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Voter Fraud - The Dog that Didn't Bark

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Voter Fraud - The Dog that Didn't Bark

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Michael Collins
Also published at the ACLU Blog of Rights

We're having our quadrennial encounter with the menace of voter fraud.  We are to believe that gangs of undocumented aliens and the unemployed will vote illegally or, if registered, on multiple occasions.  They'll do this to capitalize on the fraudulent registrations secured by paid operatives who can't make money in any other way.  We're told that this alleged pattern is a menace to democracy.

This is not a new part of the political dialog.  The charges have been around for decades.  They've been revived with real vigor over the past eight years.

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Given the danger proposed, here's some important evidence.  The U.S. Department of Justice has voter fraud at the top of its agenda.  With their clear emphasis on law enforcement prerogatives, the goal to shut down alleged voter fraud produced next to nothing:

(Chart from the Politics of Voter Fraud by Loraine C. Minnite, PhD)

Three years, 38 cases, 11 guilty pleas, and 13 convictions:  that's it.  It is the best outcome the Department of Justice could get.   They've been at it 30 years so you'd think they would have learned a trick or too.

Yet, voter fraud has been a major focus of the department.  Look at the attention it got and the time spent on it at Justice and the Election Assessment Commission.  But here is the conclusion of an exhaustive review of voting evidence:

"-- though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009% of the time. The similarly closely-analyzed 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%. National Weather Service data shows that Americans are struck and killed by lightning about as often."  (Author's emphasis)

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Brennan Center for Justice

In 2005, two major studies were commissioned by the Election Assistance Commission.  One was on voter intimidation and the other on polling place fraud.   The results were in line with the Brennan Center and others -- there is virtually no election fraud and voter suppression is a major problem.  OMB Watch describes what happened:

  • "the original report found little evidence of polling place fraud, while the final report said there is "a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud."
  • 'the original report found "evidence of some continued outright intimidation and suppression" of voters, but the final report said voter suppression is also a topic of debate.
  • 'the original report found "false registration forms have not resulted in polling place fraud", but the final version blamed nonprofit organizations, claiming "registration drives by nongovernmental organizations as a source of fraud."
    OMB Watch, Apr. 12, 2007

Those in control are creating a virtual reality regardless of the facts.

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