After interviewing all 88 county Boards of Election in Ohio, a study by the League of Women Voters found that there were only four instances of ineligible people trying to cast a vote in the 2002 and 2004 elections out of 9 million votes cast.
Our friends at Velvet Revolution tell us that translates to 0.0000444% of the vote.
Voter fraud has been in the news a lot lately. A number of party leaders and politicians are concerned that, without stronger voter ID laws in place, one person can go to several different polling places pretending to be different people, voting several times.
A non-citizen could pretend to be a citizen and cast a vote. Some fear voter fraud could even be an organized effort of a political group, with a bus load of people going from polling place to polling place casting a number of fraudulent votes.
Thirty states have voter ID laws in place, but a number of states have implemented or are considering implementing tougher laws requiring voters to show picture IDs of a limited kind. For example, a driver’s license, gun permits, and other government issued IDs, but often not student IDs.
The debate is particularly hot in Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Virginia where court battles rage between state leaders and ACLU group, who say poor, minority or elderly are discriminated against with tough photo ID laws.
The irony is that with all the time and effort going into discussing and protecting against voter fraud, very few actual cases have been identified. Most potential voter fraud requires an individual to physically vote a number of times. And as long as a paper ballot is used, voter fraud can be tracked down and identified.
Election fraud, on the other hand, is much more of a problem.
The existence of organized election fraud was well-documented in the 2004 Presidential election, particularly in the state of Ohio, whose returns won the election for Bush over Kerry. In Ohio, for example, in one polling place where some 600 or so people voted, some 2000 of these votes went to Bush.
The potential for corruption and abuse with election fraud far outweighs the possible abuses of voter fraud. Election fraud can involve political powers using “black box” computerized voting machines, whose source code has been designed to give the elections to whomever the prevailing political forces want in office, this could be the candidate form either status quo party. Hundreds of thousands, even millions, of votes could potentially be fraudulent when electronic machines are used or when other corrupt counting methods are used. Machines can also be more prone to failure than simple write-in ballots, and people in certain districts can be sometimes be turned away.
The Diebold voting machine scandal in 2004 elections got some attention, and of course there was some discussion about whether or not the 2000 elections was stolen from Gore by Bush. That was the Bush administration both times. Is there reason to be concerned about voter fraud now that the Bush administration is gone?
In the 2012 elections, 25% voted using paperless machines. None of these votes can be verified in an audit. It is particularly worrisome that in four battleground states, which happen to account for 71 of the 270 electoral votes, paperless machines are used.
The reigning political powers, whatever their professed party affiliation, do potentially have the power to control the elections as long as paperless ballots continue to be used. Power corrupts. And this power makes it potentially impossible for Independents to gain ground.
Election fraud is a greater threat in state and local elections and primaries, in which there are more vulnerable third-party and Independents running against status quo candidates.
Some efforts to maintain open and transparent elections essential for a Democracy could be open-source software, a return to paper ballots, or something entirely different we the people decide.
A free press is also essential, and thanks to Brad Blog’s Brad Friedman, we have a very detailed account of election fraud. And election fraud should be where this conversation pivots while our elected officials are currently trying, or in places where they already have, to make laws that help facilitate the voting process, not hinder access to it.
Any effort to ‘reform’ our elections by those already elected who continue the mantra of ‘voter fraud’ should be quickly redirected to focus their energy with a group trying to help open up our elections, hopefully with an organization already engaged in fixing election fraud.
Helping ensure all elections shall be free and equal is our keystone principle at Free & Equal Elections Foundation. For more information on this topic and many others, please visit our website at www.freeandequal.org.