Rebecca Solnit wrote a provocative article describing husbands that "bully, silence and control" the votes of their wives in the United States. She musters anecdotes of Republican men preventing their wives from supporting Democratic candidates, especially when using mail-in ballots.

Is coercing someone to vote a certain way a crime in the United States? Has any study quantified the effect of such coercion?

  • 1
    "provocative" is superfluous in this author's case. I would recommend removing all mention of the article from the question, as it doesn't really add anything at all to it.
    – user19831
    Nov 25, 2018 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


Voter coercion is a federal crime in the US code U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 29 › § 594:

Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate [...] shall be fined under this title or imprisoned.

(The code uses "he", but this is always interpreted to apply equally to men and women)

The difficulty is the burden of proof. Cases of "coercive control" have succeeded, but only when quite extreme levels of control. Coercion is illegal, but persuasion is not. Police have always been unwilling to intervene when no violence is involved, and the ballot is secret so direct investigation is impossible.

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