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The ‘Voter Fraud’ Myth Debunked

Voter Fraud

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As we've reported at Rolling Stone, over the past few years Republicans in more than a dozen states have been knocking themselves out passing laws that make it harder for people to vote. It hasn't escaped notice that the voters most affected by these measures – from voter ID laws to restrictions on early voting – are Democrats. But no matter: Republicans deny they're waging a partisan "war on voting" – they say the new laws are needed to combat rampant voter fraud. That's the line laid down most recently by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to justify purging his state's voter rolls of alleged noncitizens. "We need to have fair elections," he said last week. "When you go out to vote, you want to make sure that the other individuals that are voting have a right to vote."

But here's the thing: Not only is voter fraud not rampant – it's virtually nonexistent. The iron-clad word on the subject comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, whose 2007 report, 'The Truth About Voter Fraud,' sorts through thousands of allegations going back to the 1990s in the most in-depth voter fraud study ever undertaken. The bottom line, confirmed by all subsequent research: "Usually, only a tiny portion of the claimed illegality is substantiated — and most of the remainder is either nothing more than speculation or has been conclusively debunked." In fact, "one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud."

We've used the Brennan findings to put together this quick-and-dirty guide to voter fraud claims. Click through to find out about the most commonly cited voter fraud allegations – and why they almost never pan out.

More
Rolling Stone: The GOP War on Voting
Brennan Center for Justice: The Truth About Voter Fraud

vote buying

© DPA/Jafza/N. Otty/Getty Images

Vote Buying

The truth: This does occasionally happen, with votes being bought for a small amount of money, or food, or cigarettes. But: Vote buying is not fraud – it's an illegal agreement between citizens, usually with the direct involvement of a candidate or campaign – and can't be addressed by most of the remedies put forward to tackle fraud – photo ID laws, restrictions on registration, etc.

Typical case: Not applicable, since vote buying, while a very serious crime, is not a type of voter fraud.

More
Rolling Stone: The GOP War on Voting
Brennan Center for Justice: The Truth About Voter Fraud

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