After investigating complaints of voting fraud in the June 5 recall election, the Racine County District Attorney announced there is no evidence of any crimes committed. A statement reads that "Some of the information that was provided was anecdotal, as opposed to firsthand eyewitness accounts. Much of what was reported as fraud was more appropriately categorized as rule violations that are under the jurisdiction of the Government Accountability Board."
This echoes comments recently made by the GAB regarding allegations of voter fraud in the election between John Lehman and Van Wanggaard. GAB Executive Director Kevin Kennedy stated that evidence supporting allegations of tampering with ballet bags does not exist. The board said allegations of voter fraud are unsubstantiated.
Regardless of what politicians and party officials claim, voter fraud is not a problem in Wisconsin. It is not a problem nationwide either. Numerous studies have concluded that the rate of voter fraud in American elections is just about zero.
The New York Times released an investigation in 2007 noting that only 86 people across the nation had been convicted of voter fraud in the previous five years. The majority were honest mistakes on registration forms or a genuine misunderstanding of eligibility rules. But no real evidence of organized efforts to tamper with federal elections.
A group that has studied the issue for many years, The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, released a report stating that “by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare." Examining Missouri elections in 2000, they found that out of more than two million votes cast, the verified fraud rate was 0.0003 percent.
Another study investigated allegations of 300,000 fraudulent votes cast during the 2004 election cycle. The conclusion? Only 185 votes were even potentially fraudulent.
The most common cases of voter fraud involve absentee ballots of voter registration fraud. Photo ID laws will not stop those from happening. If people are worried about someone impersonating someone else at the polling place, there’s absolutely no evidence of that happening on a large scale.
Back to Wisconsin
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus claimed that widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin means that Republican candidates "need to do a point or two better" to win a statewide election. Politifact Wisconsin recently labeled that claim false. GAB’s Kennedy said that dating back to 2000, the board found no more than 20 instances of voter fraud in any statewide election.
So if voter fraud is not a problem in Wisconsin or anywhere else, why does the GOP work so hard to pass photo ID laws? Why do they insist that voter fraud is a serious problem when there’s hardly any evidence to support those claims? Why do they diligently look for solutions to a problem that does not exist?
The people most likely to not have a photo ID? Minorities, students, and the elderly. For example, various studies have shown that 25 percent of minority voters don’t have a photo ID compared to 8 percent of white voters. Traditionally, those are groups who tend to vote for Democrats.
This is not an argument against photo ID laws. But the GOP is using heated rhetoric and scare tactics in an attempt to convince people of a problem that is not real.
Widespread voter fraud is a fairy tale.