A professor who studied voter fraud in Wisconsin and around the country testified Thursday that it is “exceedingly rare,” and that requiring voters to show a photo ID might have prevented just one of the few dozen cases prosecuted in the state over the last decade. Lorraine Minnite, author of “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” was presented as an expert witness by plaintiffs in a the federal trial challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law. She has written numerous scholarly articles on the topic, and testified before Congress and as an expert in other trials. Minnite, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said she’s been studying the incidence of fraud in contemporary American elections since 2001. She said she noticed that every time reforms were introduced that would make voting easier, claims that the changes would increase fraud also arose. She studied Wisconsin early because it was one of six states with same-day registration and might have more cases of fraud. But she said she did not find voter fraud — which she defined as “the intentional corruption of the election process by voters” — any more prevalent in those states.
As part of a report she prepared for the trial, Minnite said, she found a total of 31 voter fraud prosecutions in Wisconsin since 2008. She said that amounts to one case for every 283,000 votes cast in the three federal elections during that time span.
Ten of the case didn’t really meet her definition, she said, because they involved improperly collected signatures or filing false voter registrations for others, or lying about a felony record to get a job as a voter registration worker.
Of the 21 remaining cases, 12 were felons who voted, three were double voters, four were people who voted in the wrong place and one was a man who obtained and voted an absentee ballot for his dead wife — a case Minnite conceded may have been prevented if the dead woman wasn’t already registered and would have to show photo ID to get the ballot.
She said she found 95 federal indictments of cases related to voter fraud from 2002 to 2005, which included 14 cases from Milwaukee County related to the 2004 presidential election.Of the total, 40 cases involved voters, as opposed to other actors in the election process. Of those, 26 were convicted. None of the cases involved someone impersonating another at the polls.
Of the 14 Milwaukee cases, 10 were felons who voted, and four were people who voted twice.