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Another National Study Finds GOP Claims of Rampant Voter Fraud Are Fraudulent

More than 2000 voter fraud allegations in past dozen years were investigated finding "infinitesimal" incidents.

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Rhode Island’s more lenient law will take effect in 2014. Indiana and Georgia were the first states to pass strict voter-ID laws, enacted in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Few laws regulate absentee ballots, although the News21 analysis shows this is one of the most frequent instances of fraud.

“It makes much more sense if you are trying to steal an election by either manipulating results on the back end through election official misconduct or to use absentee ballots which are easier to control and to maintain,” said Hasen, the UC, Irvine, professor of political science.

The News21 analysis shows 185 election fraud cases linked to campaign officials or politicians involving absentee or mail-in ballots.

In 2003, the Indiana Supreme Court invalidated East Chicago Democratic Mayor Rob Pastrick’s primary victory because of massive fraud. Pastrick, an eight-term incumbent, lost in a 2004 repeat election.

Forty-six people, mainly city workers, were found guilty in a wide-ranging conspiracy to purchase votes through the use of absentee ballots.

John Fortier, a political scientist at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, said there are “more direct problems” with absentee ballots because the person casting the ballot can be pressured or coerced.

Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, a public policy group that opposed many of the voting-law changes nationally, recognizes that absentee-ballot fraud occurs more than other election fraud, but still doesn’t consider it a threat.

“There are more concerns in terms of absentee fraud but, again, it is easier to catch,” she said.

Minnite, the Rutgers University professor who researched election fraud from 2006-2010 for her book, “The Myth of Voter Fraud,” agrees with Gaskins.

“Corruption works when it’s organized. If we see more cases of absentee-ballot fraud than, say, voter-impersonation fraud, it still doesn’t mean that voters individually are motivated to do it,” she explains. “It just means that absentee balloting might present some greater opportunities for people who are organizing conspiracies to corrupt elections.”

The News21 analysis shows 34 states had at least one case of registration fraud — many were associated with third-party voter registration groups.

The most noteworthy involved the voter registration group, Association for Community Organization and Reform Now (ACORN).

The group, which endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, became the target of conservative activist James O’Keefe, who produced deceptively edited videos that suggested ACORN employees were encouraging criminal behavior.

Voter-ID supporters often cite ACORN as evidence that voter fraud is a problem. The scandal resulted in at least 22 convictions in seven states and the collapse of the organization in 2010 after Congress and private donors pulled their funding.

This type of fraud is a concern because third-party voter-registration groups generally pay for each signature. Critics argue that is an incentive to write in false names and break the law.

Both sides of the debate agree voter-registration rolls are outdated and should be cleaned up. They disagree on whether problems with the rolls lead to fraudulent votes being cast.

“Mickey Mouse has been registered hundreds of times but Mickey has never turned up on Election Day to vote,” Hasen said. The News21 database shows 393 cases involving ineligible voters, typically felons, noncitizens or people voting in the wrong jurisdictions. There were guilty verdicts in 159 cases.

Sometimes, felons and non-citizens were not aware that they didn’t have voting rights, as in the case of Derek Little in Wisconsin, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The database shows the case was dismissed because prosecutors learned that Little identified himself at the polls with his prison ID.