Americans need election results they can trust. That’s why The Heritage Foundation has made the issue of election integrity one of its top priorities under the leadership of President Kay C. James.
In the weeks and months before Election Day, Heritage experts made sure Americans understood the importance of election integrity and the vulnerabilities of mail-in voting. And in the days after Nov. 3, as Americans awaited election results,Heritage became an even more important resource to understand what’s at stake.
The 2020 presidential race brought these concerns to the forefront in multiple states and exposed Heritage’s research to millions of Americans.
Heritage’s Election Fraud Database, a thoroughly sourced list of proven instances of election fraud, showcases 1,298 instances of voter fraud from 47 states. Heritage added over 50 cases to the database in 2020 and will continue to update it.
The database presents a sampling of election fraud cases from across the country. It is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but it is intended to demonstrate the vulnerabilities in the election system and the many ways in which fraud is committed.
Heritage’s database saw a huge surge in online traffic—more than 1,000%—in the days after Nov. 3 as the American people searched for factual information on the impact of fraud on elections.
The Election Fraud Database is backed up by detailed references to government documents and media reports. It is systematic, accurate, and based on verifiable information. For this reason, the database is regularly cited by academics, the news media, and government leaders across the ideological spectrum.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has referred to the database multiple times, including while interviewing President Donald Trump.
In the days after the 2020 election, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted a link to the database, encouraging Americans to learn more about the dangers of fraud.
The history of voter fraud in absentee voting is long, but it was usually difficult to affect an election because less than 1% voted absentee. Policing postmarks, signatures and fraud is now overwhelming because half the electorate votes by mail. https://t.co/VgjPPMgoJb— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) November 6, 2020
The Federal Elections Commission, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox News, USA Today, The Washington Post, CBS, NPR, Yahoo News, Epoch Times, The Hill, Roll Call, and Newsweek are just some of the organizations to cite the database.
Heritage’s election integrity work is led by Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow and manager of Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative. He and his Meese Center colleagues regularly work with state secretaries of state, brief lawmakers and testified before Congress, produce scholarly research, and conduct hundreds of media interviews.
Heritage scholars have published 49 articles on various issues related to election integrity, especially pushing back on universal mail-voting. This included eight major scholarly papers (list below).
Heritage’s von Spakovsky and Zack Smith co-authored a piece just days before the election, illustrating the various issues that have cropped up in the push for mail-in voting. In one example from Iowa, the Heritage duo highlights a serious security breach on absentee ballots resulting from a ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. They write:
"Contrary to the court’s comment about ‘reasonable people,' knowledgeable election officials understand that sending out absentee-ballot request forms that are already populated with a voter’s registration information—rather than requiring the voter to provide that information—cuts out one of the safety protocols for authenticating absentee-ballot requests."
In another article from October, the pair gave an example of the insecurity of mail-in voting saying:
“The danger of allowing unmonitored, unsecured drop boxes for absentee ballots was demonstrated recently in Virginia. There, the state board of elections issued a warning to voters Oct. 5 that six outdoor mail collection boxes had been broken into during the prior weekend, mailboxes that may have contained absentee ballots."
Year-to-date, Heritage experts have participated in 327 media interviews, including on shows such as PBS’ “Frontline,” Fox News’ “Life, Liberty, Levin,” CBS Morning News, and C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Their appearances have garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Heritage’s YouTube channel.
In addition to media appearances, Heritage has made simple, easily shareable content for Americans to quickly gain information on election integrity that they can then share with their friends and family. Most recently, Heritage produced a short four-minute video answering the most common questions and concerns about mail-in voting.
Heritage has placed a strong emphasis on hosting events to better inform the public on the widespread scale of fraud in elections. One of those events, dating to 2014, focused on the steps that states could take to protect the integrity of elections. The event featured the leading voices on electoral integrity, including Kris Kobach, Scott Gessler, and Catherine Engelbrecht, as well as Heritage’s von Spakovsky.
“Election integrity is fundamental to free and fair elections,” von Spakovsky said at the event, “and that is fundamental to maintaining our democracy”.
For a complete archive of Heritage’s work on electoral integrity, click here. Some of Heritage’s most recent publications are listed below.
By Hans von Spakovsky
Legal Memorandum No. 260
Feb. 19, 2020
By Hans von Spakovsky and Christian Adams
Issue Brief No. 5066
May 1, 2020
By Hans von Spakovsky
Fact Sheet No. 188
May 1, 2020
By Bradley A. Smith
Issue Brief No. 5070
May 11, 2020
By Hans von Spakovsky
Legal Memorandum No. 268
July 16, 2020
By Hans von Spaokvsky, Jessica Kline, Alex Phipps, and Katie Samalis-Aldrich
Aug. 27, 2020
By Jack Park
Legal Memorandum No. 269
Sept. 24, 2020
By Thomas Jipping
Legal Memorandum No. 272
Oct. 8, 2020