Fact Check: Mail-In Ballot Voter Fraud
With the nation still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s estimated up to 80 million Americans may choose to mail in their ballots this election.
On the campaign trail, President Trump has frequently criticized mail-in voting, claiming it leads to widespread fraud. However, election experts say the facts just don’t back that up.
“The country has been voting by mail since the Civil War,” said Myrna Pérez, Director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Every state in the country allows people to vote by mail. And when we are in a once in a generation global pandemic, voters need options to vote at home,” she continued.
The nonpartisan organization at New York University has conducted research on the topic and says voter fraud is very rare.
“It is unlikely that an individual voter will abuse the system for the point of getting another vote because it’s irrational, right? There’s lots of penalties for casting another ballot and one other ballot isn’t going to have the kind of impact,” Pérez said.
Washington state has been voting almost entirely by mail since 2011, considered a pioneer for vote by mail elections.
“I can even usually convince the most staunch critic that the system is secure,” said Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. She says transparency is key.
“Local election officials need to share with their local communities what they’re doing to protect the ballots that they are in charge of,” said Wyman. “I think when people see that they have more confidence in their local officials and hopefully that translates out to all election officials.”
Washington is one of five all-mail election states, along with Oregon, Utah, Colorado and Hawaii. More than two dozen other states have expanded their absentee voting options due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Given the expected influx of mail-in ballots, Pérez acknowledges there could be some hiccups on Election Day. “Many, many states don’t have the infrastructure to handle this kind of volume that they’re going to be expecting,” she said.
Pérez advises local governments to have extra workers on hand to help process the ballots, and she urges voters to get their ballots in early.
“This election is too important for people to sit out and there are going to be some bumps. But the response is not to panic, but to be prepared,” Pérez said.