Voter Fraud: How Many Illegal Immigrants are Voting in US Elections?

At dinner last night, one of my dining companions suggested–and everyone at the table seemed to agree–that the United States has a serious voter fraud problem. Illegal immigrants, he claimed, were voting in such large numbers as to potentially skew the results of many elections. Everyone else at the table seemed to accept this as widely-known. 

I was disbelieving: Outright voter fraud on that scale, and I’d never heard of it? They seemed to think I was naive and out of touch for doubting it. 

Is it true? If it is, why aren’t people angrier about it? I scream my head off about the possibility of voter fraud in Turkey. Should I be screaming my head off about this, too?

Voter fraud is serious. If this is happening, it should be much bigger news, no? 

  1. Rosie

    It’s not bigger news because the fraud is happening in safe Democratic districts both on a national and state level.  Guess who is receiving all those illegal votes?  The Democratic controlled states don’t have any incentive to clear this up.  When one reads of cleaning the voter rolls or voter fraud investigations its usually associated with Republican administrations within purple or red states. 

  2. Crow

    My argument is not that voter fraud doesn’t happen, it is that to the degree it does happen it is very hard to model its impact on the electoral system. My sense is that, in happening at the state level (because all voting happens there), there are places where it has a greater impact (say, Chicago) and others where it has a lesser impact (say, New Hampshire). 

    The line I am drawing is not arbitrary. Elections are not an end in themselves. At what point does the process of choosing become “illegitimate”? It is one thing to acknowledge fraud and demand measures to stop it. It is another to indict the entire electoral system on this basis. The consequences of the latter position are, if thought through, quite frightening.

    With regard to 2000, I highly recommend Jim Ceasar’s study of that election. Fraud was not the root cause of Florida’s problem, and it was resolved in favor of the structure of the electoral college. 

    GOP Senators are the exception, not the rule, in Minnesota. It’s not fraud causing that.

  3. Crow

    aving absolutely no facts ready-at-hand with which to back up my initial reaction , let me provide my initial reaction while remaining open to correction if someone has evidence they can present (this being one of the reasons that Ricochet is great).

    I suspect that voter fraud of this variety is one of the most difficult sorts of things to accurately assess (as far as how widespread it is, that is). Reason being: if it’s done poorly, its outed in the press and in the courts and SCANDAL! If it is done well, we won’t find out about it.

    Does voter fraud occur? Surely. John Fund has a fine little book about it, which I recommend. Nevertheless, I suspect that while it occurs in some districts it is not of sufficient strength to throw major national elections. That is to say: I suspect it is largely constrained to local elections in particular districts, not a system wide problem that threatens to de-legitimize American democracy.

    Also, and secondarily, I don’t particularly like the implication that “it’s the illegals who are voting” that is corrupting our country. It smacks of fascism too much for my taste.

  4. Lucy Pevensie

     Well, my husband observed voter fraud directly in Milwaukee, although not necessarily with illegal aliens voting.  No one seemed to care, although he tried to complain to the proper authorities.  

     My understanding is that they have passed a voter ID law in Wisconsin; if it really works I imagine that there will be many fewer Democrats voting in Milwaukee–although it will still be a blue-ish corner of the state. 

  5. anon_academic

    My understanding is that there is pretty good evidence for widespread registration fraud but it’s much harder to establish that there is a big problem with actual voter fraud. Registration drives often pay by the signature which means that collectors push hard to get people to register even if the registee is not interested in voting (eg, because he knows he is not eligible).

    Voter fraud is indeed a political issue, but that goes both ways. Towards the end of the GWB administration the political strategy people wanted a push on voter fraud but most of the US attorneys thought there wasn’t much voting fraud going on. The White House then sacked these prosecutors and replaced them with ones more interested in going after it. AFAIK they never turned up much voting fraud, but rather mostly just registration fraud.

    There are basically 3 possibilities:

    1. There’s a lot of fraud and DOJ was too incompetent/biased to prove it

    2. The GWB WH was mistaken in good faith about fraud
    3. The GWB WH knew that there was no fraud but wanted to intimidate minority voters 

    Democrats say #3, but as a believer in groupthink my money is on #2

  6. Brian Watt

    Oh, Claire, there you go getting all worked up about something that the fanatical right wing is conjuring up out of thin air. How in the world can there be fraud when members of SEIU monitor our elections, conduct recounts and maintain voting machines? Honestly, woman.

  7. Brian Watt

    …of course, in 1996 there was a sample ballot in my mailbox for someone with a hispanic surname with my address printed on the label…I’m sure it was an honest mistake of some sort and it’s not as though it or similar “mistakes” would have made any difference in helping Loretta Sanchez defeat Bob Dornan that year.

    From Wikipedia:

    Following the narrow defeat, Dornan alleged that Sanchez’s winning margin was provided by illegal voting from non-U.S. citizens. A thirteen-month House of Representatives investigation ensued, during which Sanchez was seated provisionally, pending the inquiry.[15] A task force found 748 votes that had been cast illegally—624 from non-citizens in addition to 124 that had already been thrown out by California officials. This was not enough to overturn Sanchez’ margin of victory and she was allowed to keep her seat.[16] However, in consultation with the INS, the House committee identified as many as 4,700 questionable registration affidavits.[17] The probe was dropped before these affidavits could be investigated.

  8. Robert Promm

    Clare, I’ll let you in on a big secret: Even the dead vote in large numbers in Chicago.

  9. Underground Conservative

    Were they Americans or Europeans saying this?

  10. Jack Richman

    How many illegal immigrants are voting in US elections? How many do you need?

  11. Pilli
    Crow’s Nest: 

     I suspect that while it occurs in some districts it is not of sufficient strength to throw major national elections. 

    There was major voter fraud in the 3 S. Florida counties in 2000.  Look how it effected that election.  

    There was voter fraud in Minnesota and we got Al Franken in the Senate as a result.  That may be “local”  but it has national ramifications. 

    Voter fraud has been going on for a long time.  The Chicago machine is well known and may very well have thrown the election to JFK.  It seems that it has spread from Chicago via Acorn et. al. and now has infected many other states as well.

  12. Jerry Carroll

    Talking about illegals voting is code for “Bring Back the Jim Crow laws.” Everyone knows that.

  13. wilber forge

    Voter fraud is serious and has been about for a long time. The fixes have been around for just as long. Save no one wants to expend the money or make the political sacrafices to create remedies.

    The voting system in the U.S. is just as corrupt as any Third World country that gets chastised for same.

    Anyone wishing a fair and honest election is dismissed as a crackpot these days.

  14. Pat in Obamaland

    I was born and raised in an area notorious for voter fraud.  I can say, unequivocally, it’s a major issue and a large part of why I became a Republican at a young age.  In 2008, buses were rolling in from a very blue neighbor state into this very red state that, shockingly, voted for a Democrat for the first time since 1964.

    I also believe this is the strongest argument for retaining the electoral college.  By using federalism as a framework for presidential elections, it largely keeps voter fraud within the borders of the most egregious states.  One hundred thousand illegal votes in Chicago may not change the result in Illinois but it could change the result in a popular election.

  15. Brian Clendinen

     I am not sure how much was due to illegal voters but in 2008 the mid-west had a lot of pretty well documented voter fraud. National review Online had a few articles/blog post on this. I would need to look a bit to find the links. Michelle Malkin has done a pretty good job of documenting a lot of this over the years.

    I think it was in Wisconsin someone did the math and showed strong evidence that more votes were cast than could of been in 2008 in a few districts. In addition, I have seen over the years many documented cases of finding dead people on the roles who voted over the years.  

    The elphant in the room is I don’t think anyone really knows how much voter fraud changes the final results.

  16. Paul A. Rahe

    There was a gubernatorial election in the state of Washington — not the most recent such election but the one before — in which more people ended up (after a recount) voting in King County (i.e., Seattle) than were registered there. Are you surprised?

  17. Geoff Hiler

    Lucy Pevensie mentioned voter I.D.  Boy…I’m sure glad we in Ohio require a driver’s license or other picture I.D when at the polls. I mean, everybody knows how hard it is to get a driver’s license here!

    I like the concept of one having to show one’s “papers” to vote, but it only works if it really means what we THINK it means. And, every time the idea is brought up, the Dems go nuts claiming that we’re just trying to discourage/disenfranchise/deny voting rights to those poor, poor folks who just can’t get to the BMV for the photo I.D. or license.

  18. Margaret Ball

    If voter fraud isn’t happening on a large scale – and benefiting the Democrats – why do they go into hysterics at the concept of having to show a photo ID to vote? (I’m open to other explanations – I just can’t think of any.)

  19. Leslie Watkins

    I don’t know if this is still active, but the scenes are quite telling. PJTV did a couple of segments on the filmmakers, big Hillary Clinton supporters who alleged widespread voter intimidation during the 2008 primary season.

  20. RW Cook

    Well, I am convinced it happened here for our local Congressional seat last election. The Republican challenger led by several points in the polls for the entire campaign. In a district that serpentines from conservative white bread suburbia to ethnic inner city, the Democrat incumbent “found” hundreds of votes at the downtown end in the recount, and eventually was declared the winner.

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