Election Fraud: How Big of an Issue is it Actually?
As I check my Twitter feed and news headlines in the morning each day, it seems as though I can never escape the heated messages about election fraud and what is to come on November 3rd, 2020, and in the time before inauguration. Some eerily warn that this will be the most rigged election ever and that mail in ballots will be the end of safe elections. I even saw a Tik Tok urging citizens to contact local authorities, encouraging them to ask for UN supervision of the election. Safe, accurate, and democratic elections are something that United4Information strives to encourage and promote in our actions and mission. With both sides of the political spectrum in America anxious about the election and blaming multiple sources for fraud, I decided to get to the bottom of what voting fraud even is.
What is Election Fraud?
According to BallotPedia, election fraud can be any type of illegal interference with an election process, whether it be at the local, state, or national level. Election fraud can occur at any point of the election process, although some are more common than others. Some types of fraud on the voter side include false registration/ voter impersonation, felon voting fraud, ballot stuffing, and voter suppression. On the election official side, vote buying and manipulation of ballots are also types of election fraud.
How Prevalent is it?
A comprehensive investigation in 2014 published by Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt calculated about 31 incidents of in person voter fraud between 2000 and 2014. This number was calculated using all election data from municipal level to general elections. Given that there were more than 1 billion ballots cast in that time period, the number of alleged incidents is insignificantly small to ‘ruin’ an election like this year’s. The report also argued that 24 types of individual voter fraud, like writing the name of a deceased person to get another vote, were “foolish and ineffective” methods of rigging elections. This is because the punishment for fraud, whether it be up to 5 years in prison or up to $10,000 in fines, is much more risky than the return of one more vote.
NYU law School’s Brennan Center compiled various reports on voter fraud to debunk the myth that it will affect an election. The report noted that fraud by impersonation of another voter rarely happened, with incidents rates between .0003 and .0025 percent. Further, the report explained how legal courts agreed that in-person voter fraud at the polls was also insignificant. Lastly, the report dived into an extensive list of government investigations into voter fraud, concluding that incidents were rare. Check out the whole report here!
2020 Election Fraud
The biggest focus for Donald Trump is how voter fraud will ruin the 2020 election. He has continued to attack mail-in and absentee ballots, saying they are “corrupt”. In a time where voters are less likely to want to go to the polls in person because of coronavirus, and closing poll locations are making voter suppression more likely, mail in ballots are more likely to be used than in previous elections. 5 states already use mail-in ballots as their primary voting method. While mail in voting does have slightly higher odds of being fraudulent, Factcheck.org has repeatedly proved Trump’s statements about mail in voting to be inaccurate. Check out these articles here, here, and here for more specifics on what is true and not. On a side note, in addition to being false about mail-in ballots, President Trump has also been called a hypocrite by many who know the actual facts, given that he voted by mail in the Florida primary this year.
According to experts, this election is likely to be different than previous years in that it will definitely take longer to calculate the votes with more people choosing mail-in voting. In previous years, the votes have been typically tallied on Election Day and the results announced promptly. Despite experts suggesting that mail-in voting will not create a fraudulent election, as noted above, there are a lot of other factors in the election that can skew the results, whether it be counting issues or foreign intervention. Although no one can tell exactly what is going to happen in the future regarding the election, one thing is for sure: November 3rd and the weeks to follow are going to be an interesting time for America.
United We inform.
Written by Annie Pollak