How to Spot a Federal Election Crime

By Andrew Lu on November 06, 2012 | Last updated on November 29, 2021

Election Day is here, and as we hit the ballot box, some overzealous campaigners may be accused of illegal tactics and charged with federal election crimes.

Election crimes like voter fraud, ballot stuffing, and illegal financing may seem like harmless and minor issues to some, but authorities take the offense very seriously.

Here's how to spot the three types of federal election crimes, as described by the FBI:

1. Voter/Ballot Fraud

This occurs when a voter intentionally gives false information when registering to vote, such as a false name, a false address, or other false information.

Other types of voter fraud involves bribes and other incentives to persuade voters to cast their ballots in a certain way. Individuals who vote more than once in a federal election, or vote using the names of dead people, can also be prosecuted for a federal election crime.

2. Civil Rights Violations

As applied to Election Day, these include threats and other forms of intimidation that try to compel someone to vote a certain way.

Civil rights violations can also occur when someone prevents qualified voters from casting their votes. Violations can also include organized schemes to prevent someone, or a group of people, from voting.

3. Campaign Finance Crimes

These crimes are not so obvious on Election Day. A campaign finance crime occurs when an individual gives more than $4,600 to a federal candidate (limits vary for donations to and from committees and groups). It is also a crime to give money to candidates through an intermediary with the promise of reimbursing the intermediary.

Federal election crimes should be distinguished from non-crimes like giving voters a ride to the polls, offering voters a stamp to mail an absentee ballot, giving voters time off work to vote, and trying to convince an opponent to concede, according to the FBI.

If you spot a federal election crime, you should report it to authorities right away. And if you believe you have been wrongly accused of a federal election crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

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