Protecting Voting Rights

The Myth of Voter Fraud 

Allegations of voter fraud generate big headlines, especially around election time. The rest of the story, however, rarely gets the same kind of attention. We rarely hear that nearly all claims of voter fraud prove to be unfounded. Nonetheless, claims of fraud continue and appear to promote an agenda that would make it difficult for some to exercise their right to vote.

Learn the facts about voter fraud!

Myth: Voter fraud is rampant in our elections, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the winner.

Fact: Actual cases of fraud are rare. There have been many investigations, but few cases have been substantiated. Then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer reported that only 14 people out of approximately 2,800,000 voters fraudulently cast ballots during the 2004 election in Minnesota– a fraud rate of .0005 percent.

Myth:  There is no way to know if voter fraud is occurring. The number of fraudulent ballots could be much larger than we know.

Fact: Each voter has a “voter history” record that is updated after every election. If it appears that a person voted in more than one precinct, if a voter who used same-day registration does not live where he or she claimed, or if a county official has reason to believe that a voter is ineligible, it would be detected in this updating process. Any questionable record is referred to the county attorney for investigation. For more information on how voting records are maintained and verified, read Understanding Elections.

Myth: Without photo identification requirements in place, voter fraud must be taking place.
Fact: A photo ID requirement could only prevent voter impersonation. MN has never had a case of voter impersonation. In order to do this without being detected, one would need to (1) have the name of a registered voter they were certain would not show up at the polls without the election judges or one of the other voters knowing the person they are impersonating, (2) go to that voter’s neighborhood precinct and lie about their identity without being discovered, and (3) commit perjury in order to cast a ballot. It is hard to fathom why anyone would attempt to do this, given the risk of a felony conviction and the infinitesimal chance of changing an election result.

Myth: Everyone has photo ID. It’s not a problem to show it on Election Day.
Fact: Obtaining a current ID can be a huge burden for the frail elderly, people with disabilities, those with low incomes, and young adults. It is not just cost, but transportation and the logistics of obtaining the ID that is a problem for many.

A Brennan Center for Justice survey found that 11% of U.S. citizens lack a valid photo ID. 18% of people over 65 do not have a current government-issued ID.

Voting is a constitutional right. It cannot be compared to a voluntary, private commercial transaction like writing a check or renting a movie. In this case, the burden of proof should be on the government to show it is absolutely necessary to expect registered voters to meet additional requirements before casting their vote.

That burden has not been met in the case of photo ID.

Copyright 2014 League of Women Voters Minnesota (LWV Minnesota)