The Statistics on Voter Fraud in the US
The statistics on voter and election fraud indicate that, while rare, it is real. In-person voter fraud is the rarest form of election fraud.
Recently, voter fraud has been a hot-button topic in the US. Much of this stems from the staunch supporters and opponents to the wave of voter ID laws which have been sweeping across the country. Supporters argue that voter fraud is rampant and that these laws will address the problem. Opponents call voter fraud a myth and say the voter ID laws will disenfranchise millions of otherwise eligible voters.
Understanding the statistics of voter and election fraud provides insight into the types of voter fraud that occur and their prevalence, as well as, shapes a more rational discussion about how to protect the sanctity of US elections.
Statistics on Voter Fraud by Type of Fraud
There have been many studies looking at the specifics of election fraud over the years. These studies examine the types of election fraud, the amount of accusations vs prosecutions vs convictions. The statistics provided by these studies are not completely consistent, but the methodologies used to conduct them varied as did the break-down of voter fraud types reported. Some looked only at certain states, while others focused on national wide court documentation. The important thing to consider when comparing studies of this nature is: where they are consistent and how closely the statistics hold true at present.
In-person Voter Fraud
In-person (AKA Impersonation) voter fraud is the most rare form of voter fraud and it is the only one that the Voter ID laws would have any impact on. It involves a person physically going and voting for someone else, like a family member or someone who is deceased. This type of voter fraud is also the least likely to threaten our election process. It is simply unrealistic to think any attempt to throw an election could be accomplished by individuals physically going and waiting in lines at different polling stations to vote as multiple people.
- Between 2002 and 2005 nine people were accused of voted twice in the same election according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section.
- Of those 9 cases, 3 of the cases were dismissed, 1 was acquitted, and 5 plead guilty.
- News21 conducted a study of 2,608 cases alleging voter fraud nationally from 2000 to 2012 and found only 1 case of in-person voter fraud every 207 cases involving other types of election fraud.
- Of those 2,608 cases alleging voter fraud, only 77 were alleged fraud by voters and of those only 33 could be verified as convicted or plead guilty.
Absentee Ballot Fraud
Absentee ballot fraud comes in 2 forms: intentionally using an absentee ballots in more than one election (requires a person to have also committed voter registration fraud) and intentionally voting for someone else using their absentee ballot card. There are also cases where campaign workers illegally misinformed voters and collected absentee ballots not intending to turn in those with votes for the opponents.
- News21 conducted a study of 2,608 cases alleging voter fraud nationally from 2000 to 2012 and found 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud.
Voter Registration Fraud
Voter registration fraud is a hard topic to tackle. Much of suspected voter registration fraud is based on the high numbers of individuals who are registered in more that one place.
- According to the Pew Center on the States, 2.75 million Americans are registered to vote in more than one state.
However, this is not an accurate indicator of registration fraud. A person who moves to a new state and registers to vote without deactivating his registration in his previous residence should not be assumed to have criminal intentions.
Another example generalization of voter fraud is the assumption that the millions of deceased persons who have not been removed from the registered voter lists. Again, while it does leave the door open for fraud, it is not by its self indicative of fraud.
- The Pew Center on the States estimates 1.8 million deceased individuals remain listed as voters.
There is also intentional and unintentional voting by persons who are not eligible to vote. While it is also considered in-person voter fraud, it is done by persons who have been registered to vote and presumably has some form of ID, so it is unclear whether Voter ID laws would have an affect on this type of fraud.
- Between 2002 and 2005 twenty-nine people were accused of falsely claiming voter eligibility to the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Public Integrity Section.
- Of those 29 cases, 10 were accused of being felons in states where felons lose their voting eligibility and only 5 of those plead guilty or were convicted.
- The other 19 were accused of not being citizens and 14 of those either plead guilty or were convicted.
- The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel conducted a study in Milwaukee and found that 361 felons still under state supervision had voted out of 203,000 total votes cast.
- When questioned these individuals claimed they did not know they were ineligible to vote.
One ex-convict was so unfamiliar with the rules that he provided his prison-issued identification card, stamped “Offender,” when he registered just before voting.
- Felons can legally vote in Wisconsin, but only after they have completed their probation or parole.
- News21 conducted a study of 2,608 cases alleging voter fraud nationally from 2000 to 2012 and found 74 cases alleging felons voting and 56 cases alleging non-citizens voting.
- They also found 400 cases alleging registration fraud, but doesn’t provide the details as to convictions or guilty pleas.
Election Official Fraud
Election Official Fraud is typically done by ballot stuffing, but it also could include voter intimidation or preventing voters from casting their vote.
- The New York Times researched studies over five years and found 3 cases of voter fraud by election officials.
Campaign Worker Fraud
Typically this is done by either buying votes or misleading voters about the actual election details.
- Between 2002 and 2005 30 people either plead guilty yo or were convicted of buying votes.
More than 30 were linked to small vote-buying schemes in which candidates generally in sheriff’s or judge’s races paid voters for their support.
- The New York Times researched studies over five years and found 31 convictions of campaign workers for voter fraud and 10 convictions of Government officials.
Individual Voter Fraud Statistics
Believe it or not voter fraud rarely happens at an individual level. Although you may hear about the rampant problem of voter fraud in the United States. Take this statistic, in Ohio in 2004 the percentage of individuals accused of voter fraud was 0.00004% (about the amount of times Americans are struck by lightening every year).
So if individual voter fraud isn’t a problem in the US, then why is the issue so focused on? The simple answer is that the groups that focus on individual voter fraud are trying to distract the American people or fire them up. If fingers are being pointed left and right and voter fraud is a big confusing issue it is that much easier for groups to commit voter fraud.
Multiple studies (including some detailed here) have found that almost all cases of in-person impersonation voter “fraud” are the result of a voter making an honest mistake, and that even these mistakes are extremely infrequent.
Group Voter Fraud Statistics
Special interest groups have a long history of voter fraud in the US. You see while individuals have almost nothing to gain from defrauding the government and risking their freedom for one vote, groups have a much bigger incentive. So what is the incentive for groups to point voter fraud accusations, winning elections. That’s right, if you control the vote, you control the elections and this simple fact has been the root cause of corruption in both the US voting system and the voting systems all over the world.
The bottom line on Voter Fraud in the US: Individual voter fraud is nearly nonexistent, while voter suppression and voter fraud by powerful political groups as been in ongoing issue throughout history.
We will dig deep into specific cases and types of voter fraud throughout the site. For now let’s just focus on some voter fraud statistics to give you a quick overview of what is really going on with voter fraud in the United States:
Voter Fraud Statistics in US history:
- In Missouri in 2000, for example, the Secretary of State claimed that 79 voters were registered with addresses at vacant lots, but subsequent investigation revealed that the lots in question actually housed valid and legitimate residences.
- 2004 election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004%.
- 2004 gubernatorial election in Washington State actually reveals just the opposite: though voter fraud does happen, it happens approximately 0.0009%
- A 1995 investigation into votes allegedly cast in Baltimore by deceased voters and those with disenfranchising felony convictions revealed that the voters in question were both alive and felony-free.
- Many of the inaccurate claims result from lists of voters compared to other lists – of deceased individuals, persons with felony convictions, voters in other states, etc.
- In Florida in 2000, a list of purged voters later became notorious when it was discovered that the “matching” process captured eligible voters with names similar to – but decidedly different from – the names of persons with felony convictions, sometimes in other states entirely.
- A 2005 attempt to identify supposed double voters in New Jersey mistakenly accused people with similar names but whose middle names or suffixes were clearly different, such as “J.T. Kearns, Jr.” and “J.T. Kearns, Sr.,” of being the same person. Even when names and birth dates match across lists, that does not mean there was voter fraud.
- it is more likely than not that among just 23 individuals, two will share a birthday. Similar statistics show that for most reasonably common names, it is extremely likely that at least two people with the same name in a state will share the same date of birth.
- Other allegations of fraudulent voting often turn out to be the result of common clerical errors, incomplete information, or faulty assumptions. Most allegations of voter fraud simply evaporate when more rigorous analysis is conducted.
Compare These Two Looks at Individual Voter Fraud
More on Voter Fraud
This is just a small selection of important voter fraud statistics in the US. Regardless of your opinions the facts show that the republican party has been using voter fraud as a political weapon to disenfranchise those who are likely to vote for the Democratic party, to get rid of votes for the opposition and to actually commit voter fraud themselves. It’s time for it to end. Stand up for the laws that make our country great and help to change the voter fraud statistics.