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Voter fraud is not a big issue

Posted: July 20, 2014 - 12:13am

On Tuesday, when voters travel to the polls to cast a ballot in the statewide runoff election, a lot of things will occur that I can’t predict.

I can’t say who will prevail in the race between Jack Kingston and David Perdue for U.S, Senate. I don’t know whether Mike Collins will be able to generate enough support to beat Jody Hice in the 10th District Congressional race.

But I do know one thing, we will again have a free and fair election. Those who want to vote and who are eligible to do will have no problem at the polls. And the so-called problem of voter fraud will not be an issue.

I’m not just talking about Columbia County. Across the state and nationwide, fraud at the polls is not an issue of any significance.

This issue comes to mind because of recent conversation I had with my father. He was under the impression that voter fraud was rampant, that thousands of illegal immigrants, dead people, and otherwise ineligible voters were stuffing ballot boxes every November, skewing the results in elections all over the nation.

I disagreed. He said he had read about in the newspapers. I was curious about which articles he was referring to, because I tend to keep up with current events. He couldn’t site examples.

In the end, we agreed to disagree, but the exchange made me wonder about this public perception that American elections we somehow being sullied by dirty tactics at the polls.

Sure, there are plenty of dirty tactics -- attack ads, gerrymandered districts, tainted campaign donations and plain old lies -- but voter fraud is the least of our worries.

It does happen, but studies have shown the rate is so infinitesimal, that it has no effect on election outcomes.

Think about it, It is a high risk endeavor, with a very low return. Each and every person who commits fraud at the polls risks a federal prison sentence, and for what? The chance that their one vote will sway an election? The scale at which voter fraud would be effective almost automatically makes it something that would be caught in modern elections.

I’ve looked into the matter myself. I scrutinized Richmond County voter rolls a couple years ago, and sure enough found a handful of people who voted when they shouldn’t have.

The funny thing was that some of those folks were upstanding citizens and business owners, They weren’t dead, foreigners or felons. Just your good neighbors, but just a few.

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