The ballot box wars

16 Sep 2010

IN 2004 the American journalist John Fund published a book called Stealing Elections, which contained an eye-catching claim. “At least eight of the nineteen hijackers who attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were actually able to register to vote in either Virginia or Florida while they made their deadly preparations for 9/11.” Fund’s allegation touched a nerve in a country still coming to terms with the attacks, and has been repeated again and again by conservative politicians and commentators in the United States. But there is no evidence to suggest that it’s true.

A closer look at his exact words – the hijackers were “able to register” rather than “did register” – suggests that Fund knew his claim wasn’t sustainable. But that single sentence captured vividly, if misleadingly, the point he was trying to make in his book. Essentially, he was arguing that the electoral system in the United States is riddled with opportunities for voter fraud and that the regulations need to be tightened to make it much harder to enrol. The same argument is often heard in Australia around election time, and…

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