Understanding Arizona's Election and Voter Fraud with Criminal Defense

Opinion Article

On November 3, 2020, the United States of America conducted another round of elections. As usual, there were concerns about election and voter fraud, particularly in Arizona. These concerns have given rise to a variety of legal issues, including criminal defense. In this opinion article, we will delve deeper into the complexities of Arizona's election and voter fraud, exploring definitions, penalties, the role of criminal defense attorneys, and federal offenses.

Arizona Election Fraud

Following the November 3 elections, Arizona residents, and groups alike raised concerns of voter fraud. Reports that surfaced in the media of dead persons voting did not help calm nerves, and so the Arizona State legislature decided to launch an audit of Maricopa County's election results.

Difference between Voter Fraud and Election Fraud

Although both sound similar, voting fraud and election fraud are two different but connected things. Voting fraud is when people attempt to vote more than once or try to vote using false information, identity theft, and other illegal tactics. Election fraud is a broader term used to describe any illegal activities that occur regarding the election process from the acquisition of signatures, counting of ballots, and announcement of results.

Election Fraud Definition and Penalties

The Arizona Revised Statutes refer to election fraud as several different criminal offenses, including ballot tampering and vote buying. Specifically, tampering with a ballot in any manner is a class 5 felony, which could subject the offender to up to two years in prison. On the other hand, if a person is found guilty of vote-buying, influencing voters through intimidation or threat, or destroying a ballot, he or she could be charged with a Class 4 felony. Such offenses attract a range of penalties, including imprisonment and fines.

When Does an Election Crime become a Federal Offense

Election fraud, as we mentioned, is a state-level criminal offense and, thus, primarily investigated and prosecuted by the state's attorney general. However, federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI can become involved in election crimes, particularly if the activities undermine the results of federal elections. Under federal law, 18 USC §1956(a)(1)(B)(i), anyone who participates in voter or election fraud that involves more than $10,000 in cash could be charged with money laundering. The offender could face a 20-year prison term.

How Does an Indictment for Voter/ Election Fraud Work

If anyone is accused of election or voter fraud, criminal charges could follow. At the outset, a legal process commences, with the attorney general's office, typically gathering evidence and investigating the allegations. If appropriate, the attorney general may refer the matter to a grand jury. An individual's indictment for voter/election fraud can happen after the grand jury reviews the evidence.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Criminal defense attorneys work with individuals and companies that have been accused of voter or election fraud. They ensure that their client's rights are protected throughout the process. They provide advice and examine any evidence and statements. In most cases, criminal defense attorneys could get charges reduced or dismissed by successfully arguing that prosecutors lack sufficient evidence.

In conclusion

The allegations of voter and election fraud in Arizona have led to a legal minefield. The criminal defense attorneys who work in this area are involved in numerous aspects of the legal process, from identifying bases for defenses to exploring the law. Increased scrutiny of election outcomes may stimulate some changes in legislation to give further protection to the political process. In the meantime, those accused of voter or election fraud must rely on capable criminal defense attorneys to safeguard their legal rights.

For more information on Arizona Election and Voter Fraud: Criminal Defense, visit Kolsrud Law Offices' website.