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Early Voting Fraud: Rhetoric Or Reality?

Nationwide 40 million voters are expected to cast early ballots this year. And they're doing so amid charges from both parties of attempts to steal the election through either voter fraud or suppression. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian takes a hard look at whether, at least for now, those fears are justified.

To separate fact from fiction, CBS News conducted a detailed survey of 17 states that allow early voting - in person. What we found is that charges of widespread voter fraud or suppression are far more rhetoric than reality.

As of Friday, nearly 7 million people had voted early in those 17 states. CBS News made dozens of calls to top election officials, state party leaders from both sides, and watchdog groups, asking for clear cut examples of Americans being denied the right to vote, or voting improperly.

In virtually all of those 17 states the response was: No problems. No issues. No complaints.

"We're taking aggressive action to stop suppression," says Bob Bauer, general counsel for the Obama campaign.

"As yet, have you seen any evidence of people who wanted to vote, who were eligible to vote, that were turned away from voting?" Keteyian asked.

"No," Bauer said.

In Ohio, Colorado and Florida political squabbles have sparked questions over the eligibility of hundreds of thousands of voters. Yet officials there could only point to a handful of people who were denied the right to vote or have committed voter fraud.

"It's hard to put an actual number on voter fraud and say it's 'this big' or 'that big,'" says Brian Jones, an advisor to the McCain campaign on voter issues. "I think to just discount voting irregularities and say, 'Well, it's just a small number,' is a very slippery slope."

It's a big part of an election battle that looks right now to be, little more than a high-stakes war of words.

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