Is vote fraud common in American politics? Not according to United States District Judge Lynn Adelman, who examined the evidence from Wisconsin and ruled in late April that “virtually no voter impersonation occurs” in the state and that “no evidence suggests that voter-impersonation fraud will become a problem at any time in the foreseeable future.” Strikingly, however, a Marquette Law School poll conducted in Wisconsin just a few weeks later showed that many voters there believed voter impersonation and other kinds of vote fraud were widespread — the likely result of a yearslong campaign by conservative groups to raise concerns about the practice. Thirty-nine percent of Wisconsin voters believe that vote fraud affects a few thousand votes or more each election. One in five believe that this level of fraud exists for each of the three types of fraud that individuals could commit: in-person voter impersonation, submitting absentee ballots in someone else’s name, and voting by people who are not citizens or Wisconsin residents.
Belief in voter impersonation is strongest among Republicans, echoing claims made by elites in their party. Thirty-six percent of Republicans think voter impersonation affects a few thousand or more votes, compared with 20 percent of independents and just 7 percent of Democrats.
By contrast, beliefs about the prevalence of fraud by election officials show far less of a partisan skew, with 16 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats (and 17 percent of Wisconsin voters over all) thinking that this affects a few thousand votes or more each election.
It’s important to be clear that there is no evidence of vote fraud at these levels. Judge Adelman’s conclusion in the Wisconsin case echoes previous findings that voter fraud is exceptionally rare across the country. The New York Times reported in 2007, for instance, that a five-year investigation by the Bush administration “turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.” Even after this intensive search, the Rutgers political scientist Lorraine Minnite showed in her book “The Myth of Voter Fraud” that prosecutions for migratory bird law violations were still far more common than election fraud during the 2005 fiscal year.
Full Article: Voter Fraud Is Rare, but Myth Is Widespread – NYTimes.com.