Voter Impersonation: 31 Possible Cases out of 1 Billion Ballots Cast
Republicans across the country have pushed through voter ID laws on the claim that voter fraud is a serious concern that needs to be addressed. But one academic assessment has raised serious doubts about the GOP’s claim that people are impersonating others at the polls.
Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles specializing in constitutional law and the law of democracy, as well as election administration and redistricting, says he found almost no voter impersonation cases over the past 14 years.
Levitt’s research discovered only 31 instances of voter impersonation out of more than one billion ballots cast in general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014.
“This sort of misdirection is pretty common, actually,” Levitt wrote in The Washington Post. “Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam.”
Voter ID laws have been shown to lower participation by those in the electorate who skew Democratic. Richard L. Hasen, author of The Voting Wars, wrote for Reuters that “Many suspect (as do I) that these laws—passed almost exclusively by Republican state legislatures—are part of an attempt to make it harder to cast a ballot for voters who skew Democratic.”
Not only do voter ID laws not stop fraud, but they don’t even make voters confident that their elections are fairly run. “People in states with more restrictive ID laws don’t generally feel better about their elections than people in more permissive states. People who think elections are being stolen, and people who think they’re not, each hold on to that opinion no matter what the governing ID rules in their area. The factor that really influences whether people think the elections are fair? Whether their preferred candidates win,” Levitt wrote.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley
To Learn More:
A Comprehensive Investigation of Voter Impersonation Finds 31 Credible Incidents Out of One Billion Ballots Cast (by Justin Levitt, Washington Post)
Exorcising the Voter Fraud Ghost (by Richard Hasen, Reuters)
Investigation Turns Up Only 10 Cases of Voter Impersonation Nationwide…in 10 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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