voteearlyday63 karma2020-10-06 17:46:49 UTC
When voting by mail, the controls that you normally see with in-person voting are different. Although processes vary by state, with in person voting, you have two controls: 1-the person provides ID (in most states), and 2-the person signs a poll book (these signatures generally are not analyzed or compared). The biggest control is the ID, as that is how the voter proves they are who they say they are.
With absentee voting, the controls happen at two different times, rather than when the voter is standing at the check in line: at registration and when the ballot is returned. ID is verified differently, depending on the state. Some states require voters to send ID with their ballot. Some states require witnesses or even a notary to sign. And others (including Utah), verify the voter’s ID with the Social Security Administration and/or the state driver license division. Most states have to comply with the REAL ID act, which has strict requirements to get a state driver license or ID. Election officials can piggy back off those controls to help verify identity.
But the biggest control for most jurisdictions is comparing the voter signature on the return envelope to the signature(s) that we have on file for the voter. Signatures are imprints of the mind, not so much the hand. They’re unique to the voter, and require quite a bit of skill and practice to forge well enough to get past trained eyes or signature verification software.
I say all of this because if someone steals your ballot, they’re also going to need to forge your signature well enough to pass our review. In the meantime, you can always call your local election administrator and request a replacement ballot. In most instances they can spoil your stolen ballot, so even if the person forges your signature perfectly, the system will identify that ballot as spoiled, and will reject it.
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voteearlyday25 karma2020-10-06 17:30:52 UTC
We should always be on the lookout for fraud in every election and regardless of whether we’re voting by mail, absentee, early, or in person on election day. As Americans, we naturally have a healthy skepticism of government. Lots of transparency and sunshine is a good thing, and it helps build confidence in the elections process.
Having said that, proven, documented voter fraud has been pretty rare. Studies nationwide have repeatedly shown virtually no election fraud occurring. Here's a good resource on fraud: https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud. When election fraud does occur, it is much more likely to be voter registration fraud (People registering at an address that they don't live at, not updating their address and still voting, etc.) rather than voting fraud.
Every election method (voting absentee, in-person, paper, machines, online, etc.) has it’s advantages, drawbacks, and exposures. Your election officials are very aware of the exposures, and build in additional controls to help minimize (and eliminate, if possible) the risks. For example, Utah mails ballots only to active voters. However, mailing an extra ballot to a vote doesn't pose extra risk, because our system allows for only one returned ballot per voter to be counted. I could mail you ten ballots, and you could return them all, plus try to vote in person. Our system would only allow the first ballot in - the rest, including your in-person attempt, would be rejected. Each envelope has a number that is unique to that voter and that specific ballot, and it not known outside the election system. If a voter requests another ballot, we spoil the number of the first ballot, and even if they tried to return it, our system would flag it as spoiled. I’m guessing almost every other state has similar controls in place.
The most secure method of absentee voting is to directly give your ballot with your local election officials. If you can do that in person, great. If not, drop boxes are secure and are picked up directly by election workers. However, some states do not have, or are not allowed, to provide drop boxes. The U.S. Postal Service has always given preference to official election mail, but I’m guessing that this year, they will be extra keen to do a good job. They have extensive controls and sophisticated processes to handle billions of mail pieces every day, and they do a great job. Of course, any time you’re dealing with that high of a volume, there will be problems. That’s a guarantee. However, those problems tend to be isolated rather than systemic. Still, those exact problems are the ones that make for splashy, sexy headlines. So be a little skeptical when you hear of stories of “massive failure” by the USPS and/or election officials. Check into the facts a little more, because there is almost always additional information that helps complete the picture.
voteearlyday22 karma2020-10-06 17:11:22 UTC
A hot topic in the news right now is cybersecurity, and October is actually National Cybersecurity Awareness month! Since 2016, there has been an influx of national attention dedicated to improving our nation’s cybersecurity posture. This includes public + private partnerships and many states have implemented a lot of initiatives that shore up our nation’s cybersecurity culture, including staff training/development, penetration testing, tabletop exercises & more. Boulder County just released a report that showcases some of this work in CO: http://www.boco.org/ElectionSecurityReport. And I know from conversation with my fellow clerks and colleagues across the country, many other jurisdictions have taken similar measures.
voteearlyday16 karma2020-10-06 17:10:05 UTC
Early voting is subject to the same level of controls as voting on election day. There's no additional risk to early voting, and your ballot will be treated the same way a ballot is treated when cast on election day. If you want to avoid lines on election day (and there will be a LOT of long lines across the country), vote early!
Additionally, votes that are cast early are NOT tabulated until election day. Your local election official does not look at any results until polls are closed - we want to avoid any possibility that we could be influenced by knowing the results while the polls are still open. Honestly, most election officials are so intensely focused on getting the election done correctly, that the results are not that important to us on election night.
voteearlyday16 karma2020-10-06 18:59:05 UTC
What is stopping you or anyone else from returning ballots that aren’t yours is 1) it is a felony and 2) you would need to know how replicate this voter’s signature well enough to get it past election judges that are trained by handwriting experts and state guidelines and 3) you would need to know that that voter would not attempt to update their registration in the meantime and be notified that there ballot had been returned (in which case they would tell the elections office that it was not them who cast the ballot). Mail ballot fraud is extremely rare.
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