Press "Enter" to skip to content

Voter Fraud in America – The Facts Behind the Discourse

Key Points:

  • Voter Fraud is a well understood, well documented, well-researched phenomenon in the United States.
  • Numerous sources, from independent research, journalistic inquiries, Court decisions, and government reviews all demonstrate that voter fraud is statistically irrelevant. 

Stay up to date with Nouvelle,
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Why Are We Talking About Voter Fraud Right Now?

In response to Michigan and Nevada planning to expand mail-in voting services due to COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump claimed that he would “hold up” unspecified funding.

  • He justifies such actions based on concerns over mail-in voter fraud.

The situation further escalated on May 27th, when Twitter added a label to Donald Trump’s tweets warning users to fact-check the information he tweeted regarding voter fraud. Twitter claimed the tweet could confuse those who are looking to vote by mail in upcoming elections.  With further sources adding that the claims made by Donald Trump are unsubstantiated.

On June 8th, it was reported that the Republican party is recruiting an estimated 50’000 “poll watchers” for the upcoming November election in an effort to police the polls. All while Republicans voices continue to raise concerns over voter fraud.

This deep dive will explore the facts surrounding voter fraud in the US.


What Is Voter Fraud?

Voter fraud includes offences such as:

  • Casting ineligible votes,
  • Double voting,
  • Absentee ballot fraud,
  • Felons casting ineligible vote,
  • Non-citizens casting ineligible votes,
  • Petition fraud,
  • Voter impersonation, and
  • Campaign fraud and vote-buying.

Many of those who share Trump’s concerns assume mail-in voting will increase instances of voter fraud.

The American Context: The Brennan Center for Justice, (which operates through the New York University of Law), reviewed 19 independent studies, 4 judicial decisions, and 9 Government investigations –  all focused-on voter fraud – and concluded that voter fraud is an incredibly rare phenomenon. You can read their review here.


How rare? According to a study by Columbia University, voter fraud is extremely rare. So rare that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of 8 people per year.

The Washington Post conducted a study in response to calls for stricter ID laws aimed to combat voter “impersonation” (a form of voter fraud). They counted every “credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls in any way that an ID law could fix.” This includes allegations that were not founded in a court of law, or even prosecuted, but simply allegations with some level of credibility.

The Post’s review of nearly 1 billion votes over this period found 31 incidents of voter impersonation since the year 2000. The piece includes a comprehensive list of all 31 incidents.

Again, that is 31/1,000,000,000 votes.

A Harvard University study found that previously estimated incidents of non-citizen voting are actually errors resulting from misclassifications of surveyors, and that the likely percentage of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0


How Do We Know It Is This Rare?

The previously mentioned Columbia University study stresses that with the incredible extent to which voter fraud is criminalized in the United States, it must be treated like other crime statistics, where the lack of instances indicates the lack of occurrences. We cannot point a finger toward the lack of enforcement mechanisms to indicate a small number of recorded instances.

Does It Impact Elections?

  • A database of all 2,068 cases of alleged election fraud (not voter fraud specifically) from all 50 states from 2000-2012 was compiled by New 21 staff in 2012.
  • Of the 2,068 cases alleged, only 633 cases are alleged against voters.

For context, in 2012 Barrack Obama received 65,899,660 votes, and 60,932,152 votes were cast for his opponent Mitt Romney.  In the 2012 Presidential election, one of the closest states was Florida. Obama edged out Romney by 0.9% of the vote. This difference in total votes is 73,189 votes.

This means that even if every allegation of election fraud from 2000-2012 had been a fraudulent voter, and if every instance occurred in the 2012 election, in one state:

Every fraudulent voter would have had to get away with casting on average, 36 votes each, for the election to be affected in any marginal way.


Are Claims About Voter Fraud Occurring in the 2016 Election Factually Based?

In 2016 and 2017, President Trump and his staff continued to claim that voter fraud tainted the 2016 election, specifically claiming that Massachusetts residents were bussed into New Hampshire. The Washington Post conducted a thorough study of these allegations, which you can read here.

They found zero evidence of dramatic turnout surges in any of the 259 vote-tabulating towns when compared to 2012 turnout. There was no evidence of a dramatic downturn in support for Ayotte (the Republican nominee). As well, New Hampshire records the state which issues the licence plate used by out-of-state voters to register. They found no evidence that New Hampshire voters with Massachusetts driver’s licences determined the outcome.


What Do the Courts Say About Mail-In Voting?

In response to COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada planned to operate an all-mail election for the June 9th, Nevada primary.

In 2020, a group of plaintiffs asked the court to prevent this from occurring on the grounds that the plan was not chosen by the Nevada Legislature, and that the all-mail election strips voter-fraud-prevention safeguards and unconstitutionally violates the plaintiffs right to vote due to vote dilution.

The court disagreed, holding that the plaintiffs’ claims failed because the health and safety of voters outweigh the alleged damages due to voter dilution. Primarily because they are based on Speculative claims of voter fraud.

The Court Characterized the plaintiff’s claim regarding voter fraud on pg. 12 of the decision, stating: “To be sure, while Plaintiffs present this case as one about voter disenfranchisement due to purported vote dilution as a result of voter fraud; their claim of voter fraud is without any factual basis.”


What Does Rampant Voter Fraud look like?

The National Leagues MLB Allstar Game roster in 1957 became a point of controversy when 5 of the 9 started were from the Cincinnati Reds due to fanatical Cincinnati fans stuffing the ballot boxes.


Would you like to know more about Voter Fraud in other jurisdictions?

In an effort to allow for transparency, as well as to make the large amount of relevant information on this topic accessible, a list of findings from key studies, judicial decisions, and government reports on voter fraud has been included at the bottom of this article. This includes studies and some information not mentioned above.


READ MORE:


The Politics of Voter Fraud – Columbia University – 2007

  • The report found that voter fraud is extremely rare. So rare that only 24 people were convicted of or pleaded guilty to illegal voting between 2002 and 2005, an average of 8 people per year.
  • The piece makes a point of stating that with the incredible extent to which voter fraud is criminalized in the United States, it must be treated like other crime statistics, where the lack of instances indicates the lack of occurrences. We cannot point a finger toward the lack of enforcement mechanisms to indicate a small number of recorded instances.
  • The more complicated the rules regulating voter registration and voting, the more likely voter mistakes, clerical errors, and other false positive instances of voter fraud are to occur.

New Hampshire Voting Fraud – The Washington Post – 2017

  • In 2016 and 2017, President Trump and his staff continued to claim that voter fraud tainted the 2016 election, specifically claiming that Massachusetts residents were bussed into New Hampshire. The Washington Post conducted a thorough study into these allegations, which you can read here.
  • They found zero evidence of dramatic turnout surges in any of the 259 vote-tabulating towns when compared to 2012 turnout.
  • No evidence of a dramatic downturn in support for Ayotte (the Republican nominee).
  • New Hampshire records the state which issues the licence plate used by out-of-state voters to register. They found no evidence that New Hampshire voters with Massachusetts drivers licences determined the outcome.

Comprehensive Review 2000-2014 – The Washington Post – 2014

  • The Washington Post responded to recent calls for stricter ID laws aimed to combat voter “impersonation” (a form of voter fraud) by counting every “credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls in any way that an ID law could fix.” This includes allegations that were not founded in a court of law, or even prosecuted, but simply allegations with some level of credibility.
  • The review of nearly 1 billion votes over this period contained 31 incidents since the year 2000. The piece includes a comprehensive list of all 31 incidents.
  • Again, that is 31/1,000,000,000 votes.
  • This is 0.000000031%.

The Perils of Cherry Picking Low Frequency Events in Large Sample Surveys – Harvard University – 2014

  • The study found that previously estimated incidents of non-citizen voting are actually errors resulting from misclassifications of surveyors, and that the likely percentage of non-citizen voters in recent US elections is 0

Election Fraud in America – News 21 – 2012

  • A database of all 2,068 cases of alleged election fraud (not voter fraud specifically) from all 50 states from 2000-2012 was compiled by News21 staff in 2012. Of the 2,068 cases alleged, only 633 cases are alleged against voters. Out of these 633 cases, 28 were convicted of an offence, and 193 pleaded guilty. This includes all voter fraud offences such as double voting, casting an ineligible vote, and Absentee Ballot fraud.
  • Out of the 2,068 alleged cases of election fraud, 403 were conducted by Campaign Staff and a further 261 were alleged to be committed by Election officers.    

Judicial Decisions

Texas Fifth Circuit – 2016

  • In a decision surrounding the constitutionality of a voter ID law, which aimed to prevent in-person voter fraud (or voter impersonation) in Texas, the court held the following:
    • At page 24: “that Texas has a history of justifying voter suppression efforts such as the poll tax and literacy tests with the race-neutral reason of promoting ballot integrity.”
    • When discussing the effectiveness of the law in achieving its purpose, the court said at pg. 27:“the evidence before the Legislature was that in-person voting, the only concern addressed by SB 14, yielded only two convictions for in-person voter impersonation fraud out of 20 million votes cast in the decade”.
    • When discussing other effects of the law, the Court said at pg. 69: “In order to prevent voter fraud, the State has pushed more vulnerable elderly voters away from in-person voting—a form of voting with little proven incidence of fraud—and toward mail-in voting, which the record shows is far more vulnerable to fraud, particularly among the elderly.”
    • The next case assesses the validity of claims regarding the severity and frequency of mail-in voter fraud.

Mail-in Voter Fraud “Paher, et al., v. Nevada Secretary of State, et al.2020

  • In response to COVID-19 pandemic, the state plans to operate an all-mail election for the upcoming June 9th, Nevada primary.
  • The plaintiffs asked the court to prevent this from occurring due to two main reasons.
    • One, that the plan was not chosen by the Nevada Legislature
    • Two, that the all-mail election strips voter-fraud-prevention safeguards and unconstitutionally violates the plaintiffs right to vote due to vote dilution.
  • The court held that the claims fail on their merits primarily because the health and safety of voters outweighs the alleged damages, primarily because they are based on Speculative claims of voter fraud.
  • The Court Characterized the plaintiff’s claim regarding voter fraud on pg. 12 of the decision, stating:  “To be sure, while Plaintiffs present this case as one about voter disenfranchisement due to purported vote dilution as a result of voter fraud; their claim of voter fraud is without any factual basis.” 
  • Continuing to say on pgs. 13-14:“Further, Plaintiffs’ overarching theory that having widespread mail-in votes makes the Nevada election more susceptible to voter fraud seems unlikely where the Plan essentially maintains the material safeguards to preserve election integrity.”
  • When discussing the relevancy of voter disenfranchisement, the court states on pg. 14 that “Defendants may equally claim that voters will be disenfranchised. For example, if the Plan is not implemented voters worried about risks to their health or unsure about how to obtain an absentee ballot may very well be discouraged from exercising the right to vote all together.”

Florida Mail-In Voter Fraud Probe – 2018

  • Complaints of voter fraud against the Democrats came at the end of the 2018 race for governor, U.S Senate, and other state positions. This led to a recount and an investigation.
  • State law-enforcement officials found “no evidence of fraudulent intent” by the Florida Democratic Party after an investigation into alleged vote-by-mail fraud that supposedly occurred at the end of the 2018 election cycle.
  • The investigation lasted over a year.

Justice Department – 2002-2007

  • During the Bush administration, the Justice Department lead a concerted effort to identify instances of and prevent voter fraud. After 5 years of doing so, as reported by the NY Times, 120 people were charged with about 86 people convicted of some degree of offence.
  • The number of complaints did not go up during this period, but they were simply pursued more aggressively by political appointees, as opposed to career Justice Department lawyers.
  • Based on a review of court documents, the vast majority of those who were charged are individuals who mistakenly filled out registration forms, or misunderstood eligibility rules.
  • An assistant United States attorney in Milwaukee stated that there was no “concerted effort to tilt the election”.