Election season brings up many questions about voter fraud. What exactly qualifies as voter fraud? In what way is it illegal in Alabama? What punishments could you face in the state if you were to commit such a crime?
The state takes many steps to combat voter fraud. For example, Alabama voters are required to show some form of identification at polls as of 2014. Voters may use a driver's license, non-driver ID, passport, military ID, student ID, or another option. Of course, there are many instances in which voter fraud is not preventable. Even presenting an ID at the entrance to the poll does not necessary curb fraud.
You may have been accused of voter fraud and brought up on charges because you submitted somebody else's mail-in ballot, made a fraudulent vote, or coerced somebody to vote in a specific way. Thankfully, you have options for defending yourself against these charges, so long as you act quickly.
Continue reading to learn more about voter fraud in Alabama as well as the best way to defend yourself against the charges.
Understanding Crimes of Voter Fraud
Several types of voter fraud exist in Alabama. Depending on the severity of the offense, the charges you face will be based on the same level of severity. For example, changing somebody else's ballot to reflect a different vote is considered more serious than trying bribe or otherwise unethically influence someone else’s vote.
Most crimes related to voter fraud are misdemeanor offenses rather than felonies. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious, with B and C misdemeanors falling closely behind. Your attorney will do their best to ensure you face the lowest charges possible.
Changing votes, ballots, or results of any election in Alabama is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted of this crime, you could face a fine up to $6,000. This conviction also comes with a potential imprisonment of one year.
Providing false information in order to register to vote or when actually voting is considered a Class A misdemeanor too. For example, you could face this charge if you declared you were a United States citizen and eligible to vote, only for the government to later realize you were not a citizen at all.
Attempting to influence a vote, which may include bribery, is a Class C misdemeanor. This crime comes with a fine up to $500 and a potential imprisonment of three months.
For any of these crimes, the judge could choose to add another fine up to double the amount of the defendant's gain or the victim's losses because of the offense. While voter fraud is relatively rare throughout the nation, each state does its best to ensure that those who commit fraud face charges appropriate to the crime they are charged with.
Defending Against Allegations of Voter Fraud
Even though voter fraud charges may only amount to a misdemeanor, offenders should still consider it a serious offense as they can still face significant penalties if convicted of this crime.
For the best defense, those charged with voter fraud should work with a knowledgeable attorney who understands the local regulations and consequences.
One defense against voter fraud is declaring you were mistaken about your status as an American citizen. For instance, you might have come to the United States as a small child without realizing you were not legally able to vote.
You can also argue that you did not knowingly alter another person's documents; you may have accidentally thought a mail-in ballot was your own, not a family member's.
Are you concerned about voter fraud allegations? You need a strong criminal defense attorney. Contact Simms & Associates today to learn more about your legal options.