Claims of voter fraud in Wisconsin, often cited as a reason for passing last year’s voter ID law, are not as high as supporters of the law have claimed, according to a Government Accountability Board spokesperson.
GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said voter fraud incidents in Wisconsin are rare. Many voter fraud cases, he added, involve people who have been convicted of felonies but whose voting rights have not yet been restored as they are still under supervision by the Department of Corrections.
Magney said some states have used a federal database of legal non-citizen residents to check their state voter lists for possible non-qualified voters. As several states have raised the idea of using such a procedure in Wisconsin, Magney said the GAB is studying this issue and will provide a report to the public and the Legislature when the board concludes its study.
In response to claims voter fraud is not as common as some may think, Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Nathan Conrad said the party wants to ensure elections are fair.
“The RPW takes voter fraud seriously, and will continue to work to ensure that our elections are held in a manner which upholds the integrity of our democratic process,” Conrad said in an email to The Badger Herald.
League of Women Voters Wisconsin Executive Director Andrea Kaminski agreed with the GAB’s numbers.
She added the numbers are similar nationwide and most cases of voter fraud are not preventable with voter ID laws, as they typically involve felons voting.
“Local, state and federal agencies have conducted investigations of voter fraud, and they found only a small amount of cases that mostly involved [felons] who were not aware they could not vote,” Kaminski said.
LWVW sued the state over its recently passed voter ID law on the basis it disenfranchises a significant amount of voters. The law is currently facing two permanent injunctions from circuit courts on the LWVW lawsuit and a lawsuit by two other groups, and there are two other cases challenging the law in federal courts.
According to Common Cause in Wisconsin Executive Director Jay Heck, voter ID laws are not necessary and disproportionately affect minorities, students and the elderly, groups he said usually vote for Democrats.
“Republicans cannot come up with any good evidence for voter fraud,” Heck said. “We should be making it easier for people to vote, as a sacred, constitutional right for every citizen. Are they afraid that if more people vote in a democracy that they will lose”?
Wisconsin’s voter ID law, Heck added, is also among the most restrictive in the country.
Rep. Dean Kaufert, R-Neenah, could not comment on the frequency of voter fraud across the state but said his and other legislators’ constituents were in support of Wisconsin’s voter ID bill.
“I’m not 100 percent sure if there is as much fraud as some people believe there is, but I will say that the strong majority of the electorate want to see [voter ID],” Kaufert said.