Minnesotans shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by a White House and an Attorney General who are intent on misleading the country about the security and safety of voting by mail. President Trump …
Minnesotans shouldn’t let themselves be fooled by a White House and an Attorney General who are intent on misleading the country about the security and safety of voting by mail. President Trump has repeatedly stated in tweets that mail-in voting will guarantee massive fraud. Attorney General William Barr has suggested that foreign countries would almost certainly attempt to submit large numbers of fraudulent ballots in hopes of swaying the election. Mr. Barr said such concerns are simply “common sense.”
In fact, the claims of both the president and the attorney general are simply nonsense.
As we reported last week, St. Louis County has used mail-in balloting for years for many of its unorganized townships without incident. The checks and balances that are in place for mail-in balloting make it virtually impossible for widespread fraud, or foreign interference. President Trump, who regularly reveals himself as one of the most uninformed Americans on a whole host of subjects, may not know this. Attorney General Barr certainly does, which makes his statements all the more egregious.
President Trump and his enablers make it sound as if ballots are simply being mailed out to millions of people at random. This, of course, is false. In St. Louis County, as is the case elsewhere in the U.S. where there is automatic vote by-mail, ballots are sent to registered voters in each county, addressed based on the addresses listed on their voter registration forms.
Those addresses each have a unique bar code included with them, which county election officials use to match that ballot with the address to which it was sent. If someone attempts to forge ballots, there is no way they could determine the correct bar code so any such ballots would be rejected. Further, the county election officials who administer elections everywhere in the country, know the exact number of ballots that they send out and the number that come back in. As they arrive, the names of the individuals who are submitting ballots are checked off the voting list to make sure they can only vote once.
Absentee ballots are treated similarly, which makes them just as difficult to forge.
Anyone or any group or country attempting to engage in a successful and statistically significant voter fraud effort would have to know how many ballots to return in each county to prevent more ballots coming in than went out (which would be an obvious tip-off of fraud). They would also need to know the addresses and the randomly-generated bar codes for each voter who failed to return a ballot— information that would be impossible to obtain.
And what President Trump and his enablers seem to forget is that the presidential race isn’t the only race on the ballot. Each county, and even different portions of counties, have their own individual races for everything from city council to school board, county commissions to races for Congress. That means the ballots are different in every jurisdiction. As we found out in Tower in 2018, when election officials handed out the wrong ballots in one of the city’s two precincts, it’s difficult enough for local officials to keep track of which ballots go where. To suggest that some group or country is going to perfectly forge unique ballots for hundreds of different jurisdictions (which they would have to do to have any statistically meaningful impact on a race) and correctly match them with the right voters, their addresses, their bar codes, and a signature that’s a close approximation of that voter’s prior signatures in each of these jurisdictions is ludicrous.
It’s also dangerous. President Trump is reading the same polls as everyone else right now and is obviously worried about the prospects for his re-election. Rather than trying to reach out in a positive way to voters as most politicians do in such circumstances, he and his attorney general appear intent on undermining faith in U.S. elections, as part of a political strategy to suppress the vote in November. At the same time that Trump is discouraging his supporters from voting by mail (except in Florida where he needs mail-in votes from seniors), his hand-selected pick for Postmaster General has reportedly taken a number of steps to slow delivery of the mail, most likely in hopes that they can clog the system over the next three months and prevent large numbers of mail-in ballots from reaching election offices in time to be counted. If more of those ballots originate from Democratic voters, as is reasonable to assume, it could give Trump the edge he needs to eke out a narrow electoral college victory. At least, that appears to be Trump’s best hope. Unfortunately, for Trump, everything is about winning. The means to that end don’t matter at all.