With all the unsubstantiated conspiracy theories of hacked elections in some of the blogs on the left, we often forget that conservatives also claim that there is widespread election fraud when they lose. These unsubstantiated claims on the right are frequently used to justify imposing increased barriers on voting, increasing the problems in one area where the complaints on the left are justified–voter suppression. The New York Times finds that there has been scant evidence of voter fraud:
Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.
Although Republican activists have repeatedly said fraud is so widespread that it has corrupted the political process and, possibly, cost the party election victories, about 120 people have been charged and 86 convicted as of last year.
Most of those charged have been Democrats, voting records show. Many of those charged by the Justice Department appear to have mistakenly filled out registration forms or misunderstood eligibility rules, a review of court records and interviews with prosecutors and defense lawyers show.
In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud.
In Wisconsin, where prosecutors have lost almost twice as many cases as they won, charges were brought against voters who filled out more than one registration form and felons seemingly unaware that they were barred from voting.
Besides the the problems with unsubstantiated claims being used to place barriers to voting, also note further the reports of people being charged with crimes, and even deported, for mistakes such as this:
Mr. Ali, 68, who had owned a jewelry store in Tallahassee, got into trouble after a clerk at the motor vehicles office had him complete a registration form that he quickly filled out in line, unaware that it was reserved just for United States citizens.
Even though he never voted, he was deported after living legally in this country for more than 10 years because of his misdemeanor federal criminal conviction.