In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Americans still participated in a presidential election. And yet, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, support for mail-in voting is growing.
Can you identify which of these statements about mail-in voting is incorrect?
A. Mail-in voting poses a threat to the integrity of our elections.
B. Mail-in voting will end the secret ballot.
C. Mail-in voting is safe because our voter rolls and databases are always up to date.
Let’s look at these statements one at a time:
A. Mail-in voting poses a threat to the integrity of our elections. True. The bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform concluded in 2005 that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.”. Mail-in voting is absentee ballots writ large. The Attorney General of New Jersey recently indicted four men for voter fraud involving 800 uncounted absentee ballots and falsifying information to obtain ballots.
And a two-year probe in Harris County, Texas recently found that people with forgery convictions were allegedly picking up batches of absentee ballots and filling them in. If a voter has trouble with the ballot at a polling place, she can get help. Many mail-in ballots must be thrown out because the voter filled in something incorrectly. Almost all our safeguards to ensure a legitimate election disappear with universal mail-in voting.
B. Mail-in voting is a threat to the secret ballot. True. The voting booth allows us to vote our consciences in private, without pressure from friends and family. Mail-in ballots eliminate this opportunity. Moreover, some voters designate the right to “harvest,” or collect, their ballots to others. This too is an invitation to fraud.
C. Mail-in voting is safe because our voter rolls and databases are always up to date. Lie! Pew Center on the States found that “Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” When voter rolls are not purged of those who have moved, died, or otherwise lost their right to vote, ballots may be sent erroneously to non-voters. If misused, these erroneous voter registrations are enough to swing an election.