One of the usual charges that democrats make to attempts by Republicans to reduce election fraud by policing the voting rolls, mandating ID for voting and other efforts is that election fraud is vanishingly rare, and that policing it is a waste of time and effort. Much the same argument that criminals make against locks and alarm systems. Because democrats, unlike criminals, have some say in the matter, voting rolls are rarely questioned, ID is rarely mandated (and strongly resisted when suggested) and efforts to find fraud after the fact are rarely allowed.
. . .When such laws aren’t “hateful” they are “unnecessary.” The Brennan Center for Justice says “voter fraud is essentially irrational” so it almost never happens. Voter fraud is so rare “you’re more likely to get hit by lightning than find a case of prosecutorial voter fraud,” insists Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the liberal Advancement Project.But recently, Iowa under a Republican Secretary of State investigated voter fraud, and, low and behold, it exists, even in relatively moderate Iowa.
Well, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation disagrees. Not a state known for its hateful politics, Iowa’s DCI wrapped up its investigation this month and has referred more than 80 cases of voter fraud to county attorneys for possible prosecution. Since the investigation was initiated by GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz a year and a half ago, five people have pleaded guilty to voter fraud and 15 others are facing charges.And we can be sure that if 50 cases of voter fraud were detected, probably 500 went undetected.
Iowa governor Terry Branstad told IowaWatch.com that such investigations cut down on voter fraud because they increase the risks for perpetrators. “By people knowing that there is going to be an investigation and scrutiny of people that vote illegally, it serves as a deterrent to voter fraud,” he said. The number of races for Iowa’s legislature that have been decided by fewer than 100 votes has grown. A full ten races have involved margins of less than 50 votes since 2008.
So, indeed, voter fraud does take place, and it does have the potential to alter the outcomes of elections.
And that makes sense, because given the consequences of criminal penalties, and the unlikelihood that a single act of fraud (say, a single individual voting twice under two names, or a single ineligible person voting) altering the outcome, it would be imprudent for a single person to do it, but it could well pay off if a group of people colluded to weigh heavily in a few, closely contested elections.
Liberals aren't convinced. They accuse Secretary of State Schultz of misusing his office resources to pursue insignificant amounts of voter fraud. “Schultz chose to spend his Secretary of State career collaring a relative handful of voters whose mistakes might have been cleared up with a public information campaign,” sniffed the liberal Quad City Times."Don't Turn on the lights, 'cause I don't want to see!"