By Robin Wright ’22
Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is any illegal tampering, interference, or rigging of an election. In the past weeks, President Trump has declared victory and professed that there was rampant voter fraud in light of the projection that Joe Biden would win. He fully intends to go to court to debate the matter, as Attorney General William Barr has handed authority to prosecutors to investigate the claims of voter fraud. President Trump is also intending to file multiple lawsuits. Contrary to President Trump’s beliefs, the claims of voter fraud are simply baseless and completely devoid of any substantiated evidence.
In history, there has only been one substantiated example of the prevailing candidate using voter fraud, that being Rutherford B Hayes in 1876. Since then there have been no elections with claims of widespread voter fraud. The claims of voter fraud in this election are largely centered around it being completed with mostly mail-in ballots due to COVID-19, which are ripe with mishaps. Some states did not start counting mail-in ballots until election day, so it took nearly a week to count them all. It’s worth mentioning that while the system this year is inopportune, it’s far from illegal if the ballots had been postmarked before election day.
There is a fairly substantial potential for voter fraud, but it’s important to understand that the potential for it has not yet, and likely won’t materialize in the numbers that one would need to shift this major national election. Reports have varied, with some claims ranging into the hundreds of thousands of illegal votes. The reports have become exponentially more grandiose and controversial as time goes on, such as the report of upwards of 1300 fraudulent ballots in Nevada. A consequence of this is that America has become even more polarized and unstable than it has been in the last four years, with militias even emerging to dispute Biden’s victory, such as the Michigan Militia and the Proud Boys.
Democrats and a small fraction of Republicans have condemned these actions and claims. They argue that President Trump is delegitimizing our electoral system and democracy. Defenders of President Trump have claimed that there is evidence of voter fraud in states like Pennsylvania and some Midwestern states. The situation is volatile and fluid, but as of November 17th, our justice system doesn’t seem to be indulging the claims of voter fraud.