Voter Fraud: There’s No There There
A study by two Old Dominion University professors, based on survey data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, indicated that 6.4 percent of all non-citizens voted illegally in the 2008 presidential election, and 2.2 percent in the 2010 midterms. In 2005, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that up to 3 percent (900 voters) of the 30,000 people called for jury duty from voter-registration rolls over a two-year period in one of the 94 current U.S. district courts were non-citizens. While this conclusion is dubious, even if taken on its face, the new voter id laws passed are ineffectual in combatting existing voter fraud.
Wrong Solution for the Wrong Problem
There have been examples of fraud, including fraud perpetrated through the use of absentee ballots severe enough to force new elections at the state level; however, the new voter id laws passed meant to address voter fraud have overwhelmingly focused on the virtually non-existent/unproven type of voter fraud, and not the still-not-common-but-not-non-existent abuse of absentee voting. Almost no general election race in recent history has been close enough to have been thrown by the largest example of in-person voter fraud on record (24 people in Brooklyn).
Where Are The Fraudulent Votes
On election day, pretending to be someone else at the polls or acting as a poll worker to cast illegal votes for a candidate is literally nonexistent. In August, Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola University Law School, detailed only 31 instances of documented, in-person voter fraud that would have been prevented by stricter rules around identification at the polling place out of 1 billion votes. That’s a fraud rate of 0.00002%. Most elections, understandably, have margins of victory well into the thousands.
Most alleged “fraudulent votes” stem from a combination of haphazard comparisons of voter rolls with population data, and references to historical allegations to frame the current debate. While proponents of the virtually non-existent/unproven in person voter fraud also cite the still-not-common-but-not-non-existent absentee ballot fraud as a problem, those more-plentiful examples wouldn’t be affected by these new voter ID laws.
Nothing But Politics
A Government Accountability Office report indicated that some 100,000 fewer people voted in Kansas and Tennessee due to the introduction of voter ID laws in those states. The decline was weighted more heavily toward younger voters and black voters — or, to be clear, more-Democratic voters (the kind Democrats accuse the laws of targeting). 80% of these now newly non-eligible voters lean Democratic. That’s what this is about. These laws have been constructed to address a virtually non-existent/unproven problem of in person voter fraud, and don’t even touch on the still-not-common-but-not-non-existent problem of fraud with absentee ballots because absentee ballots favor Republicans. This is strictly political and has absolutely nothing to do with the integrity of the vote nor its protection.
“The thing about voter fraud isn’t that it doesn’t exist. It does exist, and all responsible observers both know and say that. The question is whether the proposed policy solution (invariably tighter ID requirements at the polls) is tailored to the problem that actually exists, and at the same time not sufficiently severe that it creates more trouble than it solves.” – Professor Justin Leavitt of Loyola University Law School