Electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election fraud, election manipulation or vote rigging, is illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. What constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country. Many kinds of election fraud are outlawed in electoral legislations, but others are in violation of general laws, such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Although technically the term "electoral fraud" covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which are legal, but considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of an election or in violation of the principles of democracy. Show elections, containing only one candidate, are sometimes classified as electoral fraud, although they may comply with the law and are presented more as referendums. In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état, democracy protest or corruption of democracy.
In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. If the outcome is not affected, the revelation of fraud can reduce voters' confidence in democracy. A list of threats to voting systems, or electoral fraud methods considered as sabotage are kept by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Electoral fraud can occur in advance of voting; the legality of this type of manipulation varies across jurisdictions. Deliberate manipulation of election outcomes is considered a violation of the principles of democracy. In many cases, it is possible for authorities to artificially control the composition of an electorate in order to produce a foregone result. One way of doing this is to move a large number of voters into the electorate prior to an election, for example by temporarily assigning them land or lodging them in flophouses. Many countries prevent this with rules stipulating that a voter must have lived in an electoral district for a minimum period in order to be eligible to vote there.
However, such laws can be used for demographic manipulation as they tend to disenfranchise those with no fixed address, such as the homeless, Roma and some casual workers. Another strategy is to permanently move people into an electoral district through public housing. If people eligible for public housing are to vote for a particular party they can either be concentrated into one area, thus making their votes count for less, or moved into marginal seats, where they may tip the balance towards their preferred party. One notable example of this occurred in the City of Westminster in England under Shirley Porter. Immigration law may be used to manipulate electoral demography. For instance, Malaysia gave citizenship to immigrants from the neighboring Philippines and Indonesia, together with suffrage, in order for a political party to "dominate" the state of Sabah. A method of manipulating primary contests and other elections of party leaders are related to this. People who support one party may temporarily join another party in order to elect a weak candidate for that party's leadership.
The goal is to defeat the weak candidate in the general election by the leader of the party that the voter supports. There were claims that this method was being utilised in the UK Labour Party leadership election in 2015, where Conservative-leaning Toby Young encouraged Conservatives to join Labour and vote for Jeremy Corbyn in order to "consign Labour to electoral oblivion". Shortly after, #ToriesForCorbyn trended on Twitter; the composition of an electorate may be altered by disenfranchising some classes of people, rendering them unable to vote. In some cases, states have passed provisions that raised general barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes and comprehension tests, record-keeping requirements, which in practice were applied against minority populations to discriminatory effect. From the turn of the century into the late 1960s, most African Americans in the southern states of the former Confederacy were disenfranchised by such measures. Corrupt election officials may misuse voting regulations such as a literacy test or requirement for proof of identity or address in such a way as to make it difficult or impossible for their targets to cast a vote.
If such practices discriminate against a religious or ethnic group, they may so distort the political process that the political order becomes grossly unrepresentative, as in the post-Reconstruction or Jim Crow era until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Felons have been disenfranchised in many states as a strategy to prevent African Americans from voting. Groups may be disenfranchised by rules which make it impractical or impossible for them to cast a vote. For example, requiring people to vote within their electorate may disenfranchise serving military personnel, prison inmates, hospital patients or anyone else who cannot return to their homes. Polling can be set for inconvenient days, such as midweek or on holy days of religious groups: for example on the Sabbath or other holy days of a religious group whose teachings determine that voting is prohibited on such a day. Communities may be disenfranchised if polling places are situated in areas perceived by voters as unsafe, or are not provided within reasonable proximity.
In some cases, voters may be invalidly disenfranchised, true electoral fraud. For example, a legitimate voter may be "accidentally" removed from t
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