Comment: Electoral Fraud

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Electoral Fraud

Electoral Fraud Information

Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country.

Many kinds of voter fraud are outlawed in electoral legislation, but others are in violation of general laws, such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Although technically the term 'electoral fraud' covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which are legal but nevertheless considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws, or in violation of the principles of democracy.[1] Show elections, in which only one candidate can win, are sometimes considered to be electoral fraud, although they may comply with the law.

In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, fraud can still have a damaging effect if not punished, as it can reduce voters' confidence in democracy. Even the perception of fraud can be damaging as it makes people less inclined to accept election results. This can lead to the breakdown of democracy and the establishment of a dictatorship.

Electoral fraud is not limited to political polls and can happen in any election where a cheater perceives the potential gain as worth the risk, as in elections for labor union officials, student councils, sports judging, and the awarding of merit to books, films, music or television programmes.

Despite many instances of electoral fraud internationally, in the U.S. a major study by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007[2] showed of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and of those few cases, most involved persons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility. This rarity of electoral fraud in the U.S. follows from its inherent illegality. Harsh penalties aimed at deterring voter fraud make it likely that individuals who might perpetrate the fraud correctly fear that they will be discovered by election officials carefully examining voter identification.

http://www.usaelectionwatch.com/electoral_fraud/encyclopedia...