Elec­tion fraud hap­pens, but not enough to sway re­sults

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

hun­dreds of thou­sands of votes in both of his pres­i­den­tial races.

“I’m not aware of any wide­spread fraud in any of the key states in 2008 and 2012. Surely there was no fraud that ac­tu­ally made a dif­fer­ence to the out­come,” said Joshua A. Dou­glas, a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ken­tucky who teaches and re­searches elec­tion law.

Ques­tions about whether rig­ging or fraud could sway an elec­tion made news after Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump raised fears about it.

He has re­fused to agree to ac­cept the re­sults of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion un­til he sees how it plays out.

An­a­lysts de­bate whether his com­plaints are good pol­i­tics. Some say it could help him drive his vot­ers to the polls, while oth­ers say it could de­press turnout all around. Those in charge of elec­tions say Mr. Trump has overblown the dan­gers.

“Are there cases of voter fraud? Ab­so­lutely, there are cases of voter fraud,” Ohio Sec­re­tary of State Jon A. Husted, a Repub­li­can, told CNN. “But it’s rare, and we catch th­ese peo­ple. Most times, we catch them be­fore their vote is even counted and we hold them ac­count­able, and we’re build­ing a bet­ter sys­tem ev­ery sin­gle day.”

Mr. Husted used sim­i­lar lan­guage in Jan­uary 2013, when he re­ferred 135 cases of sus­pected voter fraud to law en­force­ment after the 2012 gen­eral elec­tion.

The tally in­cluded 20 peo­ple who were reg­is­tered to vote in Ohio and an­other state and ap­peared to cast bal­lots in both. Mr. Obama car­ried Ohio by more than 266,000 votes.

“This re­port demon­strates that voter fraud does ex­ist, but it is not an epi­demic,” Mr. Husted said at the time.

The Ohio at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice said that of the 20 peo­ple ac­cused of vot­ing in two states in 2012, two pleaded guilty, eight went into a crim­i­nal di­ver­sion pro­gram or other form of de­ferred pros­e­cu­tion, and six were cleared of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity. Pros­e­cu­tors didn’t pur­sue one of the cases, and three cases re­mained un­der seal.

Elec­tion in­tegrity groups say the num­ber of cases brought by state of­fi­cials doesn’t cap­ture the ex­tent of fraud. Vi­o­la­tors must be caught, for one thing, and op­po­si­tion to voter ID re­quire­ments means many states don’t have check­points to spot bad be­hav­ior.

“States are only able to see and do what the law al­lows them to,” said Lo­gan Church­well, a spokesman for True the Vote, a group that helps peo­ple re­port elec­tion fraud.

New Hamp­shire Sec­re­tary of State Bill Gard­ner said at least one case of voter fraud has been pros­e­cuted ev­ery year since 2000, though ac­tual oc­cur­rences are hard to quan­tify.

“Peo­ple say if some­one gets picked up for DWI, they’ve driven [while in­tox­i­cated] 10 or more times,” he said.

Some­times peo­ple are caught by chance.

Mr. Gard­ner noted a fa­mous case in Manch­ester, where a lo­cal man spot­ted a voter who hadn’t lived in the area since high school.

The man, it turned out, lived in Mas­sachusetts and trav­eled back to the Gran­ite State for the 2008 and 2012 elec­tions.

“He ad­mit­ted he’d been vot­ing up here for years,” Mr. Gard­ner said.

Mr. Trump also has hinted that Mr. Obama is let­ting il­le­gal im­mi­grants pour into the coun­try to vote.

In­deed in 2012, Mr. Husted rooted out 17 nonci­t­i­zens who ap­peared to have voted il­le­gally in Ohio. At least four were con­victed.

The 1990s-era law to push voter reg­is­tra­tion, dubbed Mo­tor-Voter be­cause it en­lists state mo­tor ve­hi­cle of­fices to dole out forms, has added to the prob­lems.

Lloyd Leonard, a se­nior ad­vo­cacy di­rec­tor for the League of Women Vot­ers, said nonci­t­i­zens who get driver’s licenses some­times are reg­is­tered to vote be­cause of cler­i­cal er­rors.

“No sys­tem is per­fect all the time. But it is im­por­tant to know the dif­fer­ence be­tween ad­min­is­tra­tive er­rors and in­ten­tional acts,” he said. “Ad­min­is­tra­tive er­rors do oc­cur, but there are very, very few ex­am­ples of in­el­i­gi­ble peo­ple in­ten­tion­ally try­ing to reg­is­ter and vote.”

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