Some people attempt to commit voter fraud, but thanks to strong regulations protecting election integrity they are swiftly caught and punished. And their attempts never get so far as affecting the outcome of an American election.
Election officials stand by their protocols and their procedures in place. And there are numerous procedures, protocols, guardrails to ensure that every ballot is accounted for.
How Would Be Voter-Frauds Get Caught
Despite rumors of mules, ballot drops, ballot harvesting, and $10 ballots, the past election saw very few attempts of voter fraud and none of them were successful at changing the outcome of an election.
In response to President Trump's concerns about voter fraud in 2020, AP Reporters went looking for cases of voter fraud in six states that Trump has challenged. They found fewer than 475 potential instances out of more than 25 million votes cast, a number that would not have come close to changing the outcome.
In 2020-2021, there were a handful of attempts to vote with an incorrect address or under the name of a dead relative, according the Heritage Foundation. All of these attempts were caught thanks to strict election regulations. Here are the stories and how they were caught.
Jonathan Meade West, Sr., of Hayes, was charged with a felony for attempting to cast two ballots in the 2020 general election. West first voted absentee at the Gloucester County Voter Register's office. He then returned four days later and tried to cast a second ballot. He was stopped from casting a second ballot when the election worker checked his information using a back-up to the VERIS (Virginia Election Registration Information System) system since it was not working that day. He was convicted of an amended misdemeanor charge of obtaining services under false pretense after attempting to vote twice. West, a self-described "unabashed conservative," was sentenced to a suspended sentence of 12 months, fined $500, and ordered to pay $96 in court costs.
Elizabeth Durham was charged with 5 felonies after attempting to change the voter registration of a deceased West Virginia voter. Durham pleaded no contest to one charge of petit larceny and one charge of unlawful voter registration and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, which was suspended to 6 months of probation.
Bruce Bartman was charged with falsely registering for an absentee ballot on behalf of his deceased mother and his deceased mother-in-law in the 2020 general election. A registered Republican, he used his mother’s driver license number and the last four digits of his mother-in-law’s social security number to register them as Republicans in effort to cast fraudulent ballots for Donald Trump. Bartman cast an absentee ballot in his mother’s name, but did not obtain an absentee ballot for his mother-in-law. Bartman pleaded guilty to two felony counts of perjury and one misdemeanor count of illegal voting. He was sentenced to five years’ probation, is barred from voting in any election for 4 years, and is no longer eligible to serve on a jury.
Following a bench trial, Jan Wilson was convicted of voting twice by absentee ballot in the Nov. 3, 2020 general election, a misdemeanor offense. Wilson was ordered to pay a $500 fine plus court costs.
Learn More About Election Integrity Regulations
How Are Mail-In Ballots Verified?
Mail-in ballots in all 50 states go through a very strict verification process that includes a signature match, voting witness, and strong collection laws. Every election office has numerous signatures on file for every voter and they use these records to further review or throw out any mail-in ballot that does not match.