NYT: In-person voter fraud — in which you impersonate someone or try to vote more than once, or at all if you are ineligible — is almost entirely nonexistent in the United States. (An exhaustive Loyola Law School study could find only 31 “credible allegations of fraud” in a one-billion-vote sample.) But election fraud — ballot stuffing, vote buying, machine rigging — is not unheard-of, and in that shade of distinction lay an important new development.
Contributing to that confusion was a group formed in 1996 in Virginia, the Voting Integrity Project, known as V.I.P. One member of the group’s advisory board was an obscure elections official out of Georgia named Hans von Spakovsky, who would become a central figure in the campaign against fraud.
Von Spakovsky first became active in politics as a particularly assertive chairman of his local homeowners’ association. After a stint as a poll watcher, he became obsessed with the specter of voter fraud and the idea that every voter should have to show photographic identification at polls. He began writing in small conservative journals on the need for states and counties to scrub felons and dead people from their voter rolls, which led to a seat on the board of the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections in Georgia — and also caught the eye of V.I.P.
V.I.P. ostensibly offered its services to all comers, but it tended to investigate Democrats. Its first big case came in Louisiana. When the Democrat Mary Landrieu defeated the Republican Woody Jenkins by a narrow margin in the 1996 Senate race, Republicans called in V.I.P., which reported that Landrieu’s election was a result of a complex fraud scheme. A Senate committee investigated and instead found evidence that a Jenkins operative may have coached the witnesses, four of whom recanted. The Senate inquiry determined that there was “no evidence of an organized, widespread effort to secure fraudulent votes.”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/magazine/voting-rights-act-dream-undone.html?_r=0