State officials in key presidential battleground states have found only a tiny fraction of the illegal voters they initially suspected existed. Searches in Colorado and Florida have yielded numbers that amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all registered voters.
Democratic leaders, noting there was never any indication of a serious voter fraud problem, say the searches waste time and could disenfranchise eligible voters who are swept up in the checks.
Republicans argue that voting fraud is no small affair, even if the cases are few, when some elections are decided by hundreds of votes.
"We have real vulnerabilities in the system," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a Republican elected in 2010 who is pursuing the issue. "I don't think one should be saying the sky is falling, but at the same time, we have to recognize we have a serious vulnerability."
Gessler had estimated that 11,805 noncitizens were on the rolls in Colorado. After his office sent letters to 3,903 registered voters questioning their status, the number of noncitizens is down to 141, based on checks using a federal immigration database. That's .004 percent of the state's nearly 3.5 million voters.
Florida's search began after the state's Division of Elections said that as many as 180,000 registered voters weren't citizens. But it eventually found just 207.The state has more than 11.4 million registered voters, so the 207 amounts to .001 percent of the voter roll.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, a Republican, said the initiative "is already proving to be a successful process to identify illegally registered voters," which he noted is crucial in a state where 537 votes decided the 2000 presidential election.