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Election Law Violations

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 48 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 2011 Pages: 455-498
Sara Albert Hallmark
Date Published
44 pages
This overview of election law violations addresses campaign finance crimes and election fraud.
Congress has the power to enact statutes to prevent and punish election law violations by public officials, candidates, and other political actors. Statutes discussed in this article may contain overlapping civil, criminal, and administrative penalty provisions. One section of the article reviews campaign finance crime. Campaign finance laws are designed to regulate the influence of money on the political process by placing limitations on who may contribute, how much may be contributed, and how contributions may be used. These laws are found in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) as amended by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). This section first reviews the history of FECA, followed by a discussion of the introduction of the BCRA, whose intent was to plug loopholes in FECA and enhance the punishment for FECA criminal violations. Free speech challenges to FECA/BRCA are then addressed. Recent successful and unsuccessful challenges are examined. Statutes used to regulate and limit campaign contributions and expenditures are then considered, followed by an overview of general issues that pertain to criminal prosecution of campaign finance violations. The section on election fraud contains an introductory discussion of the background, jurisdiction, prosecutorial initiatives, and investigations related to election fraud. An overview of election fraud statutes focuses on voter interference statutes, voter fraud statutes, and alternative avenues of prosecution. Voter interference statutes pertain to conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, and voter intimidation statutes. Voter fraud statutes pertain to false information in registering or voting, fraudulent registration or voting, voting more than once, false citizenship claims to register or vote, and voting by aliens. The discussion of alternative avenues of prosecution considers the Travel Act and mail fraud. 409 notes