State details of AP’s review of potential voter fraud cases

Details from The Associated Press review of potential voter fraud cases in the six political battleground states where former President Donald Trump and his allies disputed his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

ARIZONA

2020 RESULT: Biden won by 10,457 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: An AP reporter submitted public records requests to Arizona’s 15 counties, along with requesting information from the state attorney general’s office, which has been reviewing potential cases as part of an Election Integrity Unit created in 2019 to identify potential cases of fraud.

WHAT AP FOUND: In all, 198 instances of potential fraud were identified in six counties, representing 1.9% of Biden’s margin of victory. The vast majority of the potential instances of fraud identified were in Pima County, which includes Tucson. Nine counties reported no suspicious activity. Nine people have been charged so far, including six cases pursued by the state attorney general’s office, which has an election integrity unit that is reviewing an undisclosed number of additional cases.

HIGHLIGHTS: Many of the cases involved allegations of people casting multiple ballots, felons voting despite being ineligible and ballots received in the name of voters who are dead.

CASE DETAILS: Of the 176 instances of potential fraud identified in Pima County, 151 were referred to prosecutors. The county has a practice of referring every effort to cast a second ballot to prosecutors for review, something other offices don’t do. Election officials said 25 instances involved voters over the age of 70 and were not referred since there was a greater chance those were the result of memory lapses or confusion and not criminal intent. None of the Pima County cases involved a voter successfully voting twice. Four of the charged cases involved a relative successfully mailing in their dead relative’s ballot, which was counted. One was charged by the attorney general and three by county prosecutors. Five of the state’s six cases involve Pima County felons accused of voting while being ineligible.

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GEORGIA

2020 RESULT: Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: Via phone or email, an AP reporter contacted the elections office in all of Georgia’s 159 counties. The AP requested information about all instances of potential voter fraud they identified and whether they were referred for further investigation to local or state prosecutors or to the secretary of state’s office. Officials in 11 counties did not respond to numerous inquiries or declined to provide information.

WHAT AP FOUND: In Georgia, 124 counties reported no suspicious voter activity surrounding the 2020 election. This included Democratic counties such as Fulton, swing counties such as Gwinnett and Republican counties such as Cherokee. In all, 64 instances of potential fraud were identified in 24 counties, representing 0.54% of Biden’s margin of victory in Georgia. Most of the counties that did not respond to the AP inquiries or declined to answer were rural counties that largely backed Republicans. The state attorney general’s office is reviewing about 20 cases referred so far by the state election board related to 2020 elections, including the primary. Officials said these were not referred as criminal cases and will likely be resolved with civil penalties. It’s unknown how many may overlap with instances identified by local election officials in AP’s review.

HIGHLIGHTS: Of the 64 potential cases identified by the counties, 31 were determined to be the result of an administrative error or some other mistake. The rest are being investigated. Nearly half the instances reported by Georgia counties stemmed from inquiries made by state investigators. In several instances, county officials said their research conducted for the state did not indicate fraud. For instance, Camden County officials said they researched the voting history of three people at the request of the state and found nothing unusual.

CASE DETAILS: Cobb County election officials said they had flagged eight instances of potential fraud, but an exhaustive review determined none were actual fraud. Five cases involved names sent by the state of possible dead voters, said Janine Eveler, the county’s election supervisor. It turned out that two were not deceased, according to the county’s records, while the rest appeared to involve ballots sent in by individuals who later died. One case involved a person who was reported to have moved to another county, but research indicated the voter had moved to another residence in the same county, Eveler said. The other two cases involved voters who cast provisional ballots on Election Day because they were unsure whether their absentee ballots had been fixed after initially being flagged for a problem, Eveler said.

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MICHIGAN

2020 RESULT: Biden won by 154,188 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: Via phone or email, four AP reporters contacted the elections office in each of Michigan’s 83 counties, along with the secretary of state and state attorney general’s office. The AP requested information about all instances of potential voter fraud they had identified and whether they were referred for further investigation to local or state prosecutors.

WHAT AP FOUND: In all, 71 of the 83 counties reported no suspicious activity. Six counties did not respond, while Isabella County declined to answer. The remaining five counties identified about 56 potential instances of voter fraud, representing 0.04% of Biden’s margin of victory in the state. Four people have been charged.

HIGHLIGHTS: Most of the 56 potential cases involved two people suspected of submitting about 50 fraudulent requests for absentee ballots in Macomb, Wayne and Oakland counties. All the suspicious applications were flagged by election officials and no ballots were cast improperly. The two individuals are facing charges. Separately, officials in Ionia County said law enforcement investigated two instances and determined neither were attempts to commit fraud. No charges were filed. One potential case in Ottawa County involved a voter who requested a ballot for an address where the person no longer lives. Two instances in Wayne County involved voters suspected of signing ballots for relatives. “All of us take fraud very seriously and we’ve got secure protocols in place to catch it,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. “When we do, we prosecute it.”

CASE DETAILS: One of the Wayne County cases involves a grandmother who has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after authorities say she returned her grandson’s absentee ballot despite his decision to vote in person. Authorities say the woman told investigators she was concerned her grandson would not have time to vote on Election Day. The absentee ballot was flagged after a signature review determined the signature did not match the voter’s signature on file and records showed he had also voted in person.

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NEVADA

2020 RESULT: Biden won by 33,596 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: Via phone or email, an AP reporter contacted the elections office in Nevada’s 16 counties and Carson City, the state capital, which is its own government entity and not part of a county. The AP requested information about all instances of potential voter fraud they identified and whether they were referred for further investigation to local or state prosecutors or to the secretary of state’s office.

WHAT AP FOUND: Ten Nevada counties, all rural and all won by Trump, reported no suspicious voter activity following the 2020 election. Between 93 and 98 potential cases were identified by election officials in six counties and Carson City. Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, provided a range of 10 to 15 potential fraud cases. In all, the number of possible voter fraud cases represents less than 0.3% of Biden’s margin of victory in the state.

The statewide total does not include thousands of fraud allegations submitted to the state by local Republicans. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has said many of those were based “largely upon an incomplete assessment of voter registration records and lack of information concerning the processes by which these records are compiled and maintained.” It’s not known how many of those remain under investigation.

HIGHLIGHTS: Most of the cases involve allegations of double voting. At least one person, a Las Vegas businessman, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after voting a ballot that had been mailed to his wife, who was deceased. Most of the potential cases of voter fraud were in Washoe County, home to Reno. This included 42 allegations of voters casting two ballots, three instances in which a ballot was cast in the name of a dead voter and 12 ballots suspected of being signed by another person. There was one instance of an administrative error in which a person under age 18 was permitted to cast a ballot.

CASE DETAILS: In White Pine County, election officials said a voter attempted to cast a ballot after voting earlier in Clark County. Under the state’s same-day registration rules, the voter was required to cast a provisional ballot when she showed up to vote in person; election officials were required to do a statewide check to ensure the voter had not cast a ballot anywhere else, according to Clerk Nichole Baldwin. That check indicated the person had voted in Clark County a few days earlier. Baldwin said the provisional ballot was rejected and not counted, ensuring the voter was unable to vote twice.

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PENNSYLVANIA

2020 RESULT: Biden won by 80,555 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: Via phone or email, two AP reporters contacted the elections office in all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties. The AP requested information about all instances of potential voter fraud they identified and whether they were referred for further investigation to local or state prosecutors or to the secretary of state’s office. One county, Blair, did not respond to AP’s request.

WHAT AP FOUND: Election officials in 11 of the state’s 67 counties identified a total of 26 possible cases of voter fraud, representing 0.03% of Biden’s margin of victory. Philadelphia’s elections office declined to provide AP with any information, so AP contacted the county district attorney’s office and was told no cases had been referred to them for review. So far, six people have been charged.

HIGHLIGHTS: Most of the cases involved allegations of ballots being cast for voters who were deceased. In one instance, charges were not filed against an Adams County man suspected of returning the ballot of his recently deceased wife. But in Allegheny County, a man was suspected of casting a ballot for his dead wife and was allowed to enter a diversion program to resolve the case. Instances of ballots received on behalf of two dead voters have been referred to prosecutors in Bucks County. One of three cases in Lehigh County and one of four cases in Luzerne County also involved dead voters. Statewide, no prosecutor, judge or election official in Pennsylvania has raised a concern about widespread fraud.

CASE DETAILS: In Delaware County, a 70-year-old man pleaded guilty after authorities say he illegally voted for Trump on behalf of his long-dead mother. Bruce Bartman was sentenced to five years of probation. Prosecutors said Bartman used the driver’s license number for his mother, who died more than a decade ago, to register her to vote, obtain a mail-in ballot, return that ballot and fraudulently vote in her name.

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WISCONSIN

2020 RESULT: Biden won by 20,682 votes.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED: Unlike the other states in the AP review, Wisconsin collects information on potential voter fraud cases at the state level. AP relied on this report issued by the Wisconsin Election Commission, which identified 27 potential cases. The AP then filed public records requests for the details of those cases. Four additional cases were identified through media reports or press releases.

WHAT AP FOUND: Twelve of the state’s 72 counties accounted for the 31 cases of potential voter fraud identified in the state report. The total represents just shy of 0.15% of Biden’s margin of victory. In 26 of the 31 cases, prosecutors declined to bring charges after conducting a review.

HIGHLIGHTS: The five cases in which charges have been filed are distributed across Wisconsin geographically. One person was living in Florida and tried unsuccessfully to vote in Wisconsin. He did not cast a ballot. Two are felons and not eligible to vote. One man voted both in person and absentee and said he didn’t recall sending in his absentee ballot. In another case, a woman is charged with submitting an absentee ballot in November for her partner, who had died in July.

CASE DETAILS: About half the possible cases — 16 of 31 — involved voters in La Crosse County who had listed a UPS store as their residence. Prosecutors said no charges would be brought because those involved were all eligible voters who did not intend to break the law, which requires people to register with the address where they live. Officials said most of the cases involved retirees who use the UPS store to have their mail forwarded to them while on vacation. Local election clerks take the responsibility of preventing voter fraud “incredibly seriously,” said Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. When they identify someone who may have committed fraud, clerks refer it for review: “Those clerks have a really close connection with their voters,” Wolfe said. “These are their neighbors, their friends, their family. And so when there is some type of anomaly, our clerks are even more well-situated because of their deep connections with their municipal community to be able to identify these instances.”

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Associated Press reporters Scott Bauer; Christina A. Cassidy; Bob Christie; David Eggert; Camille Fassett; Anthony Izaguirre; Marc Levy; Shawn Marsh; Anna Liz Nichols; Michelle L. Price; Ed White and Corey Williams contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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