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How mail-in ballots are protected from voter fraud

Record numbers of voters will likely cast their ballot by mail this November, but despite what some may say about the process, voter fraud, including mail-in voting fraud, is very rare. Need more convincing? Here are six ways in which mail-in ballots are protected from fraud. 

  1. Only valid voters are eligible for a ballot. Some states, like Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Hawaii, conduct predominantly mail-in voting and automatically mail ballots to registered voters. In other states, you have to specifically request a mail-in ballot to your address. Either way, ballots are not being sent out to people at random. 
  2. It’s very hard to make fake ballots. Ballots may seem like simple printed documents, but they have signature symbols, page design, and thickness that is difficult to replicate. Candidates for local office vary from county to county and different states use varying fonts and bubbles to distinguish their ballots. 
  3. Voters must affirm their identity. Most states require voters to sign the outside of their ballot before mailing it in and cross-reference this signature with the one on their registration. Some states even require voters to submit a copy of an official ID with their ballot. 
  4. Mail-in ballots are unique. Mail-in ballots must be returned in specific envelopes, many of which are marked with unique barcodes for tracking. To forge an envelope, someone would have to copy each specific barcode and somehow prevent any of the legitimate envelopes from being submitted. 
  5. The postal service acts as a moderator. The USPS coordinates with state election officials to report any suspicious activity and even has their own department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, to investigate the mail-related crime. 
  6. Voter fraud is heavily penalized. Voter fraud in a federal election can be punished with up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Given the small number of ballots one would potentially be able to affect versus the potential consequences, very few deem it worth their while to commit voter fraud. 

If you want to cast your ballot by mail this year, you can feel confident that doing so is secure and reliable. Government agencies have worked hard to prevent the opportunity for voter fraud and monitor elections closely to keep the process fair and accurate.

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