Election Crimes and Security

The United States 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; or
  • the activity violates federal campaign finance laws.

Recent Trends in Election Crimes 

  • In 2016 and 2018, there were reports of potential voter suppression through social media platforms, including false information about Election Day. 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. Any report or person that suggests otherwise is incorrect, and this may be an attempt to suppress your vote.
  • You should also be aware of fraudulent political action committees, also known as Scam PACs, which ask for campaign contributions but never actually donate them.

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