Voter Fraud is Not the Threat We Believe it to Be

Considering the opportunity to move from paper or modified electronic voting to full Internet ballots inevitably sparks a debate surrounding the likelihood of fraud and security of ballots. Prior to diving into the technical means for preventing voter fraud, we will investigate how great of a threat it posits in today’s offline elections.

There are a few favorite stories of voter fraud that are circulated prior to and following close elections. Some pundits will point to it as a strong reason for implementing laws that are often difficult and costly to carry out and exclude voters from the polls.

In California, parties have become involved in the voter fraud circus. During the 2000 election, the DNC sent paper voter ID cards to Latino voters across the state as a way to “help voting go more smoothly.” The cards had no legal significance, but were a political stunt that did help turnout more Latino voters across the state as the DNC empowered them to participate. When this happened, opponents and the Secretary of State cried wolf, bringing up anecdotal stories where ineligible people received these ID cards and illustrated to possibility of people using these cards as means of accessing the polls.

Other incidences include registering voters under false names like, “Absolutely Nobody.” Not included in these reports were incidences where gag voters, ie. Donald Duck, attempted to or actually participated in the election.

These anecdotes are not as horrifying as we are led to believe by critics of online voting. The argument is similar to the one forwarded by proponents of voter ID cards. I do agree that if voter fraud was a real threat it should be addressed accordingly, but I caution readers to look into the numbers themselves before buying into the argument that someone is out to steal the election.

In the Next Segment: Do individuals attempt to steal elections?