Don’t believe Trump’s hype about ‘missing’ ballots, Republican election official says

A prominent statistic quoted by those concerned about election fraud - that millions of ballot papers allegedly disappeared in recent years - is misleading and exaggerated, the top election official in Washington state said in an interview.
"Not everyone returns a ballot," said Kim Wyman, Washington's foreign minister.
As part of his ongoing efforts to undermine confidence in the legitimacy of the presidential election, President Trump has referred to conservative media reports that millions of postal ballot papers routinely disappear. This implies that it makes the system vulnerable to bad actors who collect these ballots and use them to vote fraudulently.
President Trump before boarding Marine One on Sept. 30 (Yuri Gripas / Abaca / Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In May, President Trump promoted a tweet from a Conservative writer who tweeted that "almost one in five of all postal ballot and postal ballot papers between 2012 and 2018 are ignored".
"Don't allow RIGGED VOTES!" The president thundered in his retweet.
An article in Real Clear Politics claiming that more than 28 million ballots "disappeared" was viralized on conservative media websites earlier this year, in part because the figure comes from data compiled by the Election Assistance Commission, a government agency that holds together closely, were collected track of election statistics.
J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) - a conservative group that compiled the EAC data and issued a report on the matter - said these ballots represented "28 million cheating opportunities for someone".
But Wyman, who is Republican, said the explanation for this phenomenon is pretty simple and not very threatening.
In most of the cases where a postal ballot is not returned, "the ballot was received by the voter and for some reason they chose not to vote and likely put that ballot in the trash can or in a bin," Wyman said in an interview on "The Long Game," a Yahoo News podcast.
Wyman agreed with what every other Republican polling expert told Yahoo News: There is electoral fraud, but it's small and doesn't affect national or state elections. This opinion is also in line with the public statements made by the country's top law enforcement officers.
“We are very committed to ensuring that we have an accurate and fair choice. States are currently working to ensure that we balance access and security so that voters can have a safe voting experience and people can have confidence in the results, ”Wyman said. "This is our job and we will do it."
In response to Trump's complaints about a rigged election, Wyman said, "I would categorically disagree with the president on this claim."
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, is the former Denver city polling officer. In May, she published an article arguing that the majority of postal or postal ballot papers that were not returned were the result of a non-participating voter.
McReynolds said the four elections between 2012 and 2018 didn't miss 28 million ballots.
The PILF report itself shows that 3.3 million ballot papers could not be delivered, indicating that they went to the wrong address or were rejected by election officials for missing a signature or some other mistake. And that over the course of six years in which 146 million ballots were cast in four elections.
The 28 million ballots would then likely fall into the category of a ballot that was not voted and was rejected.
Ballot papers sent to the wrong address require action from voters to help election officials update their electoral roll, Wyman said.
"When people move and don't change their address - especially younger people who are in college or move frequently - they often fail to tell election officials that the apartment they used to live in is no longer their address," Wyman said .
“The challenge is to educate the people who are receiving these ballots just to say, hey, return them to the polling officers and let them know. Just write, "This voter no longer lives here," she said.
If someone wanted to cast a ballot that came to them by accident or by mistake, Wyman said, "You'd have to forge a signature" in Washington state. "You'd have to ... know what the previous resident's signature looked like because we actually check every signature that comes back with the signature on the voter registration record file," she said.
Most states have similar security measures for postal ballot papers and match signatures or unique barcodes for each ballot - or sometimes both. The Voting Rights Lab, a group campaigning to break down voting barriers, told Yahoo News that 43 states and the District of Columbia have a tracking process that allows voters to verify that their ballots have been received and processed.
Signs of incorrect ballot papers at the headquarters of the Anne Arundel County Electoral Bureau in Glen Burnie, Md. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
However, Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the PILF, referred to an August report from the Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service that found that only about 4 million postal ballots out of 31 million votes cast in the 2018 election were actually a barcode Persecution.
Washington State is one of five states that have all of their elections done by mail and have been doing so since 2011. Wyman said the state conducted an audit following the 2018 election and found that out of 3.2 million ballot papers cast, 142 were fraudulent by people who tried to vote twice or for someone else.
“If you've been registering to vote since 2006, you'll need to provide us with your driver's license number, Washington State ID number, or the last four of your Social Security number. We actually check these numbers against these databases so we have a high level of trust. These are real people who have stepped into a government agency and verified that they exist and that they presented some form of ID to get that driver's license or ID card, "Wyman said.
The process of every state is different. In Pennsylvania, for example, there is an ongoing legal battle over whether or not election officials must match signatures on postal ballot papers with signatures on file with the state. The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on this soon.
Washington state is, in fact, one of only six states that train electoral officials how to properly assess signatures for compliance, as this New York Times demonstration shows. In Washington, officials are "trained annually by the state patrol," she said.
“Ballot papers are scanned as soon as they arrive at the polling station. The machine captures an image of the signature, and then an operator at a terminal can pull up that ballot and compare the image of the one in the voter registration file with the image on the ballot envelope. They look at them and then accept or challenge them. When challenged, multiple layers of senior staff review it, ”said Wyman.
"And the only place that can turn down a ballot is our County Adquassing Board."
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