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What? They’re Still Claiming Voter Fraud?

States that wanted to require identification cards with photos to allow citizens to vote needed a reason. They came up with that threat to democracy, voter fraud.

Republicans believe that fraud is standard practice by Democrats for winning elections; they cite Acorn as an example. To whatever extent such accusations were true for that organization, their transgressions were improper attempts to register voters, not fraud committed by individuals pulling the levers in the voting booth.

Nevertheless, the fable of fraud persists. Interviewed by ThinkProgress, a Wisconsin Republican state legislator named Glenn Grothman said, "I think we believe that insofar as there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democratic...we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us".

Kansas now requires proof of citizenship to

"ensure the sanctity of the vote", says Governor Sam Brownback. By making voting problematic for an estimated 620,000 in the state, Kansas will ensure itself from recurrence of the single case of election fraud over the last six years.

Pennsylvania has one of the most restrictive laws in the country. The Justice Department is investigating whether the state is disenfranchising voters in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, against which the state will need evidence that there is a problem warranting those laws. Yet the state admits:

There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.

Well, no, of course not. This lengthy study by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that the claims of voter fraud most often derive from the media’s penchant for “agitated headlines” such as “Hundreds Might Have Double Voted” or political programs such as Sean Hannity on Fox News who said, "Allegations of voter fraud continue to pop up all across the country". But the many cases examined by Brennan have proved false. Clerical errors, similar names, matching names crossed with one another, address changes — these proved to be the most common reasons for mix ups, not fraud.

Claims that dead people had cast ballots are popular, only for it to be discovered on audit that the unfortunate individuals had died after the election. Of the many reports of fraud probed by Brennan, claims of irregularities in Ohio resulted in a statewide survey of votes cast in 2002 and 2004. Out of 9,078,728 votes, "four instances of ineligible persons voting" were found — a factor of 0.00000044%. Ridiculing the threat to our elections, Stephen Colbert warned, "Folks, our democracy is under siege by an enemy so small it could be hiding anywhere".

“By throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the ‘voter fraud’ umbrella...advocates for such laws [as requiring photo IDs] artificially inflate the apparent need for these restrictions” is the Center’s view in its report that runs down one after another bogus claim of voting abuse. “The voter fraud phantom drives policy that disenfranchises actual legitimate voters”. Bluntly stated, portraying voter fraud as justification for laws that disenfranchise citizens is the real fraud.

the dumbest way to throw an election

The real absurdity is that voter fraud makes no sense. An attempt by an ineligible individual to vote — the sort of fraud called “impersonation” — is a decidedly ineffective way to influence an election as the percentage example above makes clear. How many would you have to pay off to vote for your candidate in order to tip an election your way — all the while running the risk that any one of them would blow the whistle. How many would go along once word got around how singularly foolish is the risk, carrying as it does a five year prison term and a $10,000 fine — even deportation, if that applies.

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