Both election fraud and voter fraud can carry significant consequences, including hefty fines and prison time. Not only that, but these types of fraud threaten the integrity of our voting process.
What Is Election Fraud?
Election fraud involves unlawful acts that jeopardize the trustworthiness and reliability of the election process. At both state and local levels, election officials have a responsibility to ensure elections are run accurately and fairly. These duties are reflected in the laws that govern election administration. Whether intentionally or knowingly, it is unlawful for an election official to:
- Destroy, damage, or tamper with voting equipment or ballot boxes
- Falsely report votes or falsify election returns
- Tamper with or alter election documents
- Reject the votes of qualified voters
- Receive ineligible votes
Additionally, it is unlawful for individuals outside the election process to:
- Interfere with access to a polling place, whether by deception or physical actions
- Make counterfeit ballots
- Tamper with another’s ballot
- Influence someone’s vote with a bribe or other compensation
- Coerce, threaten, or intimidate a voter in an attempt to influence his or her vote or decision to vote
The penalties for election fraud vary. While crimes that involve negligence in the duties of an election official are typically considered misdemeanors, crimes that involve intentional misconduct or corruption can bring severe felony penalties.
What Is Voter Fraud?
Each state defines voter fraud differently. However, it typically occurs when a person commits any of the following acts knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly:
- Votes when he or she is ineligible to vote (such as a disqualified voter, noncitizen, or nonresident)
- Votes with a fraudulent ballot
- Registers to vote with a fraudulent name or address
- Casts a ballot in the name of an ineligible voter (such as a voter who has moved out of the election district or a deceased voter)
- Votes more than once in the same election (double voting)
Like election fraud, the penalties for voter fraud can vary, but it is a felony in most states, often punishable by a year or more in prison.
Call Our Austin Fraud Attorneys Today
If you’ve been charged with a fraud crime, or want to pursue a fraud case against another party, contact Shaw Cowart LLP at our Austin or Houston office online or at 512-499-8900 to schedule a confidential consultation.