A prominent law professor who writes about election law wants to know where former Bush administration official Hans von Spakovsky got a copy of a 1984 grand jury report that he used in an article about the threat of voter impersonation fraud.
In a 2008 report for the Heritage Foundation titled “Stolen Identities, Stolen Votes: A Case Study In Voter Impersonation” and in a companion Fox News op-ed, von Spakovsky used the grand jury document to cite cases “well within living memory” that took place between 1968 and 1982.
Rick Hasen, a law professor at UC Irvine who writes at Election Law Blog, is working on a book about the voting wars since 2000. He’s trying to examine the evidence of voter impersonation fraud, but is having trouble finding the original report.
“Now that I’m writing this book, I’m looking at what is the evidence out there of voter impersonation fraud,” Hasen told TPM. “So Justice Stevens points to Boss Tweed in 1868 in his opinion in the Indiana voter ID case, he points to one possible case of voter impersonation fraud out of millions of votes cast in Washington state and the only other person who’s tried to point to recent evidence is von Spakovsky.”
Hasen said there is very little available about what happened in Brooklyn absent two New York Times articles written on the case. He wrote emails to von Spakovsky and later the president of the Heritage Foundation to request the supporting documents. He also pinged a listserv of 850 election law professors, lawyers and historians to see if they knew of a copy. No such luck.
“There may not be another copy. I don’t know how he got it. So I’d like to see it,” Hasen said.
“I’m interested especially to see if there was a lot of evidence in this grand jury report of collusion with elections officials, because in my experience in the rare times when you actually see widespread fraud, it’s usually done with the cooperation of elections officials, in which case a voter ID law doesn’t really matter so much,” Hasen.
There was no response to an email TPM sent to von Spakovsky on Monday.
Hasen says the chapter of his book that focuses on the fear-mongering about voter fraud and the push for voter identification laws is titled “The Fraudulent Fraud Squad.” The title is based on piece he wrote for Slate about the sudden disappearance of the American Center for Voting Rights, the only major nongovernmental organization that claimed voter fraud was a big problem.
“It’s trying to put it in the context of what’s actually out there in terms of the actual evidence to see this and voter ID laws,” Hasen said. “I’m trying to get a little deeper and tell the story of the people behind this and get what their motivations might be.”
He hopes to get the book out ahead of the 2012 election “to get people thinking about when there are claims against ACORN and ACORN no longer exists, what’s this all about?”