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Is voter fraud actually a problem?

There’s a debate over whether voter fraud — people voting despite being ineligible to vote, voting multiple times, voting using a false identity, etc. — is in fact a real problem. Supporters of voter ID laws tend to say voter fraud is a serious threat to democracy and to Americans’ confidence in the election process. Opponents are more likely to say it’s a very minor issue or that, to the extent that it does exist, it rarely happens in person and thus can’t be combated by requiring identification at the polls.

The American Civil Liberties Union concludes, “There is no credible evidence that in-person impersonation voter fraud — the only type of fraud that photo IDs could prevent — is even a minor problem.”

Meanwhile, the authors of the 2014 Heritage Foundation publication ”Does Your Vote Count?” assert that election fraud has been a serious problem throughout US history and argue that “Photo IDs should be required for both in-person voting and absentee balloting.”

Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola University School of Law, tracked “any specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls, in any way that an ID law could fix,” in the context of general, primary, special, and municipal elections from 2000 through 2014, and found 31 incidents between 2000 and August 2014.

The US Government Accountability Office concluded in a September 2014 report that “few instances of in-person voter fraud” have been documented, citing studies that calculate a rate of voter fraud between 0.1 percent and zero percent.

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