Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The title of this post comes from Rick Hasen's commentary today for Reuters, which begins:
When it comes to the fight about voter fraud and voter suppression, how do you prove a negative
One key question in the battle over the legality of voter identification laws is whether such laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud and whether they suppress a lot of votes from eligible voters.
Though the answer to the second question remains in considerable dispute, after Tuesday’sfederal court decision striking down Wisconsin’s voter ID law, it is time for voter ID supporters to throw in the towel and admit state voter ID laws don’t prevent the kind of fraud they are supposedly targeted for.
Federal Judge Lynn Adelman looked at the evidence from Wisconsin and reached a conclusion unsurprising to those of us who study how elections are run.
“Virtually no voter impersonation occurs in Wisconsin,” Adelman wrote, “and it is exceedingly unlikely that voter impersonation will become a problem in Wisconsin in the foreseeable future.”Wisconsin is not alone in lacking such evidence. When the United States Supreme Courtconsidered the constitutionality of Indiana’s voter ID law in 2008, the state conceded there was no evidence, ever, of impersonation fraud in the entire state.
This is not surprising. Voter impersonation fraud is an exceedingly dumb way to try to steal an election. Someone would have to send people into polling places claiming to be others — either dead voters who have not been removed from the rolls, or people who have not yet shown up to vote, or fictitious people pre-registered and getting by any identification requirements when registering. Then the fraudster would have to hope that these imposters vote the way they were paid to. The fraudster would have to do this in large enough numbers to affect the outcome of an election, while avoiding detection of this conspiracy.
Professor Hasen runs the incredibly helpful Election Law Blog.
(h/t How Appealing)