesn't exist. Other states have readily complied. "

Rhode Island's Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has said she will "respond only with data that is already publicly available. I will not release Social Security information or any information that was requested ... regarding felony status, military status, or overseas citizen information."

©2017 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.