As we’ve documented many times, the Republican party is constantly claiming that voter fraud is rampant in America. And from time to time, a specific Republican official will come up with a scary sounding number, a list of thousands, or tens of thousands, of names that may have committed voter fraud. And then that number gets cited again and again, as though it represented real voter fraud. AP reports on one such example from Colorado recently:
Last year, [Republican Colorado Secretary or State Scott] Gessler estimated that 11,805 noncitizens were on the rolls.
But the number kept getting smaller.
After his office sent letters to 3,903 registered voters questioning their status, the number of noncitizens now stands at 141, based on checks using a federal immigration database. Of those 141, Gessler said 35 have voted in the past. The 141 are .004 percent of the state’s nearly 3.5 million voters.
Even those numbers could be fewer.
The Denver clerk and recorder’s office, which had records on eight of the 35 voters who cast ballots in the past, did its own verification and found that those eight people appear to be citizens.
This is a repetitious theme. Shortly before the 2004 election, the Wisconsin GOP produced a list of more than 37,000 voter registrations from the city of Milwaukee that they claimed might be fraudulent. That list was produced by checking the voter registration database against other government databases and any discrepancies at all between the two lists got an entry tagged as potentially fraudulent. But the vast, vast majority of those discrepancies turn out to be clerical errors, apartment numbers missing or wrong, or someone’s name having a slight variation in it (missing a “jr” or “sr” or something like that in one of the databases). And in those that aren’t, it still has nothing to do with actual voter fraud. Someone may have moved and their address has been updated in one system but not another, for example, but that doesn’t have anything to do with anyone actually voting twice or voting illegally. When those 37,000 names were checked, only 68 ended up having any actual discrepancies — and that doesn’t mean anyone actually voted illegally.
In Ohio that same year, Republican leaders gave scary speeches about how people were registering to vote with names like Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy — neither of which showed up to vote, of course. But there was a study of the 2002 and 2004 elections in that state that found that out of 9 million votes cast, there were 4 attempts to vote illegally.
It’s the same thing with those lists of dead voters down in Texas recently. Some of them are false positives, people who are very much alive but got flagged because someone with the same or similar name appears on a list of people who have died. Most of the rest of them are people who really are dead, but only died recently and the Qualified Voter File hasn’t been updated yet to remove them. About 7,000 people die every day in this country; it may take a while for all the databases they appear in to be updated. But no one is going to show up to vote as them, for crying out loud, so this has nothing at all to do with voter fraud.
And here’s what happened in Florida:
Florida’s search began after the state’s Division of Elections said that as many as 180,000 registered voters weren’t citizens. Like Colorado and other states, Florida relied on driver’s license data showing that people on the rolls at one point showed proof of non-citizenship, such as a green card.
Florida eventually narrowed its list of suspected noncitizens to 2,600 and found that 207 of them weren’t citizens, based on its use of the federal database called SAVE, or the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements. The system tracks who is a legal resident eligible to receive government benefits.
Of the 2,600 initially marked as possible noncitizens, about 38 percent were unaffiliated voters and 40 percent were Democrats, according to an analysis by The Miami Herald.
The state has more than 11.4 million registered voters, so the 207 amounts to .001 percent of the voter roll.
In North Carolina, the article notes, the state elections board found a total of 12 instances of voting by non-citizens, out of 6.4 million voters. Voter fraud is virtually non-existent, but the Republicans will gladly make it harder, or impossible, for hundreds of thousands of legal voters to vote in order to prevent a handful from voting illegally — because it’s in their best interests to do so.