The Truth About Voter Fraud

50 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2010

See all articles by Justin Levitt

Justin Levitt

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Date Written: December 13, 2007


Allegations of election-related fraud make for enticing press. Voter fraud, in particular, has the feel of a bank heist caper: roundly condemned but technically fascinating, and sufficiently lurid to grab and hold headlines. Perhaps because these stories are dramatic, voter fraud makes a popular scapegoat. In the aftermath of a close election, losing candidates are often quick to blame voter fraud for the results, and legislators cite voter fraud as justification for various new restrictions on the exercise of the franchise.

Allegations of widespread voter fraud, however, often prove greatly exaggerated. It is easy to grab headlines with a lurid claim; the follow-up – when any exists – is not usually deemed newsworthy. Yet on closer examination, many of the claims of voter fraud simply do not pan out.

These inflated claims are not harmless. Crying “wolf ” when the allegations are unsubstantiated distracts attention from larger problems that currently exist. Moreover, these claims of voter fraud are frequently used to justify policies that do not solve the alleged wrongs, but that could well disenfranchise legitimate voters.

This paper arises out of an analysis of purported fraud cited by state and federal courts; multipartisan and bipartisan federal commissions; political party entities; state and local election officials; and authors, journalists, and bloggers. It distills the findings from that research: the truth about voter fraud. The paper first offers a definition to ensure that election irregularities that involve neither voters nor fraud are not conflated with real voter fraud. It then analyzes, scenario by scenario, some of the more common types of alleged voter fraud, alternative grounds for the observable facts, and a range of policy solutions. Finally, the paper presents and analyzes individual case studies of notorious instances of alleged voter fraud.

Keywords: voter fraud, election fraud, stolen elections, identification, voter registration

Suggested Citation

Levitt, Justin, The Truth About Voter Fraud (December 13, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Justin Levitt (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-7417 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)


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