A recent column by columnist Laura Hollis casts aspersions on mail-in absentee voting. Ms. Hollis cites comments by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump and, unfortunately, does her best to turn absentee voting into a highly partisan issue. Basically, Ms. Hollis argues that an increase in absentee voting would be to the benefit of Democratic candidates over Republican candidates.
It should be noted that heavily Republican Utah uses mail-in voting for all of its elections and in Washington state, another all mail-in state, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who has overseen mail-in voting for seven years, has been a consistently strong proponent of her state’s voting procedures.
Clearly, election mail-in fraud is possible. Most recently, this was demonstrated in the Republican congressional primary in North Carolina — an election for which the state Supreme Court ordered a rerun. And it is true that it is more difficult to detect fraud using the mail-in procedure. But according to three political scientists who have studied this issue extensively (Richard Hasen, University of California; Justin Levitt, Loyola Marymount University; and Lorranie Minnite, Rutgers University) voter fraud, whether in-person or mail-in, is very rare in the United States. It should be noted that President Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to examine fraudulent voting. The commission was dissolved after a few months without reporting any proof for extensive fraud. Interestingly, the one major case of voter fraud that Ms. Hollis cites occurred in a Chicago election in 1982 which was an in-person election, not mail-in. Just as important, perhaps, clearly there is no significant evidence that one party benefits over another.
One concern of Ms. Hollis is that mail-in balloting slows down the count. For instance, in the 2016 election, her expressed concern was that the results of California congressional elections were not known for several days following the election. But the speed of counting ballots is certainly not conclusive proof of fraud.
The central question is, then, does mail-in voting increase participation of those who might not otherwise vote?
OLIVER WALTER, Laramie
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