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Don’t try to vote twice in the 2020 election. Here’s what happens if you do

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Only one “I voted” sticker per person, please.


James Martin/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

No, you can’t vote twice. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump appeared to encouraged voters to cast their ballot twice. He made the comments in North Carolina and on Twitter, suggesting incorrectly this would ensure that ballots count in the Nov. 3 presidential election. Attempting to vote more than once, also known as double voting, is illegal under federal law, considered fraud and qualifies as a felony in many states.

It’s against the law to vote in person in addition to voting by mail, or to attempt voting twice through any other method. Mail-in voting fraud is extremely rare, experts say, so there’s no need to mail in your ballot and then go to your polling place. If you prefer to vote in person, here’s everything you should know about early voting and how to stay safe at the polls.

Each state has its own laws for prosecuting double voters, in addition to federal fines and potential imprisonment. Here’s what could happen if you try to vote twice.

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You could be fined under federal law and go to prison

Federal law governing voting practices stipulates that people who vote more than once “shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

An exception is made if “all prior ballots of that voter were invalidated.” That special exception doesn’t apply to voting absentee by mail while you also vote in person at the polls. That isn’t allowed.

You may face jail time

You can face jail time or imprisonment in some states if you knowingly vote twice. The longest sentence is up to 10 years in the state of Georgia for committing voter fraud

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If you vote twice, you could face jail time and a fine.


James Martin/CNET

Your state could fine you in addition to incurring a federal fine

Double voting in many states not only is punishable by jail time, but also by paying a fine. For example, in Georgia, fines for voting twice can be as much as $100,000. You may be fined $15,000 for committing voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

State laws against voting more than once

Most states explicitly prohibit double voting in different ways, using several types of laws. Remember, voting twice in an election is a federal offense, and states laws are in addition to a federal prohibition. Here are the specific types of double voting these states say you can’t do, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan research group.

1. States that prohibit voting twice within the same state, or for the same office: Alabama, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi and West Virginia.

2. States that don’t let you vote twice in the same election: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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3. These states make it a crime to vote in more than one state (for example, you can’t vote in Arizona and Colorado, even if you own property in both states): Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia and Washington.

4. In Indiana, you can’t knowingly receive a ballot in the wrong jurisdiction: For example, you received a ballot to vote in a county you don’t live in and voted there anyway. To be eligible to vote within a particular voting jurisdiction, you must be a resident of that area.

What if my state doesn’t prohibit double voting?

In some states, like Indiana, there’s no specific statute about voting twice. However, knowingly voting more than once in federal elections is federally prohibited in all 50 states and US territories, and is punishable by jail time and/or a fine.

For more information on the elections, here’s when you can vote early in your state, how vote by mail works in all 50 US states and what you need to know about vote by mail, online ballots, polling places.


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