Explainer: Despite Trump claims, voter fraud is extremely rare. Here is how U.S. states keep it that way

Andy Sullivan and Joseph Ax

President Donald Trump and some Republican allies have repeatedly asserted, without evidence, that a surge in mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic will lead to massive fraud in November’s election.

Experts say election fraud is vanishingly rare in the United States, however, where nearly one in four voters already cast a mail-in or absentee ballot in 2016. Here is a look at the security measures states have in place to ensure ballot integrity.



Many researchers have focused on impersonation fraud, in which a voter pretends to be someone else at the polls, because such claims have been used by states to justify stricter voter ID laws.

Justin Levitt, a law professor at Loyola Law School who tracks such cases, identified only 31 impersonation incidents between 2000 and 2014 across the country, out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.

Five states - Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington - hold their elections primarily by mail and have documented almost no cases of cheating. Oregon, for instance, has sent out more than 100 million mail ballots since 2000 and reported around a dozen cases of proven fraud.

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