Every election cycle, there is a small group of people worried about voter fraud, and looking to propose new laws to avoid it. I in reality, it is a very small issue, and it is far more common for honest mistakes to be viewed as fraud, than to have actual fraud. Has true fraud ever changed the outcome of an election? Have any candidates successfully stuffed the ballot box?
Are you asking for just the US, or in general?
I am more interested in examples from the US.
In that case, not in recent times. There are widespread accusations that JFK won Illinois by voter fraud but he would have had enough electoral college votes to win the election without Illinois.
Historically, people interested in gaming government haven’t bothered much with voter fraud. Much easier to retain office by using political patronage to reward your voting blocs (a la Boss Tweed).
There’s always been a question mark about Cook County, Illinois, in the 1960 presidential election, which was decisive in electing Kennedy. However, that’s more machine politics than individual voter fraud.
Welcome to Texas! where the spaces are wide and the answer to both your questions is YES.
Those are examples of election fraud, which is different from voter fraud.
You’re right - Illinois alone didn’t put Kennedy over the top. But Illinois and Texas did. And there were always concerns that LBJ’s shenanigans in Texas may have not been … completely pure, as the wiki article on the 1960 election indicates:
Voting fraud of all types was systematic and pervasive in Chicago from roughly 1900 through 1970. It wasn’t documented and prosecuted because the people in a position to document and prosecute it were elected by the same flawed process. You can read a summary of the various practices, and the efforts which finally eradicated them, here.
To quote the OP
Instances of voters misrepresenting their identity or status as voters and casting votes fraudulently or voting more than once is pretty hard work to organize. Not sure whether like this has ever been done in such numbers as to change an election.
Election fraud via miscount, mass creation of fake ballots, stealing unwanted ballots or rigged tallys is more common.
Are you talking about one or both?
Here in the Philippines? Lots of proven cases, though not at the Presidential level. But a number of senators, governors, and congressmen had to terminate their terms.
Voters deliberately and independently misrepresenting their identity or status to vote is so rare in modern elections whether it even exists at all as a crime is open to question. This is what the voter ID laws purport to stop.
In 2008 Franken defeated Coleman in the Minnesota Senate election by 312 votes. An investigationfound that in the two biggest counties 393 felons illegally cast their votes. It is possible that if all of the 87 counties had been investigated that the number of illegal votes cast would have been more than sufficient to change the outcome of the election.
In Dothan Alabama a voter fraud changed the election after one candidate won by 14 votes after receiving 119 out of 124 absentee votes. Subsequently four people were found guilty of voter fraud.
In Weslaco Texas, an election had to be redone after voter fraud was found to have changed the outcome.
There was a city council election in Jackson Georgia where voter fraud was found to have changed the election outcome.
Of course since the winning officials are the ones controlling the investigations, voter fraud it is hard to know how many elections outcomes have been changed.
Presumably it’s the sitting officials at the time of the election who control the investigation and not the winning elected officials. And in most cases it would be an official in a completely different office. For example, it would be a state official in all federal elections, I’m pretty sure, until it gets up possibly to a federal court.
Three of those four cases seem to involve election fraud, not voter fraud.
In Jackson, Ga., a city councilman and a member of his campaign staff took possession of and filled out absentee ballot applications. In Weslaco, “[s]ignatures on ballot applications and ballot envelopes were allegedly forged, and ballots were cast by voters who assert that they did not actually vote in the election”; one of the candidates and his son faced criminal charges. The case in Dothan also involved absentee ballots and campaign workers who “helped” fill them out; “voters testified at trial how they never wanted to vote for Newsome yet their ballot was cast for Newsome anyway.”
None of your cites for these cases support allegations that voters pretended to be someone else. Only the Minnesota case, from the evidence presented, indicates voters who should not have been able to vote, and it’s not clear how much of that is due to fraud versus mistake. (Minnesota felons at the time were eligible to vote after completing parole or probation; some voted or at least registered to vote while still under supervision.) The Hennepin County DA also claimed that most of the “felons” identified by the group Minnesota Majority were actually people with similar names.
That was an allegation by a conservative watchdog group. Many of those claims of illegal voting were shown to be false. The two counties did charge a total of 71 people for illegal voting, but that’s smaller than the margin of victory (and there seems to be no evidence that the majority of them voted for Franken). Wikipedia entry here.
These were people who went a little too far when helping elderly people fill out their mail-in ballots. At least one witness testified that she ended up voting for someone she didn’t intend to. But there seems to be no evidence that there were enough ballots filled against the voter’s wishes to change the outcome.
(I don’t have time to read up on the other cites right now…)
On the local level (including elections in House of Representatives), it’s common for elections to be decided by a handful of votes, so voter fraud can & has changed the outcome of such elections.
As for presidential elections, it may have almost happened in the Bush/gore election. As I recell, Broward County, Florida (which broke heavily for Gore) had at least a couple of precincts where the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters. It’s quite possible that the true result would have been a narrow, but clear, Bush win.
This reminds me. In Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick did something similar in one election. He sent teams of people to nursing homes to “assist” elderly residents in casting absentee ballots. And suprise suprise, absentee ballot went overwhelmingly to Kilpatrick.
I suspect that many of those elderly were probably so far gone they didn’t even know an election was coming up.
Wouldn’t it be hard to tell if voter fraud is happening if you never bother to check if the person voting is the person who is supposed to be voting?