New Research Shows that Universal Vote By Mail Doesn't Encourage Fraud or Benefit Either Party
Health officials are almost unanimous in saying that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the safest way to conduct the Fall election is universal vote-by-mail [VBM] in which every voter is sent a ballot to fill out and return. However, Donald Trump opposes such a system, arguing, without evidence, that the system would provide an advantage to Democratic candidates because it would encourage greater voter turn-out rates, and because it would encourage fraud.
The President's repeated attacks on VBM are unfounded and a bit odd. Americans have been voting by mail since the Civil War and 33 million votes were cast that way in 2016. Americans living overseas, military personnel, students, travelers, and the sick and elderly have been mailing in their ballots for decades. And, five states, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, already conduct their elections entirely by mail. VBM is not something new; we have been using the system for generations.
Moreover, there is no evidence of wide-spread voter fraud with mail in ballots; quite the contrary. Election officials in three states that have been using the system for decades, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have said, "they have rarely, if ever, seen attempts to cheat their systems," because of all the safeguards built into the system.
Washington Post: “There are so many steps to this process that I can’t say it’s impossible, but to me, it’s nearly impossible,” said Joan Lopez, clerk and recorder of Arapahoe County, in the suburbs of Denver. “The process — it’s a lockdown.”
And a recent study by the Washington Post and the nonprofit Electronic Registration Information Center, determined that voter fraud in mail-in states was almost nonexistent during the 2016 and 2018 elections: "officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent." Even the Conservative Heritage Foundation has only been able to document "204 instances of fraud in the past 20 years, compared with a quarter-billion votes cast by mail during that time." It's simply not a justifiable concern.
The other problem that some Republicans have with VBM is that it might help Democrats get more of their voters, such as college students, to participate. However, new research by Stanford University political scientists, Daniel M. Thompson, Jennifer A. Wu, Jesse Yoder, and Andrew B. Hall determined universal VBM doesn't impact turnout rates much and doesn't help either party.
Pnas.org: "We collect data from 1996 to 2018 on all three US states [CA, UT, WA] that implemented universal vote-by-mail in a staggered fashion across counties, allowing us to use a difference-in-differences design at the county level to estimate causal effects. We find that 1) universal vote-by-mail does not appear to affect either party’s share of turnout, 2) universal vote-by-mail does not appear to increase either party’s vote share, and 3) universal vote-by-mail modestly increases overall average turnout rates [about 2%], in line with previous estimates. All three conclusions support the conventional wisdom of election administration experts and contradict many popular claims in the media."
In order to keep voters safe this Fall, all states should implement a universal VBM system and ignore the unfounded arguments that it will encourage fraud or provide an advantage to Democrats. Their allegations have no basis in fact.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content