One thing is certain: one fraudulent vote in an election is one too many, but there is no evidence of widespread, coordinated, or conspiratorial efforts to compromise the fairness of American elections, voter fraud statistics show.
Statistics reveal that unnecessary hurdles to registration and voting have contributed to a smaller and smaller percentage of Americans casting ballots in each major election.
We’ve painstakingly pieced together data from news reports, court proceedings, and election officials to see if intentional fraud actually exists and if, by extension, we can trust the electoral process to reflect voters’ intentions.
Top Voter Fraud Statistics (Editor’s Choice)
- In the past 36 years, there were only 1,285 cases of voter fraud
- The percentage of in-person voter fraud in the US is 0.00006%
- There were approximately 8,500 duplicate votes in 21 states in 2016
- 30.7% of voters in Rhode Island couldn’t be identified in 2016
- There were zero cases of illegal immigrant voting in California in 2016
- The criminal penalty for fraudulent voting is a fine of between $300 and $500
- About 43% of all republicans believe that fraud occurred in this year’s elections
- The biggest voter fraud ever occurred in Liberian general elections in 1927
General US Voter Fraud Statistics - What’s Been Going on Lately?
Voting is the bedrock of democracy. Through the vote, citizens choose leaders, sway policies, and generally influence politics. Allegations of voter fraud make for enticing press reports. These stories can have dramatic implications, especially when repeated and amplified by politicians. Let’s take a look at some statistics from 2016 and onwards.
1. In 2016, in-person fraud made up 0.00002% of all votes in North Carolina.
(Amazon Aws Audit Report)
Cases of voter fraud statistics reveal that only 1 in 4.8 million votes were fraudulent. Out of 508 cases, 441 votes were cast by felons who were mainly not aware of their eligibility to vote, while 41 noncitizens with green cards voted.
Additionally, there were two cases of voter impersonation, one of which referred to voting by mail, and 24 cases of double voting, which could have been caused by administrative errors.
2. There were 44 voter frauds in Washington from 2000 to 2016.
Voter fraud isn’t as common as people think. At least, that’s what statistics can tell us. Out of 1 billion votes, only 44 were proven fraudulent. Statistics of voter fraud point out that in eight of those cases there was more than one ballot affected. This means that the rate of voter fraud is 0.0000044%.
3. There were only 1,285 cases of voter fraud in the past 36 years.
The newest statistics from September 2020 reveal that the rate of voter fraud is approximately 0.0000007%. By analysing 1.82 billion ballots cast between 1982 and 2018, researchers found 309 cases involving absentee and/or mail ballots, 138 cases that generated 1 fraudulent vote and 162 cases that generated 2 or more fraudulent votes.
4. Every six or seven years, approximately one ballot per state cast by email is fraudulent.
US statistics on voter fraud reveal that voting by email won’t increase the rate of voting fraud. The voting fraud rate of voting by email is around 0.00006%.
This percentage is so low that it doesn’t seem to affect the fairness of the elections.
5. The percentage of voter impersonation in the US is 0.00006%.
A 2020 study conducted by MIT University shows that voter impersonation is exceedingly rare. In the past 14 years, there were only 34 cases of voter impersonation (also called in-person voter fraud).
For these reasons, online criminal background check sites are a fantastic solution to identify these types of voter impersonation frauds.
However, actual voter fraud United States statistics reveal that getting struck by lightning is five times more likely to occur than voter impersonation.
6. The overall percentage of voting fraud in the US was between 0.00004% and 0.00009% in 2017.
Information from the study by the Brennan Center for Justice points out that, despite claims that voting by mail is a solid basis for voter fraud, numbers say otherwise. There have been quite a lot of discarded ballots due to the lack of signature or the right postmark, but there’s no evidence of fraud involved.
Voter Registration Fraud Statistics
Voter registration fraud happens when people vote illegally using fraudulent registrations, a phony name, or a fake residential address.
In many jurisdictions, the ability of voters to confirm their identity is limited, raising the risk of them not being able to vote.
This is a hard battle for election officials. Most cases are built on the fact that many people are, for entirely innocent reasons, registered in more than one jurisdiction. Here are some voter registration fraud statistics to flesh out the story.
7. 10,694 absentee ballots were disqualified in the primary election in Michigan.
False claims arose, alleging that 8% of deceased people voted in state August 4 primary elections. However, the Michigan Secretary of State revealed that, out of 10,694 rejections, 846 were rejected because the voters died after casting their absentee ballot out before the elections.
8. There are approximately 8,500 pairs of duplicate votes in 21 states.
Every state shows a certain percentage of duplicate voting, which is fraudulent. Statistics for voter fraud also reveal that around 200 couples voted together in two different states. There’s an estimation that there would be around 40,000 duplicate votes if the statistics from other states were available.
9. In 2001, 361 ineligible voters voted in Milwaukee.
According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel findings, 361 felons voted in the 2001 elections, in which a total of 203,000 votes were cast. When asked about the fraud, the felons said they had no idea they were not eligible to vote.
10. In 2016, 30.7% of voters in Rhode Island couldn’t be identified.
Voter ID fraud statistics from 2016 point out that around one-third of Rhode Island voters weren’t in the voter registration database and that their votes were cast with no identifying information.
11. 21 million Americans of voting age don’t have access to photo ID cards.
(Voter Fraud Facts) (Aclu)
If you restrict that to passports and driving licenses, statistics on voter fraud in the US reveal that 11 million Americans have trouble proving their identity at the polls. As of March 2017, an excuse is required to vote by mail in 20 states, while in 27 states and the District of Columbia any qualified voter may vote absentee without offering an excuse.
12. 43% of republicans think voter fraud is highly likely to happen in 2020 elections.
In a 2020 survey of 1,259 respondents, republicans are the most convinced there will be voter fraud in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, only 10% of democrats share their opinion, as 8% of republicans think voter fraud won’t happen at all.
Historical Voter Fraud Statistics by State
The extremely close presidential race in 2000 led to a recount that highlighted many issues plaguing US elections — from faulty equipment and bad ballot design to inconsistent rules and procedures. Politicians used the concern and “rampant” fraud statistics as justification for establishing new rules that make it harder to vote in almost every state. Let’s see what these stats can tell us about it.
13. Less than one vote by mail is fraudulent in Oregon on a yearly basis.
This kind of US voter fraud statistics can show that universal voting by mail doesn’t result in many frauds. In a 19-year period, there were 15 cases of voter fraud linked with mail voting.
14. All vote frauds in Colorado were attempted by email.
As of 2013, it has been made possible to vote by email. From 2013 to 2018, there were only 8 fraud attempts. All of them were attempted by email and there were either about duplicating votes or absentee ballot fraud.
15. The most common voter fraud in Arizona is duplicate voting.
According to the White House’s voter fraud statistics in the US from a detailed report of all cases of voter fraud, duplicate voting was the most common felony in Arizona. There were also some cases of ineligible voting and false registrations. The most recent one is from 2016, and the first one that happened occurred in 2009.
16. 62% of voters in Oklahoma believe voting by email is likely to increase the voter fraud rate.
Voter fraud statistics in Oklahoma show that a majority of voters presume that fraud is likely to happen by email. Additionally, 39% of respondents state they think the fraud is very likely to happen. On the contrary, 29% of them disagree, while 15% of them think fraud by email is highly unlikely.
17. Nearly 4,000 possible cases of voter fraud recorded in Wisconsin in 2016.
After the 2016 elections in the US, Wisconsin officials recorded nearly 4,000 cases of likely voter fraud. Voter fraud in Wisconsin statistics reveal that, although 3,871 Winsconsin voters were unable to be verified, only 954 were referred to attorneys.
18. There was one case of illegal immigrant voting in California in the 2016 elections.
(Heritage) (Justice Gov)
US voter fraud statistics for 2016 reveal that there was one case of an illegal alien voting in the election. The person in question, Gustavo Araujo Lerma, was indicted by a federal jury in 2017 for illegal voting, aggravated identity theft and passport fraud, and faces a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a $250,000 fine.
19. Out of 948 complaints in 2016 regarding the election, only 194 cases were sent to the local authorities.
The Secretary of State opened 89 investigations and found that 56 of those complaints were allegations of double voting, 16 were allegations of fraudulent voter registration, and one case of fraudulent voting. Actual voter fraud in the United States statistics show that frauds are mostly conducted by petition circulators, candidates, and people who worked in the elections arena.
20. 70 17-year-olds illegally voted in 29 Wisconsin countries in 2016.
In most cases, those teenagers succeed in persuading poll workers to vote and nobody was prosecuted. However, this caused confusion because some other states, such as Illinois, for example, allowed 17-year-olds to vote if they turned 18 by the date of the general election.
Other Relevant and Interesting Statistics on Voter Fraud
Stats about voter fraud say that such voting can be the result of faulty equipment, bad ballot design, inconsistent rules and procedures, or simple clerical error. Legal penalties are harsh enough, experts say, to prevent even the most committed partisan voters and groups from attempting voter fraud in an election in the US.
21. The criminal penalty for fraudulent voting is a fine of $300 to $500.
Voting twice is a felony, and it carries a fine of up to $10,000. Statistics of voter fraud in the US reveal that this is not the only way to vote against the law. In addition to voting twice, voting in violation of absentee ballot laws is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
22. The biggest voter fraud ever occurred in the 1927 Liberian general elections.
(Liberia Past and Present)
The biggest voter fraud in human history happened when Charles D. B. King was re-elected for the third time. Despite the fact that there were slightly less than 15,000 votes, as actual statistics of voter fraud revealed, he received 240,000 votes. This case even ended up in the Guinness Book of Records as the most fraudulent election reported in human history.
23. There are 9 types of voter fraud.
One of the most common types of frauds involve ineligible voting, or voting done by convicted felons or noncitizens. Some other frequent frauds are receiving and filling an absentee ballot without the knowledge of the actual voter.
Voter Fraud Statistics - Wrap Up
These statistics help paint a clearer picture on what’s really happening behind the election curtains. Actual statistics on voter fraud indicate that it’s not as common as some would claim it to be. Not surprisingly, cases of false allegations are more frequent.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How is voter fraud committed?
Voter fraud occurs when there is some sort of manipulation with voting or the results of an election. Illegal interference increases the vote share of one candidate, lowers the share of rivals, or sometimes both. It’s punishable by laws and carries harsh penalties.
Most cases of voter fraud are discovered to be the result of faulty equipment, bad ballot design, or a simple clerical error. Voter frauds can be committed by, for example, duplicate voting, voting in violation of absentee ballot laws, etc.
Is it illegal to buy votes?
It’s illegal to give or accept anything that has pecuniary value in exchange for a vote. Offering any kind of compensation in return for a vote is considered vote-buying.
It’s a corrupt election practice and it’s banned in the US. Buying votes can have a considerably bad impact on fair elections.
Buying votes is also giving false information or conspiracies to an individual in order to manipulate his will. The perpetrators are fined with up to $10,000, face up to 5 years in prison, or both.
What causes voter apathy?
In politics, voter apathy is described as a lack of caring or trust in an election process.
This term is often cited as a cause of low turnout. Alienated voters do sometimes care about elections but feel estranged from the system or are somehow left out of the political process.
The voter’s perception of politics is influenced by many factors: propaganda, frequent elections, and distrust toward democracy in America.
There are two types of voter apathy: the first is called alienation and the second one voter fatigue.
What are voter suppression laws?
Voter suppression laws are used to influence election results by discouraging or preventing certain groups from voting.
These tactics can range from minor changes in the election system that discriminate against some groups to physically intimidating or even attacking prospective voters.
The reason for voter suppression is retaining certain groups of people to vote due to the assumption they might vote against the candidate.
Such candidates can make voting less convenient, or even intimidate or attack prospective voters. This kind of voter suppression is illegal.
What age group votes the least?
Young people are the least present in elections. Turnout increases to a peak at the age of 50 and then falls again. The US has the largest gap between young and old voters.
The gap between those who are 18 to 29 years old and those over 60 is more than twice as large as in some other comparable democracies, such as Germany or Canada.
In 2020, the percentage of young voters is even lower, and, on the other hand, older people vote more than before.
Where do I report voter fraud?
If you are aware of voter fraud, intimidation, or suppression, alert the authorities. There are several ways to report voter fraud are a local FBI or US attorney office, and The Public Integrity Section in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
If you experience suppression or intimidation, you can contact the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, territorial or state election office, or utilize the Election Complaint Report online.