Vote fraud occurs in the United States, likely at levels far above the number of prosecutions. Fraudulent votes disenfranchise legitimate citizen voters by diluting their votes.
Without a requirement to show identification prior to voting, it is nearly impossible to catch people voting in the name of another person, and even if caught, it is difficult to successfully prosecute such voter impersonation without some concrete proof. Yet the number of allegations and prosecutions for vote fraud are sufficient to make voters doubt the integrity of the election process:
- 2015 Heritage Foundation study compiling over 300 vote fraud prosecutions in recent years.
Requiring voters to show identification prior to voting is a common-sense reform that can help prevent fraud. It will not prevent every instance of voter fraud, but it will deter voter impersonation fraud, non-resident voting, and double voting and make it easier to investigate and prove that fraud has occurred. It is a low-cost reform that is easy to implement.
Opponents of voter ID laws claim that vote fraud does not exist and that showing an identification prior to voting disproportionately burdens poor, elderly, and minority voters. As discussed above, vote fraud does occur, and as Virginia Senator Mark Obenshain noted, “The only burden is on fraudulent voters and those who benefit from their votes.” Voter ID laws make allowance for those who do not have acceptable identification, whether through an alternative means of proving identity or through free identification provided by the state. In fact, states that have implemented voter ID laws have seen an increase in voter turnout, not a decrease, including among poor, elderly, and minority voters.