Is Trump right in claiming Nevada lawmakers are trying to “steal” the state by mandating mail-in ballots?
- On Monday, President Donald threatened Nevada's bill that would guarantee mail-in ballots to all voters. He accused Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak of 'stealing' the election with mail-in only ballots.
- A recent Stanford study proves that mail voting does not significantly advantage either party - “a conclusion that contradicts President Trump’s criticism that vote-by-mail undermines Republicans.”
- Between 1996 and 2016, the share of voters who cast ballots via mail-in methods increased from 7.8% to nearly 21%.
- Across the five states where the 2020 presidential election will be conducted entirely by mail, nearly nine-in-ten voters cast ballots using this method in 2016 – a rate that increased 60 percentage points since 1996.
President Trump is right to oppose Nevada's mandated mail-in balloting for the following reasons: it's logistically challenging, susceptible to fraud, voter registration rolls are notoriously inaccurate, and there is no way to ensure the ballots aren't mishandled once sent.
Mail-in ballots were never conceived as a way to conduct an election; they have always been reserved for those who are unable to vote in person (e.g., deployed military personnel, the elderly, and disabled voters). An example of the logistical challenges and potential disastrous results of large-scale mail-in balloting is found in an MIT study about the 2008 presidential election. More than 21 percent of the 'mail-in ballots requested were not counted because they never reached voters or were rejected for irregularities.'
Adding to the problems noted above, the potential risk for fraud with mail-in ballots is seemingly perpetuated. A significant driver of unreliable results of mandated mail-in balloting is the fact that local voter registration rolls are obsolete due to deaths, relocation, and inactivity of voters. Research shows that over 12 percent of voter registrations are invalid or significantly inaccurate. Literally, millions of mail-in ballots will be issued and available for mishandling and malfeasance. It's no surprise that a bipartisan commission (which included former President Jimmy Carter) concluded that 'absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.'
For all the reasons detailed above, President Trump is right to be concerned about the potential for mandated mail-in ballots in Nevada to result in an invalid result (i.e., for the Democrats to steal Nevada's six electoral votes).
The press conference in which Trump claimed lawmakers are trying to 'steal' Nevada by mandating mail-in voting was riddled with falsehoods. There isn't enough room to cover them all here, but here are some key points that undermine the basic argument.
Voter fraud has been found to be 'extremely rare' in both mail-in and in-person voting. Five states (Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) already conduct all elections by mail, although they do also allow in-person voting. Data from these states shows that problems are still very rare when statewide mail-in voting is in place, and, as noted by the Brookings Institute, 'the benefits outweigh the risks.' Trump himself has said, 'Absentee Ballots are fine,' and experts have pointed out that there is no real difference between absentee ballots and mail-in voting. It may be worth noting here that the president himself and other members of his family have voted via absentee ballots, and Trump reportedly plans to do so himself in the 2020 election. Despite claims of the contrary made by President Trump and others, voting by mail has not been shown to favor any party over another. Likewise, neither has it resulted in mobilizing or discouraging voters in one or the other party, or sway potential voters in their likelihood to vote for any party. The president also claimed on Twitter that the Post Office wouldn't be able to handle mail-in voting 'without preparation,' a claim which has been refuted by the Post Office in an official statement. Given this information, Nevada is in perfect position and authority to move to the mail-in ballot model.