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"Vote early, vote often."
Richard J. Daley, former mayor of Chicago

Ballot stuffing.

Of course, some degree of this happens for every election in a large enough city or state. The question is whether it's widespread enough to truly influence the results of the election. Still, expect the losing side to cry foul play even in relatively clean elections. (This trope occurs frequently as an example of Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat, when the winning side does it even when they would have won anyway.)

Though this is Truth in Television, please keep any political examples from the last 30 years of Real Life out of this page.

Examples of Vote Early, Vote Often include:


 Killoran: Monk's already won by three thousand more votes than there are voters.

Boss Tweed: Only three? Make it twenty, thirty. We don't need a victory. We need a Roman triumph.

 Leo: You know O'Doul and the Mayor, right?

Tom: I ought to, I voted for him six times last November.

Mayor: And that's not even the record.

  • Election does this in reverse. While counting ballots, Mr. McAllister throws two votes for Tracy in the garbage in order to deny her the victory.
  • Mentioned in An American Tail where the drunken Irish (mouse) Mayor of New York City attends the funeral of another mouse and notes that he was too young to vote, "But he'll vote from now on" and puts his name in a book of "ghost voters".
    • Considering that said mouse ("Honest" John) was a pretty obvious reference to the Tammany Hall political machine, it makes perfect sense.


  • There's a section about this in one of the Sten books. It gets disrupted by 'Raschid', in a rather hilarious manner. 'Raschid' is actually the Eternal Emperor, and being several thousand years old, has rather more experience with politics and corrupt elections than anyone else.
  • Done in The Stainless Steel Rat For President.
  • Hope Was Here: Hope works on the mayoral campaign for an underdog candidate. After her candidate loses the election, Hope looks over a list of voters and spots the name of a curmudgeonly man who had loudly insisted that he never voted. When she goes to congratulate him on turning out for the election, he insists that he didn't. She turns up enough discrepancies like this to force the incumbent mayor to resign.
  • Homeless drifter Puggy is recruited for this in Big Trouble along with a collection of other lowlifes. The are brought to the voting center(s) and told for who to vote in front of the ballot officials, who don't bat an eye. Of course, all this happens in Miami, and political corruption is a major part of the book.
  • When the Dark Lord decides he wants to win by election in Grunts!, General Ashnak and his orc marines decide to help matters along a bit, just in case the Supreme Power Of Evil can't win over the population with his speeches.

Live Action TV

 Salem: "A lot of dead people voted that year. Twice!"

  • In one episode of Blackadder the Third, Blackadder filled in for the single voter of a rotten borough and apparently placed several thousand votes for Baldrick.
    • In the same episode he sarcastically comments on the system that allows this to happen: "Manchester. Population: 60,000. Electoral roll: 3"
  • Happens in Battlestar Galactica when the fleet elects a new president.
  • Played for Laughs in a Family Ties episode when a girl reveals her crush on Alex by telling him that when he ran for student council president, "I voted for you. Three hundred times. Sorry you didn't win." Later, his best friend Skippy makes the exact same confession.
  • Played with in a Parks and Recreation episode. They select the name of someone out of a hat to decide who has to do an unenviable task. It turns out everyone puts in Jerry's name rather than their own.
  • This is a common accusation levied towards Reality Show game shows that rely on audience voting.
    • American Idol is one of the most common targets of this in the US, especially due to the fact that people are allowed to vote as many times as they want. A number of people have employed "robo-calls" and "power-texting" to make thousands of votes -- completely legal under AI rules, and often balanced out by different robo-callers voting for different contestants. What pushes the show into this trope, however, is a series of controversies over the fairness of the voting, most notably an incident in the season 8 finale involving AT&T (one of AI's sponsors) that may have cost Adam Lambert the victory. See here for more.
  • In 2006, Stephen Colbert reported that Hungary was holding an online naming poll for a new bridge, for which the then-leading entry was the "Chuck Norris bridge". He then proceeded to suggest that his fans should stuff the ballot box with "Stephen Colbert bridge". Hilarity Ensued when it Went Horribly Right and "Stephen Colbert bridge" won with over 17 million votes - about 7 million more than the entire population of Hungary.
    • He tried again when NASA announced that it would put a particular name on a capsule intended for the International Space Station based on the number of votes. "Colbert" won in a landslide, but was denied victory. Instead, NASA shipped up a new piece of equipment, which has the acronym C.O.L.B.E.R.T. Stephen was mollified.
  • In Boardwalk Empire the corrupt politician and gangster Nucky Thompson is genuinely worried that his candidates will lose the election despite engaging in all the usual dirty tricks. He is not powerful enough to outright steal the election and the opposition is doing its own ballot stuffing. In season 2 his enemies use this to get him indicted for voter fraud and he faces jail time.
  • Inverted in Skins - Harriet and Doug only count the class president votes for Naomi and Crispin, knowing Cook received the most and not wanting him to win. However, Naomi secretly witnessed the decision, and when they declare her "the winner," she pulls Cook's ballots out of Harriet's bra in her Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Mentioned in Catching Trouble when it appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000:

 Narrator: Don't you know you're wanted in Chicago?

Tom Servo: For voting twice?

  • In Justified the standard version is averted since the citizens of Harlan County are savvy enough that you cannot steal an election by stuffing the ballot box. Instead the candidates have to resort to other dirty tricks like bribing voters with alcohol and sexual favors, rigging debates by bribing the moderator and having the opposition disqualified by framing them for car bombings, drug dealing and nepotism.

Newspaper Comics

 "The votes are in. I've been elected to the position of supreme ruler of Earth. I won in a landslide, thanks to low voter turnout and the fact that I voted for myself many times."


  • The election night newsreel in Of Thee I Sing shows John P. Wintergreen casting multiple ballots for himself. When he needs only four more votes to win, he casts all of them. No wonder his defeated opponent charges him with voter fraud in 7 states.


  • Prickly City disdains this. The dead voted for Kevin, but only once. It's not Chicago after all.

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons where Sideshow Bob wins the mayoral election through votes cast by those in the cemetery, including the pet cemetery. Finding Snowball I's vote for Bob prompts Lisa to say that this time, It's Personal.

 Bart: Hey! Uh, he did try to kill me!

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