Credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikicommons

As over forty states step forward in refusing The Trump Administration’s embarrassing voter fraud fishing expedition, a real actual case of voter fraud just made its way through court. Unsurprisingly, the voter in question was for Trump–and unsurprisingly she was caught. This is what actual voter fraud looks like:

A woman from Des Moines, Iowa, pleaded guilty to election misconduct for attempting to cast two separate ballots in the 2016 presidential election for then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.

According to the Associated Press, Terri Lynn Rote, 57, entered her plea for the felony charge on June 27. Court documents state that lawyers affiliated with the case are recommending Rote face up to two years of probation with community service on the side.

Rote told police why she tried to vote more than once. She was convinced her first vote for Mr. Trump would be manipulated and changed to a vote for then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. According to her statement to the police, Rote believed Mr. Trump’s claims about widespread election rigging.

There is no evidence of widespread and organized voter fraud anywhere in the United States. Trying to organize hundreds of people to impersonate other people on the voter roles and vote in their place would be a herculean task, not worth the marginal statistical advantage, and an enormous risk of getting caught. It just doesn’t happen in the modern era.

The real risks to election security are manipulable electronic voting machine software, hacked voter registration lists, and compromised scanning machines. A corrupt local official might try the old-school approach of stuffing paper ballot boxes–though there’s been no evidence of such behavior for decades. All of those problems are on the back end of the election process–it’s counting fraud, not voter fraud. And in terms of actual voter fraud? Well, it’s extremely rare and almost impossible on an organized basis. The most plausible and worrying fraud on the voters’ side is vote-by-mail ballots in assisted living centers and by family members of the elderly and disabled–which, while troublesome, would be a small number of cases and wouldn’t typically affect any but the most hyperlocal elections. Beyond that are a literal handful of paranoiacs like this Trump voter, or the occasional green card holder who didn’t know they couldn’t vote. And those ones are quickly caught.

It’s worth noting that in yet another example of unequal justice in America, a Latina green card holder who made an innocent mistake was recently sentenced to eight years in jail. Meanwhile, this white woman who knowingly and intentionally tried to vote twice for Tump will get at worst two years of probation.

That’s not an accident. “Voter fraud” is a term used to scare racist whites by conjuring images of urban minorities coming into their precious bedroom communities en masse by busloads, voting multiple times for fake and deceased people on the rolls. This doesn’t happen, of course, but try telling that to the legions of loyal Fox News watchers. “Voter fraud” is then used as an excuse to ramp up ID and other requirements that disenfranchise the poor, the young and the otherwise disadvantaged to benefit Republican constituencies. It’s no surprise that minorities who get caught voting innocently face far harsher penalties than white conservatives committing knowing fraud.

Punishing minorities is the whole point of the enterprise.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.