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For years, Republican elected officials at both the state and federal levels have been warning of the pernicious scourge of voter fraud. They’ve insisted that, if voter ID measures aren’t put into place, the very integrity of American elections could be at stake?despite the fact that the kind of impersonation fraud that voter ID theoretically thwarts is vanishingly rare.
According to a recent study by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, out of a billion or so ballots cast in elections between 2000 and 2014, there were a mere 31 cases in which such laws could’ve prevented it, shining light on what one could fairly call the GOP’s big lie on voter fraud.
That’s not to say there’s never the occasional act of tampering on the part of a voter, however, even if it’s not the sort of thing demanding an ID card can fix. Case in point? There’s just been a recorded case of voter fraud in Iowa that’s resulted in a criminal charge. Contrary to the kinds of conspiracy theories GOP nominee Donald Trump is voicing about being the victim of a “rigged” election, the alleged fraud was actually in the Republican businessman’s favor.
It took place during early voting in the battleground state of Iowa, a place where (according to the polls, at least) a few extra Trump votes here or there could be pretty significant, as Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton are locked in a virtual tie in the Hawkeye state heading into Election Day.
Trump supporter Terri Rote, reportedly scared that her first ballot would be falsely counted for Clinton, decided to put her finger on the scale and press down just a little bit harder than everyone else. She’s been charged with voting twice, both times for Trump. And the explanation she gave to Iowa Public Radio made it clear that Trump’s insistence that he’s being cheated carries some weight with his supporters. “I wasn’t planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment,” she said. “The polls are rigged.”
“I wasn’t planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment. The polls are rigged.”
Polk County attorney John Sarcone told IPR that Rote’s misdeed sticks out because of how incredibly rare these sorts of incidents are. “I think in the 25-plus years that I’ve been doing this job, this may be the third [time] we’ve had some irregularity that’s resulted in a criminal charge,” he said. Rote has been charged with a class D felony, proving pretty conclusively that if someone actually embarks on the rare low-reward voter fraud attempt, it carries a huge risk.
There have also been a couple of voter/election fraud reports out of Miami-Dade county in recent days, although not related to the presidential election, but rather state and local races. Elections department temp Gladys Coego is suspected of having submitted at least one fraudulent extra ballot in favor of mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado, as the Miami Herald detailed. Another woman, Tomika Curgil, stands accused of filing bogus voter registration forms in service of a Florida marijuana legalization campaign. Both women have been arrested.
Notably, none of these stories would have been impacted by the presence of a voter ID law—at least not as they’re currently constituted. Given that two of the cases have to do with filling out multiple ballots and one is an alleged case of registration fraud?a distinctly different phenomenon than the kind of in-person voter fraud the Republican Party has been bleating about for years now?it’s simply more ammunition for anyone accusing the GOP of voter suppression, rather than protection.
Chris Tognotti is a frequent contributor for the Daily Dot. He’s a news and current events writer based out of Berkeley, California, and a co-host of the podcast Now We Know. While he specializes in domestic politics and opinion writing, he’s also savvy on sports, video games, and film.