Study Confirms Myth of In-Person Voter Fraud. Again.

Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola University with a specialty in election law, has just completed a massive study of voter fraud by impersonation, the only kind of voter fraud that a photo ID law could conceivably prevent. Out of a billion votes cast over the last few elections, he’s found 31 such cases. I’ll let you figure out the percentages. You’re gonna need a lot of zeroes.

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.

Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

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.

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.

Voter ID laws are based on the lie that voter impersonation is a real problem. That lie is necessary, however, to cover up the real reason the Republicans want to pass those laws — they want fewer people to be able to vote, especially those least likely to have a photo ID, which are poor and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic. That is the one and only reason why they want those laws passed.

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  • gshelley

    It won’t make any difference. They will make the same claim as before “But this is just the people who were caught, there could be many more who got away with it”

    They won’t care that they have no evidence of this, or even if there were thousands of people, it wouldn’t be as many as the numbers disenfranchised by voter ID

  • Michael Heath

    The factual findings regarding voter suppression laws is an excellent example, of countless examples, regarding the idiocy of Sarah Palin’s “common sense” argument. Most people think we should have to show our ID to prevent voter fraud, not realizing that:

    a) there’s almost no voter fraud that would be prevented with a photo ID

    b) these laws are passed to unconstitutionally infringe upon the voter rights of both non-Republicans and the scant remaining few voters who are Republicans and moderate or liberal.

    I see the prevailing context that allows the passage of such laws due to a population that’s

    a) uninformed

    b) apathetic

    c) spoiled rotten when it comes to their lack of appreciation that a just government is obligated to protect many of our individual rights.

  • Michael Heath

    Here’s the voter fraud I’m most familiar with: very old people, most of whom were liberal or moderate when they were of sound mind, who get absentee ballots in the mail. Then their Fox News Silent Generation children vote their senile parent’s ballot.

    These fraudsters being the very same hypocritical voters who support politicians who enact voter suppression laws.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    But ID laws are not…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.

    Yes, those things are also problems, but we have to concentrate first on stopping the widespread fraud of people voting for Democrats.

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    The Republicans can’t rest until they have the fulsome support of all legitimate voters, earning 99% or so of support. (Hey, it worked in Austria that one time.)

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    I shared an apartment with a college buddy for two years until I could afford a single. I stayed within the same apartment complex and he moved elsewhere. I noticed at the next election that his name still appeared on the roster of local voters that was posted on the door of the voting site, although I knew he had moved across town and out of the precinct. It’s clear, therefore, that I could have easily impersonated him, being able to recite the address and all, but what good would that have done? If I returned later to vote as myself, the precinct workers would likely have spotted me. Besides, he and I have ethnic names that would have seemed odd if switched. My “ideal” opportunity for voter impersonation was not really an opportunity at all. (But at least I know he didn’t vote that year, and thus for once he did not cancel my vote.)

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    Mr. Heath: You left off d) happy enough to keep brown people from voting.

    I’ve only gotten one rightwinger to admit it, and he backpedalled quickly, saying he ‘misspoke’, but he essentially said that it was a good way to keep poor (i.e. minorities) people from voting democrat.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Zeno “If I returned later to vote as myself, the precinct workers would likely have spotted me.”

    Well, sure, but if you’re a Democrat voter you people all look the same. Even you people have trouble telling you people apart.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    I’m keenly disappointed, Modus. You should have pointed out that we lefties are all in cahoots and I would have gotten a wink and a nod. Maybe even a sly chuckle or two.

    (And my roomie wasn’t a “Democrat voter” either, so he couldn’t have resembled me, right?)

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Zeno “I’m keenly disappointed, Modus.”

    And? I’m not digging out the Grade A material for you. The checks from your parents stopped coming. The only reason I left a comment to you at all was your grandmother’s checks still arrive on time. I can’t bear to cash them, though. She needs it more than I do. And call her, you monster! She wants to hear from you.

     

    “You should have pointed out that we lefties are all in cahoots…”

    That’s definitional.

     

    “…and I would have gotten a wink and a nod. Maybe even a sly chuckle or two.”

    More likely some complicated handshake that us Real Americans lack the rhythm to complete!

     

    “(And my roomie wasn’t a Democrat voter’ either, so he couldn’t have resembled me, right?)”

    To be fair, the original end of your story was “And my roommate grew up to be Ellis Washington,”.

  • magistramarla

    Texas, with its strong voter ID laws, for many years continued to send voter registration cards to my adult children at our Texas address. The kids who remained in Texas and officially changed their addresses with the state were no problem for them. However, the girl who has moved to several places since she left home in ’95 and the girl who moved to Colorado a few years ago continued to receive those cards for a long time. That seems a bit careless on the part of the state to me.

    All of my children continue to receive jury summons at our address. I usually write in red ink – “No longer at this address”.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    Modus, you bastard! My grandmother is dead! [sniff] And I used to call her every weekend because I was such a good grandson. Fie on you for reminding me of my loss (of thirty years ago).

    Good news, though. The checks from my parents keep coming. Not to you, of course.

    My rancor is softened by the holiday season and thoughts of little Baby Jesus. As my people say, “Boas Festas, y’all!”