The Brennan Center is Wrong: Voter Fraud is a Real Threat to Every Citizen’s Constitutional Rights, by Horace Cooper

The Brennan Center for Justice has been the go-to resource for many opponents of commonsense anti-voter fraud efforts such as voter ID.

The essence of the Brennan Center’s argument against voter ID is that that voter fraud isn’t a real problem, as it happens so infrequently that it isn’t a serious matter. In its report, The Truth About Voter Fraud, the Brannan Center explains, “Allegations of widespread voter fraud… often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim (‘Tens of thousands may be voting illegally!’); the follow-up — when any exists — is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud amount to a great deal of smoke without much fire. The allegations simply do not pan out.”1

The Brennan Center’s claim is flatly untrue.

In contrast to the repeated claims of the Brennan Center, the Pew Center on the States released a study this year on voter registration and found across the nation that 1.8 million dead people are still on the voter rolls, 2.75 million people are registered in more than one state, and 24 million registrations are inaccurate or invalid.2

There is a voter fraud problem in the U.S., and it undermines voter confidence in election outcomes and threatens the fundamental notion of self-government – the hallmark of American democracy.

The Brennan Center pretends to be an objective and neutral source about voter fraud. However, its consistent failure to present all the facts to the American people belies this claim.

Voter Fraud is Real and Significant

Here’s a sample:

Virginia: The Richmond Times Dispatch reported in early July that convicted felon Sheila Peterson was one of 40 people who have been charged with engaging in voter fraud. Ms. Peterson, along with career criminal Michael Harris and several other felons, was targeted in an investigation that led to prosecutions of the crime of targeting felons for registration heading into the 2008 presidential election.3

Bonnie Nicholson, a felon living in Louisa County, was charged in mid-July with having used pre-printed forms from the leftist Voter Participation Center to register to vote, and then cast a ballot in the 2008 presidential election.4

Texas: Testimony in the voting rights lawsuit Texas filed against U.S. Department of Justice efforts to block its voter ID program revealed that more than 50,000 dead people are registered to vote in Texas. The state can prove that at least 239 dead people voted in the May election — 213 of them in person. A state senator testified that his long-deceased grandfather is among those recorded as having voted.5

The Texas State Attorney General’s office reported 50 election fraud convictions since 2002 and promises that prosecutions are ongoing.6

Arkansas: In the spring of this year, a special prosecutor was appointed to handle a case involving allegations of voter fraud in Mississippi County in an election held in June of last year.7

Kentucky: This year the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky brought a blockbuster voter fraud case involving drug dealers selling and exchanging marijuana and cocaine in order to manipulate the outcome of local elections.8 Kerry B. Harvey, the U.S. Attorney, has taken the lead on a number of recent federal prosecutions involving vote-buying schemes in the Eastern District. In the most recent case, drug dealers are accused of having spent nearly $400,000 buying votes at $50 apiece. In the last two years alone more than 20 public officials and others have either been convicted or pleaded guilty in various vote-buying schemes.9

New York: Much of the state’s media has been tracking and reporting on the trials and plea deals of officials involved in a scheme to shut out the Working Families Party’s participation in the state’s primary by casting forged absentee ballots. Four defendants have already pleaded guilty including a City Clerk and a City Councilman.10

Pennsylvania: In July of this year, Philadelphia city commissioner Al Schmidt released a report focused on 16 of the nearly 1700 polling sites in Philadelphia and found several instances of voter fraud, including “double voting,” voter impersonation and voting by non-citizens.11 The report also documented 23 cases of people being allowed to vote despite not even being registered.12 One polling site recorded 6 more votes than the actual number of registered voters in the district and there were multiple instances of people voting in legislative districts where they didn’t reside.13

The Brennan Center’s Misleading Tactics

Claims that voter fraud isn’t happening are false. Brennan Center arguments that because voter fraud is prosecuted infrequently, it must not be a serious problem, are illogical. The number of individuals prosecuted for breaking a law says little about how often that law has been broken.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there have been fewer than 60 successful prosecutions for insider trading since 2010.14 That’s less than two people per state. Should we then repeal insider trading laws?

How about non-relative kidnapping? Estimates are that there are between 200 and 300 bona fide kidnapping cases annually in the U.S.15 Using the high number represents less than 10 kidnappings per state a year. Should laws on kidnapping thus be relaxed or repealed outright?

Finally, what of criminal prosecutions for income tax evasion? Even with the spike in IRS criminal prosecutions by the Obama Administration, prosecutions are fewer than 1,500 a year or less than 30 individuals or companies per state.16 Under the Brennan Center’s standard, 30 tax scofflaws per state would simply be too few to justify laws against tax fraud, as well as policies to deter it.


When aliens, felons, and “ghost voters” show up on Election Day, they suppress the fundamental rights of actual citizens. When elections are dominated or influenced by illegitimate voters, the rights of legitimate voters are extinguished.

Voter fraud exists, and is the enemy of every citizen’s constitutional rights.

Horace Cooper is an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research and a Project Director of the National Center’s Voter Identification Task Force.


1 Justin Leavitt, “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” The Brennan Center for Justice, 2007.

2 “Inaccurate, Costly and Inefficient,” The Pew Center on the States Election Initiatives Briefs, February 2012.

3 Mark Bowes, “Woman in Voter Fraud Case Jailed After Positive Drug Screen,” Richmond Times Dispatch, July 10, 2012.–ar-2047510/

4 Mark Bowes, “Louisa Felon Illegally Registered After Receiving Form from Voter Participation Center,” The Daily Progress, July 26, 2012.

5 Greg Abbott, “Voter ID Does Not Suppress Votes,” San Antonio Express-News, July 26, 2012. State Sen. Tommy Williams testified that ballots were cast for his long-deceased grandfather in the last election. At least one person even attempted to vote for an inmate.

6 “Attorney General Greg Abbott on the Department of Justice Denial of Voter ID Preclearance,” March 12, 2012.

7 “Special Prosecutor to Handle Ark. Vote Fraud Case,” San Francisco Chronicle, July 20, 2012. Voter Macy Johnson and several others claim their absentee ballots were forged and submitted for Hudson Hallum in his Democratic primary victory against Kim Felker last year for the Arkansas State House. According to the special investigator H.G. Foster: “It damages the voter confidence and that results in fewer voters which results in fewer people participating in deciding who our government is going to be.”

8 Eric Shawn, “Drug Money Funds Voter Fraud in Kentucky,”

9 Eric Shawn, “Drug Money Funds Voter Fraud in Kentucky,”

10 Dan Levy, “LoPorto Acquitted as Trial Costs Mount,”

11 Chris Brennan & Catherine Lucey, “Philly Election Official Details Examples of Voter Fraud,”

12 Chris Brennan & Catherine Lucey, “Philly Election Official Details Examples of Voter Fraud,”

13 Chris Brennan & Catherine Lucey, “Philly Election Official Details Examples of Voter Fraud,”

14 Susan Pulliam, Michael Rothfeld, & Jenny Strasburg, “The FBI Agent Who ‘Flips’ Insider-Trading Witnesses,” Wall Street Journal.

15 David Levinson, Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment Vol #3, 2007, pp. 997. Kidnappings involving ransom of individuals that do not know each other occur with great frequency in Colombia and Mexico but “cases that conform to the popular stereotype of kidnapping by non-family members number two to three hundred” annually.

16 Kevin McCoy, “Prosecutions of Tax Evaders Up 25%,” USA Today.

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