It doesn’t take millions of votes for fraud to be significant.
We live in an era of tight elections. Every race, from local school board member to president of the United States, can be decided by margins that are razor-thin. Here are just a few recent examples of significant cases in which a few votes decided the outcome:
- 2018: Republicans held onto their majority in the Virginia House of Delegates after a key race resulted in a tie. The winner—and thus, control of half the state legislature—was decided by drawing lots.
- 2016: More than 140 million Americans voted in the contentious 2016 election, but just 107,330 votes decided the race for Donald Trump. That’s the margin of Trump’s victory in the key states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and is just 0.09% of all the ballots cast.
- 2008: Former Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman by a scant 215 votes. Those 215 votes sent Franken to Washington, briefly giving Democrats a filibuster-proof margin that allowed them to pass the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
- 2000: Who could forget the presidential election that hung on just 537 votes out of 105 million. That was the official margin of victory that delivered the presidency to George W. Bush.
In close elections like these, even a few illegal ballots can—and sometimes do—decide the outcome. Indeed, The Heritage Foundation has documented multiple races where the results were overturned because of fraud. In North Carolina, a 2018 congressional race was thrown out because Republican operatives tampered with or destroyed enough ballots to change the outcome. In Missouri, a Democratic state representative eked out a 2016 primary win by 90 votes, only to have the results overturned because of fraud and lose the rematch to her primary rival by 1,500 votes.
Americans shouldn’t have to wait for an epidemic of voter fraud to take election integrity seriously. Elections officials should be doing all they can to protect the electoral process. After all, in an age of tight elections, a little fraud goes a long way.