History Confirms That Mass Mail-In Voting Fraud Is a Myth
When COVID-19 first emerged in 2019, few people could have predicted that the virus would turn entire societies upside down within a matter of months. Now, as the 2020 presidential election draws closer, many of us are starting to wonder how we're going to vote during an age of social distancing and statewide quarantines.
One potential solution is voting by mail, but a number of voters remain skeptical. It’s by no means a new way to cast a ballot, but with the increased attention it’s been getting in the wake of the pandemic, voting by mail is facing growing controversy, politicization and villainization as Donald Trump and other republicans attempt to fight its expansion. This has raised the question of whether voting by mail is a safe and effective way to vote or a case of mass voter fraud just begging to happen. Rather than rely on guesswork, let's take a look at voting by mail data in the United States and see what its track record says about the actual potential for fraud.
The Honest History of Voting by Mail
Voting by mail has a relatively long history in the United States; members of the U.S. military began using a distance-voting system to cast their ballots during the Civil War. As far as civilians are concerned, mail-in ballots or absentee ballots became an option for some voters on a state-by-state basis as early as the late 1800s. The mail-in option was originally intended for use by those who were either away from home or too ill to make it to the polls on election day, and those are common reasons why people still choose absentee ballots.
Do Fraudulent Mail-In Ballots Threaten Our Election Process?
According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, two out of five voters in the 2016 election cast their ballots through the mail. In the same year, 16 states that allowed no-excuse mail-in voting as an option showed a combined percentage of over half of all votes cast through early, mailed or absentee ballots.
Are There Official Safety Measures in Place?
The majority of Americans already trust the USPS to handle everything from their tax returns and credit card applications to census information and passport documents. So why would voting be any different? Despite what some politicians would have people believe, it isn’t. The mail-in ballot system is set up to be just as, or even more, secure when it comes to the handling of official ballots. Various security measures make it far harder than some people might assume for someone to cast a fraudulent vote.
The Official Mail-In Vote Verdict
While allegations of voter fraud are a tempting scapegoat for losing politicians in close elections, history and the data have shown that those allegations are really just a proverbial fall guy that’s caused panic among voters who take some politicians’ statements at face value. Many instances of what people initially assumed to be voting fraud have later been revealed to be nothing more than clerical errors or faulty data-matching errors. Historically speaking, fraudulent votes have made up no more than 0.0003 to 0.0025% of all votes cast in any U.S. election.