Arizona Election and Voter Fraud: Criminal Defense

arizona voter fraud

The Arizona election and voter fraud cases have garnered significant attention in recent months, with several individuals being indicted on charges related to manipulating the voting process.

As the Arizona Attorney General's office continues to crack down on election fraud, having a strong legal defense is essential for those facing criminal charges. If you find yourself in need of expert legal guidance, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted attorney like Josh Kolsrud to protect your rights and seek a favorable outcome in your case.

Current Arizona Election Fraud

In a notable development in Arizona, key advisers and associates of Donald J. Trump, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mark Meadows, and Boris Epshteyn, were indicted for their roles in attempting to influence the 2020 presidential election results.


The charges, encompassing conspiracy, fraud, and forgery, target the group's efforts to maintain Trump's presidency despite his loss in the state.


This indictment also includes all the fake electors involved, marking Arizona as one of the key states taking significant legal action against the malpractices of the 2020 Trump campaign.


Arizona election and voter fraud defenses

Are Voter Fraud and Election Fraud Different?

In Arizona, voter and election fraud are often mentioned together but represent different legal violations within the electoral process.


Voter Fraud: Focused on Individual Actions

Voter fraud specifically refers to illegal actions taken by individual voters. The intent behind these actions is typically to manipulate the outcome of an election through deceptive or unlawful voting practices. Common forms of voter fraud include:


  • Duplicate Voting: An individual casts more than one ballot in the same election.
  • Voter Impersonation: Someone votes using another person's identity.
  • Altering Absentee Ballots: Changing or filling out absentee ballots without the knowledge or consent of the intended voter.

These actions are direct interventions by individuals aiming to alter the vote count to their favor.


Election Fraud: Broader Electoral Manipulations

Election fraud, on the other hand, covers broader schemes that may involve multiple participants, including election officials. It generally pertains to more systemic issues within the electoral process, such as:


  • Tampering with Vote Tallying: Altering the electronic tabulation of votes to change election results.
  • Ballot Stuffing: The practice of inserting illegal votes into the ballot count, often orchestrated by someone with inside access to the election process.
  • False Voter Registrations: Submitting voter registrations for fictitious people or pets to inflate voter rolls.


These types of fraud target the structure and administration of the election itself, often affecting larger numbers of votes or entire precincts.


The primary difference between voter fraud and election fraud lies in their scope and execution. Voter fraud involves individual misdemeanors that corrupt the authenticity of individual votes, while election fraud encompasses coordinated actions that can corrupt the electoral process on a much larger scale. 

election fraud penalties

Election Fraud Definition and Penalties

Election fraud in Arizona encompasses more systemic and orchestrated activities aimed at undermining the integrity of electoral processes.


These actions often involve collusion among multiple parties, including election officials.


Definition of Election Fraud

Under Arizona law, election fraud includes several distinct types of misconduct intended to alter or influence election outcomes unlawfully. Key examples specified within the Arizona Revised Statutes include:


  • A.R.S. § 13-2310(A): Pertains to "Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices," criminalizing schemes or artifices to defraud, which can include broader plans to manipulate electoral outcomes.
  • A.R.S. § 13-2311: Covers "Fraudulent Schemes and Practices," which targets actions specifically designed to defraud within the context of election processes.
  • A.R.S. § 13-2002(A): This statute relates to forgery, often applied in cases where election documents or results are falsified. It criminalizes the false making, completion, or alteration of a written instrument.
  • A.R.S. § 16-1003: Deals with "Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud," outlining penalties for those who conspire to commit any act of election fraud.
  • A.R.S. § 39-161: Involves "Presentment of False Instrument for Filing," which criminalizes the act of knowingly offering any false instrument for filing in any public office.


Penalties for Election Fraud

 Arizona enforces strict penalties for election fraud, reflecting the severity of these crimes and their potential impact on democratic processes. Key penalties include:


  • Fines: Individuals found guilty of election fraud face hefty fines designed to serve as a deterrent against such actions. These fines vary based on the specific statute violated but are intended to be punitive and preventive.
  • Imprisonment: Felony charges associated with election fraud can lead to significant prison terms, underlining the seriousness with which Arizona treats these offenses. For instance:
    • A.R.S. § 13-2310(A) (Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices): As a Class 2 felony, it can result in a prison sentence of 3 to 12.5 years for a first-time offender.
    • A.R.S. § 13-2311 (Fraudulent Schemes and Practices): This Class 5 felony may carry a prison term ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 years.
    • A.R.S. § 13-2002(A) (Forgery): Treated as a Class 4 felony, with potential imprisonment from 1 to 3.75 years.
    • A.R.S. § 16-1003 (Conspiracy to Commit Election Fraud) and A.R.S. § 39-161 (Presentment of False Instrument for Filing) also prescribe imprisonment reflecting their classification as serious felonies.
  • Permanent Loss of Voting Rights: Those convicted may be permanently barred from voting.

When Does an Election Crime Become a Federal Offense

Election crimes escalate to federal offenses under specific conditions that involve the violation of federal laws, particularly when the integrity and security of federal elections are at stake.


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) enforces these laws, which aim to protect the electoral process across the United States. An election crime typically becomes a federal issue if it involves depriving someone of their voting rights or the right to have their vote counted accurately.


Additionally, any fraudulent activities related to elections that include federal offices—such as those for President, Vice President, or Congress—are considered federal offenses.


Crimes that cross state lines, such as transporting fraudulent ballots or illegal voting equipment from one state to another, also fall under federal jurisdiction.

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How Does an Indictment for Voter/ Election Fraud Work

An indictment for voter or election fraud is a serious legal process that begins when there are substantial allegations or evidence indicating that an individual or group has engaged in illegal activities aimed at manipulating electoral outcomes. 

  • Initiation of Investigation

    • Typically, the process starts with an investigation, which can be triggered by reports from election officials, law enforcement agencies, or tips from the public. These investigations are often conducted by state or federal agencies, depending on the nature of the alleged fraud. For instance, the FBI might be involved if the case potentially affects federal elections or crosses state lines.

  • Gathering Evidence

    • Investigators gather evidence through various means, including reviewing voter rolls, analyzing ballot handling procedures, interviewing witnesses, and sometimes conducting forensic analyses of voting machines and ballots. 

  • Grand Jury Proceedings

    • If sufficient evidence is found, the case is presented to a grand jury. This group of citizens reviews the evidence presented by prosecutors to determine whether there is enough probable cause to charge the individual or group with a crime. It's important to note that the grand jury proceedings are confidential, and the accused does not have the right to present a defense at this stage.

  • Issuing an Indictment

    • If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence, they will issue an indictment, formally charging the individual or group with voter or election fraud. An indictment is essentially a formal accusation that initiates the criminal proceedings.

  • Arraignment and Trial

    • Following an indictment, the accused will be arraigned where they can enter a plea. If a not guilty plea is entered, the case will proceed to trial where both the prosecution and defense will have the opportunity to present evidence and arguments. A jury or judge will then determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.

  • Sentencing

    • If the accused is found guilty, the sentencing phase will follow the trial. The penalties for voter or election fraud can vary significantly based on the severity of the offense, previous convictions, and specific details of the case, including potential fines and imprisonment.

How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

Handling voter or election fraud cases requires the expertise of a seasoned defense attorney like Josh Kolsrud from Kolsrud Law Offices. As an expert in federal defense, Josh Kolsrud provides legal advice, develops effective defense strategies, and works diligently to ensure that clients' rights are respected throughout the legal process.


Josh and his team can also negotiate plea deals and provide significant support during trials, helping clients understand and manage the challenges of facing legal accusations.


Contact us today at (602) 638-3790 to set up a free initial consultation with one of our defense attorneys.


An award-winning criminal defense attorney Since 2006

Why Choose Josh Kolsrud

With over 100 trials to his name, and years of experience as a state and federal prosecutor, Josh understands the law, the legal process, and your rights. Josh is also committed to representing every client with utmost integrity and dedication



Josh has prosecuted major crimes on the state and federal level, led a successful anti-human sex trafficking operation that saved lives, and argued before countless juries and justices for his clients



Josh is an expert in both Arizona and federal criminal law, and is ready to put that expertise to work for you.



As a prosecutor, Josh saw far too many defendants lose their livelihood due to poor representation. Josh will always give every client his complete attention and effort

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