The Scourge that is in-Person Voter Fraud
Via Wonkblog: A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast. Note that the piece is written by Loyola University Law School professor Justin Levitt and is based on his research.
First, some voter fraud context:
Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.
Second, what about voter ID and in-person voter fraud?
I’ve been tracking allegations of fraud for years now, including the fraud ID laws are designed to stop. In 2008, when the Supreme Court weighed in on voter ID, I looked at every single allegation put before the Court. And since then, I’ve been following reports wherever they crop up.
To be clear, I’m not just talking about prosecutions. I track any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix.
So far, I’ve found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country. If you want to check my work, you can read a comprehensive list of the incidents below.
To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents below come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period.
Yes: that’s 31 votes out of over 1,000,000,000.
He further notes:
Some of these 31 incidents have been thoroughly investigated (including some prosecutions). But many have not. Based on how other claims have turned out, I’d bet that some of the 31 will end up debunked: a problem with matching people from one big computer list to another, or a data entry error, or confusion between two different people with the same name, or someone signing in on the wrong line of a pollbook.
There is not a problem being solved by voter ID laws. Instead, these laws create costs for states while making it difficult for vulnerable populations to vote. There is no empirically based reason to have these laws. The evidence is more than overwhelming.
Levitt concludes with the following:
In just four states that have held just a few elections under the harshest ID laws, more than 3,000 votes (in general elections alone) have reportedly been affirmatively rejected for lack of ID. (That doesn’t include voters without ID who didn’t show up, or recordkeeping mistakes by officials.) Some of those 3,000 may have been fraudulent ballots. But how many legitimate voters have already been turned away?
So, the evidence shows only 31 cases out of a billion+ that would have been stopped by voter ID and yet new laws have led to at least 3,000 voters being denied the chance to vote. There is, therefore, a near certainty that more legitimate voters have been denied the chance to vote (a lot more) than these laws could ever hope to stop. That should give anyone who is legitimately concerned about the integrity of the system pause for thought.
More at the article (including a detailed rundown of all 31 cases).