Experts on election administration say there is no basis for the President’s concerns of voter fraud. Here’s how you can vote by mail.
With only five months until the presidential election in November, President Trump continues to rail against vote by mail, calling it “corrupt” and “prone to fraud”, even as the Washington Post reports that Trump tried to register to vote in Florida using an out-of-state address, something that is illegal in his adopted state.
According to the Republican incumbent, casting a ballot by mail is akin to a free for all with “thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room, signing ballots all over the place.”
In fact, Trump has even threatened to pull federal funding from Michigan and Nevada for their plans to make voting by mail more accessible to everyone.
These plans don’t sit well with the president because, as he tweeted on April 8, vote by mail presents “tremendous potential for voter fraud and, for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” He offered no basis for his arguments, but when Twitter fact-checked his claims on mail-in voting fraud, he threatened to “close” down social media platforms.
Voting in the Age of COVID-19
Further complicating matters, health experts have warned that the country could still be dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic this fall.
If voters opt to stay away from the long lines and the crowds that generally gather at polling places, mail-in ballots in key battleground states could determine the outcome of the presidential race. And with 29 electoral votes, Florida is considered the Mecca of swing states. The Sunshine State has not only accurately predicted every presidential winner since 1996, but also decided the Bush/Gore race of 2000.
So it’s not surprising that the Republican incumbent is concerned about losing in this very important battleground.
No Basis for Trump’s Beliefs
But despite the president’s dire warnings, there appears to be no basis for his concerns of voter fraud. At least not in Florida, where more Republicans than Democrats voted by mail in 2016, the year Trump won the presidential election, and after winning almost every statewide election and maintaining control of the state’s congressional delegation and the state Legislature, Republicans continue to dominate in the state.
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Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist and one of the nation’s leading experts on voting and election administration, called Trump’s assertions of widespread mail voting fraud “hogwash.” “When it comes to voter fraud in Florida… it’s very rare,” reports the Sun Sentinel.
In fact, the Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., reported that from 1992 to 2017 only 33 cases of voter fraud charges were prosecuted in the state of Florida, according to The New York Times.
Just the Facts
But even if instances of fraud are rare, there are still some risks associated with voting by mail. A ballot could get lost, for example. Or it could arrive too late to be counted. And people could make a mistake as they fill them out that could cause a ballot to be rejected.
This may give some pause because with six key swing states likely to determine the winner in November’s presidential election — Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — even a small number of disqualified ballots could potentially determine who will become the next president.
However, the Florida Division of Elections website, where residents of the state can obtain the forms to register to vote by mail, has a mandated system with safeguards that allows fixes when mistakes are made, as well as provides tools to help the voter track his or her ballot to make sure it is counted.