In 2012, Even the New York Times warned of errors and fraud with Absentee Ballots

Nov 16, 2022 | Vote Fraud

This article from Adam Liptak in the New York Times from 2012 could have been written by the Crime Prevention Research Center (emphasis added). You won’t find an article like that now in the New York Times. But this month they argue that claims of vote fraud are “baseless” and “without evidence.”

. . . The trend will probably result in more uncounted votes, and it increases the potential for fraud. While fraud in voting by mail is far less common than innocent errors, it is vastly more prevalent than the in-person voting fraud that has attracted far more attention, election administrators say.

In Florida, absentee-ballot scandals seem to arrive like clockwork around election time. Before this year’s primary, for example, a woman in Hialeah was charged with forging an elderly voter’s signature, a felony, and possessing 31 completed absentee ballots, 29 more than allowed under a local law. . . .

Voting by mail is now common enough and problematic enough that election experts say there have been multiple elections in which no one can say with confidence which candidate was the deserved winner. The list includes the 2000 presidential election, in which problems with absentee ballots in Florida were a little-noticed footnote to other issues.

In the last presidential election, 35.5 million voters requested absentee ballots, but only 27.9 million absentee votes were counted, according to a study by Charles Stewart III, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He calculated that 3.9 million ballots requested by voters never reached them; that another 2.9 million ballots received by voters did not make it back to election officials; and that election officials rejected 800,000 ballots. That suggests an overall failure rate of as much as 21 percent.

Some voters presumably decided not to vote after receiving ballots, but Mr. Stewart said many others most likely tried to vote and were thwarted. “If 20 percent, or even 10 percent, of voters who stood in line on Election Day were turned away,” he wrote in the study, published in The Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, “there would be national outrage.” . . .

Voters in nursing homes can be subjected to subtle pressure, outright intimidation or fraud. The secrecy of their voting is easily compromised. And their ballots can be intercepted both coming and going.

The problem is not limited to the elderly, of course. Absentee ballots also make it much easier to buy and sell votes. In recent years, courts have invalidated mayoral elections in Illinois and Indiana because of fraudulent absentee ballots. . . .

In a 2005 report signed by President Jimmy Carter and James A. Baker III, who served as secretary of state under the first President George Bush, the Commission on Federal Election Reform concluded, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” . . .

“Absentee voting is to voting in person,” Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has written, “as a take-home exam is to a proctored one.” . . .

Adam Liptak, “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises,” The New York Times, October 6, 2012.

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