Voter fraud is rare, election experts say

Election officials — those in charge of certifying the results — have said that the results will be safe and secure.


Problems ranging from fraud to rejected ballots sometimes happen, but safeguards protect our elections.

That’s the takeaway from political scientists, who note how rare these issues are compared to the massive amounts of ballots cast.


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“There’s no reason to be alarmed about voter fraud because it’s such a rare occurrence,” said Steven Huefner, a law professor at The Ohio State University who served as an attorney for the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2000.

In the run up to Election Day, President Donald Trump has seized on voting issues to suggest the election is rigged. But there is no evidence there is any widespread voter fraud as the president has suggested.

Nevertheless, his comments have been amplified by his campaign, supporters and allies, including Attorney General William Barr, adding heft to the claims.

A panel commissioned by the Trump administration to explore the issue uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud.

Issues occur in every election, but the president has spent months publicly questioning the integrity of the election before it’s even arrived and to preemptively call into question the results.

That goes against what election officials — those in charge of certifying the results — have said, stressing that the results will be safe and secure.

And it goes against what a top Justice Department attorney in Trump’s administration has also said.

“We have yet to see any activity intended to prevent voting or to change votes, and we continue to think it would be extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to change vote tallies,” Jeffrey Rosen, the 38th deputy attorney general for the Justice Department, said in August.

Rosen also said Americans shouldn’t be deterred from participating in elections by concerns of foreign interference efforts because Americans can control who they vote for.

“Foreign propaganda and other influence activities have been concerns since the founding of our republic,” he said. “They are challenges that we’ve been successfully navigating for more than 200 years.”

The safeguards protecting the integrity of our elections are the driving force behind why we hear about issues with rejected mail-in ballots and why a winner might not be determined on Nov. 3.

Huefner said that election processes in place involve checking the return envelope to make sure it’s coming back from an authenticated voter, and part of the reason why we lose a certain number of mail-in votes every year is because election officials aren’t able to determine if it came from a legitimate voter. With some states not even able to count votes by mail until Election Day, results may take time to determine winners after Nov. 3.

“Claims of voter fraud are exaggerated,” Huefner said. “It’s really rare to have individual voters engaging in fraud.”

Trump’s comments come after his claims about massive voter fraud about the 2016 election. Researchers noted it wasn’t error-free but found the president’s claims about widespread voter fraud weren’t grounded in reality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.