By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2014, 3:24pm PT  

We're on the road this week, so can't get into great detail. But not much is needed, as Justin Levitt's piece at Washington Post's "Wonk Blog" does all the heavy lifting.

We've previously reported on the exhaustive study by the non-partisan News21 consortium which found just 10 incidents of possible voter fraud that might have been deterred by polling place Photo ID restrictions in all 50 states from 2000 to 2012. That report was based on all of the official actions filed in each state during that time period, of all forms of potential voter fraud or voter registration fraud or, more broadly, election fraud in general.

But now Levitt --- a constitutional and democracy law professor at Loyola University Law School, who also works on related issues with NYU's Brennan Center for Justice and frequently testifies as an expert in various law suits and hearings regarding voting rights --- offers an update to those numbers. The results are remarkable, though unsurprising to those who have followed the creation of this Republican stalking horse for the past decade.

Levitt's offers an even more expansive investigation than News21's, and includes all known incidents and allegations, even those which haven't been filed formally with election or law enforcement officials.

"To be clear," he writes, "I'm not just talking about prosecutions. I track any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix."

His explanation of what he has found --- from every known allegation of this type of voter fraud between 2000 and 2014 in all 50 states --- is staggering, to say the least...

[R]equirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

I've been tracking allegations of fraud for years now, including the fraud ID laws are designed to stop. In 2008, when the Supreme Court weighed in on voter ID, I looked at every single allegation put before the Court. And since then, I've been following reports wherever they crop up.

To be clear, I'm not just talking about prosecutions. I track any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix.

So far, I've found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country. If you want to check my work, you can read a comprehensive list of the incidents below.

To put this in perspective, the 31 incidents below come in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014. In general and primary elections alone, more than 1 billion ballots were cast in that period.

Some of these 31 incidents have been thoroughly investigated (including some prosecutions). But many have not. Based on how other claims have turned out, I'd bet that some of the 31 will end up debunked: a problem with matching people from one big computer list to another, or a data entry error, or confusion between two different people with the same name, or someone signing in on the wrong line of a pollbook.

So there are just 31 known potential incidents across the nation, over 14 years, of the specific type of fraud which might have been deterred by the polling place Photo ID restrictions that the Republican Party across the country continues to pretend are needed to prevent fraud.

It's precisely that type of statistic which leads folks, like this recent caller to a North Carolina talk radio show, to realize they have been lied to, hoaxed and betrayed when confronted with the actual facts on the issue that GOP media outlets like Fox "News" seem to keep forgetting to mention when they pretend there is some sort of a "voter fraud" epidemic across the country. There isn't. It's a scam.

In actuality, as readers of The BRAD BLOG have long known, for years, such restrictions are a completely transparent attempt to keep millions of largely Democratic-leaning voters --- minorities, elderly, students and the poor --- who lack the very narrow, specific type of state-issued Photo ID required under these laws, from being able to cast their vote at all. That's exactly what the federal judge in Wisconsin recently found when striking down that state GOP's version of the law as unconstitutional and a violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. In that case, as in virtually all of the other trials over these type of laws in other states, the Republican defendants could not offer even a single case of voter fraud in the state in recent history which might have been deterred by their suppressive law.

"It is absolutely clear," Circuit Court Judge Lynn Adelman wrote in his landmark ruling [PDF], that the WI law would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."

That's also precisely what Levitt has found:

In just four states that have held just a few elections under the harshest ID laws, more than 3,000 votes (in general elections alone) have reportedly been affirmatively rejected for lack of ID. (That doesn't include voters without ID who didn't show up, or recordkeeping mistakes by officials.)

See Levitt's full piece at WaPo for a detailed accounting of each of those 31 cases of potential voter fraud that might have been stopped by polling place Photo ID restrictions, as well as a bunch of fraud cases that decidedly could not have been deterred, despite being oft-cited, misleadingly, by proponents of such laws as the reason why such draconian restrictions on the right to vote are "needed".

[Hat-tip Stephen Heller]

* * *
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...


Choose monthly amount...

(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)

Share article...