Election Crimes and Security 

Fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, and the FBI is committed to protecting the rights of all Americans to vote.

The U.S. government only works when legal votes are counted and when campaigns follow the law. When the legitimacy of elections is corrupted, our democracy is threatened.

While individual states run elections, the FBI plays an important role in protecting federal interests and preventing violations of your constitutional rights.

An election crime is generally a federal crime if:

  • The ballot includes one or more federal candidates
  • An election or polling place official abuses their office
  • The conduct involves false voter registration
  • The crime intentionally targets minority protected classes
  • The activity violates federal campaign finance laws
Stock image depicting a person placing a ballot into a ballot box with an American flag background

Report Election Crime 

If you suspect a federal election offense, contact the election crimes coordinator at your local FBI office, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.

Voter Suppression

Intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting is voter suppression—and it is a federal crime.

There are many reputable places you can find your polling location and registration information, including eac.gov and usa.gov/how-to-vote. However, not all publicly available voting information is accurate, and some is deliberately designed to deceive you to keep you from voting.

Bad actors use various methods to spread disinformation about voting, such as social media platforms, texting, or peer-to-peer messaging applications on smartphones. They may provide misleading information about the time, manner, or place of voting. This can include inaccurate election dates or false claims about voting qualifications or methods, such as false information suggesting that one may vote by text, which is not allowed in any jurisdiction.

  • For general elections, Election Day is always the first Tuesday after November 1.
  • While there are some exceptions for military overseas using absentee ballots by email or fax, you cannot vote online or by text on Election Day.

Protect Your Vote 

  • Know when, where, and how you will vote.
  • Seek out election information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
  • Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
  • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voting and elections.
  • Research individuals and entities to whom you are making political donations.

The FBI's Role

  • Read about the FBI's important but limited role in ensuring fair and free elections.
  • Learn more about the federal executive branch agencies roles and responsibilities in United States elections.

Always consider the source of voting information. Ask yourself, “Can I trust this information?” Look for official notices from election offices and verify the information you found is accurate.

Help defend the right to vote by reporting any suspected instances of voter suppression—especially those received through a private communication channel like texting—to your local FBI field office or at tips.fbi.gov.

Threats Against Election Workers 

A threat to an election worker or volunteer is a threat to democracy. All election workers should be permitted to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The FBI is part of a law enforcement task force that investigates and prosecutes these threats. The FBI and the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offer security resources for election workers.

Visit tips.fbi.gov to report threats to election workers. If someone is in imminent danger or risk of harm, contact 911 or your local police immediately.

Federal Election Offenses 

Fraud by the Voter

  • Giving false information when registering to vote (such as false citizenship claims)
  • Voting when ineligible to vote
  • Voting more than once or using someone else’s name to vote

Fraud by an Elections/Campaign Official or Other Individual:

  • Changing a ballot tally or engaging in other corrupt behavior as an elections official
  • Providing a voter with money or something of value in exchange for voting for a specific candidate or party in a federal election
  • Threatening a voter with physical or financial harm if they don’t vote or don’t vote a certain way
  • Trying to prevent qualified voters from voting by lying about the time, date, or place of an election (voter suppression)

Campaign Finance Crimes

What is Not a Federal Election Crime? 

While the examples below are not federal election crimes, states have their own election laws. If you are concerned about a possible violation of a state or local election law, contact your local law enforcement.

  • Giving voters a ride to the polls or time off to vote
  • Offering voters a stamp to mail an absentee ballot
  • Making false claims about oneself or another candidate
  • Forging or faking nominating petitions
  • Campaigning too close to the polls

Scam PACs 

Scam PACs are fraudulent political action committees designed to reroute political contributions for personal financial gain. This is a federal crime—and can be costly to victims who thought they were making legitimate campaign contributions.

Signs that a PAC is a scam include the PAC and its website disappearing and the phone number going out of service.

If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam PAC, contact your local FBI field office and ask to speak to an election crimes coordinator.