What is Vote by Mail?

Vote By Mail is:

  • Bi-partisan.
  • Tamper-resistant.
  • Safe and convenient.

Q1: Is Vote By Mail a big advantage for Democrats?

No.

The majority of ballots in over a dozen states are submitted by mail.

In Deep red states like Utah, Arizona, Montana, North Carolina, Arkansas more than 50% of all ballots are submitted by mail. The same is true for California, Oregon, Hawaii and New Mexico. Statistically, Republican voters vote by mail more often than Democrats. 

Studies show that neither party gets a clear advantage when ballots are mailed instead of in person.

Q2: Does voting by mail invite fraud?

No. In fact, it is more tamper-resistant than many in-person voting machines.

Every mail-in ballot has a bar code. It’s like what you see on concert ticket or a FedEx package. It gets scanned when it is mailed to you, scanned when it is mailed back to the elections office, when it is received by the elections office, and when it is validated and counted. No one is going to forge or steal ballots.

Ballots are hand marked and counted — there are no tricky voting machines to malfunction or hack.

Ballot signatures are checked against signatures on file and ID numbers. They all have to match. If a ballot can’t be validated, it won’t be counted unless the voter provides more information, potentially in person.

We can’t say it’s fraud-proof, but it is much harder to mess with a paper ballot filled out by hand than an electronic ballot at the polls.

Q3: Why are people fighting hard for Vote By Mail?

It’s been a very strange year. Voting by Mail means you can cast your vote and be sure it is counted no matter where you live, no matter what is going on. Weather, pandemics, civil unrest — Vote by Mail is unaffected by any of it.

Q4: Is voting by mail new?

No. People have been voting by mail since the Civil War.

All 50 states have some voting by mail. Some call it early voting or absentee voting or both.

Many states have restrictions on who can use early voting. Texas says it’s fine for elderly people, but not others. Massachusetts just changed their rules to allow for no-excuse voting, as did Virginia. Vote.org has the rules for every state at the bottom of this page.

Getting those ballots isn’t always easy, though.

First of all, people need to know they can request a mail in ballot.

Then you need to be able to access the website, and get through a potentially confusing set of steps to apply for a ballot.

There’s a significant movement in the U.S. now to ask states to send ballots or ballot applications to all registered voters in order to be sure that everyone knows they can do it.

Sending out ballots or applications is not a security or fraud risk. Several states have been doing this for years, with no problems.

Q5: Is sending out ballots or ballot applications to all voters a fraud risk?

No. Sending out ballots or applications is not a security or fraud risk.

Several states have been sending ballots to all voters for many years with no problems:

– Colorado, Hawaii, California, Utah, Oregon, Washington

Several others have started more recently, including:

– Montana, Maryland and New Jersey

A bunch more are sending out applications:

– North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa and more.

These states are trying to avoid problems caused by the pandemic.

Q6: Why do some states want people to vote by mail?

Some states prefer mail-in voting for a wide variety of reasons:

– States with large rural populations want people to be able to access polls.

– States with large coronavirus problems want to make sure it’s safe to vote.

– Most poll workers are elderly, and they are at high risk for the virus – so states are having trouble hiring and training enough poll workers.

– Turns out it costs less to run elections this way.

– And there is very, very little evidence of fraud. in 20 years, approximately 143 ballots were found to be fraudulent out of hundreds of millions.

Does that mean it may send a ballot to someone who has moved or died? Sure. But if a law-breaker got ahold of that ballot and tried to send it in, it would have to be signature matched and ID validated to be counted. That’s hard to pull off — especially in bulk

Q7: Why do some states resist vote by mail?

Some states really want you to vote at the polls for various reasons. There are a lot of people who think watching the results come in in real time is exciting. Vote By Mail means results come in over a period of days or weeks, not hours, so it can be tedious if you want to view the results immediately.

There are a lot of people on the right shouting about fraud now. But Republicans always supported voting by mail in the past. That leads us to believe that this is more about a strange political interpretation than actual partisan bias.

Q8: Why are there so many stories about fraud and Voting By Mail?

It is not clear why people are making up these stories. A lot of people make up a lot of stories these days just to scare people. Some people think the president is trying to scare people and make them doubt if the election will be fair. Some people are just worried — it’s a complicated time.

There is no evidence that voter fraud is a real problem in US elections. Since 2000, only around 200 votes –  in all the elections held in all that time – turned out to be fraudulent.

Threats from malfunctioning voting machines, hacking attempts and political campaign and official misconduct are real, documented and troubling. The best safeguard against that sort of thing are paper ballots, filled out by hand.

Q10: Are there voting issues we should be worried about?

  • Voter suppression is a real thing. States decide how they manage their elections. Some states have closed or changed polling places, purged voter registration databases and used other tactics to make it harder for some people to vote. Georgia, Florida and Texas all have active lawsuits where election commissioners have made decisions that seem to unfairly benefit their party.
  • Gerrymandering — both parties in have been found guilty by the courts of unfairly defining voting districts to make it hard to elect representatives from the opposition party.
  • Foreign hackers — the attempts by foreign adversaries to hack voter registration databases is very well documented. It is likely that these efforts are still underway and that they are getting better at it.
  • Polling place changes — polling place changes can make it hard for people to know where and when they can vote.

Q10: Can you vote by mail?

It depends on where you live. Visit one of these websites. Type in your address, and they will link you to the right website for you to apply for a mail-in ballot in your jurisdiction: www.vote.org or www.fvap.gov 

These sites will help you check your registration status, and help you get a mail in ballot. If you choose to mail in your ballot:

  • You can track its status.
  • It can’t be electronically manipulated.
  • You can do it from home.
  • You can be sure of a free and fair election

References

Here’s where we got our info:

National Conferences of State Legislatures

Voting at home across the states

US Election Assistance Committee: Early, Absentee and Mail Voting

The Voting Rights Project: Voter Fraud Database

Brennan Center: The voter fraud myth
FiveThirtyEight: There Is No Evidence That Voting By Mail Gives One Party An Advantage

realityteam

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