Despite what you may have heard, voter fraud is rare in the United States. Extremely rare, in fact. What little voter fraud does exist has little to no impact on election outcomes. That is something to be proud of. Organizing an election for more than 150 million registered voters is no small task, and yet, the US manages to pull it off. Although some people may complain bitterly that an election did not go their way, and attempt to blame voter fraud, there is simply no evidence that Americans are ‘rigging” the electoral process.
While voter fraud is extremely rare, foreign influence on American elections is believed to be a problem. There are foreign nations that have maliciously attempted to create conflict between Americans and undermine confidence in election outcomes. While the United States Government believes that this malicious foreign influence may have an effect on who individual voters choose to vote for, there is no effect on actual vote tallies. Your vote counts, no matter who you vote for.
Our election system is resilient. Although the threat of foreign interference is real, Americans can have confidence that a vote cast will be a vote counted. The diversity of state election systems, multiple checks and redundancies in those systems and post-election auditing, all make it difficult for adversaries to change vote tallies.Election Security 2020 — Congressional Members Talking Points
So, you can be assured that the vote tallies are genuine. Voter fraud is not the problem. It is the malicious attempts to influence your opinion that is the danger. Although easier said than done, you can overcome this problem by making sure your information is based in facts.
For months, President Trump has claimed that absentee (or mail-in ballots) will enable some voters to cheat. Even if this was true, which it is not, why is there an assumption that only Democrats would cheat? If Democrats are cheating with mail-in ballots, isn’t it reasonable to believe that Republicans would also cheat? Stop worrying, however, because there has never been evidence of widespread cheating.
Federal Election Commission head Ellen Weintraub has said: “There’s simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud.”BBC News
Extremely rare does not mean that voter fraud never happens:
Individuals and groups sometimes will commit voter fraud. Still, the numbers of fraudulent votes is significantly less than 1% of all votes cast. Keep in mind that 5 US states conduct their elections by mail, so the system has been well tested:
Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – hold their elections primarily by mail and have documented almost no cases of cheating. Oregon, for instance, has sent out more than 100 million mail ballots since 2000 and reported around a dozen cases of proven fraud.Reuters
The amount of actual voter fraud that exists is not a partisan issue, either. Both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ organizations report the same incidences of voter fraud. As well, voter fraud is committed by people of all political stripes.
The Brennan Center at the NYU School of Law claims to be a non-partisan think tank that rigorously studies voter fraud. They have concluded that the small amount of voter fraud that occurs is not enough to ‘rig’ an election:
most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices. The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. Given this tiny incident rate for voter impersonation fraud, it is more likely, the report noted, that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”Brennan Center for Justice
Likewise, the self-described conservative think tank known as The Heritage Foundation have carefully kept track of incidences of voter fraud in all states, and at all levels of government. Although The Heritage Foundation asserts that voter fraud is a significant problem, their findings are more or less the same as what is reported by the Brennan Centre. Every researcher that studies voter fraud has access to the same pool of information.
The Heritage Foundation defines absentee (mail-in) voter fraud as:
Requesting absentee ballots and voting without the knowledge of the actual voter; or obtaining the absentee ballot from a voter and either filling it in directly and forging the voter’s signature or illegally telling the voter who to vote for.The Heritage Foundation
That definition is pretty straight forward and is the same definition of mail-in voter fraud that is currently being alleged. President Trump has stated that he believes that people are obtaining ballots that belong to other people and voting for Biden. That may have happened in a few instances around the nation, but it is extremely unlikely that anyone was able to obtain the vast number of ballots required. The fact is that every mail-in ballot is checked.
To help you understand the true level of voter fraud that takes place in the US, The Heritage Foundation publishes every single case on their website. Below is information about mail-on ballot fraud that have taken place in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania–3 states where widespread voter fraud has been alleged.
Since 1998, there have only been 6 cases of fraud involving absentee (mail-in) ballots. The largest case involved a group of 5 people who were in possession of a total of 107 absentee ballots during a 1998 election. The most recent case was 2011 when a candidate for Twiggs County sheriff was accused of coercing people to vote for him.
Michigan has just three cases of fraud involving absentee ballots. The most recent case was in 2014 when three men were charged with delivering absentee ballots to the County Clerk’s Office for people that were not related to them or that did not live in their household. There is no indication that the ballots themselves were fraudulent. In 2007, a Reverend Edward Pinkney was caught paying soup kitchen patrons $5.00 to fill in absentee ballots.
There have been 5 cases of fraud involving absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. Likely the most famous incident occurred in 1999 when former Congressman Austin Murphy forged ballots for some seniors living in a nursing home.
These cases of voter fraud are terrible, and hopefully prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows, but they all have one thing in common. They are all small time desperate efforts to commit fraud. None of these cases came anywhere near the high level of widespread conspiracy required to ‘rig’ a Presidential election.
Fraudulent altering of the vote count:
The goal of forging mail-in ballots is to alter the vote count. Some unscrupulous person or group fills in ballots for their preferred candidate and then hope that this effort will secure a win. The problem is how easily the fraudsters are caught.
According to The Heritage Foundation, there have been 4 cases of fraudulent altering of the vote count in the USA. This crime involves instances in Florida, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Oregon.
Gladys Coego, a temporary worker in the Miami-Dade County (Florida) elections department during the November 2016 election, pleaded guilty to filling out the mail-in ballots of other voters in favor of Republican mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado. While she admitted to altering the ballots of at least two individuals, detectives believe that Coego likely fraudulently marked numerous other absentee ballots. She was sentenced to two years of house arrest.The Heritage Foundation
Myron Cowher and Dmitry Kupershmidt were found guilty of attempting to rig a May 2014 election in the private community of Wild Acres Lakes (Pennsylvania). According to Wild Acres Property Manager Robert Depaolis, Cowher approached him and asked him to provide Cowher with ballots that were due to be mailed to property owners in the community who seldom voted, for the express purpose of filling out those ballots and guaranteeing victory for Cowher’s preferred Board of Directors candidates. Depaolis went to the state police, who surveilled a meeting where Depaolis handed over the ballots, catching Cowher in the act of filling out the mail-in ballots. He was arrested and subsequently convicted on 217 counts, including forgery, identity theft, and criminal conspiracy. His accomplice, Kupershmidt, was found guilty on 190 counts. Cohwer received a sentence of between 18 months and four years in a state correctional facility, and was ordered to pay a $10,850 fine. Kuperschmidt’s sentencing has been delayed due to a change in attorneys.The Heritage Foundation
In 2013, Kimberly Readus, an Executive Committee member of the Canton City (Mississippi) Elections, was convicted of stealing a ballot box. She was fined $950, sentenced to 30 days of jail time suspended, and placed on probation.The Heritage Foundation
Deanna Swenson, a Clackamas County (Oregon) elections official, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and unlawfully altering a ballot. Swenson tampered with ballots by filling in blank spots left by the actual voters. Swenson was ordered to serve 90 days in jail and pay $13,000 in fines.The Heritage Foundation
That’s it. Those are the four incidences of people who have tried to alter the number of votes for a candidate. Every one of them seems to have been a special case. Importantly, there was no criminal conspiracy involved. No cabal of political operatives who are running a large scale voter fraud operation.
By all means, check those mail-in ballots to ensure every one of them is legal, but be rest assured that America’s electoral system remains trustworthy.