have received heightened attention in the media these past few weeks. Prominent
liberals highly endorse the idea, claiming it allows people to do their
patriotic duty without risking being infected by the coronavirus.
without rigid safeguards to prevent fraud, misuse, and voter intimidation,
absentee ballot fraud—while it may occur sporadically—already has affected the
outcome of elections in states and counties across the country.
Just look at
the 2018 congressional race in North Carolina that was overturned by the state
election board. Or the mayor of Gordon, Alabama, who was removed from office
last year after his conviction for absentee ballot fraud.
talk of voter fraud may be increasing because of the stakes in the 2020
election, The Heritage Foundation’s Election
Fraud Database has been around for four years. With the addition of our
latest batch of cases, we are up to 1,285 proven instances of voter fraud.
is by no means comprehensive. It doesn’t
capture all voter fraud cases and certainly doesn’t capture reported instances
that aren’t even investigated or prosecuted. The database is intended to
demonstrate the vulnerabilities in the election system and the many ways in
which fraud is committed.
We try to
keep a close eye on public information about potential cases through local news
stories, court documents, county records, and police reports. But even that is
difficult to do in a country as large as the United States, with hundreds of
elections every year.
sampling of cases illustrates the existence and effect of voter fraud. Most
importantly, the public must understand that fraud can occur throughout the entire
process of registering and voting.
include impersonation fraud at the polls; false voter registrations; duplicate
voting; fraudulent absentee ballots; vote buying; illegal assistance and
intimidation of voters; ineligible voting, such as by aliens; altering of vote
counts; and ballot petition fraud.
sheet offers a quick summary of the dangers of voting by mail and the
necessary safeguards to ensure an election’s integrity. Another Heritage report
details how Wisconsin successfully conducted its recent primary
election–including in-person voting—and how other countries such as Liberia
have conducted an election successfully during a health crisis.
Voting by mail
makes it easier to commit fraud, intimidate voters, and destroy the protections
of the secret ballot. It puts elections into the hands of the Postal Service. Without
the oversight of election and polling officials, ballots can be lost,
disqualified, and even stolen.
from our newest batch of cases illustrates a common type of fraud. John and Grace
Fleming both were found guilty of duplicate voting, once by absentee ballot in
New Hampshire and then in person in Massachusetts.
added to the database the case of Reginald Holman, a city council member in
Ashtubla, Ohio, who was forced
to resign after an investigation found he illegally registered at his
parents’ address in Ashtubla rather than his actual residence in Plymouth, Ohio.
case of Courtney Rainey in Canton, Mississippi, who was found
guilty of bribing and harassing individuals to win a municipal election.
Or take the
case of April Atilano, who was
found guilty of changing party affiliations of voters and forging signatures on
voter registration forms, among other things. Atilano was hired by a
private company to contact and register voters in Madera County, California.
staffers in the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office noticed something fishy with the
registration cards submitted by Atilano. If they hadn’t have been so diligent, the
forms would have been altered without the consent or knowledge of the voters.
Rebecca Martinez says she has zero tolerance for voter fraud in her county. Asked
about this issue, Martinez replied: “Protecting
our elections has always been my highest priority and I will continue to
maintain this vigilance as we head into the presidential election in November.”
officials should have this attitude when it comes to protecting the sanctity of
that even if voter fraud occurs, its impact is so marginal it couldn’t possibly
effect the outcome of an election. That is simply not true—fraud can make the
difference in a close election.
previous article, we pointed out how over 100
elections in Ohio were decided by less than two votes. Heritage’s database
contains numerous instances where voter fraud was so severe that it affected
the outcome and new elections were called.
integrity of elections should not become wrapped up in partisan politics. Yet
since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic (and some would argue even before
then), many leading Democrats have scoffed at the reality of voter fraud and the
importance of election integrity–even though it is their own voters and
supporters who often are affected by such fraud.
important that we take reasonable steps to make it hard to cheat in elections
while making it easy for legitimate voters to vote.
and party leaders, regardless of political affiliation, should put their ambitions
aside and understand that election integrity is of the utmost importance in
self-government and maintaining a functioning democratic republic.
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