Allowing Americans to vote by mail does not increase voter fraud. That’s the takeaway from a joint analysis UCS just completed with the UCLA Voting Rights Project and the University of New Mexico’s Center for Social Policy. Voter fraud in US elections continues to be extremely low, and people should not be forced to put their health at risk to exercise their right to vote.
The report, Debunking the Myth of Voter Fraud in Mail Ballots, summarizes the social science research demonstrating the infrequency of voter fraud. Yet some politicians, including President Trump, seem to go out of their way to resist this message.
Researchers in one study found only thirty-one credible incidents of voter impersonation in an investigation of over one billion votes cast. In Oregon, which holds all-mail elections, fraudulent ballots represented only 0.0005% of ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.
This report comes at a time when national and state officials have been pushing for universal vote-by-mail for the November 2020 General Election in response to growing uncertainty about COVID-19’s impact on poll access. The success of vote-by-mail was illustrated just last week in Wisconsin, where approximately 90% of Milwaukeean voters cast ballots by mail in their primary election. Even though the state legislature and the Supreme Court of the United States limited the time period to return mail ballots, resulting in chaos, confusion, disenfranchisement and health risks to citizens forced to vote in person. There is no question that the opportunity to vote by mail enfranchised hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin voters who would have otherwise been silenced.
The science on vote-by-mail is clear. There is no factual basis for claiming that voting by mail results in higher levels of voter impersonation fraud. Using their own data, we show that mail voting alarmists, including the president, are relying on fear and naked partisanship to discourage the use of a safe alternative to precinct voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is even more bizarre that the people making such claims often link high turnout with a threat to one political party, as experts find no evidence of systemic partisan advantage from mail voting. Voter fraud isn’t a problem, but low voter turnout is. And mail voting is a clear solution.
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