Vote-by-mail fraud is rare, says Siskiyou County County Clerk
The Siskiyou County Clerk’s Office is in the midst of preparations for the November 3, 2020 Presidential General Election. All registered voters will be mailed a ballot on or before October 5, 2020 – 29 days before the election with a postage-paid envelope enclosed in which to return the ballot.
All ballots from property registered voters will be tabulated accurately. Improperly-cast ballots will be captured promptly through extensive anti-fraud measures introduced here in the county and throughout most states, including California.
Besides mailing their ballots, voters will have the option to drop off their ballots or vote in person at polling places located throughout the County on Election Day. Polling Places will be able to assist voters with updating their voter registration, use an accessible voting device, conditionally register vote and cast a provisional ballot.
During this pandemic I am encouraging voters to vote the ballot they receive in the mail and vote by mail in this election. Voters should put their completed ballot in the mail by October 27, seven days before Election Day on November 3.
Some voters have expressed concerns regarding the postal service being able to accommodate a large surge of mail-in ballots and voters will have alternatives to the postal service beginning October 5. Those alternatives include using the ballot drop box at the County Clerk’s Office, which will be available 24 hours a day. Another option will be to return their ballot to the ballot box located in the Weed City Hall, during business hours, Monday – Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Another option is for voters to deliver their ballot to any polling place on election day during the hours of 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. A list of polling places will be included with the vote by mail ballot.
Siskiyou County election officials have received comprehensive training to protect the integrity of our elections and guard against voter fraud, which can include voter impersonation, voters registering in multiple states and voting multiple times or voting when not qualified to do so under the law, such as noncitizens or, in some instances, convicted felons. The key to voter fraud is intent - fraud occurs only when someone knowingly breaks the rules.
The Heritage Foundation maintains an online database of voter fraud cases in the United States. Over the past 20 years, approximately 250 million votes have been cast by mail ballot nationally. The Heritage Foundation found 143 cases of fraud using mailed ballots that resulted in criminal convictions during those 20 years.
Let’s put that in perspective:
That’s 143 cases of fraud using mailed ballots over the course of 20 years means that across the 50 states, an average of three cases per state. One case per state every six or seven years. An occurrence that translates to about 0.00006 percent of all mail ballots cast. Which effectively argues against the case for widespread voter fraud.
For our elections, the security process begins when I begin to build the ballot, right after I receive the certified list of candidates from the California Secretary of State. I utilize a particular size, weight, type of paper and watermark for our ballots in each election. When the cast ballot comes to the Elections Office, the bar code on the outside of the return envelope along with the mail bar code that the post office can read are specific to the voter. Each voter must sign the return envelope and that signature must match the signature on file.
No wonder voter fraud is so rare when it comes to vote by mail ballots. A bad actor would have to mimic everything perfectly from the ballot’s size, style, weight, envelopes, barcodes and signature of a registered voter, to name a few elements of our processes.
Some tips for Siskiyou County Voters
1. Vote Early: Ballots will be mailed out on or before October 5. If you use the USPS to return your ballot, put the ballot in the mail no later than seven days prior to Election Day.
2. Sign up for BallotTrax: This service allows voters to get the status of their mailed ballot by automatic text or email. Learn more and sign up: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/wheres-my-ballot/
3. Alert my office if you do not receive your ballot – we will assist you in receiving a replacement ballot.
California has extended the deadline for mailed ballots for this election. Ballots signed, sealed, and postmarked on or before Nov. 3, 2020 (Election Day) will be counted if they are received in our office by Nov. 20, 2020.
If you have any questions regarding the November 3 election or with elections in general, always feel free to reach me at 530-842-8084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Bynum has 22 years of service in the County Clerk Office, and, since January 2019, has served as County Clerk-Registrar of Voters.