Weekly Standard Pushes Voter Fraud Myth To Make Plans To Disenfranchise Voters More Palatable

Attempting to justify a push for additional restrictions on voter registration, The Weekly Standard's Michael Warren went searching for examples of fraudulent votes being cast in the last decade and came up with only five examples.

In his post, Warren tries to debunk progressives' arguments that Republicans are using restrictions on voter registration and voting as cover to disenfranchise people. Warren suggests that the restrictions are necessary to combat voter fraud, alleging that there have been “several substantial investigations into and cases of voter fraud since 2000.” In fact, contrary to [Pew Center's Doug] Chapin's claim, there is much evidence that liberal groups like ACORN have gotten away with plenty of fraud in the last several elections before 2010. (Read here, here, here, and here, for starters.)"

As we've previously documented, actual examples of “voter fraud,” people casting or attempting to cast an illegal ballot are extremely rare. Right-wing media figures often conflate “voter registration fraud,” in which people participating in voter registration drives fill out fraudulent registration forms -- filling out registrations for Mickey Mouse, for instance, to pad the number of forms they turn in -- with actual voter fraud. After all, even if somebody fraudulently registers Mickey Mouse, how likely is it that Mickey Mouse will turn up to vote?

And sure enough, three of Warren's four examples of voter fraud in the last decade actually involve investigations of voter registration fraud. Indeed, one of the examples involves a man convicted of voter registration fraud who says he “took addresses from homeless shelters, used fake birthdays and Social Security numbers and took names from baby books to create voters out of thin air.” It seems pretty unlikely that any of these registrations actually turned into votes.

Warren does hit on one report of actual alleged voter fraud: a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article reporting that three people were charged with illegally voting as felons and two were charged with voting twice (another two were charged with voter registration fraud).

That's it: Five examples of alleged fraudulent voting in the last decade. (By the way, a Justice Department report found that between October 2002 and September 2005, the Justice Department convicted 17 people for casting fraudulent ballots with another three pending at the time of the report.)

Is this handful of examples of voter fraud really enough to support bills that will have the effect of disenfranchising legitimate voters?