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Thursday, October 21, 2010

IPC: The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen “Voter Fraud”

The following report comes from the Immigration Policy Center.  The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration.

In Oregon,  anti-immigrant hardliners like to make ludicrous claims that there is widespread voter fraud by non-citizens.  The following report shows that their claims are just fear-mongering and nothing more.

Chicken Little in the Voting Booth: The Non-Existent Problem of Non-Citizen “Voter Fraud”

Election experts tend to agree that modern-day voter fraud is a very rare occurrence in the United States, primarily because it is so irrational. The potential payoff (a vote) is not worth the risk of jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, and—in the case of non-citizens—possibly deportation. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law succinctly summarizes this point in a 2006 fact sheet: “Each act of voter fraud risks five years in prison and a $10,000 fine—but yields at most one incremental vote. The single vote is simply not worth the price. Because voter fraud is essentially irrational, it is not surprising that no credible evidence suggests a voter fraud epidemic.” As an October 18, 2010, story in the National Journal points out, “a five-year investigation by the Bush Justice Department…turned up virtually no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” Nevertheless, anti-immigrant activists are fond of pretending that fraudulent voting by non-citizens is a national epidemic.

Fighting Phantoms: No Evidence of Widespread or Systematic Vote Fraud by Non-Citizens

■  According to a 2007 report by Project Vote, “government records show that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of eight people a year. This includes 19 people who were ineligible to vote, five because they were still under state supervision for felony convictions, and 14 who were not U.S. citizens; and five people who voted twice in the same election, once in Kansas and again in Missouri.” As a 2007 report from the Brennan Center notes, one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to come across an actual case of voter fraud.

■  Similarly, a 2005 report by the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio and the League of Women Voters of Ohio found that a grand total of four votes cast in the state’s 2002 and 2004 general elections were in some way “fraudulent,” amounting to .00000044% of all votes cast.

■  The New York Times reported in April 2007 that, “five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.”

Sore Losers, Mistakes, and Mischief Behind Voter Fraud Charges

■  The Project Vote report found that “most voter fraud allegations turn out to be something other than fraud. A review of news stories over a recent two year period found that reports of voter fraud were most often limited to local races and individual acts and fell into three categories: unsubstantiated or false claims by the loser of a close race, mischief, and administrative or voter error.” The report concludes that “when we probe most allegations of voter fraud we find errors, incompetence and partisanship.”

■  Many accusations of voter fraud by non-citizens stem from database errors. The Brennan Center report notes that “government citizenship records—as the government itself acknowledges—are…replete with errors or incomplete information. Naturalization documentation may find its way into the government files slowly, or not at all, leaving outdated or inaccurate information for investigators looking for fraud. And this, in turn, leads to flawed accusations that noncitizens have been voting, when the voters in question have in fact become fully naturalized American citizens.”

■  The Brennan Center report concludes that “allegations of widespread voter fraud…often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim (“Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!”); the follow-up—when any exists—is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.”

Allegations Put Minorities, Immigrants, and the Poor in the Cross-Hairs

■  According to the Brennan Center report, “claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters. Overly restrictive identification requirements for voters at the polls—which address a sort of voter fraud more rare than death by lightning—is only the most prominent example.”

Download the full report by linking here:


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