Amid Voter ID Debate, Virginia Reports No In-Person Voter Fraud In 2008

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As Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) prepares to decide the fate of a proposed voter ID bill in the Old Dominion state, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on voter fraud prosecutions stemming out of the 2008 election that “may signal a more significant voter fraud issue than some state lawmakers realized.”

One problem: the type of voter fraud that allegedly took place — namely, felons voting when they shouldn’t have been — wouldn’t have been prevented by the proposed voter ID law.

The Times-Dispatch reports that officials have prosecuted 39 cases of voter fraud out of the approximately 3.7 million votes cast in the 2008 election. The newspaper said that a majority of the 39 cases resulted in convictions and an additional 26 cases were still being investigated.

“We believe these complaints ran the gamut from voter registration fraud issues through potential fraud at the polling place on Election Day,” Donald Palmer, secretary of Virginia’s Board of Elections appointed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, told the newspaper. “We do not have specific numbers on how the complaints broke down. However, (the state board of elections) is aware that arrests have been made over the past few years for individuals engaging in voter registration fraud.”

The newspaper reports that a majority of the cases that they reviewed that resulted in arrests in central Virginia “involved felons who either illegally registered to vote or who illegally voted in the general election, or both.” Virginia bans felons from voting unless their rights are restored by the Governor.

None of the cases, the newspaper said, “appeared to involve someone who misrepresented his or her identity at the polls to vote.”

Sen. Thomas Garrett (R) maintained that the voter ID bill would have stopped felons from voting had it been in place in 2008 had it been combined with a separate bill which requires local registrars to purge felons and others illegally registered to vote from their voting roles several weeks before the election. The “only way to catch them is through the voter ID bill — should they come in claiming to be actually who they are,” Garrett said, according to the newspaper.

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