As the 2016 election draws near, voter ID and voter fraud will be hot topics once again. In recent weeks we have seen several court decision on the constitutionality of voter ID. In some of these cases the courts have upheld voter ID and others have over-turned it as discriminatory. With this in mind we set out to determine just how much voter fraud and election fraud actually exists.
First we need to define the differences between voter and election fraud. Voter fraud is directly done by an individual to impersonate someone else, attempt to vote multiple times or in different districts. Election fraud refers to perjury, voter registration fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, bribery, destroying already cast ballots, and a multitude of crimes related to the electoral process. Election fraud would not be stopped with voter ID.
According to News21, who analyzed 2068 cases of alleged voter fraud from 2000 to 2012 there were 10 proven cases of voter fraud out of 146 million registered voters during that time period. For perspective, voter fraud, according to this analysis would equate to .00000007% of registered voters.
Politifact checked the claim of 10 cases of voter fraud by News21 and rated this mostly true. Politifact’s only concern was a “few missing pieces in the data.”
In an analysis conducted by the Republican National Lawyers Association, which supports Voter ID laws, they found 375 cases of voter fraud between 2000 and 2012. News21 also analyzed the 375 cases and determined that the majority were actually election fraud as opposed to voter fraud. Even if all 375 cases were actually voter fraud the percentage would be .0000004% of registered voters.
According to the Federal Election Commission nearly 1 billion votes have been cast during the period of 2000 to 2012. In a news report from the Washington Post on 8/6/14 their research found 31 cases of voter fraud in the 12 year period. This would equate to .000000003% of votes cast.
The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation has also been tracking fraud and has come up with 300 documented cases in the time period between 2000 and 2012. The Heritage Foundation used newspaper articles from around the country citing convictions and allegations to compile their list. I was unable to find a source that has disputed their claims and would consider this a valid number.
In summary, evidence of voter fraud over the 12 year period from 2000 to 2012 reveals that anywhere from 10 to 300 cases of voter fraud have been documented to have occurred. There can be an argument made that there were some who did not get caught and certainly there were. However, to remain evidence and scientifically based we have to use the information that we have. Regardless, if there were 1000 more or even 10000 more cases, the probability of voter fraud having any impact on an election is virtually zero. Another aspect that needs to be looked at is how and why over 2000 cases of election fraud occurred over that time period. Voter ID will not reduce election fraud. What will?
Written by Dave Van Zandt