Right-Wing Media Figures Conflate “Voter Fraud” With Voter Registration Inaccuracies

Right-Wing Media Figures Conflate “Voter Fraud” With Voter Registration Inaccuracies

Fox News Host: “That's Troubling. I Only Know Of One Person That Has Risen From The Dead, So 20, That's A Problem”

››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CAT DUFFY

Right-wing media have baselessly stoked fears of widespread voter fraud based on out-of-date or inaccurate voter registration rolls to defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claims that “dead people” and “illegal aliens” are voting. But in doing so they’ve falsely conflated possible registration fraud with the practice of in-person voter fraud; both types are rare, and the latter is virtually nonexistent.

Donald Trump Stokes Fears About Systemic Voter Fraud, Claiming The Election Is “Rigged”

Donald Trump Claims “Voter Fraud Is Very, Very Common,” And That Dead People And Noncitizens Are Voting. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has repeatedly stoked fears of voting fraud and claimed the presidential election is “rigged” against him. As explained by an October 19 USA Today fact check, Trump claims that “‘voter fraud is very, very common,’” that “‘illegal immigrants are voting,’” and that “‘people that have died 10 years ago are still voting.’” The fact check debunked all of Trump’s claims and explained that the Pew Charitable Trust report which Trump cites to support his claim that “dead people” are voting does not actually support his claim, because “cases of people actually voting fraudulently on behalf of deceased people are rare,” and in-person voter fraud “is virtually nonexistent.” From the October 19 USA Today fact check:

Donald Trump is citing unsubstantiated urban myths and a contested academic study to paint a false narrative about rampant voter fraud in the U.S. and the likelihood of a “rigged” election.

• Trump claimed “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” citing a report that found 1.8 million deceased people remain on voter registration rolls. But the report did not find evidence of wrongdoing, and numerous studies have found such voter fraud is virtually nonexistent.

• Trump claimed there is a massive problem with “illegal immigrants [who] are voting,” citing research by Old Dominion professors who say noncitizen voters may have benefited Democrats in 2008. But a Harvard professor who manages the data used in the Old Dominion study said the data was misused and the study’s conclusions are wrong.

• Finally, Trump broadly claimed that “voter fraud is very, very common,” and he has called for poll watchers to look for people impersonating voters or voting numerous times. However, numerous academic studies and government inquiries have found in-person voter fraud to be rare.

For weeks, Trump has been warning about rigged elections. He urged his supporters in Ambridge, Pa., on Oct. 10 to monitor polls and “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.” [USA Today, 10/19/16]

Right-Wing Media Defend Trump, Insist Voter Fraud “Isn’t Really A Myth” Because “Dead People” And Others Who Are Not Eligible To Vote “Are Still Listed As Voters”

Fox News Panel: “Voter Fraud Isn’t Really A Myth” Because Dead People And “Illegal Aliens” Are Registered To Vote. Fox News’ Fox & Friends guest host Pete Hegseth defended Trump by asserting that “voter fraud isn’t really a myth” and invited Washington Times’ Kelly Riddell to highlight various alleged “active voter fraud investigations” across the country. Riddell claimed that there are “dead people voting” and “illegal aliens who are registered to vote.” Riddell also warned of “this thing called voter harvesting,” where she claims “fraudsters look at areas where their candidate needs to win, or is doing poorly, and so they target nursing homes, they target the elderly, they target African-American communities, Hispanic communities that don't speak English, a lot of underprivileged communities” to register voters. From the October 21 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

PETE HEGSETH (CO-HOST): Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence warning that voter fraud could disrupt the election. The Republican ticket now urging supporters to, well, be their eyes and ears on the ground. As it turns out, voter fraud, it isn't really a myth at all. So, here to walk us through some of the active voter fraud investigations is Washington [Times] deputy opinion editor Kelly Riddell. Thanks for joining us this morning.

KELLY RIDDELL: Thanks, Pete.

HEGSETH: So, we're hearing a lot at the presidential level, rigged system, voter problems, and you've got examples state by state. Take Virginia, dead people voting. What have we seen in Virginia?

RIDDELL: This is just one town. Harrisonburg, [Virginia], found that 20 deceased people had somehow re-registered to vote this election cycle. The FBI is actually looking into this case, and this is just in one particular city. Also in Virginia, you have 1,046 people, and this was a study that was just done this month, who are illegal aliens who registered to vote in the state. And that doesn't include -- the study doesn't include Fairfax County in Arlington, Virginia. Two of the most populous cities in Northern Virginia, really are what have turned Virginia blue in recent years.

HEGSETH: That's troubling. I only know of one person that has risen from the dead, so 20, that's a problem. Pennsylvania, what do we see there?

RIDDELL: In Pennsylvania, you see -- and the secretary of state last year basically said voter fraud is a problem here. And the fact that 700 Pennsylvania -- people registered in Pennsylvania voted twice. Up to 43,000 people are -- in Pennsylvania are registered to vote twice. So, I mean, that's a huge problem. In Philadelphia, you're also seeing illegal aliens on the voter rolls. Eighty-six were dredged up, and those were only because they self-reported. It's an honor system here. So, when they went to renew their driver's license, somebody at the DMV was like, "Oh, are you legal, illegal? Maybe you shouldn't be voting."

HEGSETH: Let me tell you what I am. Yes.

RIDDELL: Yeah, yeah. "Let me tell you, well, maybe I shouldn't be voting." So, there's a lot more. Yeah, tip of the iceberg.

HEGSETH: Yeah, that's the old, vote early, vote often mantra. All right, Texas, mail-in ballots, things like that.

RIDDELL: Mail-in ballots. There's this thing called voter harvesting, which basically, these fraudsters look at areas where their candidate needs to win, or is doing poorly, and so they target nursing homes, they target the elderly, they target African-American communities, Hispanic communities that don't speak English, a lot of underprivileged communities. And what they do is, anyone can request a mail-in ballot, so they request mail-in ballots in these people's names, and then go door-to-door and ask them to sign the ballot. Sometimes they do it, saying, "You lean Democratic, you sign this." Sometimes they do it saying, "Hey, I'm just looking for a petition for the Boys and Girls Club, could you sign on the dotted line?" And then they mail in those votes. There's an active Texas investigation ongoing into this kind of case.

HEGSETH: I'd say that's as crooked and rigged as it gets.

RIDDELL: Yes.

HEGSETH: One more, Colorado. The left fights back against purging of voter rolls and against voter ID, but Colorado is such a powerful example of why you might need to do that.

RIDDELL: Well, I mean, Colorado, a recent CBS local affiliate turned up dead people on the voter rolls. And, you know what's so funny by Colorado? If you look at John Podesta's WikiLeak emails, as late of last year, 2015, he was complaining that he thought that Barack Obama rigged the Colorado primary in bringing illegal aliens on the voter rolls. It's unbelievable the hypocrisy here. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/21/16]

CNN’s Jeffrey Lord: There Is “Evidence Of Voter Fraud In American History” Like “Forging Social Security Numbers, Using Dead People, Et Cetera, Et Cetera, Et Cetera.” CNN’s Jeffrey Lord tried to legitimize Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud by asserting that “57,000 registrations … were rejected” in Philadelphia “for forging social security numbers, using dead people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” From the October 20 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:

ANDERSON COOPER (HOST): But the question is, if Donald Trump loses big on election night, is he going to make the allegation that there was widespread voter fraud resulting in millions of votes?

JEFFREY LORD: We'll have to wait and see. It would help if there were fact, right? But, again, I have to disagree with my friend Phil here. In fact, there has been evidence of voter fraud in American history. Lots of times. I'm sorry, but lots of times. I documented myself 57,000 registrations that were rejected by the city of Philadelphia -- the county of Philadelphia in 2008 for forging social security number, using dead people, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 10/20/16]

Radio Host Rush Limbaugh: Democrats Are “Finagling In Certain American Cities, Looking For A Way To Register Illegal Aliens To Vote” And To “Stand In The Way Of Purging Dead People From Voter Rolls.” Radio host Rush Limbaugh defended Trump by claiming, “The Democrat Party fights every attempt to take the rigging out of elections” by “finagling in certain American cities, looking for a way to register illegal aliens to vote” and “stand in the way of purging dead people from the voter rolls.” From the October 20 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): I maintain to you folks that they are still paranoid and scared to death of Donald Trump in this campaign. This reaction that they're all having to this is out of proportion to what he said. All he said was, "I'm going to wait and see." It's a commonsense answer to a question.

The Democrat Party fights every attempt to take the rigging out of elections. If you want a photo ID to vote, who stands in the way of that? The Democrat Party. The Democrat Party does not want photo ID because it’s one of the greatest techniques to eliminate voter fraud we’ve devised, and they oppose it.

Who stands in the way of purging dead people from the voter rolls? The Democrat Party. Who is it that is, as we speak, finagling in certain American cities, looking for a way to register illegal aliens to vote? It’s the Democrat Party. Donald Trump is running in opposition to everything establishment. He is opposing the rigged nature of the entire game, not just elections. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/20/16]

Fox Business’ Ashley Webster: “Dead People Are Still Listed As Voters” And “Approximately 2.75 Million People Are Registered In More Than One State.” In a response to a question about “actual numbers on voter fraud,” Fox Business’ Ashley Webster instead cited the same Pew study that Trump cited, and claimed that “one of every eight voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid, or are significantly inaccurate,” that “More than 1.8 million dead people are still listed as voters,” and that “approximately 2.75 million people are registered in more than one state.” From the October 19 edition of Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co.:

STUART VARNEY: Do we have actual numbers on voter fraud committed?

ASHLEY WEBSTER: We do, from this Pew study, it's very interesting. OK, let's bring up the first stat for you. 24 million, that's one of every eight voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid, or are significantly inaccurate. 24 million.

VARNEY: Good Lord.

WEBSTER: Let's move on. More than 1.8 million dead people are still listed as voters.

VARNEY: So they could -- somebody could use that name and walk-in vote.

WEBSTER: That's almost two million people. And approximately 2.75 million people are registered in more than one state.

VARNEY: Well, that means there's a potential for voter fraud there.

WEBSTER: Yes.

VARNEY: As -- it actually happened --

WEBSTER: Yes. Vote in both places.

VARNEY: That's vast potential.

WEBSTER: It's crazy, isn't it? And by the way, 51 million eligible US citizens are not even registered to vote. That's 24 percent of the eligible population, one in four, not even registered.

VARNEY: That's Pew, right?

WEBSTER: Yes.

VARNEY: That's reputable. [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 10/19/16]

Fox Host Brian Kilmeade: People Are “Lying During Registration, Then You Show Up And It Looks As Though You Belong On The Rolls.” Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade defended Trump when he asserted that people could be “lying during registration, then you show up and it looks as though you belong on the rolls,” and co-host Steve Doocy added that, “in some cases, there are a variety of ways [voter fraud] works.” From the October 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): We've heard Donald Trump talk about how this election is rigged, and Rudy Giuliani, we ran a soundbite from over the weekend where he said that there are a lot of dead people going to vote in this election, and they're going to vote for Democrats.

BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): And a lot of people point out the fact that, maybe if people will show up and vote, maybe that corruption is not there. Maybe when it's when it comes to registration is the problem, and if you are lying during registration, then you show up and it looks as though you belong on the rolls.

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): What's happening? People are registering to vote, and then they die by the timethe election rolls around, and they're getting a ballot sent to their house?

DOOCY: Well, in some cases, there are a variety of ways it works. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 10/18/16]

The Pew Report Cited By Trump And Right-Wing Media Doesn’t -- And Doesn’t Claim To -- Show Voter Fraud

Experts: Pew Report Shows Inaccuracies In Voter Registration But “There’s No Evidence That The Errors Lead To Fraud.” When the Pew study came out in 2012, USA Today noted that “experts say there’s no evidence” that the errors shown in the report -- that “more than 24 million voter-registration records in the United States - about one in eight - are inaccurate, out-of-date, or duplicates” -- “lead to fraud on Election Day.” The USA Today report cited David Becker, the director of Pew’s election initiatives, who said, “The perception of the possibility of fraud drives hyper-partisan policymaking.” From the February 2012 report:

More than 24 million voter-registration records in the United States— about one in eight — are inaccurate, out-of-date or duplicates. Nearly 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and perhaps 1.8 million registered voters are dead.

Those estimates, from a report published today by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States, portray a largely paper-based system that is outmoded, expensive and error-prone.

"We have a ramshackle registration system in the U.S. It's a mess. It's expensive. There isn't central control over the process," said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Experts say there's no evidence that the errors lead to fraud on Election Day. "The perception of the possibility of fraud drives hyper-partisan policymaking," said David Becker, director of Pew's election initiatives. But inactive voters do cost money. Inaccurate lists mean wasted money on mailings and extra paper ballots. [Pew Center On The States, February 2012; USA Today, 2/14/12]

Voter Registration Irregularities Are Not The Same As In-Person Voter Fraud

Brennan Center For Justice: There Are Four Types Of Voter Registration Fraud Allegations, But It Is “Extraordinarily Difficult” To Find Cases Of Registration Fraud Resulting In In-Person Voter Fraud. The Brennan Center’s comprehensive The Truth About Voter Fraud report outlines four different types of voter registration fraud allegations. They include instances of individuals “intentionally submitting forms in the name of someone (or something) ineligible,” examples of non-fraud like “registration forms submitted by eligible voters, but with errors or omissions,” allegations against “registrative drive workers,” and charges of “individuals who change or manipulate the registration of an eligible voter to frustrate her ability to vote.” The report emphasizes that despite “documented and widely publicized instances in which registration forms have been fraudulently completed … it is extraordinarily difficult to find reported cases in which individuals have submitted registration forms in someone else’s name in order to impersonate them at the polls.” From the 2007 report:

There have been several documented and widely publicized instances in which registration forms have been fraudulently completed and submitted. But it is extraordinarily difficult to find reported cases in which individuals have submitted registration forms in someone else’s name in order to impersonate them at the polls. Furthermore, most reports of registration fraud do not actually claim that the fraud happens so that ineligible people can vote at the polls. Indeed, we are aware of no recent substantiated case in which registration fraud has resulted in fraudulent votes being cast.

Instead, when registration fraud is alleged, the allegations generally fall into one of four categories:

The first type of allegation concerns individuals intentionally submitting forms in the name of someone (or something) ineligible in order to have some fun or — more often — to make a point.139 Most of the infamous stories of dogs on the rolls fall into this category, including a recent incident in Washington State.140 Most of the time, these forms are discovered and investigated by local officials before they make it onto the rolls. There are no reports that we have discovered of votes actually cast in the names of such registrants.

The second type of allegation concerns “fraud” that is not actually fraud at all. This includes registration forms submitted by eligible voters, but with errors or omissions.141 Such mistakes are relatively common, but do not represent fraud. Similarly, there are many jurisdictions in which the registration rolls are inflated with the names of eligible voters who have moved or died or otherwise become ineligible.142 These lingering entries also do not represent fraud; furthermore, as states build and improve the statewide voter registration databases now required by federal law, it will become easier to remove ineligible voters from the rolls while maintaining safeguards for eligible registrants.

The third type of allegation concerns registration drive workers, who may be paid for their time or on the basis of how many forms they submit,143 and who intentionally submit fraudulent forms. The allegations may involve forms submitted in the names of fictional voters, as in the case of “Jive Turkey,”144 or with the names of actual voters but a false address or a forged signature.145 Most of the cases of registration fraud that are prosecuted fall into this category.146 If voter registration drives have enough time and are allowed by law to review the forms submitted by their workers, they can often catch these forms and draw them to the attention of local elections officials.147 These forms actually defraud the voter registration drives, which compensate workers on the expectation that their time will be spent registering new and eligible citizens; the worker herself is interested not in defrauding the government, but in getting credit for work she didn’t do. When drives are able to flag these forms for elections officials, the forms are investigated, not processed, and the worker can be investigated and prosecuted. There are no reports that we have discovered of votes actually cast in the names of such registrants.

Finally, the fourth type of allegation involves individuals who change or manipulate the registration of an eligible voter to frustrate her ability to vote.149 Like the deliberate destruction of forms,150 these incidents are rare and most often committed by partisan actors. Most states criminalize the intentional destruction of registration forms or fraudulent submission of forms. Like the allegations of fraud by election officials, these incidents do not concern allegations of fraud by individual voters, and we do not address them in detail here. [Brennan Center, 2007]

Attempts To Remedy Voter Registration Inaccuracies Are Unreliable And Often Target Minority Voters

Brennan Center For Justice: Voter Roll Purges Use Inaccurate Lists, And Lack Of Transparency “Leaves Voters Vulnerable To Manipulated Purges.” The Brennan Center for Justice published a “systematic examination of voter purging” in 12 states and found that the process is “shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.” The study found that “purges rely on error-ridden lists” and “voters who are eligible to vote are wrongly stricken from the rolls because of problems with underlying source lists.” The report criticized voter purge processes as secretive and noted that “it is rare for states to provide notice when a registrant is believed to be deceased.” Additionally, “bad ‘matching’ criteria” and “insufficient oversight” leave voters “vulnerable to manipulated purges.” From the September 2008 report:

Purges rely on error-ridden lists. States regularly attempt to purge voter lists of ineligible voters or duplicate registration records, but the lists that states use as the basis for purging are often riddled with errors. For example, some states purge their voter lists based on the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, a database that even the Social Security Administration admits includes people who are still alive. Even though Hilde Stafford, a Wappingers Falls, NY resident, was still alive and voted, the master death index lists her date of death as June 15, 1997. As another example, when a member of a household files a change of address for herself in the United States Postal Service’s National Change of Address database, it sometimes has the effect of changing the addresses of all members of that household. Voters who are eligible to vote are wrongly stricken from the rolls because of problems with underlying source lists.

Voters are purged secretly and without notice. None of the states investigated in this report statutorily require election officials to provide advance public notice of a systematic purge. Additionally, with the exception of registrants believed to have changed addresses, many states do not notify individual voters before purging them. In large part, states that do provide individualized notice do not provide such notice for all classes of purge candidates. For example, our research revealed that it is rare for states to provide notice when a registrant is believed to be deceased. Without proper notice to affected individuals, an erroneously purged voter will likely not be able to correct the error before Election Day. Without public notice of an impending purge, the public will not be able to detect improper purges or to hold their election officials accountable for more accurate voter list maintenance.

Bad “matching” criteria leaves voters vulnerable to manipulated purges. Many voter purges are conducted with problematic techniques that leave ample room for abuse and manipulation. State statutes rely on the discretion of election officials to identify registrants for removal. Far too often, election officials believe they have “matched” two voters, when they are actually looking at the records of two distinct individuals with similar identifying information. These cases of mistaken identity cause eligible voters to be wrongly removed from the rolls. The infamous Florida purge of 2000—conservative estimates place the number of wrongfully purged voters close to 12,000—was generated in part by bad matching criteria. Florida registrants were purged from the rolls if 80 percent of the letters of their last names were the same as those of persons with criminal convictions. Those wrongly purged included Reverend Willie D. Whiting Jr., who, under the matching criteria, was considered the same person as Willie J. Whiting. Without specific guidelines for or limitations on the authority of election officials conducting purges, eligible voters are regularly made unnecessarily vulnerable.

Insufficient oversight leaves voters vulnerable to manipulated purges. Insufficient oversight permeates the purge process beyond just the issue of matching. For example, state statutes often rely on the discretion of election officials to identify registrants for removal and to initiate removal procedures. In Washington, the failure to deliver a number of delineated mailings, including precinct reassignment notices, ballot applications, and registration acknowledgment notices, triggers the mailing of address confirmation notices, which then sets in motion the process for removal on account of change of address. Two Washington counties and the Secretary of State, however, reported that address confirmation notices were sent when any mail was returned as undeliverable, not just those delineated in state statute. Since these statutes rarely tend to specify limitations on the authority of election officials to purge registrants, insufficient oversight leaves room for election officials to deviate from what the state law provides and may make voters vulnerable to poor, lax, or irresponsible decision-making. [Brennan Center for Justice, 9/30/08]

Attempts To Correct Alleged Voter Registration Fraud “Disproportionately” Target “Young, Black, Hispanic, And Asian-American Voters.” Rolling Stone’s Greg Palast investigated the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a program designed to create “lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state … and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.” Mark Swedlund, a “database expert,” examined Crosscheck’s methodology and his “statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate.” Commenting on the results, Swedlund said, "I can't tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities." From the August 24 article:

When Donald Trump claimed, "the election's going to be rigged," he wasn't entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of "voting many, many times." What's far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.

The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters. According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.

[...]

We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck's "childish methodology." He added, "God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You're probably suspected of voting in 27 states."

Swedlund's statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there's an 89 percent chance you're African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there's a 94 percent chance you're Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there's a 95 percent chance you're Asian.

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? "I'm a data guy," Swedlund says. "I can't tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities." [Rolling Stone, 8/24/16]

Experts: Voter Registration Purges Like Ohio’s Unconstitutional Rule “Actually Cause Bigger Problems.” The Christian Science Monitor noted that Ohio’s voter “purge” measure that “removed any voter from the rolls that had not voted in six years” was ruled unconstitutional. Professor Whitney Ross Manzo criticized the law saying that while it “sounds benign,” in effect “certain segments of the population (the poor, elderly, and minority voters) are disproportionately affected by the rule.” She noted that voter fraud “isn’t that big of a problem” and that “attempts to curb voter fraud actually cause bigger problems.” From the September 26 article:

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Ohio's voter "purge," a measure that removed thousands of inactive voters from the rolls in a controversial effort to curb voter fraud and keep registration up to date, was unconstitutional.

[...]

The Ohio rule removed any voter from the rolls that had not voted in six years. According to ABC, many of these inactive voters on the were from low-income neighborhoods that tended to vote Democrat.

Whitney Ross Manzo, assistant professor of political science at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., says the root of the problem with the Ohio rule is the short six-year time limit. Since many voters only turn out to vote for president every four years, missing just one election could disqualify them during the upcoming election.

"The rule sounds benign – you need to vote at least once every six years – but certain segments of the population (the poor, elderly, and minority voters) are disproportionately affected by the rule, which is why it was just deemed unconstitutional," Dr. Manzo tells the Monitor in an email.

[...]

"I would argue voter fraud isn't that big of a problem in the scheme of elections in the US, and attempts to curb voter fraud actually cause bigger problems," says Manzo. "Restrictive voting laws are solutions in search of a problem." [The Christian Science Monitor, 9/26/16]

The Atlantic: Attempts To Correct Voter Registration Rolls “Disproportionately Affect The Minority Populations That Vote Heavily Democratic.” The Atlantic’s David Graham criticized a rule in Ohio that purged “tens of thousands of voters from its rolls who haven’t voted since the 2008 election” calling it a “concerning move” that amounts to “a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ approach to a fundamental right of American citizens.” Graham noted that proponents of these voter reform laws cite voter fraud as a justification but “it’s very hard to find any evidence of widespread (or even narrow) fraud, while the new laws… disproportionately affect the minority populations that vote heavily Democratic.” From the June 3 article:

Thousands of Buckeye State voters might experience this scenario, voter advocates warn. As Reuters points out in a report Thursday, Ohio is purging tens of thousands of voters from its rolls who haven’t voted since the 2008 election. Some of those people have likely died, or moved and registered elsewhere, or simply don’t care. But it’s also an understandably concerning move, amounting to a “use-it-or-lose-it” approach to a fundamental right of American citizens.

[...]

This is a common theme to the various efforts to reform voting laws around the country over the last decade or so. Proponents, mostly Republicans, offer commonsense justifications for the rules, like avoiding fraud, but it’s very hard to find any evidence of widespread (or even narrow) fraud, while the new laws—more commonly requiring photo ID to vote or eliminating early voting—disproportionately affect the minority populations that vote heavily Democratic.

What’s more, judges have slapped down the state of Ohio twice in the last few months for improperly trying to restrict the franchise. In March, a Franklin County judge ruled that Husted, a Republican, had incorrectly determined that 17-year-olds who would turn 18 by Election Day could not vote in the state’s primary. With the decision, the 17-year-olds were again allowed to vote. Last week, a federal judge in Ohio overturned a state law that eliminated “Golden Week,” a period in which residents could both register and vote early. In other words, it’s increasingly tough to give the Buckeye State the benefit of the doubt.

Voter purges are not unusual nationwide, but as Reuters notes, few states purge voters simply for missing a few contests. The American Civil Liberties Union recently sued Ohio to block the practice. In 2014, a judge ruled that a purge overseen by Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, violated federal law. Democrats are hardly pure on the issue—when they controlled the Ohio government, they did the same. Comprehensive data on voter purges is tough to come by, but the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which is critical of restrictive voting laws, found widespread problems with purges in a 2008 report. [The Atlantic, 6/3/16]

Voter Registration Fraud Is Rare And Often Misidentified

Brennan Center Report: “We Are Aware Of No Recent Substantiated Case In Which Registration Fraud Has Resulted In Fraudulent Votes Being Cast.” In its 2007 report on voter fraud, the Brennan Center for Justice found that it was “extraordinarily difficult to find reported cases in which individuals have submitted registration forms in someone else’s name in order to impersonate them at the polls.” Noting that the report found “no recent substantiated case” of registration fraud that “resulted in fraudulent votes being cast,” the Brennan Center did list several examples of “exaggerated or unfounded allegations of voter fraud due to fraudulent registration forms”:

There have been several documented and widely publicized instances in which registration forms have been fraudulently completed and submitted. But it is extraordinarily difficult to find reported cases in which individuals have submitted registration forms in someone else’s name in order to impersonate them at the polls. Furthermore, most reports of registration fraud do not actually claim that the fraud happens so that ineligible people can vote at the polls. Indeed, we are aware of no recent substantiated case in which registration fraud has resulted in fraudulent votes being cast.

[...]

Exaggerated or unfounded allegations of voter fraud due to fraudulent registration forms include the following:

• In Florida in 2005, a registration drive was alleged to be submitting thousands of fraudulent registration forms and withholding valid ones, with a box of 179 complete but unsubmitted forms produced as evidence. The charges later proved groundless, and the disgruntled former worker who produced the box was found to have defamed the drive. There are no reports of which we are aware that any votes were cast using any fraudulent registration connected to the drive.151

•In Georgia in 2004, 3,000 allegedly fraudulent registration forms — with the same handwriting and with numerous errors — were submitted by a registration drive. Procedures apparently meant to protect the forms from interference seemed to interfere with the group’s ability to perform quality control on the forms that were submitted. There are no reports of which we are aware that any votes were improperly cast using the name of any fraudulent registration form.152

• In Missouri, in a departure from clear Department of Justice policy, four individuals were federally indicted on the eve of the 2006 election for alleged registration fraud in Kansas City. At least 1,492 other allegedly questionable voter registration forms were submitted to St. Louis, prompting the Board of Elections for the City of St. Louis to send misleading notices to a wide swath of voters who had registered through the same group.153 Yet the wrongdoers were an isolated few registration workers, and despite the skepticism of some that registration fraud occurs only to let ineligible people vote fraudulently, there are no reports of which we are aware that any votes were cast using any fraudulent registration connected to the drive. [Brennan Center for Justice, 2007]

STUDY: Voter Fraud Claims Based On Anecdotal Evidence Are Flawed, Empirical Results Show No Dead Voters In 2006 Election. A study published in Social Science Quarterly noted that while “there is no shortage of allegations concerning election fraud,” these claims are often “based in large part on anecdotal evidence, unsubstantiated assertions, or the study of reported complaints.” This study created “a general methodology to study contemporary election fraud” and applied it to the 2006 general election in Georgia. Researchers found “no evidence that election fraud was committed under the auspices of deceased registrants” despite claims to the contrary. [Social Science Quarterly, January 2012]

STUDY: Complex Voter Registration Laws Spur Clerical Mistakes That Are “Wrongly Identified As ‘Fraud.’” A study by Columbia University professor Lorraine Minnite found that the increasing complexity of voter registration laws makes “voter mistakes” and “clerical errors” more likely and that such mistakes are often “wrongly identified as ‘fraud.’” Furthermore, the study concluded that “voter fraud is extremely rare” and that often reports of voter fraud were “unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief and administrative or voter error.” [Project Voter, March 2007]

Brennan Center Found No Instances Of Voter Registration Fraud Resulting In “An Attempt To Cast A Fraudulent Vote.” Brennan Center counsel Justin Levitt testified before the Senate on the issue of voter fraud and reported that while “occasionally, and now more rarely there are reports of fraudulent registration forms - usually involving rogue workers,” the Brennan Center found “no recent substantiated case in which such registration fraud has resulted in an attempt to cast a fraudulent vote.” From his written testimony (citations omitted):

Some of these post-election reports actually do present worrisome allegations of fraud - but only rarely do they involve allegations of in-person impersonation fraud. Instead, they allege schemes involving fraudulent absentee ballots;or absentee voters who have been coerced; or conspiracies to buy votes; or efforts to tamper with ballots or machines or counting systems. Occasionally, and now more rarely, there are reports of fraudulent registration forms - usually involving rogue workers hoping to cheat nonprofit organizations out of an honest effort to register real citizens. We are aware of no recent substantiated case in which such registration fraud has resulted in an attempt to cast a fraudulent vote. All of these reports should be investigated, and any wrongdoing should not be condoned. Yet they too should not be confused with in-person impersonation fraud. [Testimony Given Before U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, 3/12/08]

And In-Person Voter Impersonation Fraud Is Virtually Nonexistent

The New Yorker: Experts Agree That Voter Impersonation Is "Virtually Non-Existent." Experts agree that actual incidents of in-person voter fraud -- the type of voter fraud that strict voter ID laws can prevent -- are exceedingly rare and fears of voter fraud have been largely invented as a way to "excite the base," according to The New Yorker:

[Election law scholar Rick] Hasen says that, while researching "The Voting Wars," he "tried to find a single case" since 1980 when "an election outcome could plausibly have turned on voter-impersonation fraud." He couldn't find one. News21, an investigative-journalism group, has reported that voter impersonation at the polls is a "virtually non-existent" problem. After conducting an exhaustive analysis of election-crime prosecutions since 2000, it identified only seven convictions for impersonation fraud. None of those cases involved conspiracy.

Lorraine Minnite, a public-policy professor at Rutgers, collated decades of electoral data for her 2010 book, "The Myth of Voter Fraud," and came up with some striking statistics. In 2005, for example, the federal government charged many more Americans with violating migratory-bird statutes than with perpetrating election fraud, which has long been a felony. She told me, "It makes no sense for individual voters to impersonate someone. It's like committing a felony at the police station, with virtually no chance of affecting the election outcome." A report by the Times in 2007 also found election fraud to be rare. During the Bush Administration, the Justice Department initiated a five-year crackdown on voter fraud, but only eighty-six people were convicted of any kind of election crime.

Hasen, who calls von Spakovsky a leading member of "the Fraudulent Fraud Squad," told me that he respects many other conservative advocates in his area of expertise, but dismisses scholars who allege widespread voter-impersonation fraud. "I see them as foot soldiers in the Republican army," he says. "It's just a way to excite the base. They are hucksters. They're providing fake scholarly support. They're not playing fairly with the facts. And I think they know it." [The New Yorker, 10/29/12]

STUDY: Just 31 Cases Of In-Person Voter Fraud Found In More Than 1 Billion Votes. According to a 2014 study conducted by Loyola University law professor Justin Levitt, there were only 31 credible allegations of in-person voter fraud among the more than 1 billion votes cast in "general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014." And as explained by Levitt, in-person voter fraud is the only type of fraud strict voter ID laws are "designed to stop." From a August 7, 2014, Washington Post article:

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. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.

Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens. [The Washington Post, 8/6/14Media Matters, 8/7/14]

Brennan Center For Justice: These Recurring Claims Of Voter Fraud "Simply Do Not Pan Out." A 2007 article by the Brennan Center explained that in-person voter fraud is not a legitimate justification for strict voter ID laws, because voter impersonation is "more rare than getting struck by lightning":

The most common example of the harm wrought by imprecise and inflated claims of "voter fraud" is the call for in-person photo identification requirements. Such photo ID laws are effective only in preventing individuals from impersonating other voters at the polls -- an occurrence more rare than getting struck by lightning.

By throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the "voter fraud" umbrella, however, advocates for such laws artificially inflate the apparent need for these restrictions and undermine the urgency of other reforms.

Moreover, as with all restrictions on voters, photo identification requirements have a predictable detrimental impact on eligible citizens. Such laws are only potentially worthwhile if they clearly prevent more problems than they create.

[...]

Royal Masset, the former political director for the Republican Party of Texas, concisely tied all of these strands together in a 2007 Houston Chronicle article concerning a highly controversial battle over photo identification legislation in Texas. Masset connected the inflated furor over voter fraud to photo identification laws and their expected impact on legitimate voters: "Among Republicans it is an 'article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections,' Masset said. He doesn't agree with that, but does believe that requiring photo IDs could cause enough of a dropoff in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote."

This remarkably candid observation underscores why it is so critical to get the facts straight on voter fraud. The voter fraud phantom drives policy that disenfranchises actual legitimate voters, without a corresponding actual benefit. Virtuous public policy should stand on more reliable supports. [Brennan Center For Justice, 2007]

PBS: In-Person Voting Fraud Is Rare, Doesn’t Affect Elections. A PBS article about the 2016 election and in-person voter fraud cited professor Lorraine Minnite, who said “voter impersonation is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election” so it’s “irrational to even try just for one or two more votes.” The article cited several studies showing that “voter impersonation at the ballot box” -- the type of fraud that “voter IDs are designed to prevent” -- “is virtually non-existent.” From the August 20 article:

While fraud can occur, the number of cases is very small and the type that voter IDs are designed to prevent — voter impersonation at the ballot box — is virtually non-existent.

News21, a reporting project affiliated with Arizona State University, in 2012 found 2,068 cases of election fraud nationwide since 2000. Of those, just 10 involved voter impersonation — or one out of every 15 million prospective voters. More common was absentee mail-in ballot fraud, with 491 cases. None affected the outcome of an election.

Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Rutgers University-Camden, says voter impersonation fraud is rare because it’s difficult to do on a large-enough scale to tip an election.

“It’s so irrational to even try just for one or two more votes,” said Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud.”

In court cases that temporarily invalidated some of the ID laws, including North Carolina, Wisconsin and North Dakota, election officials could barely cite a case in which a person was charged with in-person voting fraud. [PBS, 8/20/16]

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