Once again, there is little “Voter Fraud”. But “Voting Fraud” that is another matter.

Def: Voter Fraud – an intentional vote by an individual voter in an election or district where they are not eligible to vote, to vote for someone else, or to vote more than once.

Def: Voting Fraud – an intentional action by one or more individuals to add, subtract, change votes, change voting results, or to intimidate others, create votes for other individuals, who may or may not be eligible to vote, etc.

As we have said before, for all intents and purposes voter fraud is very rare, while voting fraud does regularly occur. Common sense tells us that very few voters would risk intentionally voting illegally for the purpose of casting a single fraudulent vote, given the effort, huge risk, miniscule value. Common sense also tells us that there is likely several times the instances of voter fraud and voting fraud than are successfully uncovered and successfully prosecuted. Yet, voter fraud would still be rare and generally ineffective. Not so with voting fraud, especially that committed by insiders.

Article in the latest Mother Jones: The Dog That Voted and Other Election Fraud YarnsThe GOP’s 10-year campaign to gin up voter fraud hysteria—and bring back Jim Crow at the ballot box <read>

As the article points out voter fraud is rare, yet laws touted as preventing voter fraud are actually a form of voter suppression and intimidation.

first there needs to be some actual fraud to crack down on. And that turns out to be remarkably elusive.

That’s not to say that there’s none at all. In a country of 300 million you’ll find a bit of almost anything. But multiple studies taking different approaches have all come to the same conclusion: The rate of voter fraud in American elections is close to zero.

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.

Another set of studies has examined the claims of activist groups like Thor Hearne’s American Center for Voting Rights, which released a report in 2005 citing more than 100 cases involving nearly 300,000 allegedly fraudulent votes during the 2004 election cycle. The charges involved sensational-sounding allegations of double-voting, fraudulent addresses, and voting by felons and noncitizens. But in virtually every case they dissolved upon investigation. Some of them were just flatly false, and others were the result of clerical errors. Minnite painstakingly investigated each of the center’s charges individually and found only 185 votes that were even potentially fraudulent.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has focused on voter fraud issues for years. In a 2007 report they concluded that “by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.” In the Missouri election of 2000 that got Sen. Bond so worked up, the Center found a grand total of four cases of people voting twice, out of more than 2 million ballots cast. In the end, the verified fraud rate was 0.0003 percent.

One key detail: The best-publicized fraud cases involve either absentee ballots or voter registration fraud (for example, paid signature gatherers filling in “Mary Poppins” on the forms, a form of cheating that’s routinely caught by registrars already). But photo ID laws can’t stop that: They only affect people actually trying to impersonate someone else at the polling place. And there’s virtually no record, either now or in the past, of this happening on a large scale.

What’s more, a moment’s thought suggests that this is vanishingly unlikely to be a severe problem, since there are few individuals willing to risk a felony charge merely to cast one extra vote and few organizations willing or able to organize large-scale in-person fraud and keep it a secret. When Indiana’s photo ID law, designed to prevent precisely this kind of fraud, went to the Supreme Court, the state couldn’t document [26] a single case of it happening. As the majority opinion in Crawford admits, “The record contains no evidence of any such fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.”

For some examples of real and alleged voting fraud in Connecticut see <CTVotersCount Index: Error and Skulduggery in Connecticut>

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