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Vote by mail perfectly safe

As the county gears up to extend registering and voting by mail to provide a safe, secure way to vote during the pandemic, charges of fraud are making people hesitate to use this option. And yet the facts show that these suspicions are baseless.

Fraudulent use of mailed ballots over the past two decades is statistically insignificant. According to a database on voter fraud compiled by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, of 250 million votes cast by mail nationally, only 143 involved fraud resulting in criminal conviction. This is 0.00006 percent of the total votes cast.

The data also shows that this fraud is practiced by individuals, not groups. In Oregon, for the period 2000-2019, only 14 cases of vote-by-mail fraud were found. In Colorado, from 2005 to 2018, there were only eight.

Another charge is that there is no assurance that the ballot mailed to a voter is filled out and returned by that person. But signatures are checked at the county clerk’s office, where staff also verify the voter’s information. Processing of mailed ballots takes place in the presence of a Republican and Democratic representative.

There is little evidence either that vote-by-mail advantages one political party. A recent study by Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy Research concludes that both parties benefit from a modest increase in voter participation. Vote-by-mail makes sense for the coming general election. Voters should be assured that they can vote easily and safely from home, confident in the integrity of the process.