The relationship between two categories of fraud – immigration and voting – intrigues me.
I could spend all day every day writing about new instances of immigration fraud, without repeating myself or leaving my computer. There is that much of it, and it is constantly reported by news organizations and press staffs of the enforcement agencies and in the court records. And for every case that is broken there must be at least twice as many that succeeded.
On the other hand, hundreds of skilled, well-paid, and well-motivated lawyers have spent the last seven weeks trying to find voter fraud, and with a single exception, dealing with a handful of votes, they found nothing.
Then there is the difference in the size of the populations that could engage in each kind of fraud. There are, the Census Bureau tells us, 209 million residents of the country 18 or older, all of whom could try to cast an illegal vote, either because they are ineligible to vote or by voting multiple times (although there are other kinds of election fraud, as well).
On the other hand there are something like 12 million illegal aliens in the country, the only people who could secure an immigration benefit for themselves illegally. So there are about 17 times as many people who might try voting fraud as those who might try immigration fraud.
Why is there so little of one kind of fraud and so much of the other?
The answer can be found in three little words, which can be linked to voting fraud,
and the same three words when dealing with immigration fraud:
In the first instance, vote fraud, the benefit to the individual is minor to minuscule; she or he would see one additional vote cast for the preferred party or candidate, out of hundreds of votes in some small-town local elections, and scores of millions on the federal level. The cost in terms of potential embarrassment (and perhaps criminal prosecution) is relatively high. Further there are all sorts of people, in both parties, making sure that no one gets away with a fraudulent vote.
In the second, immigration fraud, the potential benefits are much higher. An illegal alien, if successful, can convert to an apparently legal status, can work anywhere the alien wants, and avoid deportation forever. Those are major differences in one's life. And the number of person-hours spent chasing down immigration fraud is tiny compared to the huge number of people, including some of the neighbors, working to make elections fair. It is well known that immigration enforcement agencies collect large numbers of tips for every one that leads to a successful prosecution.
It's too bad that so much legal talent was devoted to looking for electoral fraud when that talent could have been used to detect immigration fraud.