Arizona Man Does His Job Dropping Off Ballots, Panic Ensues
A particular viral video has been making its away across the blogosphere and has started to creep into mainstream news. What this video purportedly displays is a man committing clear “voter fraud” in Arizona. Here’s the video if you want to watch for yourself:
Although to be completely honest, it’s quite a dull almost nine minutes. All it is is a hispanic man putting ballots into a reader that he carried in in a box. Clear voter fraud evidence, right?
Wrong. It’s actually a man named Ben Marine, who works for Citizens for a Better Arizona. CBA is a progressive group that was actually founded in response to that god-awful “Papers Please” law that Arizona tried to institute a few years back. CBA succeeded in recalling Arizona State Senate President Russell Pierce, who was the driving force behind that law. Since then, CBA has worked as a grassroots-type organization. One of its stated goals is to increase voter participation in the Latino community. One of the ways they’ve done that has included voter drives to try to bring in those who requested absentee ballots.
CBA can legally gather people together to collect their absentee ballots, and deliver those sealed ballots, which have been sent to real people, to the ballot box. Drives like this make it easier for those who work or have other commitments and can’t always make it to the ballot box themselves to vote. Given the fact that elections are on Tuesdays, this is a common problem. Absentee ballots, early voting, and voter drives make it easier for those people to make sure their voices are heard. According to Arizona law, it’s entirely legal. The Arizona elections rules state:
After they have securely sealed the voted ballot inside the early ballot return envelope,
voters may voluntarily give their voted early ballot to a person of their choice for delivery
to the Recorder or a polling place. The designated person shall not tamper with the
envelope or the ballot and shall not deliberately fail to deliver the ballot to the Recorder
or a polling place within the voter’s county of residence.
So, CBA’s ballot collection would be illegal if Marine had tampered with the envelope or the ballot, but there’s literally no evidence to suggest that. All that the video shows is someone working with the CBA dropping off absentee ballots. Furthermore, Marine is actually registered to be able to drop off ballots.
Of course, a few different stories are being told about what actually happened. A.J. LaFaro, who chairs the Maricopa County Republican Committee called Marine “a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug that has no respect for our laws. I would have followed him to the parking lot to take down his tag number but I feared for my life.” That must have all happened off camera, of course.
First of all, how stupid would Marine be if he was committing voter fraud in that video? He’s wearing a shirt from the organization he works for, his face is easily identifiable, and he makes no effort to hide what he’s doing. If he was legitimately committing voter fraud, it would be the lamest attempt at doing something illegal I’ve ever seen.
But more importantly it’s this kind of fear-mongering that has led people to believe that voter fraud is actually a legitimate problem, even though there’s been almost no evidence to suggest so. An incredibly extensive study this summer published by the Washington Post found a grand total of 31 cases of voter fraud since 2000. And most of it was done by individuals, not a systemic effort by a group. But when you circulate a video like this with the inflammatory headlines like, “Liberal Activist Caught on Video Stuffing Hundreds of Ballots,” it’s gratuitous clickbait, it’s fear-mongering, and it’s silly. How about we all just concentrate on winning elections by appealing to the public with popular platforms, and changes that will positively impact constituents’ lives? Apparently, I shouldn’t be holding my breath for that.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Denise Cross Photography via Flickr]