The Obama administration has been ramping up its rhetoric about the evil of voter identification as part of the run-up to the midterm elections. In January, Attorney General Eric Holder told MSNBC that voter fraud "simply does not exist to the extent that would warrant" voter ID laws, adding that many who favor such measures do so in order to "depress the vote." Vice President Joe Biden claimed in February that new voter ID laws in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas were motivated by "hatred" and "zealotry."
In an April 11 speech to Al Sharpton's National Action Network, President Obama recited statistics purporting to show that voter fraud was extremely rare. The "real voter fraud," he said, "is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud."
These arguments themselves are bogus. Consider the two studies from which Mr. Obama drew his statistics. The first, which he said "found only 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation in 12 years," is a 2012 report issued by News21, an Arizona State University project.
The News21 website explains that students "under the direction of journalism professionals" sent public records requests to state and federal officials asking for information about voting fraud cases. The project acknowledged significant gaps in its data. Several states made no meaningful response. Counties argued that "public records laws don't require officials to respond at all." Election officials and state attorneys general admitted that they did not track voter fraud. The Justice Department referred News21 to its 93 local U.S. attorneys but, the website reported, "many of those offices, in turn, referred News21 back to the department."
Crucially, News21 noted that "nearly all the data" it received had "some vital piece of information that had been requested specifically but that was missing." Responses lacked "important details about each case—from whether the person was convicted or charged to the circumstances of the alleged fraud to the names of those involved."
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