Voter registration fraud is no laughing matter. That is, unless you're registering a dog.
Thomas Tolbert, an Albuquerque man, received the registration card for his dog when he passed a voter registration booth on the University of New Mexico campus a few weeks ago, according to KOB.com. Upon seeing the booth, he decided to see how easy it might be to register Buddy to vote.
It wasn't very hard to pull off. Tolbert, a Republican, was able to register the dog as a Democrat.
"They should verify," he told KOB. "Somebody should have verified this information and somebody should have come out and took a look at exactly who it was. But I made up a birth date, and I made up a social security number and I had a voter registration card in my hand for Buddy two weeks later."
Beyond having a laugh, Tolbert had hoped to expose how easy it may be to falsely register to vote.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver didn't find much humor in the situation. “I would warn those individuals who think this type of activity is a joke or a 'gotcha' that, regardless of their intentions, they have broken the law and will therefore have to be subject to due process of law," she said in a statement.
And, it appears Tolbert is no exception to the rules. According to the Smoking Gun, a county sheriff's spokesperson signaled an investigation into the fraudulent registration is underway. The outcome of the probe being conducted by the office's Criminal Investigation Division remains to be seen.
The punishment for voter fraud, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, is up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Despite the ease with which Tolbert, a Republican, was able to register his canine as a Democrat, the center explains that voter fraud on the individual level is actually pretty rare.
Indeed, evidence from the microscopically scrutinized 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often.