Resources on Voter Fraud Claims

Credible research and investigation demonstrates fraud by voters at the polls is exceedingly rare.

June 26, 2017

The incidence of voter fraud has been studied numerous times. The consensus from credible research and investigation is that the rate of illegal voting is extremely rare, and the incidence of certain types of fraud – such as impersonating another voter – is virtually nonexistent. This page provides resources of several types:

  • Studies and analyses on the prevalence of voter impersonation fraud
  • Studies and analyses on the prevalence of noncitizen or nonresident voting
  • Studies and analyses on fraud claims predicated on list matching methods
  • Studies and analyses on fraud claims predicated on voter list maintenance issues
  • Court findings on the frequency of voter fraud
  • Sources on government investigations aimed at uncovering voter fraud

Where available, this page provides a link to an article’s full text or abstract.

Studies and Analyses on the Prevalence of Impersonation Fraud

Studies and Analyses on the Prevalence of Noncitizen or Nonresident Voting

Studies and Analyses on Fraud Claims Predicated on List Matching Methods

  • Justin Levitt, “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” Brennan Center for Justice, 2007. The Brennan Center’s report found that many reported incidences of fraud can actually be attributed to “bad matching”: false positives that arise when comparing the voter rolls against some other source to find alleged double or ineligible voters. These can arise from a number of sources: Errors in the underlying data can lead to an incorrect match when one of the data sources is missing information; Partial matches can take place when a search confuses two similar but not identical records, like two people with the same first and last name but different middle names; And insufficiently precise matching criteria can lead to vulnerabilities like the “birthdate problem:” the surprisingly likely occurrence that, on a large enough list, two different individuals will have the same name and birth date.
  • Lorraine Minnite, “The Politics of Voter Fraud,” Demos, 2007. Minnite found that attempts to match lists to identify illegal voting created a high number of “false positives,” leading to wildly inflated initial estimates of illegal voting. Her report highlighted examples of this from Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, and New Jersey.  
  • Brennan Center for Justice and Michael McDonald, “Analysis of the September 15, 2005 Voter Fraud Report Submitted to the New Jersey Attorney General,” 2005. The report from the Brennan Center and McDonald, an election law expert at the University of Florida, found that a list of purportedly illegitimate voters was substantially flawed on a match of first name, last name, and date of birth alone, mismatching middle initials were ignored, and other data errors occurred.

Studies and Analyses on Fraud Claims Predicated on Voter List Maintenance Issues

Court Findings on the Frequency of Voter Fraud

  • Texas, 2016. The Fifth Circuit, in an opinion finding that Texas’s strict photo ID law is racially discriminatory, noted that there were “only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade” before Texas passed its law.
  • North Carolina, 2016. In its opinion striking down North Carolina’s omnibus restrictive election law —which included a voter ID requirement — as purposefully racially discriminatory, the Fourth Circuit noted that the state “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.”
  • Wisconsin, 2016. A federal trial court in Wisconsin reviewing that state’s strict photo ID law found “that impersonation fraud — the type of fraud that voter ID is designed to prevent — is extremely rare” and “a truly isolated phenomenon that has not posed a significant threat to the integrity of Wisconsin’s elections.”
  • Indiana, 2007. The Supreme Court, in its opinion in Crawford upholding Indiana’s voter ID law, noted that the record in the case “contains no evidence of any [in-person voter impersonation] fraud actually occurring in Indiana at any time in its history.” The Court instead pointed to combatting the perception of fraud as a basis for upholding the law. Two of the jurists involved in the case at the Supreme Court and appellate level subsequently questioned the decision and the validity of Voter ID laws in combatting fraud.

Sources on Government Investigations Aimed at Uncovering Voter Fraud

  • Kansas, 2015-17. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a longtime proponent of voter suppression efforts and vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, successfully lobbied state lawmakers in 2015 to grant his office special power to prosecute voter fraud. He reportedly claimed to know of 100 such cases in his state. In the nearly two years since being granted these powers, he has obtained nine convictions..
  • Texas, 2014. Texas lawmakers purported to pass its strict photo ID law to protect against voter fraud. A court filing in a lawsuit regarding the law stated that the Texas Special Investigations Unit identified one conviction and one guilty plea regarding voter impersonation in Texas from 2002 through 2014.
  • Iowa, 2014. A multi-year investigation into fraud led to 27 prosecutions out of 1.6 million ballots cast. In 2014, the state issued a report on the investigation citing six prosecutions.
  • Colorado, 2013. A voter fraud investigation, in which the Secretary of State alleged that 100 people voted illegally, yielded one conviction for false registration.
  • Florida, 2012. Governor Rick Scott initiated an effort to remove noncitizen registrants from the state’s rolls. The state’s list of 182,000 alleged noncitizen registrants quickly dwindled to 198. This amended list contained many false positives, such as a WWII veteran born in Brooklyn. In the end, only 85 noncitizen registrants were identified and one was convicted of fraud, out of a total of 12 million registered voters.
  • Wisconsin, 2008-11. A state task force charged 20 individuals with a range of election-related crimes. The majority charged were individuals with prior criminal convictions..
  • Maine, 2011. An investigation into 200 college students accused of fraud revealed no evidence of wrongdoing. Shortly thereafter, an Elections Commission appointed by a Republican secretary of state found “there is little or no history in Maine of voter impersonation or identification fraud.” 
  • Florida, 2011. A criminal investigation into nine individuals who allegedly committed absentee ballot fraud in a school board election led to all criminal charges being dismissed against all voters.
  • United States Department of Justice, 2002-05. As detailed by Lorraine Minnite in an expert report filed as part of litigation, a specialized United States Department of Justice unit formed with the goal of finding instances of federal election fraud examined the 2002 and 2004 federal elections, and were able to prove that 0.00000013 percent of ballots cast were fraudulent. The task force released multiple documents. There was no evidence that any of these incidents involved in-person impersonation fraud. Over a five-year period, they found “no concerted effort to tilt the election.”