­­­­Voter fraud in New York

­­­­Voter fraud in New York

Voter fraud is a form of illegal interference with the electoral process. It comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Impersonating a registered voter
  • Intimidating someone into voting as directed
  • Fraudulent voter registrations
  • Bribing voters and election officials to produce the desired result
  • Destroying ballots that have already been cast

Equally varied are the New York State charges that can arise from acts of voter fraud, along with their penalties.  They include:

  • Bribery: New York State law recognizes three categories of bribery offenses. A person is guilty of Bribery in the Third Degree if they provide favors to a public servant in exchange for influencing that person’s vote, decision, judgment, and related actions. It is a Class D felony with a penalty of up to seven years in prison. If the benefit exceeds $10,000 in value, the charge is Bribery in the Second Degree, a Class C felony that can send a person to prison for up to 15 years.
  • Offering a false instrument for filing: A person is guilty of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree when they knowingly present a false instrument to a public servant or entity with the deliberate intention of committing fraud. An example might be submitting fake absentee votes. A Class E felony, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree,  involves a possible four-year prison sentence.
  • Falsifying business records: This charge involves the unauthorized alteration or destruction of business records. Examples of such records could include registered voter lists or tallied vote records. Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
  • Criminal possession of a forged instrument: A person is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree if they possess an altered or completed written instrument (such as a fake ID) that they know to be phony and intend to deceive or defraud someone else with it (e.g. by casting a fraudulent vote). This charge is a Class A misdemeanor, although under certain circumstances it can be bumped up to a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Federal voter fraud charges

Voter fraud is also punished on the federal level. Anyone who falsely claims to be an American citizen on a voter registration form violates 18 U.S.C. §611 and can be both fined and sent to prison for up to a year. Voter intimidation is illegal under 18 U.S. Code § 594 and is also punishable by a fine and prison time.

Voter fraud is regarded as a major threat to the democratic process. As such, both federal and New York state authorities come down heavily on those accused of interfering with the electoral system. If you have been arrested for a crime related to voter fraud or believe that you are about to be, then contact a New York criminal defense attorney immediately. Julie Rendelman is an experienced lawyer with over 20 years of experience. A conviction will have an impact on the rest of your life, so you deserve the best possible opportunity to defend yourself. Call 212-951-1232 for a free consultation with Ms. Rendelman to review your case and your options.