The News21 report is based on a national public-records search in which reporters sent thousands of requests to elections officers in all 50 states, asking for every case of alleged fraudulent activity — including registration fraud; absentee-ballot fraud; vote buying; false election counts; campaign fraud; the casting of ballots by ineligible voters, such as felons and non-citizens; double voting; and voter impersonation.
The analysis found that there is more alleged fraud in absentee ballots and voter registration than in any of the other categories. The analysis shows 491 cases of alleged absentee ballot fraud and 400 cases involving registration fraud. Requiring voters to show identification at the polls — the crux of most of the new legislation — would not have prevented those cases.
The analysis also found that more than 46 percent of the reported election fraud allegations resulted in acquittals, dropped charges or decisions not to bring charges.
In many cases, people simply made mistakes. Felons or non-citizens sometimes registered to vote or cast votes because they were confused about their eligibility. Some voters accidentally cast their ballots twice or went to the wrong precinct. And election officials made mistakes, such as clerical errors — giving voters ballots when they have already voted — and errors due to confusion about eligibility.
One of the instances of voter impersonation fraud occurred in Londonderry, N.H., in 2004 when 17-year-old Mark Lacasse used his father’s name to vote for George W. Bush in the Republican presidential primary. Lacasse’s record was cleared after he performed community service.
Claudel Gilbert, a Haitian immigrant in Ohio who had changed his address in 2006, received two registration cards in the mail and said he thought he had to vote in both places for his vote to count. In four other cases, people were accused of double voting for filling out their ballot and their spouses’.
Voter impersonation fraud has attracted intense attention in recent years as Republicans and others have argued that strict voter ID laws are needed to prevent widespread fraud.
The case has been made repeatedly by the Republican National Lawyers Association. Part of the group’s mission is advancing “open, fair and honest elections,” and it has compiled a list of about 375 election fraud cases, based mostly on news reports.
News21 examined those cases and found that 77 were alleged fraud by voters. Of those, News21 could verify that 33 resulted in convictions or guilty pleas. The analysis shows no cases of voter impersonation fraud.