As we plow forward with the 2024 presidential campaign, there’s a lingering ghost of elections past. Polls over the years consistently show a majority of Americans don’t trust the election process. Donald Trump claims the 2020 election was stolen from him. Joe Biden says 60 election challenges were dismissed by courts because they had no merit. Now as the two men are squaring up for a possible rematch, we set out to learn whether any documented irregularities emerged after the dust settled in 2020. Our Full Measure investigation found dozens of instances where there were election problems or errors that typically favored Biden. Today, we highlight a few notable cases and dissect how voter fraud can happen.
The following is a transcript of a report from "Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson." Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.
David Bentley: This is my brother's ballot.
David Bentley says ballots keep arriving in the mailbox at his Maryland home addressed to his brother who hasn’t lived here for a decade.
Bentley: Two live ballots, one person lives here.
Sharyl: So tell me where he lives now, and has he been voting there?
Bentley: He lives somewhere outside of Corning, New York. And he has voted in the last two presidential elections up there. What's preventing just live ballots going out that anyone can just grab and kind of, you know, vote twice if you want, or three or four times?
Nine states and Washington, D.C. automatically send presidential election ballots to anyone on the voter rolls. Maryland offers to mail ballots automatically, forever, after a first request. People can even have ballots sent via the internet, and could receive them while living most anywhere else the world.
Bentley: I would assume that each state would kind of check their records to make sure that they don't have people who no longer have a driver's license or a state ID, you know, they would kind of inquire about that. Like write them going, "Hey, are you still here?”
That’s our first category of voting issues: election processes that could open the door to fraud.
Numerous court actions and audits call into question systems used to cast millions of ballots in the 2020 election.
In Wisconsin, absentee ballot drop boxes used in 2020 were illegally approved by the elections commission, according to the state supreme court. Had that ruling come before the election, it could have had a big impact: 200,000 drop box ballots skipped normal voter ID requirements in a state Biden won by just 20,600 votes.
In Michigan, the state’s nonpartisan auditor found that the secretary of state who oversaw the 2020 election, a Democrat, broke the law by failing to properly maintain voter rolls, heightening the risk that ineligible people voted. She says no elections were impacted by the issues.
And since February of last year, Los Angeles County, California, New York City, and North Carolina belatedly agreed to remove a combined 2 million ineligible people who shouldn’t have been on the voter rolls in 2020, but were. Colorado agreed to do the same after the watchdog group Judicial Watch sued to force the removals.
Sharyl (on-camera): When past voting practices are deemed unconstitutional or illegal, there’s no firm process to go back and correct the elections, or even figuring out what impact was. No independent authority actively monitors for voting issues. And producing evidence of fraud or, for that matter, proof of no fraud, can be equally as challenging — leaving both sides to lob accusations that can’t be definitively resolved.
There are plenty of allegations surrounding the 2020 election, when Joe Biden accomplished a remarkable, overnight, come-from-behind victory to get more votes than any presidential candidate in history — beating Donald Trump, who got more votes than in 2016, and more than any sitting president in history.
Many election challenges filed by Trump and his supporters were quickly dismissed, often on technical grounds, without addressing the specific accusations.
Our second category of voting issues involves alleged election mistakes.
In Georgia’s close election, numerous anomalies surfaced during forced recounts. In Ware County, a “small tabulation error” is faulted for taking 37 votes away from Trump on election day. Bigger errors in other Georgia precincts with strikingly similar stories: in both Fayette and Floyd counties, Donald Trump was shorted 1,200 votes on memory cards that somehow weren’t counted on election day.
In Michigan, Shiawassee County added 100,000 votes for Biden on election night that he didn’t actually get. Observers flagged the error and the tally was corrected.
Antrim County reported that Biden beat Trump by 3,000 votes, unlikely in the Republican stronghold. A recount produced the same results. But persistent challenges eventually revealed that Trump actually defeated Biden with 56% of the vote.
Such tabulation errors give insight into how susceptible to human influence and error vote tallies can be.
Our third category of voting issues is outright alleged fraud. But before we get to 2020, a documented case showing how election results can be manipulated live.
The case was prosecuted in Philadelphia last year. Ex-Congressman “Ozzie” Myers, a Democrat, led a major vote fraud ring that operated in five elections leading up to 2020. He bribed election judges. They would report to him on election day how many “legit votes” were being cast in real time to calculate how many fraudulent votes should be added for the preferred candidates. The corrupt election judges would later attest to the accuracy of the machine results and certify the final, fake counts.
The example demonstrates that ballot counts and machine tallies are only as reliable as those in charge.
In Wisconsin, an audit uncovered an operation to allegedly collect ballots illegally at nursing homes in the 2020 election. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau determined that the elections commission broke the law with nursing home oversight.
In Georgia, an activist from Coalition for the People’s Agenda allegedly got caught submitting 70 false voter registration applications and was referred for prosecution.
In Virginia, Prince William County Registrar Michele White faces trial on felony charges of illegally altering the county’s 2020 election results. She’s said she suspects the allegations are politically motivated.
In Florida, a Democrat blew the whistle on what she says is an illegal vote scheme that’s operated for years in the Orlando area, with paid brokers coercing voters in black communities to hand over their ballots.
In Texas, a social worker is charged with 134 felony counts of election fraud. She allegedly registered people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to vote in 2020 without their knowledge or consent. She pleaded guilty to election fraud.
And in California, two men were charged in an alleged scheme to submit more than 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications leading up to the 2020 election.
Friends Gary Snyder and David Lara say neither Democrat nor Republican leaders cared to unearth longstanding voter fraud in their hometown of San Luis, Arizona.
Gary Snyder: I recorded 23 videos, 23 different crimes.
The two Republicans in a mostly Hispanic, Democrat border community took it upon themselves to expose what they said was well-known systemic election fraud.
David Lara: I mean, you're supposed to vote one person, one vote. And now people are telling me they have five or ten ballots. That's what got my curiosity going. And they were taking advantage of a mostly farm-working community, Latino. Very few spoke English, very few. And very easy to take advantage of.
Sharyl: So were people actually saying to you, "I can get you five votes"?
Lara: Yes, yes. And everything is, there's a string attached. So in other words, you can trade for a job. You can trade for a favor. You can trade for many things. And being a small community, if you have, for instance, a speeding ticket, you can get it fixed. So it depends on who you know, is the favor that you can get.
Early on primary election day in 2020, they decided to set up and record video outside a polling place. They caught school board member and former mayor Guillermina Fuentes in action.
Snyder: And just, lady walked up. Had a ballot in her hand. Guillermina Fuentes received her ballot. Opened it up. Wrote on it, deciding who they're going to vote for. Signed the name and closed it. Lift open a file, and inside the file you can see in the video about 12, 13 ballots. But she took about four ballots out and gave it to the girl. So it's illegal in Arizona when you give someone else a ballot that's not a family direct member. So that girl walked inside, which is Alma Juarez, and hence that's why she was caught in the crime as well.
Snyder and Lara reported what they saw to law enforcement and handed over the video. After a lengthy investigation, Fuentes and three other women were arrested.
Lara: And you can see in the video. I mean, they were just so blatant. They just don't care. I mean broad daylight and they're doing it.
When it comes to consequences for election mistakes or fraud, in nearly every case we examined, we found authorities often quick to accept the most innocent hypothesis. When there are arrests, charges are typically minimal, with no publicly-announced effort to expose larger rings.
The Antrim County Michigan election-night call for Biden when Trump had actually won? The extra 100,000 votes for Biden in Shiawassee County? Innocent "human errors."
The lost-and-found memory cards in Georgia that contained mostly Trump votes? "Blunders" — not corruption.
More than two years later, no movement on the case in the alleged voter registration scheme in Georgia.
The California pair caught submitting 8,000 fraudulent voter registration applications? One got two years in prison, the other 60 days in county jail.
The Texas social worker charged with 134 felonies? She got 13 days in jail.
In the San Luis, Arizona fraud ring, the ex-mayor, Fuentes, was sentenced to a month in jail. She's made public statements saying she was only helping friends and that the attacks against her were political. Two co-defendants in the ballot fraud ring were each allowed to plead guilty to just one misdemeanor count of ballot abuse. They got probation only and no jail time. The case is still open against an indicted city council member in the same case.
Sharyl (on-camera): As for the ex-Congressman “Ozzie” Myers, who was convicted in the Philadelphia ring that changed votes in five elections? He got just two and a half years in prison even though he was a repeat offender. He’d been kicked out of Congress back in 1980 and served time in prison in the bribery scandal known as ABSCAM.
Watch cover story here.