Posted by Brad @ 4:40 pm on July 5th 2012

The Myth of Voter Fraud

Just to keep banging the drum.

In her 2010 book, The Myth of Voter Fraud, Lorraine Minnite tracked down every single case brought by the Justice Department between 1996 and 2005 and found that the number of defendants had increased by roughly 1,000 percent under Ashcroft. But that only represents an increase from about six defendants per year to 60, and only a fraction of those were ever convicted of anything. A New York Times investigation in 2007 concluded that only 86 people had been convicted of voter fraud during the previous five years. Many of those appear to have simply made mistakes on registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, and more than 30 of the rest were penny-ante vote-buying schemes in local races for judge or sheriff. The investigation found virtually no evidence of any organized efforts to skew elections at the federal level.

It generally comes to about 30 cases a year of individual votes found to be fraudulently cast. In a year. Across every election throughout the entire United States of America.

In response, we’re passing voter ID laws that will likely provide a higher threshold of participation than can be met currently by roughly 30 million Americans who would be able to otherwise, and that’s not counting the roll purges happening in places like Florida, or even the trickle down to poll workers across America trying real real hard to be on the lookout for those 30 fraudulent votes lest they end up being eviscerated by Republican poll watchers and watchdogs, that will likely lead to long lines, more inconvenience, a more unpleasant experience, and just generally the kind of third degree that’s going to cause countless more to just say “Meh, screw it”.

If you’re worried about the integrity of the voting system, push for more transparency (why the ratio of people who care about vote fraud to the people who want to ensure total transparency in electronic voting is not 1:1, I have no idea). But potentially dissuading or preventing 30+ million voters for the sake of stopping 30 fraudulent votes a year seems perhaps a tad excessive.

1 Comment »

  1. Dave Weigel points out the irony that, to comply with voter ID laws, states have to have relatively robust and efficient bureaucracies.

    And Ta-Naheisi Coates gets the point I’ve been banging on about:

    If we are to take the complaint about “voter fraud” seriously, and not simply assume it is a right wing tribal call, then it’s worth evaluating these laws like any other attempt at crime prevention. In that vein it seems reasonable to ask–What, specific, documented group of criminals are you combating? Who are the vote fraudsters? What elections have hey attempted to steal? How successful were they? How did our current defenses hold up?

    And, the most basic one, do efforts to combat the problem do more harm than good?

    Just keep reminding yourself when this topic comes up. 30 million. Versus. 30.

    Comment by Brad — 7/10/2012 @ 10:44 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.