Voter Fraud

Contents

Voter Fraud

  • Voter Fraud is illegally voting or registering to vote

Kinds of Voter Fraud

  • Registering to vote using a false identity
  • Voting using a false identity
    • In-person voter impersonation
    • Falsely filling out an absentee ballot (sometimes to vote in the name of a relative).
  • Selling your vote
  • Voting in more than one district or state
  • Voting more than once
  • Voting though ineligible
    • by a non-US citizen
    • by an ineligible Felon

Examples of Voter Fraud

  • An avid supporter of Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker registered and voted about a dozen times in a few elections in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Arizona resident Regina Beaupre was convicted in 2015 after voting in Michigan and Arizona.
  • In 2014, Verna Roehm, a 77-year-old from Waxhaw, N.C., pleaded guilty to voting twice. Roehm voted once at the polls and a second time with an absentee ballot in the name of her dead husband
  • In 2016 Terri Lynn Rote, a 55-year-old Des Moines resident, was convicted of voter fraud in Iowa for trying to vote for President Trump twice. Ms. Rote was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $750 fine.
  • In 2015 a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Rosa Maria Ortega for illegally voting in five Dallas County elections dating from 2005 through May 2014.  She allegedly registered to vote by swearing falsely that she was a citizen.
  • In 2015 Hazel Woodard of Fort Worth pleaded guilty to impersonation fraud.  She had her teenage son vote for her husband, fearing her husband wouldn’t make it to the polls. But he did.
  • In 2016 Crystal Mason voted illegally because she was a felon. The Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison. (NY Times)

Debunked claim that voter fraud is widespread

Fact-Checks
Statistical Analysis
  • No evidence for systematic voter fraud: A guide to statistical claims about the 2020 election PNAS
    • After the 2020 US presidential election Donald Trump refused to concede, alleging widespread and unparalleled voter fraud. Trump’s supporters deployed several statistical arguments in an attempt to cast doubt on the result. Reviewing the most prominent of these statistical claims, we conclude that none of them is even remotely convincing. The common logic behind these claims is that, if the election were fairly conducted, some feature of the observed 2020 election result would be unlikely or impossible. In each case, we find that the purportedly anomalous fact is either not a fact or not anomalous.
Kris Kobach’s failed proof of voter fraud

View Kris Kobach’s failed proof of voter fraud

Election Integrity Commission
  • Presidential Executive Order on the Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, May 11, 2017
  • The Commission consists of 12 members, with Chair Mike Pence and Vice Chair Kris Kobach.
  • Trump Disbands Commission on Voter Fraud (NYT, Jan. 3, 2018)
    • President Trump on Wednesday abruptly shut down a White House commission he had charged with investigating voter fraud, ending a brief quest for evidence of election theft that generated lawsuits, outrage and some scholarly testimony, but no real evidence that American elections are corrupt.
Texas Election Integrity Web Page
Letter to President from Chair of Federal Election Commission

View Letter to President from Chair of Federal Election Commission

Dubious Claims about Voting by Mail

Fact-checks
  • Trump’s fusillade of falsehoods on mail voting (WaPo Fact Checker, September 11, 2020)
    • Bogus claims by Trump and allies
      • Mail voting is riddled with fraud
      • Foreign powers could spoof mail ballots
      • Voting twice
      • 20 percent voter fraud in a New Jersey city
      • Officials are sending ballots to everyone
      • Democrats are trying to end signature verification
      • Absentee vs. mail-in ballots
      • Ballots are vulnerable, drop boxes unsafe
      • ‘Anybody that walks in California is going to get a ballot.’
    • Four Pinocchios
  • Trump’s Shaky Warning About Counterfeit Mail-In Ballots (Factcheck, June 25, 2020)
    • Five states now conduct elections primarily by mail-in vote: Utah, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. 
    • Possible uses of counterfeit ballots:
      • Counterfeit ballots sent to election officials to cast fraudulent votes
        • Logistical hurdles and security safeguards
          • Use of personal information such as date of birth or driver’s license 
          • Bar codes matched to a specific person in the voter files
          • Ballots are printed on special paper
          • Signatures are required and matched against ones on file
          • USPS knows where mail-in ballots are mailed from
          • Mail-in ballots differ for different election jurisdictions
          • Envelopes have special US Mail election insignia
        • No evidence that this has been tried.
      • Counterfeit ballots sent to voters to create chaos and confusion
        • No evidence that this has been tried. 
  • Minuscule number of potentially fraudulent ballots in states with universal mail voting undercuts Trump claims about election risks (WaPo, June 8, 2020)
    • A Washington Post analysis of data collected by three vote-by-mail states with help from the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) found that officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent.
  • More False Mail-In Ballot Claims from Trump (Factcheck, May 27, 2020)
    • Experts have told us that voter fraud via mail-in ballots is rare, though more common than in-person voting fraud — another topic Trump has repeatedly been wrong about.
    • In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Hasen pointed to News21, a national investigative reporting project that tracks cases of election fraud. It found that about 24% of reported prosecutions between 2000 and 2012 concerned absentee-ballot fraud, making it the most prevalent type of election fraud. “But the total number of cases was just 491 — during a period in which literally billions of votes were cast,” Hasen wrote.
  • Attorney General Barr’s false claims about voting by mail (WaPo Fact Checker, September 4, 2020)
    • Barr in CNN interview September 2, 2020
      • “Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion. For example, we indicted someone in Texas — 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to.”
    • Both statements are false. No one was indicted on a charge of casting 1,700 fraudulent ballots, and voter fraud is so rare in the United States, researchers describe it as a statistical blip whether the ballots are cast in-person or by mail.
  • The President’s Trumped-Up Claims of Voter Fraud (Factcheck,  July 30, 2020)
  • Trump’s Latest Voter Fraud Misinformation (Factcheck, April 10, 2020)
  • What voting by mail looks like when it works (WaPo June 12, 2020, Amber Phillips)
  • Fact-checking the GOP’s ‘satirical’ vote-by-mail video (WaPo Fact Checker, June 24, 2020)
  • Donald Trump’s dubious claim that ‘thousands’ are conspiring on mail-ballot fraud (Politifact, April 9, 2020)
Trump’s Motivation
  • Trump just comes out and says it: The GOP is hurt when it’s easier to vote, (WaPo, March 30, 2020, Aaron Blake)
    • In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump referenced proposals from Democrats in the coronavirus stimulus negotiations that would have vastly increased funding for absentee and vote-by-mail options. The final package included $400 million for the effort, which was far less than what Democrats had sought.
    • “The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
  • Trump says he’s blocking Postal Service funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting during pandemic (WaPo, August 13, 2020)
    • During the Wednesday briefing, Trump told reporters he would not approve the $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, citing prohibitively high costs.
    • In an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said:
      • “Now, they [the Democrats] need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

Russian Interference in Elections

  • Russia is working to undermine confidence in voting by mail, DHS warns (WaPo, September 4, 2020)
    • Russia is seeking “to undermine public trust in the electoral process” by spreading false claims that mail-in-ballots are riddled with fraud and susceptible to manipulation, according to a new intelligence bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security.
    • Homeland Security’s intelligence office has assessed that Russian actors “are likely to promote allegations of corruption, system failure, and foreign malign interference to sow distrust in Democratic institutions and election outcomes,” the bulletin states. Russia spreads these claims through a network of state-controlled media, proxy websites and social media trolls, it adds.
  • View Russian Interference in 2016 Election in Favor of Trump

Think Twice before You Vote Twice

  • Federal Law: voter fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Alabama: voter fraud is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and a $2,000 fine.
  • Wisconsin: voter fraud is punishable by up to 3½  years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Missouri: voter fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Texas: voter fraud is a third-degree felony, punishable by between 2 and 10 years in state prison and/or a fine of not more than $10,000

How to Rig an Election
Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas
Yale University Press, 2018

  • Election rigging can be broken down into six subcategories of manipulation.
  • The first is gerrymandering, in which leaders distort the size of district boundaries so that their parties have a head start in legislative elections. By these means, opposition parties can end up with fewer seats even if they receive more votes.
  • The second is vote buying, which involves the direct purchase of citizens’ support through cash gifts or, as it is often referred to in Africa, ‘something small’. This can be an effective way to secure votes that could not be earned, but it is an expensive strategy and – when the ballot is secret – one that is difficult to enforce. Voters may be able to take bribes from one candidate and then vote for another without consequence.
  • Autocrats may also employ a third type of rigging, engaging in repression to prevent other candidates from campaigning, deny them access to the media, and intimidate rival supporters in order to stop them going to the polls.
  • If these strategies don’t work, counterfeit democrats have two main options left open to them:
    • digitally hacking the election in order to change the debate and, in some cases, to rewrite the result; and
    • stuffing the ballot box – adding fake votes or facilitating multiple voting in order to improve a given candidate’s performance.
  • To get away with such tactics, they may also need to play the international community, duping donors into legitimizing poor-quality polls. Because the latter three options can easily backfire, the most effective autocrats don’t leave election rigging to the last minute.

New York Times Analysis, Sep 2022

  • In Voter Fraud, Penalties Often Depend on Who’s Voting 9/7/22 NYT
    • A review by The New York Times found some 400 voting-fraud charges filed nationwide from 2017 through 2021. That’s 8 out of about 150 million votes cast in the general election each year.
    • Punishment is inconsistent
      • A felon in Florida who thought he could vote was sentenced to almost a year in prison
      • Two residents of the retirement community The Villages in Florida were arrested for voting twice — once in Florida and again in another state. They pleaded guilty and escaped having a criminal record by taking a 24-hour civics class.
    • People often didn’t realize they were breaking the law.
    • Most fraud cases fall into one of four categories:
      • falsely filling out absentee ballots, usually to vote in the name of a relative;
      • voting twice, usually in two states;
      • votes cast illegally by felons; or
      • votes cast by noncitizens.

Voter Fraud: Quick Take

  • Voter Fraud is illegally voting or registering to vote, e.g. by using a false identity, voting more than once, and voting though ineligible.
  • The claim that voting fraud is widespread has been debunked again and again.
  • In fact, voter fraud is extremely rare, averaging about 8 out of about 150 million votes cast in general elections.

View entire Voter Fraud