This article examines, from a comparative perspective, those electoral practices labelled as ‘corrupt’ in Latin America between 1830 and 1930, in order to gain a fuller appreciation of the significant role played by elections in the history of the region. The article starts by using the term ‘electoral corruption’ in its general sense, as often used by contemporaries themselves when referring to the various practices that, in their view, distorted the vote, and therefore the meaning of suffrage. From this general definition, the article moves on to distinguish between the different types of corrupt practice, with the aim of identifying the extent to which they affected electoral competition. By offering a revision of the assumptions that have hitherto served to undermine the historical meaning of the suffrage, this article aims to encourage the study of electoral history in the region. The examination of electoral corruption is therefore preceded by a brief survey of the historiography of Latin American elections.