Krucoff, a commercial real estate broker, ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate to be the non-voting delegate from the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives.
It was just prior to my first midterm exam in microeconomics when I learned that a company ideally should keep producing so long as it can make money by doing it. In other words, once the marginal cost of production exceeds the marginal revenue from that production it is quitting time. And his concept applies beyond the world of production: When the potential cost of doing something (like voting) outweighs the potential benefit from that activity, then that activity makes no sense to do anymore.
Suppose I wanted to vote a few times, maybe in a different city or state, or as a different person, would I? In 2020, I voted in the District of Columbia where I live now and where I have lived for most of my life. However, as recently as the 2016 election I lived and voted in Maryland. Last November, could I have first voted at my present precinct in the District of Columbia, then driven a few miles to the north and walked into my old Montgomery County precinct and voted again? The answer is no, because Maryland canceled my registration. It turns out that 30 states (including Maryland) and the District of Columbia are member of a highly efficient and cost-effective non-profit called the Electronic Registration and Information Center. ERIC shared the fact that after I registered with the Board of Elections in D.C., Maryland canceled me. So, had I tried to vote twice in this manner I would have been unsuccessful and possibly arrested.
Now suppose I knew someone was not going to vote last year. Maybe that person passed away. Should I have attempted to vote for that person in addition to voting for myself? Here again the obvious answer is no. So long as I have a basic sense of risk versus reward, I should not do this. The potential marginal benefit of my one additional vote would not be worth the risk of me committing a crime that could put me in jail for multiple years in addition to incurring a significant fine.
Voting twice is illegal in federal elections under federal law. Voters who cast "votes more than once in an election" will be fined "not more than $10,000" and "imprisoned not more than five years, or both," according to federal law. The juice is not worth the squeeze. Go ahead and do it but do not expect it to be a popular course of action. You probably will not get caught but is it worth it?
Lastly, the miniscule benefit of an additional vote must be combined with the possibility that if one disregards the micro-econ analysis, then he or she also may be canceled out by a micro-econ denier on the other side of the aisle. Again, it is just not worth it unless one attempts to commit voter fraud in large numbers, and if someone tries that he or she increases his or her chances of getting caught by orders of magnitude. The squeeze is coming.
A significant cohort of congressional Republicans, led by our former commander in chief, have been blathering about voter fraud prior to our national election in November and even after the ugly insurrectional events of Jan. 6. They are correct that voter fraud could and, I think, should be made harder to commit. However, we all can rest assured that their macro concerns about voter fraud's pull on our elections are routinely pushed back by obvious individual voter cost benefit analysis inherent from micro-econ 101.
- Fact checking claims about questionable ballots in Calif. - The Fulcrum ›
- Wisconsin finds 19 instances of voter fraud over two years - The ... ›
- Iowa official latest Republican to claim voter fraud - The Fulcrum ›
- Georgia suspects 1,000 of double voting in primary - The Fulcrum ›
Proposed election law changes in Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere have again brought to the forefront debates about how best to balance election integrity and voter access. While governments are obliged to guarantee both, the current trend limiting access signals that state legislatures are prioritizing the former at the expense of the latter.
The current round of restrictive legislation has been fueled by unsubstantiated claims of massive election fraud in the 2020 election. However, the laws now being debated in state capitals around the country reflect a mindset that has been promoted by conservative advocacy groups for decades. The Heritage Foundation has been at the forefront of this effort, and its February 2021 report provided the intellectual ballast for the current efforts to restrict voter access.
The report contends that "errors and omissions by election officials and careless, shoddy election practices and procedures" have caused problems for voters and that reform is necessary "to ensure voters will have faith in our elections."
In reality, a closer look at the Heritage Foundation's database indicates that illegal voting of the kind the proposed and enacted bills purport to prevent is actually a rare occurrence in the United States, where state election officials have multiple safeguards to protect against wholesale fraud. Moreover, the states have effective measures in place to catch and punish election fraud and other offenses, as demonstrated by the few cases emerging from the 2020 election cycle and by the aggressive response of prosecuting officials.
While many of the general principles presented in the Heritage Foundation report are unobjectionable on their face, its proposed legislative solutions are likely to discourage many eligible voters from participating in the next round of elections.
Seemingly neutral policies — setting voter registration deadlines well in advance of Election Day, limiting absentee voting to individuals with a prescribed excuse, limiting the number of days for early in-person voting, and limiting the number and prescribing the placement of drop boxes for mail voting—will inevitably decrease voter turnout without substantially reducing opportunities to commit voter fraud.
In the post-Reconstruction era, for example, black voters were stricken from the registration rolls by all sorts of legal and political stratagems. Undoubtedly, advocates in the 19th century presented the legislative underpinnings of their disenfranchisement efforts as the application of neutral principles, as the Heritage Foundation does today.
Election reform legislation should be based on well-established international election standards. As elaborated in a just-published report by The Carter Center, these standards, first and foremost, establish the fundamental right of all eligible citizens to participate in the selection of their representatives. A corollary to this right is the obligation of states to take proactive measures to ensure the full and effective enjoyment of the right to vote by making the casting of a ballot as simple as possible. Thus, for example, all states must provide access to voting for individuals with reduced mobility or other disabilities.
International standards also recognize that states have the obligation to ensure that the integrity of the process is not compromised by fraud or by malfeasance and that committing fraud is both difficult and easily detectable. The relevant question is whether proposed legislative measures represent the least restrictive approach possible to secure the integrity of elections. Measures that increase burdens on voters, reduce voter access, or curtail practices that citizens have relied upon for voting in previous elections should be deemed both politically unacceptable and violative of democratic norms, unless they are absolutely essential.
Voter confidence in many states has been undermined by widespread unsubstantiated claims of fraud and irregularities. In this context, the most important step to increase voter confidence is for all candidates to abide by and publicly defend transparent election results and judicial decisions on election challenges. Candidates should be encouraged to sign onto codes of conduct explicitly including this commitment.
The proposed restrictive election legislation in Texas, Georgia and elsewhere will undoubtedly be challenged in courts across the country. The outcome of these cases is not guaranteed. In the months preceding the next round of elections, voting rights groups must prepare a massive voter education campaign to ensure that all eligible voters understand the changes that have been made and how to comply with whatever new requirements are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
The future of American democracy is at stake.
- Jimmy Carter, in reversal, embraces vote by mail - The Fulcrum ›
- Carter Center is working on US election for the first time - The Fulcrum ›
- Carter Center to monitor American election for first time - The Fulcrum ›
While some states are still dealing with the aftermath of the 2020 election, others are focused on high-stakes local contests this year.
Here are five stories to help you catch up on the latest election news.
Florida elections law hit with another lawsuit saying it's unconstitutional (Orlando Sentinel)
- Report: How to improve voting for everyone after 2020 - The Fulcrum ›
- Kentucky lawmakers make bipartisan push for vote expansions ... ›
- State lawmakers seek changes to voting rights laws - The Fulcrum ›
The sprawling Republican effort to make voting more difficult has been derailed for the first time by a Democratic governor.
Laura Kelly of Kansas has vetoed two bills, one curbing the number of ballots third parties may collect and deliver and the other giving the Legislature total control over election rules. Both were drafted in response to developments in other states last year — decisions by courts and governors to ease access to the ballot during the pandemic, and Donald Trump's baseless claims that widespread fraud had robbed him of a second presidential term.
The measures now return to the capital, where both have more than enough support for a veto override in the Senate but appear to be a handful of votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority in the House. Kansas' 2021 legislative session lasts three more weeks.
While Georgia has been the focus of this year's intense nationwide fight over election legislation, in part because it was one of the purple states key to President Biden's win, the battle is also being fought in plenty of states Trump carried — with new curbs already enacted in Iowa and Montana and steadily advancing in Texas and Florida.
But the GOP holds all the levers of lawmaking power in all of them. Kansas is one of eight states with Democratic governors and Republican statehouses. Biden took 42 percent there last fall, only the sixth time since World War II when the Democratic nominee got more than two of every five votes.
This got the state's GOP agitated and fueled conspiracy theories — many about cheating at the hands of so-called "ballot harvesters" — that Republican Secretary of State Scott Schwab has labored to tamp down. He says voting in 2020 was "free and fair."
One of the vetoed measures would take Kansas off the roster of 26 states that permit voters to entrust anyone they like to deliver their completed absentee ballot. Both political parties and various campaign organizations use such laws to collect envelopes from sympathetic voters — mainly the elderly, poor and disabled as well as people living in remote areas such as Indian reservations.
But Republicans, fueled by Trump, have turned against the practice with a vengeance in recent years, arguing without much evidence that it encourages fraud. (The biggest such case of cheating, by far, involved a 2018 GOP congressional campaign in North Carolina.) The Supreme Court is now deliberating whether Arizona's curbs on third-party collection amounts of racially discriminatory voter suppression.
The Kansas bill would limit to 10 the number of ballots anyone could deliver, and also stiffen signature-match requirements on mail-in forms.
"Although Kansans have cast millions of ballots over the last decade, there remains no evidence of significant voter fraud," the governor said in a statement on Friday. "This bill is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. It is designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud."
The other bill she vetoed would prevent her from changing election laws or procedures by executive order, and would bar the secretary of state from negotiating any settlements of election-related lawsuits without approval from the Legislature. But Kelly decreed no such alterations to voting procedures in 2020 and none were mandated in the state by the courts — putting Kansas in a distinct minority of just 16 states where neither thing happened in response to the Covid-19 crisis.
In her veto message, Kelly warned such a law could imperil the business climate in the state, as more and more companies have spoken out this spring against legislation that would curb ballot access.
The bill would respond, however, to the most prominent recent case of election malfeasance in Kansas, by requiring a brick-and-mortar residential address for all registered voters. The congressional career of Republican Steve Watkins came to an abrupt end after one term in 2020, partly after it was revealed he'd listed his home as a UPS store so he could vote illegally for a friend running for the city council in Topeka.
Kelly is running for a second term but is seen as one of the most electorally vulnerable governors in 2022.
- Republican Rep. Steve Watkins charged with election fraud - The ... ›
- Electoral reform is happening — but not fast enough - The Fulcrum ›
- Interstate Crosscheck program closed over security failure - The ... ›
- Citizenship proof to vote is unconstitutional, court rules - The Fulcrum ›