November 23, 2014

Numbers show few cases of voter fraud in Wisconsin

Recent data on prosecutions shows claims that voter fraud is widespread in Wisconsin may not add up. The state Government Accountability Board says only about 12 to 20 people are convicted of voter fraud each year in Wisconsin, out of the millions of votes cast in state elections.

GAB director Kevin Kennedy says tools currently in place helped uncover most of those cases, primarily the Statewide Voter Registration System. Kennedy says the most common cases have involved felons voting while still on probation.

Republicans have argued the state’s controversial voter ID law is needed to prevent widespread voter fraud, although Kennedy says strong deterrents already exist to keep that from happening. Those included fines of up to $10,000 and up to 3.5 years in prison.

The law remains on hold in Wisconsin, after two Dane County judges ruled it unconstitutional in separate cases. The attorney general has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene in those cases and to restore the requirement that voters show a government-issued photo ID at the polls before November. The GAB has said they would prefer the court wait until after the elections to act, in order to prevent voter confusion.

While Kennedy admits the current tools may not catch cases of voter impersonation, they can help track down the culprit. A provision in the Voter ID law requires voters to sign poll books on Election Day. Kennedy says that can provide some evidence.

Still, cases of voter impersonation remain rare. The GAB has no recent cases on record that have resulted in prosecutions.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)