Voter fraud is when individual voters attempt to vote illegally in a way that might change the outcome of an election. It is extremely rare, and has never influenced the outcome of a major election. The Wall Street Journal defines it as "a term used to refer to cases in which one voter impersonates another at the poll to cast a fraudulent vote".
Despite this, conservoid politicians and propaganda outlets like to claim that it is rampant and wide-spread, as justification for draconian measures to restrict voting access and reduce voting among disempowered groups who are more likely to vote against them.
Of the few instances of actual voter fraud found, the overwhelming majority were committed by conservoids attempting to prove the existence of voter fraud.
It is also important to note the contrast between the way the white defendants -- many of whom not only attempted but did in fact vote illegally were treated, versus how the two Black defendants (Crystal Mason and Pamela Moses) – one of whom never actually voted, and both of whom obeyed the instructions of election officials who had full knowledge of the defendants' legal status – were treated.
The term is often used in a way that includes other types of electoral fraud, but this is incorrect. Voter fraud is electoral fraud that is committed specifically through an attempted act of illegal voting – especially where that vote would give the voter more electoral representation than that to which they are entitled, which most often involves voting more than once.
Instances (actual, alleged, or claimed)
- 2022-09-13 N.Y. Elections Commissioner Charged in Absentee Ballot Scheme (archive.org) (h/t) Albany, NY: «Jason Schofield, a Republican elections commissioner,» «was arraigned on Tuesday, accused by federal authorities of fraudulently obtaining absentee ballots last year, using personal information of voters without their consent.» This probably also qualifies as election fraud, since it was done by an election official using his official powers.
- 2022-08-16 Marjorie Taylor Greene Tells Republicans to Do a Little Bit of Voter Fraud former Georgia congressional candidate Mallory Staples told supporters to «get out and vote with your 20 closest friends and neighbors.» And Marjorie Taylor Greene added with a laugh «Make it 40. Vote one, two, three times, whatever.» The aim here is obviously to reinforce the "2020 election was stolen" narrative (to bolster the legitimacy of Trumpist coup maneuvers) and the "voter fraud is rampant" narrative (to reinforce the belief that voter suppression is just electoral security).
- (Troy, NY) VOTER FRAUD BY REPUBLICAN
- DoJ: Troy City Council Member Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft «...admitted that in the primary election, she unlawfully cast an absentee ballot in the name of another person, and that in the general election, she unlawfully cast absentee ballots in the names of two people other than herself.»
- AP: NY official pleads guilty to federal voter fraud charges «An upstate New York Republican is being forced out of her city council post after pleading guilty to three federal counts of voter fraud and amid unfounded assertions across the country — mostly by some in the GOP — of widespread elections tampering.»
- NEWS10: Troy City Councilor admits to election fraud (correction: this is voter fraud, not election fraud) «She is the sister of former Hoosick Falls Police Chief Robert Ashe, who recently retired and pleaded guilty to official misconduct.»
- WAMC: Troy city councilor pleads guilty to ballot fraud, agrees to resign «Troy City Councilor Kim Ashe-McPherson has pleaded guilty to fraudulently submitting absentee ballots in last year’s election. The Republican from District 2 chairs the council’s public safety committee.»
- (Fairfax County, VA) VOTER FRAUD PREVENTED Glenn Youngkin's 17-year-old son twice attempted to vote on 2021-11-02. He was turned away both times. This was arguably a voter fraud attempt, but the system successfully prevented it.
- 2021-11-06 New York Post: Glenn Youngkin’s 17-year-old son tried to vote in Virginia governor’s election twice
- (Georgia, 2021-06-02) massive voter fraud alleged, almost none found Then-President Donald Trump claims that 5000 dead people voted in the state's 2020 presidential election; the number of fraudulent ballots actually found was 4
- AJC: Alleged 'dead' Georgia voters found alive and well after 2020 election
- MSNBC: Georgia officials find a pro-GOP ballot was cast by a dead voter
- NW: Trump Claimed Thousands of Dead Voted in Georgia Election, Investigation Found Only Four
- RS: Trump Claimed 5,000 Dead People Voted in Georgia. The Real Number... Was Four
- 2021-12-28 TH: Georgia review found just four deceased voters' ballots cast in 2020 election
|Chaffee County, CO||Barry Morphew|
|Morphew has been charged with murder in the disappearance of his wife a year ago and with voter fraud for voting for Donald Trump using his wife's mail-in ballot.|
|Marple, PA||Bruce Bartman|
|Bartman, 70, marked his deceased mother’s absentee ballot with a check mark next to President Donald Trump’s name, and mailed it in.
|Las Vegas, NV||Donald Kirk Hartle|
|Hartle, a business executive, voted in his dead wife's name and then claimed someone else had done it.|
|Delaware County, OH||Edward Snodgrass|
|Snodgrass, «57, a Porter Township trustee and a registered Republican, admitted to casting a ballot for his newly deceased father after forging his signature on an absentee ballot. [...] Snodgrass told NBC News that he made "an honest error" by fulfilling "a dying man's wish."»|
|Orlando, FL||Joan Halstead, Jay Ketcik, John Rider, and Charles Barnes|
|Four voters have been arrested for casting multiple ballots, after an investigation launched by Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Bill Keen. Two of them appear to have been registered Republicans at the time of voting[MSN], [OS], with a third being a Trump supporter.
|Harris County, TX||Mark Aguirre|
|NOT VOTER FRAUD Aguirre, a licensed private investigator fired from the Houston police in 2003, was indicted on an assault charge for running a man off the road and pointing a gun to his head because he thought the man was committing voter fraud.
|Chester County, PA||Ralph Thurman|
|Thurman, a 72-year-old Republican, was caught voting twice (once for himself and once for his son, a Democrat) by progressive pollworker Eric Frank.
|Iowa (8 counties)||(statistics)|
|NOT VOTER FRAUD Judicial Watch (JW), a conservoid legal organization with a poor record for accuracy, claimed in a press release on 2020-02-03 that «"eight Iowa counties have more voter registrations than their eligible voting-age population."» The data JW used appears to depend on a comparison figures from two or more sources which should not be expected to match up, and is therefore not evidence of voter fraud. Iowa secretary of state Paul Pate, a Republican, issued a statement noting that «official data compiled by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office shows this information is false.» and lambasting JW for spreading disinformation in an attempt to disenfranchise Iowa voters. Although JW president Tom Fitton denied that JW's findings indicated voter fraud, the findings were widely cited amongst conservoids as proving exactly that.
|Scottsdale, AZ||Tracey Kay McKee|
|McKee, 64, voted with her dead mother's ballot. She was sentenced to two years' felony probation, fines, and community service.
The KTAR article states that this is "one of just a handful of voter fraud cases from Arizona’s 2020 election that have led to charges", which presumably means there have been as many as ~5 other cases.
- 2019-09-03 NOT VOTER FRAUD (Memphis, TN) Pamela Moses, a Black Lives Matter activist, attempted to register to vote when ineligible after officials told her that she was in fact eligible. Although she never actually attempted to vote illegally, and despite no evidence of malice, she was nonetheless convicted on 2021-11-06 and sentenced on 2022-01-31 to six years and one day in prison by Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.
- (2022.02.26) Guardian: Judge orders new trial for US woman sentenced to six years for trying to register to vote (h/t)
- (Orange County, FL) (unnamed woman) An unnamed woman was charged with voting twice, in Florida and North Carolina, but charges were dropped.
- 2021-12-13 3 residents of The Villages arrested for casting multiple votes in 2020 election «prosecutors dropped charges against an Orange County woman accused of voting in Florida and North Carolina after the defendant entered a pretrial diversion program, court records show.»
- (Rendon, TX) Crystal Mason filed a provisional ballot, not realizing that she was ineligible to vote due to being on supervised release from prison for tax fraud. She is being vigorously prosecuted by Republican officials who want to make political hay out of any apparent voter-fraud cases they can find.
- 2021-12-14 The Atlantic: When the Myth of Voter Fraud Comes for You$ (archive.org)
- 2021-03-31 NBC News: Texas woman sentenced to five years for trying to vote gets new appeal
- (Volusia County, FL) Alba Esperanza Fernandez was sentenced to four years of supervised probation for submitting false voter registration information and casting multiple ballots.
- 2021-12-13 3 residents of The Villages arrested for casting multiple votes in 2020 election «...Fernandez was sentenced to four years of supervised probation after pleading no contest to submitting false voter registration information and casting multiple ballots in Volusia County under two different names.»
- (Weld County, CO) Steve Curtis, a former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party from 1997-99 and former talk show host at KLZ-AM 560 in Denver, was sentenced to four years of probation and 300 hours of community service after voting in his wife's name.
- 2021-08-06 Court upholds voter fraud conviction of ex-GOP chair
- 2018-01-27 Former Colorado GOP chairman sentenced for voter fraud
- 2018-01-26 Former Colorado GOP chairman sentenced to four years probation, community service in voter fraud case
- 2017-12-07 Former Colorado GOP chairman found guilty of voter fraud and forgery for signing ex-wife’s ballot
It may be illuminating to compare and contrast Crystal Mason and Steve Curtis, looking both at the severity of the offense and the punishment.
- (Pine Knoll Shores, NC) NO FRAUD Jim Turner, apparently a Barack Obama supporter, said on social media that he voted multiple times (different districts) in order to "save our country from the world envisioned by Mitt Romney". It later turned out that he was joking, and had not actually voted illegally.
- Wikipedia redirects to "electoral fraud", which covers other types of voting-related fraud as well, with emphasis on non-individual action
- Conservapedia «is the crime of a voter submitting a ballot he or she is not entitled to cast.»: This actually seems accurate. «...it has been estimated at 2,000 cases in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 elections combined. However, it is difficult to gauge the exact number, and many cases may go undiscovered or unreported. It can change the outcome of a close election.»: This, however, does not, and it cites only a paywalled Wall Street Journal article which notes that researchers «say they have so far found little direct evidence that the practice is common enough to affect the results of elections, even close ones.»
- RationalWiki «a moral panic weirdly popular in the United States. As genuine cases of voter fraud are almost non-existent, it is almost always a dog whistle term for people of color voting.» This.
- SourceWatch «refers to attempts by either individual voters or voting-focused organizations to affect the outcome of an election by casting votes with fraudulent identities or misrepresenting eligibility to vote.» The "or voting-focused organizations" part of that is a different kind of electoral fraud. Voter fraud is by definition only committed by individuals casting illegal votes.
- Election Fraud Cases by The Heritage Foundation, a conservoid think-tank
- 2022-06-08 TMS: Tomi Lahren Got Publicly Owned by a County Registrar After Tweeting About Voter Fraud «The fact that Lahren received ballot information for a California election is not proof of fraud, it is proof that she didn’t take the time to remove herself from the state’s voter rolls after moving.»
- 2022-04-28 NYT: G.O.P. Concocts Fake Threat: Voter Fraud by Undocumented Immigrants$ (archive.org) «Far from the U.S.-Mexico border, Ohio’s Senate primary shows how the Republican obsession with the fiction of a stolen election has spawned a new cause for fear of illegal immigration.»
- 2022-03-17 NYT: Republicans Push Crackdown on Crime Wave That Doesn’t Exist: Voter Fraud$ (archive.org) «Election fraud is exceedingly rare and often accidental. Still, G.O.P. lawmakers and prosecutors are promoting tough new enforcement efforts.»
- 2021-12-14 AP News: Far too little vote fraud to tip election to Trump, AP finds «An Associated Press review of every potential case of voter fraud in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump has found fewer than 475 — a number that would have made no difference in the 2020 presidential election. [...] The cases could not throw the outcome into question even if all the potentially fraudulent votes were for Biden, which they were not, and even if those ballots were actually counted, which in most cases they were not.»
- 2021-08-04 AP News Report claiming 'excess' Biden votes doesn’t show fraud «This report, which bases its claims on assumptions related to voting and registration trends, provides no proof of fraud. Political scientists who spoke to The Associated Press confirmed that conclusions of likely fraud do not follow from the data.»