“the primary is plenty interesting on its own. First of all, it will winnow a field of 48 candidates(!) down to four. Why four and not two? Because following the passage of an election-reform ballot measure in 2020, Alaska now uses a unique top-four primary system whereby all candidates (regardless of party) run on the same ballot and the top four finishers advance to the general election. (In a further twist, the general election will also use ranked-choice voting.) “
“Far from being a gateway to rampant fraud, when done correctly mail-in balloting is more secure than in-person voting. Even after an election in which 46 percent of votes were cast by mail—a huge increase that threatened to overwhelm election offices—there is nothing more than anecdotal evidence of problems with the process. In places where mail-in voting has been the norm for years, like Oregon, there is scant evidence of fraud.
Despite what critics claim, “no-excuse absentee voting still must undergo the same rigorous process to ensure ballots are legitimate, including ballot tracking measures and signature verification,” write Hyden and Greenhut (a Reason columnist) in the new R Street study. “These safeguards are highly effective, too.””
“Even as dozens of states were expanding mail-in voting eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump spent months on the campaign trail telling his supporters not to cast their ballots that way.
“It shouldn’t be mail-in voting. It should be you go to a booth and you proudly display yourself,” Trump said in April, one of the first times that he spoke publicly on the issue. “You don’t send it in the mail where people pick up—all sorts of bad things can happen by the time they sign that, if they sign that, by the time it gets in and is tabulated. No. It shouldn’t be mailed in.”
He beat that same drum for the next six months. Mail-in voting was risky and dangerous, he said. It would allow postal workers or other nefarious forces to alter or lose ballots. “Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed,” he tweeted in May.
The result, unsurprisingly, is that Trump’s supporters voted mostly in person on Election Day. As a result, the piles of mail-in ballots that are now being counted and that may prove to be decisive in several key states tend to favor former Vice President Joe Biden”
“If you’re voting by mail in Pennsylvania this year, and you want your vote to actually count, you need to remember one crucial thing: the secrecy envelope.
Once you fill out the ballot itself, you must place it inside the provided secrecy envelope, which contains no information about your identity. Then you put the sealed secrecy envelope inside a different postage-paid addressed return envelope, on which you have to sign your name and write your address.
If you forget the secrecy envelope — simply dropping your ballot in the ordinary return envelope — your ballot will be deemed a “naked ballot.” And, according to a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, election officials will have to throw it out.
The reason for the secrecy envelope, in theory, is to preserve the secret ballot and to prevent potential fraud. That is: once election officials receive the mail-in ballot, they use the outer envelope to verify that the person voting is registered and hasn’t already voted, without being able to see who the vote is for. Only later will the secrecy envelope actually be opened and counted.
But the risk is that if the rule is implemented very strictly, many voters’ non-fraudulent ballots will be thrown out on what’s essentially a technicality, simply because they misunderstood the rules.
So in the wake of the state Supreme Court ruling on the topic last week, Democrats are calling on the Republican-controlled state legislature to change the law to allow naked ballots to be counted. Yet GOP legislators do not seem eager to take any such step. (Both sides suspect discarding naked ballots will disadvantage Democrats more than Republicans, since more Biden supporters have told pollsters they are interested in voting by mail.)
And this could potentially be very consequential. A Philadelphia official recently raised concerns that as many as 100,000 “naked ballots” could be thrown out — and pointed out that Donald Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by just 44,000 votes.”
“Oregon votes only by mail. It has done so for nearly two decades, after voters approved a ballot measure in 1998. Across Oregon, registered voters are sent a ballot, and they can either mail it back or drop it off.”
“Other western states, including Colorado, Washington, and Utah, have since adopted similar systems in the years since. Advocates say it’s as safe as in-person voting, cost-effective, and boosts turnout. They argue it could — or should — be the future of how America votes.”
“The number of Americans voting by mail has steadily increased in the past decade. In 2018, about 25 percent of all voters cast their ballots by mail. That number could about double in 2020. Beyond the states that already do it, this year, states like California, where counties already had many voters casting ballots by mail, are now also sending ballots to registered voters. Others, like Vermont and New Jersey, are mailing out ballots for the first time.”
“Republicans, not Democrats, were the early champions of vote by mail in Oregon.”
“Oregon’s vote-by-mail system has safeguards in place. Registered voters have their signatures on file — either by mailing a voter registration card to election officials, or by opting-in to registration directly when they get or renew a license. When it comes time to vote, election officials mail ballots to registered voters, which they typically receive about two to three weeks before an election.
The ballot contains a few things: the ballot itself; a “secrecy envelope” that the ballot goes inside once it’s marked; and a return envelope, which now even has the postage prepaid so voters don’t have to cover the cost of return postage.
Once you make your choices on your ballot, you slip it into the secrecy envelope, seal it up, slip that into the return envelope and seal it. Then you read and sign the statement printed on the back of the envelope, which basically says that you verify that you are you. Once that’s done, you either send it back by mail or put it into a secure drop box — either method requires that election officials receive the ballot before 8 pm on Election Day. Oregonians can also track their ballot to make sure it’s been received and counted.
Only about one-third of Oregonians actually send their ballots back through the postal service, instead placing them in secure drop boxes at places like libraries or movie theaters or even McDonald’s.”
“Each ballot has a unique bar code specific to each voter, so once the ballot is received, election officials can verify the signature on that ballot envelope to make sure it matches the one on that voter’s registration. There are often multiple reviews to guarantee it’s a match — Druckenmiller said if someone questions the signature, two other people will review it; if they’re not sure, he makes the final call. If the signature doesn’t match, voters are notified and given the opportunity to remedy that, in what’s known as a “cure” process.
But once a signature is verified, the ballot is separated from the return envelope so the ballot can be tabulated. Along the way, there are layers of auditing to make sure the number of ballots received matches the tabulated numbers for the vote count. Many see mail-in ballots as more secure because there’s a paper trail, and so cant be hacked.
Oregon election officials get updates from public records, like change-of-address notifications and death records, to check against the voter registration databases. “We use the Postal Service. When most of us move, we change our address, right?” Paul Gronke, a professor of political science and director of the Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Portland, told me. “And so actually, vote by mail works really well and has very little deadwood. The rolls are very clean.””
“According to the Oregon secretary of state’s office, in 2016, officials referred 54 cases of possible voter fraud to law enforcement. Of those, 22 people — representing just 0.0001 percent of all ballots cast that year — were found guilty of having voted in two states.
Election officials in Oregon I spoke to told me that vote by mail is also much more efficient to oversee than polling-place elections, where sites are spread out across the county.”
“An April 2020 YouGov poll found that 77 percent of adults in Oregon backed vote by mail, compared to 11 percent who opposed it. Indeed, voters in states that have vote by mail — whether in bluer states like Washington or redder states like Utah — all tend to overwhelmingly like it.
It’s convenient. Voters don’t have to take off from work, or spend time waiting in line at a polling place.”
““What we’ve seen, in a way that is unique to modern political history, is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting,” Obama said on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast in a discussion with his former campaign manager David Plouffe. “What we’ve never seen before is a president say, ‘I’m going to try to actively kneecap the Postal Service to [discourage] voting and I will be explicit about the reason I’m doing it.’”
“That’s sort of unheard of, right?” he added. “And we also have not had an election in the midst of a pandemic that is still deadly and killing a lot of people, and we still don’t know the long-term side effects of contracting the illness.”
Obama’s comments were a response to Trump’s admission on Thursday that he opposes providing additional funding for the Postal Service — which is under huge financial strain due to the coronavirus pandemic and unprepared for a massive influx of mail-in ballots — because he doesn’t want everyone to be able to vote by mail.”
“after being updated by a producer, Tapper fulfilled Meadows’s request: He cited Chris Bentley, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union Local 297, which covers Kansas and part of Missouri, who told CNN that postal management “has already taken out four machines in Kansas City, two machines in Springfield, Missouri, and one machine in Wichita, Kansas, that is earlier this year — under this new postmaster general.”
Meadows denied the claim that it was the result of the current postmaster general and said that it was an “already scheduled reallocation” and that there isn’t “a new initiative by this postmaster general.”
But reports from NBC News, CNN, and the Washington Post indicate that 671 machines are being taken offline under a new policy. NBC reports that, according to internal Postal Service documents it obtained, the new postmaster general appointed by Trump in May, Louis DeJoy, is responsible for the decommissioning initiative. And postal workers say the process of taking machines out of service under this initiative began in June.”
“Experts on voting behavior have said that before the pandemic, an estimated 25 percent of voters would’ve been expected to cast their ballots by mail; they now estimate that 60 percent or more will attempt to vote by mail because the pandemic is discouraging in-person voting.
If Meadows is claiming that a new machine removal initiative doesn’t exist when in fact it does, then his promise that new ones won’t be taken offline is, at best, questionable. How can the White House reverse a policy it claims doesn’t exist?”
“Meadows said that Trump is open to injecting emergency funds into the Postal Service if he can come to a fair deal with Democrats. But that contradicts Trump’s admission on Thursday that he opposes providing additional funding for the Postal Service because he doesn’t want everyone to be able to vote by mail.”
“Trump has persistently attempted to delegitimize the reliability of mail-in voting, describing it as acutely vulnerable to fraud — without presenting evidence and despite the consensus among voting rights experts that it’s secure when funded properly.”
“Imagine this election night scenario: With a decisive number of mail ballots yet to be tallied, President Donald Trump enjoys a narrow lead over Joe Biden. But before all the votes can be counted — a process that could take days — Trump declares victory, citing purported irregularities with mail-in votes.
You can even picture Trump insisting that the preliminary election night tally must stand as final with a tweet that reads similarly to this one he posted in November 2018, when Florida’s US Senate and gubernatorial elections were still undecided: “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged. An honest vote count is no longer possible-ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!””
““You know, you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of November 3,” Trump told Axios’s Jonathan Swan in an interview that aired on HBO last week. Asked why that’s a problem — after all, there’s no rule that elections have to be decided on election night — Trump said, “lots of things will happen during that period of time; especially when you have tight margins, lots of things going to happen.”
Then, during a media availability on Sunday, Trump claimed that Democrats are using mail ballots to try and “steal an election.””
“”None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change. As the New York Times editorial board notes, “states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud.” Rounded to the seventh decimal point, that’s 0.0000001 percent of all votes cast. An exhaustive investigative journalism analysis of all known voter fraud cases identified only 491 cases of absentee ballot fraud from 2000 to 2012. As election law professor Richard L. Hasen notes, during that period “literally billions of votes were cast.” While mail ballots are more susceptible to fraud than in-person voting, it is still more likely for an American to be struck by lightning than to commit mail voting fraud.””
“Trump has repeatedly cited episodes of attempted fraud on behalf of Republican Mark Harris in a North Carolina congressional race in 2018 and more recently in New Jersey as evidence there’s good reason to be worried. But as Berman explained to me, there’s an irony in Trump citing instances where attempted fraud was detected and ultimately unsuccessful.”
“According to Emerson College polling conducted late last month, a whopping 76 percent of voters who plan to vote by mail plan to vote for Joe Biden. By contrast, 65 percent of those planning to vote in person say they’ll vote for Trump.”
“A normal politician’s response to those numbers might be to work harder to appeal to voters who plan to vote by mail. Trump, however, is no normal politician.”
“After months of casting suspicion on the whole concept of mail-in voting, the president is suddenly behind it… for states where he has a stronghold. “In Florida I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!” Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True,” the president opined on social media.
Meanwhile, his campaign is suing to stop the state of Nevada from expanding its mail-in voting protocol.”
“Nevada went for Clinton in 2016, and Florida went for Trump, so that might be one clue. The president has also criticized the prospect of expanding mail-in ballot access in California, a reliably blue state.”