Despite lack of evidence, voter fraud allegations persist

The claims of voter fraud across the nation have been debunked by authorities, but that has never come close to stopping the assertions, nor the attempts to make voting more difficult under the assumption that it exists.

So today’s New York Times story that its survey of 49 states — Kansas didn’t respond to queries — showing that claims that “millions” of votes were cast illegally last month is incorrect is unlikely to change a thing.

In the age of “fake news”, this fact has a hard time taking root.

No one doubts that election fraud has occurred and needs to be monitored. Election outcomes have been changed by officials who altered vote tallies, and in theory hackers could pick winners by playing havoc with voter rolls, voting machines or electronic reporting networks. But voter fraud, in which someone deliberately casts an invalid ballot or a ballot under someone else’s name, is exceedingly rare.

Its prevalence is at the heart of the debate on restrictions like voter ID. Critics say that cracking down on abuses that barely exist can cost hundreds of thousands of people or more — often the poor and minorities — their ability to vote.

For example, a federal court in 2014 found that in Wisconsin an estimated 300,000 voters who had already registered did not have any of the required IDs.

Federal courts have altered or nullified the strictest voter-ID laws, saying they suppress turnout among minorities, who are most likely to lack a required ID.

In North Dakota, one “irregularity” involved a Minnesotan.

“One of our county auditors was called the day after the election by a voter who said: ‘Hey, my name is so-and-so. I’m from Minnesota but I voted in the election and to do that I filled out an affidavit. Can you make me a Minnesotan again?’” Jim Silrum, the state’s secretary of state, told the Times.

Related: ‘Serious Voter Fraud’? Um, No (The Upshot)