Was there ever an election in the US (state or federal-level) whose result was overturned by the courts due to vote fraud?

If so, what was the most recent such instance?

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    There have been many elections that have been invalidated (the court ruled that the election outcome would have no effect and a new election would need to be held), but I'm not aware of any that have been overturned (the court selected a winner other than the one who received the most votes).
    – Mark
    Dec 6, 2020 at 20:58
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    @Mark Assuming you mean Electoral votes here, because if you're talking about the popular vote, there's the obvious recent example of Bush v. Gore in 2000 which was decided by the court and counter to the popular vote. (Nothing to do with fraud of course) Dec 7, 2020 at 17:09
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    @DarrelHoffman, the case Bush v. Gore was indeed decided by the Supreme Court, but the outcome of the Florida election wasn't decided by the court, it was decided by the fact that Bush received 537 votes more than Gore did.
    – Mark
    Dec 7, 2020 at 22:04

3 Answers 3


Sort of, by which I mean invalidated (i.e. there was a rerun), not overturned (i.e. the other side was not just declared victor). And the election itself was invalidated by the canvassing board (basically by not certifying it), not by the courts, although the latter were involved in prosecuting the actual illegalities that occurred. I'm talking about the 2018 North Carolina's 9th congressional district election.

The NYT also mentions (in a 2020 article):

There was the case in Paterson, N.J., earlier this year, for instance, in which a judge recommended a do-over election for a seat on the City Council after evidence surfaced that mail-in ballots had been tampered with. (Just 240 votes separated the first- and second-place candidates.)

Goes over some highly contested but not invalidated elections from more than a century ago, to continue:

There have been more recent cases in which fraud rendered an election invalid. In one high-profile example, a Florida judge voided Miami’s mayoral election in 1998 and ordered a new vote, citing “a pattern of fraudulent, intentional and criminal conduct” in the casting of absentee ballots.

I haven't read much more detail(s) on these, but a quick search found a more detailed article on the N.J. election; in that case it seems it was a judge who actually invalidated (but not overturned) the election. In parallel with that, there are ongoing criminal prosecutions.

There are also news articles on the 1997 Miami election that was invalided in the spring of the following year. (Although CNN uses the word "overturned" there, the details of the article show that the judge ordered a new election to be held. There were also some criminal prosecutions launched in that case.)

For US elections that more significantly depart the modern standards, you could read my summary of the 1876 affair in Florida to another question. The Florida Supreme Court there ordered the state canvassing board to recount in a different way, which produced a different winner as the governor of Florida, i.e. you can say that election was effectively overturned by a court (since there was no rerun), albeit somewhat indirectly. (The affair is much more complicated as the new governor also tried to change the presidential electors [via a new canvassing board], but that attempt was ultimately rejected by the US Congress.)

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    My dictionary has the following definition of overturn: "abolish, invalidate, or reverse (a previous system, decision, situation, etc.)". So it wasn't really incorrect for CNN to use that word.
    – Barmar
    Dec 6, 2020 at 17:30
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    It is also worth noting that disputed elections for federal office can be resolved in the respective houses of Congress and frequently were in the 19th century. A lawsuit alleging that the wrong person holds an official office was historically called a petition for a writ of quo warranto.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 6, 2020 at 21:16

Wikipedia writes the following about Kansas before it became a US state (Kansas joined the Union on January 29, 1861):

In November 1854, thousands of armed pro-slavery men known as "Border Ruffians" or "Southern Yankees", mostly from Missouri, poured into the Kansas Territory and swayed the vote in the election for a non-voting delegate to Congress in favor of pro-slavery Democratic candidate John Wilkins Whitfield. The following year, a congressional committee investigating the election reported that 1,729 fraudulent votes were cast compared to 1,114 legal votes. In one location, only 20 of the 604 voters were residents of the Kansas Territory; in another, 35 were residents and 226 non-residents.

There are in fact multiple old elections which saw fraud, however, none were overturned due to various compromises.


In 1994 a Pennsylvania senate race was overturned by a Federal court.


An appeals court later changed this decision and simply voided the results.

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    Interestingly the first instance court found that the party it ruled against had conspired with officials to steal the election. casetext.com/case/marks-v-stinson
    – Fizz
    Dec 7, 2020 at 2:16
  • But it seems that the appeals court disagreed that the proper remedy (for this collusion) was to grant the election to the opposing party. Instead they said other remedies (presumably criminal charges) should be pursued. As far as I can tell there were no criminal charges filed against Stinson; his wikipedia page is very sketchy though, doesn't even mention this appeal.
    – Fizz
    Dec 7, 2020 at 2:35
  • But it seems that the appeals court disagreed that the proper remedy It's in the answer.
    – user29456
    Dec 7, 2020 at 2:37
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    Actually Stinson was charged in criminal court too thedp.com/article/1994/03/… N.B., the charges were "misdemeanors under state law." And he was actually acquitted even of those nytimes.com/1994/06/23/us/acquittal-in-vote-fraud-case.html
    – Fizz
    Dec 7, 2020 at 2:40

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