Voter fraud: Still a myth

Just a reminder, in case you needed one.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Politicians and voting rights advocates continue to clash over whether photo ID and other voting requirements are needed to prevent voter fraud, but a News21 analysis and recent court rulings show little evidence that such fraud is widespread.

A News21 analysis four years ago of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states found that while some fraud had occurred since 2000, the rate was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million registered voters in that 12-year span. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls.

This year, News21 reviewed cases in Arizona, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Kansas, where politicians have expressed concern about voter fraud, and found hundreds of allegations but few prosecutions between 2012 and 2016. Attorneys general in those states successfully prosecuted 38 cases, though other cases may have been litigated at the county level. At least one-third of those cases involved nonvoters, such as elections officials or volunteers. None of the cases prosecuted was for voter impersonation.

“Voter fraud is not a significant problem in the country,” Jennifer Clark of the Brennan Center, a public policy and law institute, told News21. “As the evidence that has come out in some recent court cases and reports and basically every analysis that has ever been done has concluded: It is not a significant concern.”

Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Camden who wrote a book on the phenomenon in 2010 called “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” said in an interview that she hasn’t seen an uptick in the crime since. “Voter fraud remains rare because it is irrational behavior,” she said. “You’re not likely to change the outcome of an election with your illegal fraudulent vote, and the chances of being caught are there and we have rules to prevent against it.”


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called voter fraud “rampant” in Texas. A records request from News21 to the Office of the Attorney General of Texas shows that more than 360 allegations of voter fraud were sent to the attorney general since 2012. Fifteen of those cases were successfully prosecuted. Four of those convicted were voters – the rest were elections officials or third-party volunteers.

Minnite, who has studied voter fraud for 15 years, said that actual instances of fraud lie somewhere between the number successfully prosecuted and the number of allegations. In her experience, few allegations meet the criteria of fraud: “intentional corruption of the electoral process” by voters.

“Large numbers getting reduced, reduced, reduced at each level is the pattern that I’ve seen over and over and over again,” Minnite said. “The assumption should be the reverse of what it is. It should be ‘We’ve got a lot of errors here.’”

We’ve covered a lot of this before, so you know the drill. The logistics of vote fraud by impersonation have never made any sense, especially when compared to fraud by mail ballot, compromising electronic voting machines, or corrupting the vote counting process, but then it was never about making sense. Look at it this way: If voter fraud really is as “rampant” as Greg Abbott claims it is, then he was massively incompetent as Attorney General at rooting it out. And Ken Paxton isn’t any better at it, either. By their own logic, they were and are terrible failures as Attorney General.

Anyway. News21 is “a cornerstone of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education”, which you can read about at that link. This story was part of their impressively large Voting Wars project, which features a load of stories about the process, politics, and demographics of voting. Check it out.

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7 Responses to Voter fraud: Still a myth

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    Best place for Voter Fraud is Mail in Ballots.

  2. voter_worker says:

    “Voter fraud” is a pillar of a certain world view, similar to how hatred for GMOs is a pillar of another. Both are contradicted by emperical evidence, which has no influence whatsoever on devotees. As for mail-in ballots, the State of Oregon, which is 100% mail in, hasn’t been in the news for this issue so I have doubts that any consequential level of voter impersonation is going on in that area either.

  3. voter_worker says:

    The Guardian is reporting this morning that Stephen Bannon is registered to vote in a vacant house slated for demolition in Florida. This is fraud of another variety and is prosecutable.

  4. brad m says:

    Voter Worker,

    Not sure what you mean by “voter impersonation” via mail-in. How can someone impersonate someone by mail if they are not there “in person”?

    Regarding your doubts, there is an important distinction between a Mail-in balloting program, which we don’t have in Texas, and an Absentee ballot voting program, which we do have in Texas.

    Fraudsters can and do request Absentee ballots for other persons. This is how proactive fraud takes place.

  5. voter_worker says:

    brad m, if you’re filling out other people’s ballots and mailing them in to the County Clerk, that’s my definition of impersonation. If we disagree on what constitutes impersonation, so be it.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    What is to prevent people from just making up names, and filling out requests for voter registration cards, then absentee voting with those fictitious names? If I was going to perpetrate voter fraud, that’s how I would do it.

  7. voter_worker says:

    @Bill—random made up names will be rejected by the Secretary of State when they run applicants’ information through database comparisons. The SOS vets every voter application in the State of Texas. The application form also requires the last four digits of the social security number. There are tripwires built into the system to catch the type of fabrications you’re positing. .

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