An Echo Press Editorial: Voting by mail is safe, secure, accurate
By the Echo Press Editorial Board
If you’re wary about voting by mail, that it isn’t secure or reliable, consider this: At a security briefing last week, the FBI told reporters it has found no evidence of coordinated fraud related to voting by mail this year.
This is consistent with Brennan Center for Justice research , which has found that voter fraud, including mail voter fraud , is extremely rare. The FBI noted that the lack of centralization in U.S. voting systems makes such schemes difficult to execute.
Here in Douglas County, voting by mail for the Aug. 11 primary went well and was a popular option: Absentee and mail-in ballots increased dramatically, accounting for nearly 64 percent of the total or 4,272 votes. That’s nearly eight times as many votes as the 539 absentee ballots that were cast two years ago.
Out of those 4,272 ballots, just 2 percent or 92 of them were marked as spoiled or lost, and for good reasons. Most voters either lost or threw away their ballot, according to the auditor’s office, which administered the election and carefully accounted for every one of those spoiled or lost ballots. A total of 24 of the mail/absentee ballots were rejected and, again, for good reasons – 12 voters successfully cast replacement ballots; five voters received a replacement ballot but did not cast a ballot in the election; and seven voters did not receive a replacement ballot because the original ballot was received or postmarked on election day.
The editorial board for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead recently addressed the concerns about mail-in voting:
Let’s dispense with ridiculous scare claims that mail-in voting is not secure or reliable and poses any risk whatsoever to an accurate count in the November election.
That’s especially true in North Dakota and Minnesota. Both states require those who want to vote by mail to submit ballot applications, an important safeguard to ensure that ballots go to actual voters.
North Dakota, in fact, could serve as a model for voting by mail. Thirty-two of North Dakota’s 53 counties have voted exclusively by mail for decades, with some beginning at least by the early 1990s.
Now, as the nation continues to grapple with the greatest public health crisis in a century due to the coronavirus pandemic, voting by mail has never been so important. Many voters understandably want to avoid the risks of going to a crowded polling place in the November election.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Voters can vote by mail, go to an early voting center or go to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Election officials are arranging for polling centers with ample space for voters and poll workers to maintain safe distances.
But voting by mail is an obvious safe-voting option in the pandemic. In fact, the June primary in North Dakota was conducted exclusively by mail. North Dakotans embraced voting by mail in the June primary and mailed in their ballots in unprecedented numbers.
The editorial concluded with good advice for voters to make sure their ballot is counted:
You can help ensure a smooth count — and ensure that your vote is counting — by voting early by mail. Don’t wait for the last minute. Postal officials have already warned that the high volume of mail during the election will result in slower deliveries.
Voting by mail is convenient for voters and healthy for democracy, which requires citizens to be highly engaged in electing their leaders and making their preferences known at the polls.
And in the midst of this pandemic, voting by mail is a vital option for those who want to avoid gatherings. So feel free to vote by mail — and vote early.