How secure is the integrity of the upcoming election? While I’m not terribly concerned about the overall fairness of American voting at large, there’s clearly a current of unrest among the populace. Last week the Washington Post took a look at a study which finds that nearly half of American voters feel that fraud at the ballot box not only happens, but it’s fairly common.
Nearly half of Americans say that voter fraud occurs at least somewhat often according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a viewpoint at odds with studies showing it rarely occurs in U.S. elections.
The poll also finds 63 percent of voters are confident that votes in this year’s presidential election will be counted accurately, down from about 7 in 10 in 2004.
Republicans and Donald Trump supporters express the greatest concern about voter fraud and election accuracy — worries which the GOP nominee has stoked on the campaign trail. The dynamic marks a reversal from 2004, when Democrats were more doubtful about the legitimacy of the vote.
The Post is quick to point to Trump voters as being suspicious of the outcome, but that’s a rather short sighted view. The fact is that the losers of elections (or those fearful that they may be about to lose an upcoming race) are far more likely to suspect voter fraud. That’s just human nature and it applies to both parties equally. The Post goes on to acknowledge that a survey taken in December of 2004 found that 49 percent of John Kerry’s supporters were suspicious of the final vote count.
But the main assumption of the article is once again that this is all tinfoil hat territory because voter fraud doesn’t really happen. (At least not to any measurable degree.) They cite their own reports from previous years which can “only” find a couple thousand instances of confirmed voter fraud. This is, of course, nonsense. Those are the instances where a problem was actually identified, investigated and confirmed. (And occasionally prosecuted.) This isn’t a case of crimes not taking place… it’s a problem of nobody looking for the crimes to begin with. Just about four years ago I wrote about the “non problem” of voter fraud and nothing has changed since then.
There probably aren’t enough fraudulent votes being cast out there to significantly shift the national numbers. These tend to be localized issues when we do manage to discover them. But such things definitely have the potential to turn local or even state elections in a tight race. And even if they didn’t the total amount of voter fraud which is acceptable is zero. If you can’t admit that much then you’re probably selling something.