December 12, 2011 11:30 am ET - by Julia Krieger
Last Friday, the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) unveiled what they suggest are game-changing numbers on voter fraud, claiming in a press release: "NAACP Has It Wrong: Map Presents Evidence of Nationwide Vote Fraud Convictions & Prosecutions." A subtitle boasts, "46 States Have Charged Individuals With Vote Fraud In The Past Decade." The press release directs people to a website with the RNLA's "evidence."
But the grand total of alleged voter fraud cases listed on RNLA's website is — drumroll please — 311.
For perspective, the total number of votes cast in the 2004 presidential election alone was 122,295,345. In 2008, that number was 131,313,820.
What's more, the RNLA is dishonestly representing their data when they describe it as "in the past decade": A quick gander at the website's evidence shows citations going as far back as 1997. Although they claim to have evidence of 46 states with voter fraud prosecutions in the last decade, their website only lists 44 states. For two of those 44, there are only examples from the 1990s up to 2000, bringing the state count down to 42. To be clear, that's eight states where they identified no instances of voter fraud in the last decade.
Further, the RNLA brags: "The RNLA webpage presents evidence that there were at least seventeen cases involving prosecutions for non-citizen voting in 2005 just in one state: Florida." However, according to the Department of Justice, at least four of the seventeen cases they list were dismissed.
Misleading claims like these are nothing new for Republicans, who have spent a great deal of time and energy talking up the specter of voter fraud. But investigations into the matter have invariably concluded that true voter fraud is "extraordinarily rare" — much like the data dug up by the RNLA suggests.
Yet Republicans routinely introduce legislation purportedly designed to combat voter fraud, even though those measures usually have a greater impact on preventing legally eligible voters from making it to the polls than they do in keeping illegal voters away.
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