Voter fraud is surprisingly common. Prosecutions for it can range from small-scale cases, such as someone with two residences voting in both states, to large-scale crimes that changed electoral outcomes, affected hundreds or thousands of votes, and ranged across multiple states.
An extensive database maintained by The Heritage Foundation has logged 1,384 proven cases of voter fraud, resulting in 1,191 criminal convictions, 48 civil penalties, and 103 defendants ending up in diversion programs. And the foundation says the list doesn't come close to being comprehensive.
The database, which dates to 1992, lists 19 elections overturned due to fraud, 16 of those since 2000.
Such fraud isn't linked to any particular party or ethnicity. Republicans do it. Democrats do it. Blacks, whites, and Hispanics all do it.
Candidates cheat to get elected, falsely registering inside a district where they don't live. Or they arrange for illegal votes in their favor. Parties and activist groups do it to win elections or to look good padding their voters-registered counts and maybe getting a bonus for making their quota.
"That database represents only a sampling of cases. It's not comprehensive. It's only cases that were investigated and prosecuted," the foundation's elections expert Hans von Spakovsky told The Epoch Times.
"There are plenty of examples of local prosecutors not being interested in and not pursuing these cases; also, federal prosecutors. It's a potential problem much larger than our database indicated."
The database breaks down the cases in several ways. It can be sorted by date, year, the outcome such as a criminal conviction or civil penalty, and by the following categories of infractions: altering the vote count; ballot petition fraud; buying votes; duplicate voting; election overturned; false registrations; fraudulent use of absentee ballots; illegal assistance at the polls; impersonation fraud at the polls; and ineligible voting.
Judges and other authorities have overturned numerous elections in recent years for voter fraud. Races in small towns or for obscure public boards seem particularly vulnerable, perhaps because the small numbers of votes make the election easier to steal.
"If you look at the cases in our database, some are isolated cases, one voter taking advantage of the system and voting twice," Von Spakovsky said. "But others are organized efforts, which result in the election later being overturned."
Here are a few elections overturned recently:
"Fraud is a regular practice here," Spicer told The Daily Signal, referring to Compton. "This is the first time it has gotten this far. He got arrested for fraud and bribery. That's what put him up by one vote."
No venue is off-limits.
Even the legendary New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch has had a case.
Since it first gained the right to run its own elections in 1960, the hamlet has become a piece of American political lore as the first in the nation to vote and report its election results for each New Hampshire presidential primary—the nation's first each cycle—and the election itself.
The activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was driven out of existence in the United States—an international branch remains—because its organizers and petition gatherers were found to have fabricated so many voter registrations in at least six states between 2007 and 2011, mostly for the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. He at one time had represented the group as a lawyer.
At least 30 ACORN workers in six states were convicted of crimes, with most of them sentenced to jail. Two senior organizers in Las Vegas were among those convicted after starting a scheme to pay hourly petition gatherers a $5 bonus for registering 21 people. ACORN was fined $5,000 in that case, and the state passed a law forbidding the bonus-paying practice.
ACORN workers in Seattle committed what the secretary of state labeled as the worst case of voter registration fraud in Washington's history.
When ACORN's national office threatened to shut down the group's local office, Clifton Mitchell and his team began using fake names, addresses, birthdays, and Social Security numbers to meet voter registration quotas.
In total, the group submitted 1,762 fraudulent voter registration forms. Mitchell was convicted of false registrations and served nearly three months in jail. Four other ACORN workers on his team also received jail time.
Additionally, prosecutors ordered ACORN to increase its oversight under threat of prosecution and fined the organization $25,000 to cover the investigation cost.
Despite the numerous prosecutions and convictions spread across multiple states, defenders pooh-poohed the issue and maintained that widespread voter fraud is a myth.
"There are no known instances of fictitious people actually voting," University of Washington law professor Eric Schnapper told CNN in 2008 regarding the ACORN case. "You look at some of the names: Mickey Mouse. Dr. Seuss. Mickey Mouse only votes in Disneyland. He's not going to show up at a critical precinct in West Virginia or North Carolina."
Schnapper told CNN that if anyone should be upset, it's ACORN.
"The victims of this are the people who paid these workers $8 an hour to go out and find legitimate voters, and ... they didn't get their $8 worth; they put down phony names," Schnapper said.
Attitudes like these are part of the problem, Von Spakovsky and co-author John Fund wrote in their book, "Our Broken Elections: How the Left Changed the Way You Vote."
"They have pushed the false narrative that there is no fraud in our elections or that it is so minimal that we should not be concerned about it. They have also, with their willing allies in the media, falsely labeled any efforts to implement needed reform as 'voter suppression.'"