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What if neither Mitt Romney nor President Obama wins on Nov. 6?

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Democrats also worry about widespread registration fraud on the part of Republicans. In battleground Virginia, it seems that a Republican contractor threw away Democratic registration cards. This follows reports that a firm linked to registration fraud worked for the Romney campaign and the Republican Party of North Carolina, another swing state.

On the other side, Republicans seem deeply afraid of voter fraud, from illegal immigrants or from multiple voting by the same persons.

Patrick Moran, son of Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, resigned from his father’s campaign last week after being secretly recorded by a conservative activist. The congressman’s son seemed to advise the activist, who was pretending to be a supporter, that utility bills could be used to commit voter fraud.

These largely phantom fears about voter fraud will motivate Republicans to police the polls with unprecedented fervor. As was revealed to many voters in 2000, America, unlike most advanced democracies, does not have, in most states, a nonpartisan election administration system. Instead, elected or appointed partisans are typically in charge of elections. This is such a bad idea, that when we set up quasi-democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, we didn’t copy our own system.

And unlike almost all other advanced democracies, America has a creaky, state and locally run election system that is woefully underfunded and can be inaccurate. For some widely used voting methods, the fail rate, in which a voter’s intent is unable to be ascertained, is well above 2 percent of ballots cast, which would be an outrage in western Europe. The fail rate is even higher for absentee ballots, as is the risk of fraud.

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