The Voter Fraud Myth

According to Donald Trump and his administration, this election is supposed to be the most fraudulent one in history. That would be pretty freaky if we weren’t already living in an episode of Black Mirror or if, you know, it were actually true. 

What Is Being Said

What does a presidential election look like in a pandemic? Preferably, we limit large gatherings of people in voting polls to promote public safety. Luckily, we have a great mail-in voting system already in place that allows for non-contact voting. 

According to Trump, this increase in voting by mail will produce invalid election results. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said, “There will be fraud.” He also claimed that Trump ballots will be thrown out or “disposed of in a creek or a river” in reference to the false allegation that Wisconsin absentee ballots were found in a ditch. Although it’s comical to imagine a pile of Trump ballots floating on a river raft, like a protagonist in a Mark Twain novel, it’s simply inaccurate.

The Reality

Voting by mail is safe and reliable. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, in 2016, “one-quarter of U.S. votes (33 million) were cast by either universal mail or absentee ballots.” And here’s a hot take: no one wants to mail in fraudulent ballots. On a large scale, Americans tend not to commit voter fraud. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law reports, “Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud.” 

I know what you’re thinking: if military personnel have been deployed for decades during election season, how have they voted? They have voted by mail. And their ballots wound up in the trash? No, they were counted. What about the elderly and those who could not physically go to the voting polls? Yep, they voted by mail. Americans working and studying abroad? Voted by mail with absentee ballots. And they all counted? Hard yes!

What To Actually Worry About

So should we all just chill out? Well, not really. Although voting by mail is safe, the sheer amount of mail-in ballots for this election will be unprecedented. The ballots will take time to properly count. Even with people voting early, there will be a large influx of ballots on Election Day. Therefore, we should view November as Election Month, instead of just focusing on Nov. 3 as Election Day. If Trump is scared of incorrectly-processed ballots, he should encourage an extended election instead of suggesting that ballots should stop being counted after Election Day. 

The truth of the matter is, voter fraud won’t affect the election. The biggest threat to the validity of the election is the number of ballots that are rejected for being incorrectly filled out. 

Ballots can be discarded for several reasons, from having a typo in your address to slightly changing your signature. 

So what can you do? Vote EARLY and vote CORRECTLY. The sooner you submit your ballot, the sooner it will be processed and counted. Furthermore, you can study how to fill out a ballot correctly. Once you’ve completed your ballot, it needs to be correctly turned in, which varies from state to state. For example, in some states you may have to get it notarized.  

Hidden Intents

I know I’m shooting around jokes, but Trump’s fixation on voter fraud is a lot darker than it seems. Planting the seeds of a fraudulent election will allow Trump to reject the outcome of the election if he doesn’t win. His allegations can be used to justify an argument to stop counting ballots after Election Day, ballots which research suggests will be in favor of Joe Biden. Trump’s allegations aren’t a critique of the voting system, they are a political tactic he can use to maintain power and break down democracy as we know it. The United States was formed in retaliation of the British monarchy. Our democracy as we know it requires the transfer of power. George Washington himself (the guy who’s so American he’s basically a bald eagle) created the standard of a two-term limit by stepping down from the presidency. Not to mention, the federal government is split into three branches monitored by a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one person has too much power. Trump establishing arguments against the transfer of power through insinuating a fraudulent election is going against the very backbone of American Democracy. 

Trump is not scared of voter fraud. He’s scared of the American people and what the election outcome would be if voting was made easily accessible to the masses. Limiting the accessibility of knowledge and purposely encouraging voter suppression allows those in power to stay in power. Your vote is your voice. Stay informed and stay outspoken. 

Call To Action

  1. FACT-CHECK! Never be afraid to ask questions. Education is your power! 
  2. VOTE! Use your voice–fight for what you believe in. If you are planning on voting by mail, mail your ballot in TODAY!!
  3. SPREAD THE WORD! Whether it’s posting on social media or talking to your folks over a turkey dinner, communication, debate, and discussion are key to challenging perceived truths. 

Emily Powers, Content Creator

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