A voting expert from a nonpartisan think tank on Thursday deflated the hype that new voter restrictions are necessary when he told Fox News that voter fraud was as rare as "winning the lottery."

Brookings Institution nonresident fellow Michael McDonald explained to Fox News host Shepard Smith that the instances of in-person voter fraud were "very low."

"We've had millions and millions of voters over the last years and the likelihood of vote fraud occurring is on the order of winning the lottery," McDonald said.

"Winning the lottery is like 11 billion [to one]," Smith noted.

"Yes," McDonald agreed. "It's a very rare, infrequent sort of thing. But when it does happen, we are concerned. And election officials do take these allegations seriously, they investigate them fully. Usually what happens is, the allegations come out and then afterwards we find out that maybe someone signed on the wrong line on a poll book or something of that nature, and that's the source of the error. It wasn't really that vote fraud occurred."

Fox News has traditionally played a central role in promoting laws that often disenfranchise older and minority voters who tend to vote Democratic. They have set up a voter fraud email hotline and aired a "Stealing Your Vote" special report earlier this year that declared, "Voter fraud is still rampant."

The network recently hosted conservative columnist John Fund to defend Pennsylvania's voter photo ID law.

"To deny that voter fraud isn't going on is to frankly deny reality," Fund insisted.

A study by the Brennan Center for Justice warned last year that voting restrictions passed by Republican lawmakers could suppress as many as 5 million votes in 2012.

Watch this video from Fox News' Studio B via Media Matters, broadcast Sept. 21, 2012.