During this election cycle, voter impersonation and voter fraud have been hot topics. Particularly with Republican nominee Donald Trump using the concept as a fear tactic in his tired belief that the election is rigged.
The ominous threat of fraud is the main issue many politicians use to push for controversial, over-restrictive, oppressive voter ID laws.
While voter fraud isn’t necessarily a myth, evidence suggests it is not nearly as impactful as some are inclined to believe.
According to NBC, a 12-year study looking into voter fraud cases in all 50 states found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, which is the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID requirements at the polls.
Between 2000 and 2014, over 1 billion ballots were cast and there were 31 possible incidents of voter impersonation in the entire country, according to the Washington Post.
Obviously, conservatives should be trembling in their boots over the mass fraud sweeping the nation. Undocumented immigrants and deceased citizens are clearly turning out to the polls in herds. Those whopping 31 possible incidents inarguably compromised the elections.
That’s not to say the issue is obsolete. This week, a Trump supporter was arrested on charges of casting two ballots in Iowa during early voting. Ironically, Trump has been crying for months that this election is rigged against him, however it is his supporters who seem so keen to stack the deck against crooked-Clinton.
So yes, it happens, but at such a tiny scale that it doesn’t really matter. Voter fraud doesn’t have an impact.
Ten fraudulent votes over the course of 12 years or 31 over 14 years are inconsequential numbers. Even President George W. Bush won by a margin of over 500 votes in his highly contentious 2000 race against Al Gore. But that handful of votes elected no official; the basis of the American democracy didn’t crumble and the world didn’t stop turning.
What did happen is that a small group of people got away with breaking the law or, like the majority of those 31 votes, some clerical errors occurred.
Over 100 million people voted in the 2012 presidential election. Those handful of people who successfully pulled off the great voter fraud are not going to have a large impact in this or any other election.
There’s no need to sit outside polling sites in order to make sure that people aren’t voting twice, because the majority of the time they aren’t and that’s one of the responsibilities of poll workers. In fact, that only intimidates well-meaning voters and reflects poorly on the character of our nation as a whole. Rather than paying so much attention to how other people are voting, focus on getting your own vote cast in time.