Electoral fraud

illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both

Electoral fraud, or vote rigging, is any alteration or change of the vote count in an election.[1] Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result. That can be by increasing the vote share of one candidate or by lowering the vote count of another. It can also be a person casting more than one vote if only one vote is permitted,[2] which is called ballot-box stuffing.[2] What defines electoral fraud under law varies from country to country.

Difference between the official results and actual values for a referendum in Poland, in 1946.

Many kinds of election fraud are outlawed in specific electoral laws. Other kinds violate general laws, such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Technically, the term "electoral fraud" covers only acts that are illegal. Generally, the term is sometimes used to describe acts that are legal but are considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws, or in violation of the principles of democracy.[3][4]

In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, fraud can still have a damaging effect if not punished. For example, it can reduce voters' confidence in democracy.

Even the perception of fraud can be damaging. Fraudulent elections can lead to the breakdown of democracy and to the establishment or ratification of a dictatorship.

Fraud in elections is not limited to those for public office. Elections, such as for a corporation's directors, labor union officials, or student council members are subject to similar fraud, as are sports judging, and the awarding of merit to works of art and literature.



  1. "election fraud". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "ballot-box stuffing". Collins. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  3. Mikhail Myagkov, G.; Peter C. Ordeshook; Dimitri Shakin (2009-05-31). The forensics of election fraud: Russia and Ukraine. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76470-4.
  4. Election Fraud: Detecting and Deterring Electoral Manipulation. Brookings Institution Press. 2008. JSTOR 10.7864/j.ctt6wpf99.