How big a problem is "voting fraud" in the U.S.?

In this thread – – we debated the “Count Every Vote Act,” proposed by Senator Hillary Clinton and Representative Barbara Boxer. Summary, from People for the American Way,

In that thread, some Dopers objected that some of its provisions (those in bold above) would mean more “voting fraud.” In this context, “voting fraud” does not mean the dishonest counting of ballots that is one problem the bill is intended to address, but, rather, persons casting ballots who are not legally eligible to vote, i.e.: noncitizens; persons who have not been in the jurisdiction for the legally required length of time; convicted felons in states where that disqualifies one from voting (the Act itself would change that, but only for federal elections); or persons impersonating other persons.

I find myself wondering, how big a problem is this kind of “voting fraud” at present? I mean, considering the trouble we have to go through in this country to get registered voters to the polls . . . Does anybody have even an estimate of how many legally ineligible voters cast ballots in the 2004 election? Is there any study showing a real danger of increased fraudulent voting if precautions against it are relaxed?

In this thread – expressed astonishment at how easy it is to vote in the UK – no ID actually required – but everyone seems to agree this raises very little danger of fraud (mainly because the voting precincts are so small it would easily be found out).

In this thread – – we’re debating whether the Republicans are “pushing a mandatory stealth National ID card.” I guess that’s a related issue. If you’re concerned with “voting fraud,” should you be in favor of a national ID card, which you would have to present when voting?

Such a card could, in fact, substitute for the existing voter-registration process entirely; every time you notify the relevant authorities of a change of address, you would automatically be registered to vote in your new precinct, provided you are a citizen over 18 and not otherwise ineligible (and that information could also be encoded in the main national ID card database). It would be like motor-voter but even simpler.

Are we talking about voting fraud on the level of fraudulent voters, or voting fraud at the level of corrupt vote-counters, Secretaries of State, and other such election watchdogs?

I’m more concerned about the latter than the former – after all, it takes less effort to plant a machine that conveniently “loses” 50,000 votes for your opponent than it does to get 50,000 folks to double-vote for your candidate.

In this thread, the former; see the OP.

My guess is that ineligable people voting in the US is near non-existant. In the 1990s I worked as an election inspector in Michigan in a number of ballots. I never even heard tell of a case of someone trying to vote tombstones, etc. I actually read through the laws, and theoretically I could have challenged voters and they would have cast provisional ballots. It is just I never even had an inkling that anyone was fraudulently voting. I even remember joking with another election inspector that things should be boring, unless someone I actually knew wasn’t a US citizen actually walked in and tried to vote. :wink: I figured that basically I was there to make sure none of the other election inspectors tried to stuff the ballot box. (I’m a Democrat in a heavily Republican area.) The fraud potential would have been huge if me and the other election inspectors conspired to rig the election. We could have done it easily. It is just that all of us seemed to want to run a fair election.

Now maybe if I lived in Chicago… :wink:

There are many places where even that would not result in prosecution. My ex was Canadian citizen living here with a green card, and she voted in every election, including Presidential elections. During the divorce, I dropped a dime on her and reported her to the California Secretary of State’s voter fraud division. He built a well documented case against her, as she always voted absentee, and presented it to the LA district attorney, all tied with a bow and ready to go to trial, yet he decline to prosecute. Some months later the Wall Street Journal ran an article that claimed that the LA district attorney had never prosecuted a single voter fraud case. Ever.

This doesn’t surprise me. If this happened, what could I do? State law would have allowed me to challenge the ballot as provisional. If I had demanded such, that would be what happened. But call the cops? Such would have been thought ridiculous unless a group walked into the polling place and caused a ruckus. I guess under this almost unimangible scenario I could have called the police in. Otherwise the provisional ballot would have been ignored unless the election ended up in the courts.

Sure, you could prevent the ballot from being counted, but my point was, unless the DA makes voter fraud a high priority, no one will ever be punished for it.

Shady Republican operatives go into poor African-American neighborhoods and try to scare the residents out of voting. Their excuse for this shoddy electoral behavior? Such trumped-up hysteria of fraudulent voters as related by the OP. It’s just a ruse to intimidate black voters This was well documented last year, and I remember a Great Debates thread about it. The Republicans asked for cites, and the Democrats came back with lots of documented examples, enough to note a pattern. Since the actual incidence of overvoting is so low, and the Republicans’ manufactured outrage over it was so transparent, when I see someone pushing the issue I’m inclined to think they’re pushing such an agenda.

I think most of the voting fraud takes place in big cities, which are controlled by corrupt democratic machines. Take Massachusetts: ex House Speaker Finneran represented a district that was set up to keep him in power. How did this work? Finneran (a white catholic) had a district that was 98% black, non-catholic. how did he win every time (with huge majorities)? Simple-the corrupt redistricting committee (which Finneran controlled) kept the district in areas of high transience and low voter participation. On election day, “walking around money” would be distributed to potential voters, to keep them away from thje polls.
Or take Soth Boston, where a young professional class of new residents has been unable to wrest control from the corrupt democratic regime thats ruled the place rom the 1930’s on. How do the crooks stay n power? Simple-they maintain the voting rolls …some people have been voting long after they died. The ward bosses also have been known to stuff ballot boxes.

Why does this surprise you? Are you saying an overwhelmingly black district in Massachusetts should have an affinity for Republican over a Democrat? I would say that this outcome is perfectly in line with demographic trends, not some vast left wing conspiracy. If you have evidence to the contrary, I’d like to see it.

Good point. I’d expect that Republican would have near zero chances in a 98% black district. And note that says he was the House Speaker. This is a powerful position, and would put him in a good position to bring pork barrel spending to his district. The only way I could see him losing would be in the Democrat primary to a black candidate. But this would mean the blacks would be replacing a powerful white Democrat with a black Democrat that couldn’t deliver the pork.

Uh, cite?

You act like gerrymandering is something new, and that it’s somehow tied to the Democrats. It happens everywhere, is done by whatever party is in power, and was in fact, created in your state by a Republican several centuries ago. If you wish to argue that the process should be changed, I’m with you, but we’ll be pissing off a boatload of Republicans (and Democrats, but fewer of them at this time) by doing so.



Back to the OP, I haven’t seen evidence that fraud of the nature described is a problem anywhere. Intimidation tactics, intentional poor distribution of resources, and the like concern me much more. I’m of the opinion that every voter should be able to easily cast their vote in a quick, easy, and safe manner, without being hindered by anyone in any way, shape or form. I believe that anyone doing anything to hinder this process should serve hefty sentences. If you come up with a method that guarantees the above, I’ll be happy with the process, no matter who wins the elections. The will of the people, not the will of those few willing to put up with the shit tossed at them.

Chicago has long permitted the Dead to vote.

The “graveyard vote” has kept the Daleys in office for a long time.

Rumor has it that Civil War Veterans are “exercising their rights” to this very day…

Several, actually:

“Republican voter intimidation tactics” –

“Right-wingers trying to block college-student voter-registration drives” –

“Can anyone name any defensible, legitimate value to “voter suppression”?” –


I said it was rumored.

That’s all we seem to be getting – either rumors or isolated anectdotes. Come on, Bricker, furt, Mr. Moto, Evil One, cmkeller, everybody who raised the specter of “voting fraud” in my earlier thread on the Count Every Vote Act: Where is your proof?

He wasn’t a Republican. He was a Democratic-Republican. It was 1812.