There is very little voter fraud in federal and state elections across the nation, including Texas. Voter fraud, however, has occurred in the Lone Star State as evidence by several cases in recent years. For instance, one woman was convicted for voting in the 2016 election while she was on supervised release for a felony; and in a current case, the courts are carefully weighing in on a vote harvesting scheme.
The Texas woman was sentenced to five years in prison for voting unlawfully and her conviction was recently upheld by an appeals court even after the claim that she voted on advice from a poll worker.
In a highly suspect political maneuver, the Texas Attorney General recently charged four people with 134 voter fraud charges among them in the vote harvesting scheme.
One of the suspects?
The person who won the race. They all face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Yes, voter fraud is taken very seriously in Texas. It’s a crime that people don’t know a lot about. Here’s what you need to know about voter fraud and associated crimes in Texas and their penalties.
What Counts as Voter Fraud?
Voter fraud is an umbrella term for many different actions. You can commit voter fraud if you:
- Manipulate the results of an election
- Rig the votes
- Commit electoral fraud
- Attempt to increase the votes for a certain candidate
- Attempt to decrease the votes for a certain candidate
- Voting when you’re ineligible to
These are only a few examples, but all voter fraud crimes are serious and illegal since they interfere with the legitimate elections. This leads to consequences that can be quite severe.
Consequences for Illegal Voting
Voting illegally is perhaps one of the most common ways to commit voter fraud. In Texas, illegal voting is defined as:
- Voting (or attempting to) in an election while knowing they are ineligible to vote.
- Knowingly attempting to vote or voting more than once in the same election.
- Knowingly attempting to vote or voting with a ballot that is for another person or by impersonating someone else.
- Knowingly attempting to mark or marking any portion of another’s ballot without their consent or without direction from that person on how to mark their ballot.
If you are caught voting illegally, then you can be charged with a second-degree felony that is a state jail felony.
Consequences of Voter Suppression
Voter suppression is another form of voter fraud. It is an action taken by someone to limit the ability of another to vote in an election. Cuts to early voting, purges of voter rolls, and voter ID laws are all considered voter suppression.
Felon Voter Fraud
In many places, convicted felons are not allowed to vote because they are ineligible as a result of the conviction. Doing so anyway can result in jail time and fines.
Voter Registration Fraud
This crime is committed when someone fills out and submits voter registrations for people that do not exist. It can also occur when someone fills out a voter registration card with the name of someone who does exist but has not given their consent and also forges their signature.
Voter fraud does occur but perhaps not in the numbers that some people think. Rest assured, however, that participating in voter fraud knowingly can land you in some serious trouble.
That’s why if you’re ever unclear about your ability to vote or the way in which you’re voting, either in person or by mail, you should check with the voter registrar’s office in your county.