An election law expert who is writing a book on the political wars over voting rights has ended his search for a report on a 1984 court case that involves one of the only known case of voter impersonation in the past several decades. The document appears to undermine the arguments of those who support tighter controls on voter ID laws.
The grand jury report lays out a scheme involving elections officials — which couldn’t have been prevented with voter ID laws.
Bush administration official Hans von Spakovsky, who cited the grand jury document in a report he wrote on voter ID, did not respond to law professor Rick Hasen’s request for his supporting material. But researchers at Hasen’s law school were able to get a copy from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office. Hasen wants to know why von Spakovsky didn’t turn it over to begin with.
“Perhaps the reason is that the way in which the fraud was done almost certainly could not happen today, thanks to basic safeguards put in place by election officials (such as checking the names and addresses of new registrants and ensuring greater security of voter registration materials),” Hasen writes. “And of course when election officials collude with those committing fraud, a voter i.d. requirement would not help in the slightest.”
“The fact that most of this fraud took place 40 years ago and nothing like it has been discovered since is a good argument that schemes like these cannot successfully be done anymore. Vote buying schemes, fraudulent registration schemes, and absentee ballot fraud does get discovered and prosecuted,” Hasen writes.
“There’s no reason to think this kind of fraud, if it happened, would not at least occasionally be discovered and prosecuted as well,” Hasen writes. “At most we find a handful of isolated cases—nothing organized, and certainly nothing to swing elections.”
Correction: The 1984 case was one of just a handful of known cases involving voter impersonation in the past few decades.