The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database presents a sampling of recent proven instances of election fraud from across the country.
Each and every one of the cases in this database represents an instance in which a public official, usually a prosecutor, thought the fraud serious enough to act upon it. And each and every one ended in a finding that the individual had engaged in wrongdoing in connection with an election hoping to affect its outcome—or that the results of an election were altered or sufficiently in question and had to be overturned.
It is important to remember that every fraudulent voter registration could result in a fraudulent vote if it is not detected prior to an election. Or it could affect ballot and candidate qualifying petitions that require voter signatures.
Every fraudulent vote that is cast invalidates the vote of an eligible voter, effectively disenfranchising that voter. In addition to diluting the votes of legitimate voters, instances of fraud can have—and have had—an impact in close elections, altering the outcome. We have many close elections in this country.
There are people who claim that election fraud is massive, and those who claim it is exceedingly rare or doesn’t occur at all. But as the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2008 in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, “flagrant examples of such fraud … have been documented throughout this Nation's history by respected historians and journalists … [that] demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.”
The big problem is that nobody really knows the extent of election fraud, including us. While we are not making any definitive claims about the extent of election fraud in our country, we are confident in saying that there are far too many vulnerabilities in our current system. The important thing is that people must have trust in the outcome, which is difficult to do, in large part, because of the vulnerabilities that currently exist.
To be clear, this database is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list of all election fraud in the states. It does not capture all cases and certainly does not capture reported instances or allegations of election fraud, some of which may be meritorious, some not, that are not investigated or prosecuted. Because of vulnerabilities that exist in state’s election laws, election fraud is relatively easy to commit and difficult to detect after the fact. Moreover, some public officials appear to be unconcerned with election fraud and fail to pursue cases that are reported to them. It is a general truism that you don’t find what you don’t look for.
This database is intended to highlight cases of proven fraud and the many ways in which fraud has been committed. This fraud, committed by Democrats, Republicans, and independents, happened because of vulnerabilities in the states’ election laws.
Reforms intended to ensure election integrity do not disenfranchise voters and, in fact, protect their right to vote and their confidence in the fairness and integrity of election outcomes no matter who wins.
Preventing, deterring, and prosecuting election fraud is essential to protecting the integrity of our voting process.
Winning elections leads to political power and the incentives to take advantage of security vulnerabilities are great, so it is important that we take reasonable, common-sense steps to make it hard to cheat, while making it easy for legitimate voters to vote.
Americans deserve to have an electoral process that they can trust.