How common is voter fraud?

March 2024 2 min read by The CEIR Team


In 2020 and 2022, the current members of the Board of Supervisors of Maricopa County (AZ) were elected in the most secure and verifiable elections in US history. On February 28, a meeting of the Board was abruptly cut short as a group of protesters rushed toward the front shouting baseless claims of voter fraud.

It’s an idea that has convulsed the culture in the US for years—that our recent elections have been subject to voter fraud so massive as to flip the results of various state and national races, up to and including the presidency, yet so secret that no one involved in the enormous multi-state conspiracy has ever breathed a word of it.

Ballots are said to have been dumped in swing states, thousands of votes cast in the names of dead people, ballots “harvested” by third parties, voting machines rigged to switch votes, ballots shredded, and more. If even half of this were happening, every voter in the country should be furious and taking action.

I have excellent news.

Not only have these things certainly not happened, but fraud of this kind and scale is essentially impossible. Our elections are so decentralized and laced with safeguards, transparency, and verification systems that any fraud that does occur is either detected and reversed or on a scale too small to make a difference. 

A count by the Associated Press of voter fraud cases in the six battleground states in 2020 that were disputed by Donald Trump found fewer than 475 votes in all six states combined—less than two-tenths of one percent of Biden’s margin of victory in those states. Most of those were not counted, and not all were for one candidate.

Importantly, the AP study also found no systematic collusion or “rigging” in those cases. Nearly every one was an individual acting alone. They included a man who thought (incorrectly) that he could vote while on parole, a woman who sent in a ballot for her recently-deceased mother, and a man who voted once as himself, then again as his son.

Even when the frame is widened, the result is the same. A database search of billions of ballots cast over 40 years of US elections found roughly 1,000 individual examples of voter fraud. 

This kind of isolated occurrence of fraud will continue to exist, it will almost always be caught by the systems designed to do so, and it will never rise to the level that changes election results. A conspiracy large enough to make a difference “would be the most extensive conspiracy in the history of planet Earth,” said election law expert David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research.

The most recent such claims have centered on the 2020 election. But added to the reasons above are statements by senior officials in the Trump administration, including Attorney General Bill Barr and chief cybersecurity official Chris Krebs, confirming that no significant fraud was present.

So the amount of voter fraud in the United States is not zero, but it is very close to zero. And the multiple safeguards, transparencies, and verification systems in place ensure that voter fraud will remain both small in scale and rare.


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