by Georgia Laganiere, business and social media manager
Republicans have been speaking up about their concern on the subject of mail-in voting fraud as President Trump shouts these claims from the White House after his loss of the election. With COVID-19 still looming over people’s lives, states had switched to a mostly mail-in ballot system with as few as possible people going in person to the polls. Though this makes sense for the health of our country, people have been trying to demonize mail-in voting, saying that the number of people committing voter fraud will rise as the number of people using mail-in ballots also increases.
A lot of this thinking is contributed to President Trump’s words at the Presidential Debate, saying, “As far as the ballots are concerned, it’s a disaster…It’s a rigged election.” President-elect Joe Biden responded by saying that his claims were false, but what is the real data behind it? Was this election subjected to fraud, or is this something that the American people need not worry about?
One example brought up during the debate was when Trump claimed that in West Virginia, a poll worker was “selling ballots.” However, as the West Virginian Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner corrected, this happened in the primary election earlier this year. On five of the eight ballots altered, the ballot’s original party affiliation changed from Democrat to GOP. On the other three, the party affiliation was not changed, but the word “Republican” was rewritten in different ink. The person responsible for the fraud was caught. Now, how often does this happen? Well, recently, the White House took a sampling of 27 instances of mail-in voting fraud since 2001, and data showed that 25 of the 27 resulted in a criminal conviction for the person who committed the crime, meaning they were caught and their ballots were deemed inadmissible.
In the 2016 presidential election, 0.3 percent of ballots were discounted because of signature mismatch. That is a total of 87,000 ballots on a national level. To compare these numbers to another phenomenon, an analysis by the Brennan Center of Justice found that Americans were more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. In a more general sense, five states and the District of Columbia have sent out ballots to their residents this year without them requesting it. Of the five, Nevada, Oregon and Washington all have Republicans as their top elected officials who have all emphasized that mail-in voting is secure.
To prevent voting fraud in the face of increased mail-in ballots, most states are taking precautionary measures this year. According to The Conversation’s article, “6 Ways Mail-In Ballots Are Protected From Fraud,” there are lots of ways states are preventing mail-in voter fraud this election cycle. The first being only valid, registered voters can receive a mail-in ballot, stopping unregistered voters from getting a ballot. The second way is that in general, it is hard to create a fake ballot. In different states or regions, the text and/or method of selecting a candidate such as checking the box, filling in the box, or connecting the arrow, making it difficult to fabricate a realistic ballot. Every state also has security measures in place that confirm the identity of voters by checking the consistency of signatures, which is often too strict for people’s liking, causing even authentic ballots to be tossed out because of the signature discrepancies. Another confirmation of a voter’s identity is having one or more notaries sign or witness. The last is that voters have to submit a copy of a driver’s license or another government I.D. Of course, this varies from state to state, but the overall lesson is that there are major precautionary measures in place to catch voting fraud. The data shows that overall, Americans have nothing to worry about in regards to mail-in voting.