Electoral fraud, sometimes referred to as election manipulation, voter fraud or vote rigging, involves illegal interference with the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, or both. It differs from but often goes hand-in-hand with voter suppression. What exactly constitutes electoral fraud varies from country to country.
The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2022)
|Corruption by country|
Electoral legislation outlaws many kinds of election fraud, but other practices violate 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, featuring only one candidate, are sometimes classified[by whom?] as electoral fraud, although they may comply with the law and are presented more as referendums/plebiscites.
In national elections, successful electoral fraud on a sufficient scale can have the effect of a coup d'état, protest or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election, a small amount of fraud may suffice to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, the revelation of fraud can reduce voters' confidence in democracy.