Election fraud categories

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Overview

Election fraud refers to attempts to change election outcomes by illegally taking any of the following actions (though some items on the list may not be illegal in certain jurisdictions):

  • preventing qualified voters from registering
    • adding or arbitrarily enforcing restrictions to registration (for instance, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's 2004 requirement that registration applications be printed on 80-pound paper)
    • including misleading information (for instance, directions to affix an amount of postage that in reality is insufficient)
    • destroying registration forms selectively (as did Nathan Sproul in the 2004 election cycle)
    • submitting registration forms selectively
    • intentionally delaying registration process
  • directing voters to register in an improper manner
    • calling voters and inducing them to register by telephone when this is not a real option
    • providing voters with an incorrect address to which registration should be sent
  • removing voters from rolls improperly
    • caging -- sending mail to voters and then striking them from the rolls if they don't respond, regardless of the reason (for instance, the voter may be away at school)
    • removing voters based on incompatibilities between lists (for instance, presence for middle initial on driver's license but absence of middle initial on registration application) that are insubstantial, or introduced by a bureaucrat, or both
    • removing voters based on "fuzzy matches" with ineligible voters (for instance, felons)
    • removing voters in a manner that violates applicable laws (for instance, too close to the election)
    • introducing bogus requirements (for instance, ownership of property)
    • failing to contact voters removed from the rolls in the prescribed manner
  • misleading potential voters
    • distributing false information about voting locations or times
    • distributing false information about voting requirements
  • intimidating potential voters
    • distributing false information about alleged consequences of voting
    • sending law enforcement personnel to visit potential voters in a threatening manner
  • impeding voter access to polls
    • setting up roadblocks
    • moving the polls without notice
    • directing voters to the incorrect destination
    • opening the polls late
    • closing the polls early
  • preventing voter access to ballots
    • selectively distributing (or failing to redistribute) voting machines
      • sequestering existing voting machines that could be used to ameliorate shortages
    • denying voters access to ballots despite their being in line by the specified deadline
  • preventing observer access to polls
  • tampering with ballots
    • prefilling ballots
    • adding stickers that obscure regions of the ballot
  • tampering with voting machines
    • manipulating or failing to perform touch screen calibration
    • changing voting machine software without following the proper protocol
    • impersonating certified technicians
  • preventing votes from being counted
    • hiding ordinary ballots from specific jurisdictions
    • failing to count specific categories of ballots (early, absentee)
    • destroying ballots
    • invalidating valid ballots
  • manipulating tabulation of voting results
    • switching votes between candidates
  • adding spurious ballots ("stuffing ballot boxes")
  • manipulating recounts
    • creating bogus election machine poll tapes and discarding original tabulations
    • nonrandom selection of the precincts to be recounted

It should be distinguished from voter fraud, which is an individual's attempt to vote in a manner that is against the law (for instance, not in the proper jurisdiction). Election fraud has much greater potential than voter fraud to affect the vote. It has been claimed that the prevalence of voter fraud has been exaggerated by certain groups that would benefit from suppressing voting among certain populations. According to this argument, requirements for physical voter ID (also called "real voter ID") are instituted not in order to prevent individuals from voting illegally, but in order to suppress the vote among those for whom obtaining the ID would be a hardship.

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