Election Law Violations
Although most people are not aware of it, violating election laws qualifies as a white collar crime, and as such, can be aggressively prosecuted in either state or federal court. Although election-related charges are less common than other types of white collar offenses, they should still be taken seriously, so if you are being investigated for violating an election law, it is critical to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can explain your legal options.
Types of Violations
A number of election-related activities are prohibited by law, including:
- Willfully submitting false voter registration information;
- Giving anything of value to another person in exchange for becoming a registered voter (excluding transportation services to the registration location);
- Casting a vote without being qualified;
- Intermingling ballots that have not been duly received;
- Using bribery or threats to directly or indirectly influence the free exercise of the right to vote;
- Soliciting voter registration for compensation based on the number of registrations obtained;
- Offering to vote for or against any candidate in any election in return for a benefit;
- Accepting a pecuniary benefit in exchange for the promise to vote for or against a candidate;
- Altering someone else’s voter registration application without that person’s knowledge;
- Perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a fraud in connection with any vote cast; and
- Requesting a vote-by-mail ballot on behalf of an elector.
In fact, a person can be charged with violating an election law just by having a blank, forged, stolen, counterfeit, or unlawfully issued voter information card in his or her possession. Although these offenses vary in seriousness, they can all be charged as third degree felonies, which are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Election Official Responsibilities
Although anyone can be prosecuted under the election statutes, election officials are held to an especially high standard. For instance, officials who neglect to perform their duties in accordance with the law can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, which could mean up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Furthermore, any election official who commits fraud or attempts to influence a ballot can be charged with a third degree felony.
Election officials are also prohibited from:
- Receiving the votes of those who are unqualified;
- Willfully rejecting qualified votes;
- Altering or stealing ballots;
- Falsifying the election returns;
- Stuffing the ballot box; and
- Committing fraud.
However, in order to be convicted of any of these offenses, a prosecutor must be able to demonstrate that the defendant was willfully neglectful. A mere mistake will not be enough to impose criminal liability on an election officer.
Aiding or Abetting
Even those who did not actually commit an election violation can be found guilty of this offense if the prosecutor can establish that they aided, abetted, or advised someone else in violating the law. If convicted, a defendant faces the same punishment as if he or she had actually committed the act.
Contact an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney Today
Please contact the law firm of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 to speak with a white collar crime attorney about your own case. Our Miami attorneys are eager to assist you today.