They vowed to wage a war on voter fraud. But those officials are having a hard time finding much of an enemy to fight. State officials in key presidential battleground states, many of them Republican, have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected existed. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters in either state. Democrats say the searches waste time and, worse, could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks. “I find it offensive that I’m being required to do more than any other citizen to prove that I can vote,” said Samantha Meiring, 37, a Colorado voter and South African immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2010. Meiring was among 3,903 registered voters who received letters last month from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office questioning their right to vote.
Especially telling, critics of the searches say, is that the efforts are focused on crucial swing states from Colorado to Florida, where both political parties and the presidential campaigns are watching every vote. And in Colorado, most of those who received letters are either Democrats or unaffiliated with a party. It’s a similar story in Florida, too.
Republicans argue that voting fraud is no small affair, even if the cases are few, when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes. “We have real vulnerabilities in the system,” said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010 who is making a name for himself at home by pursuing the issue. “I don’t think one should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability.” The different viewpoints underscore a divide between the parties: Are the small numbers of voting fraud evidence that a problem exists? Or do they show that the voter registration system works?