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Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates, or both. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country. Many kinds of election fraud are outlawed in electoral legislation, but others are in violation of general laws, such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Although technically the term 'electoral fraud' covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which are legal but nevertheless considered morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws, or in violation of the principles of democracy. Show elections, in which only one candidate can win, are sometimes considered to be electoral fraud, although they may comply with the law. In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. Even if the outcome is not affected, fraud can still have a damaging effect if not punished, as it can reduce voters' confidence in democracy. Even the perception of fraud can be damaging as it makes people less inclined to accept election results. This can lead to the breakdown of democracy and the establishment of a dictatorship. (via Freebase)