It’s Delusional To Think That Voter Fraud Doesn’t Exist

REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

John Lott President, Crime Prevention Research Center
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The media is incredulous that Donald Trump claims that there was significant voter fraud in the election.  Politico calls his claim “baseless” and “stunning.”  The Los Angeles Times headline says: “There no evidence to back it up.”  A CNN headline asserts Trump’s claim is “false.”  Democrats keep saying that vote fraud is a myth.

The New York Times go so far as asserting: “There is no evidence of illegal voting on even a small scale anywhere in the country, let alone a systematic conspiracy involving ‘millions.’

Voter fraud mattered in plenty of elections.  Take Lyndon Johnson’s election to the US Senate in 1948, when he won by manufactured enough fake votes to turn a 20,000 vote deficit into an 87-vote win.  Others point to voter fraud in Illinois and Texas during the 1960 presidential election, saying “we will never know whether Kennedy really ‘won’.” Chicago was infamous for counting votes from dead people.  In 1982, U.S. Attorney Daniel Webb found that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes were apparently cast.  In 1994, Democrats obtained control of the Pennsylvania state Senate through large-scale voter fraud using absentee ballots.  In 2010, illegal voting made a decisive difference in a U.S. Senate race, giving Al Franken a seat from Minnesota, and one could argue that Franken’s vote allowed Obamacare to get through the Senate.

Voter fraud still occurs.  With over 126 million people voting for president, 3 million votes represents 2 percent of voters.  One recent study in the peer-reviewed journal Electoral Studies estimated that illegal aliens cast as many as 2.8 million votes in the 2008 and 2010 elections, and that their votes “likely gave Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.”

But it isn’t just the possibility that the wrong people might vote, ineligible or fictitious people have actually already registered and voted.  Take some cases discovered during just the last two months:

Almost all of these problems would have been avoided if voters had to register in-person with a valid photo ID.  This is a requirement in about a hundred countries around the world.

Most countries have more stringent voting protections than anything even being discussed in the US.  Mexican voters must present voter IDs that include not only a photo but also a thumbprint.  The IDs carry holographic images, embedded security codes, and a magnetic strip with still more security information. As an extra precaution, multiple voting is prevented by dipping voters’ fingers in indelible ink.

Mexicans cannot register by mail — they have to go to their registration office and fill out forms for their voter ID. When the voter card is ready three months later, the voter must make a second trip to pick it up from the registration office. Absentee ballots must be requested at least six months before the election.

Yet, people in Mexico are able to vote despite these restrictive rules. Indeed, the voter participation rate actually went up after the 1991 reforms. The new rules gave people confidence that their votes really mattered. But supposedly, a photo ID is too much to ask of Mexicans in the US.

There is evidence that, even in the US, voter IDs are associated with increased voting rates.  Nor was there any evidence that voting regulations disproportionately harmed minorities, the poor, or the elderly.

The fate of voter IDs will be determined by this election.  After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year, Democrat-dominated District and Appeals Courts around the US have had free reign in striking down voter ID laws.  Their rulings will be upheld if Hillary Clinton wins and gets to appoint Scalia’s replacement, which will result in a 5-to-4 Democratic majority on the court.

There is a real cost to voter fraud.  Fixing of elections undermines the government’s legitimacy and discourages voting.  But the media’s news coverage editorializing that there is no evidence of voter fraud is clearly false.

John R. Lott is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center.