Lately, the country has debated the validity of the election and mail-in voting. President Trump has claimed that there is massive voter fraud. However, most sources will point out flaws in his claims and maintain that voter fraud is not widespread enough to warrant an investigation. I would like to make a case for an investigation of voter fraud, error and impropriety.
Before making my argument, I would like to frame the opposing perspectives on the matter. The chief differences between the opposing sides are differences in the level of proof that their supporters require to support their position and the effect of confirmation bias. Biden supporters will insist on the need for very strong proof of widespread fraud before a broad investigation is warranted in order to maintain trust in the electoral system. In contrast, Trump supporters will insist that any reasonable doubt warrants investigation because an investigation will increase confidence in the election result. Between this difference of standards, and the effect of confirmation bias separating the evidence that these sides consider, agreement is unlikely.
Next, I would like to frame my perspective. I believe that the burden of proof is much lower than Biden supporters will say because Biden won multiple states by very narrow margins. It is true that in the past, such as the 2000 election, recounts have yielded little difference in the final count; however, the increase of mail-in voting and address changes make the 2020 election different. An investigation may even reveal that some states that were believed to be won for Biden by a moderate margin were miscalled due to rejected ballots.
My first point of evidence is that many other countries have stringent limitations or bans on mail-in voting. In a Newsweek op-ed, John R. Lott Jr., the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, says that, “Of the 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 47% ban mail-in voting unless the citizen is living abroad, and 30% require a photo ID to obtain a mail-in ballot. Fourteen percent of the countries ban mail-in voting even for those living abroad.” According to the Aug. 3 study that he references, 22% of EU countries have banned mail-in voting entirely, and all EU countries have some sort of rules or restrictions limiting the use of mail-in ballots. This point is not a mere argument from popularity, but rather shows that limitations, bans and suspicions of mail-in voting are not a deviant or fringe issue.
Voting error and fraud also has precedent in the United States. In his 2012 article “Error and Fraud at Issue as Absentee Voting Rises” for the New York Times, Adam Liptak says that officials rejected 2% of mail-in ballots — twice the rate of in-person votes. Michael Blood notes in an “Associated Press” article that 102,428 mail-in ballots that were cast in the California Presidential Primary in March 2020 were rejected. That number is 1% of the 9,687,076 votes cast in the primary (ca.gov). The New Jersey primary also had a serious ballot rejection issue. In a NorthJersey.com article, Terrence T. McDonald says that 2.8% of mail-in ballots were rejected. To summarize: as of 2012, there was a 2% mail-in ballot rejection. This number was 1% for the California 2020 primary and 2.8% for the New Jersey primary. Other states likely have different rejection rates, but with the drastic increase of mail-in voting, it is worth investigating.
The increased rate of relocation in the U.S. may contribute to voting error. According to MyMove.com, USPS data shows that there is a 27% increase in temporary address change requests from last year. Since address change would impact where people vote, this will be an important factor to investigate. A move could result in a new homeowner receiving a ballot to vote for their former address when they ought to vote in their new state or vice versa. The increased rate of moving stands to increase voter confusion, voting in the wrong state and may result in voters casting multiple ballots.
While evidence for incorrect ballot counts exists, it is also important to note the stories that have been debunked. The story of Arizona voters being told to vote with Sharpie markers will not impact the vote, though it makes sense that voters would be confused: instructions from previous years instructed voters to avoid using sharpies to fill out ballots. The story of a man burning Trump ballots on video was proven false as well: the ballots that he burned were mere sample ballots.
In conclusion, the above concerns about the reliability of mail-in voting warrants an investigation into the election results. Such an investigation will not undermine faith in the electoral system, but rather, it should bolster faith in the electoral system since it will verify the result of the election and help to appease voters’ doubts.
Adam Reiland is a third-year English Writing major with a minor in Business and Technical writing. AR919402@wcupa.edu