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Vice President Mike Pence

Photo by The White House

Vice President Mike Pence debunked his own talking points against voting by mail.

In a Fox News interview on Monday night, Pence repeated many of the Trump administration's debunked arguments against allowing people to cast their ballots by mail during a pandemic, including claiming that it would be "rife for fraud." But he then asserted that "absentee balloting" was just fine.

"The president's made it very clear that we're not gonna stand idly by while you see Democrat [sic] states and Democrat [sic] governors use the backdrop of the coronavirus to send millions of ballots all cross their states and all across this country, " he warned.

"Let's be clear though," he then said, "Absentee balloting is perfectly acceptable. You have to apply for an absentee ballot, signatures are checked, it's confirmed, it has a long tradition. And we want to encourage any America that is not able to go to the polling place for any reason to apply for an absentee ballot today."

Pence is correct that signatures are checked on absentee ballots, but they are on other votes cast by mail as well. Indeed, many states make no distinction at all between absentee votes and other mailed-in votes, and they are handled in an identical manner.

"The linchpin of our security is signature verification," Lori Augino, Washington state's director of elections, told the Bipartisan Policy Center in June. Washington is one of a handful of states that already conducts its elections by mail only.

"Every single signature on every single ballot that is returned to a county election official is checked against the signature on file in a voter's registration record," she explained, which lets officials "(1) ensure the ballot was returned by an eligible voter, and (2) if the signature on the ballot envelope does not match the signature on file, it gives the voter a chance to either update their record or alert election officials that the ballot returned may be fraudulent."

Experts have found voter fraud is virtually nonexistent and voting by mail may actually be safer.

Former Oregon Secretary of State Phil Keisling wrote in a 2016 Washington Monthly opinion piece that while some fraud has occurred in mail voting, "the odds are about the same as your dying next month in a plane crash, caused by a flaming meteorite."

"Mail-based voting systems today are far less risky than most polling place elections, precisely because they distribute ballots (and electoral risk) in such a decentralized way," he wrote. "To have any reasonable chance of success, an organized effort to defraud a mail-based system and its safeguards must involve hundreds (if not thousands) of separate acts, all of them individual felonies, that must both occur and go undetected to have any chance of success."

Despite their repeated attacks on mail-in voting, the Trump campaign has been simultaneously urging Republican voters to cast their ballots by mail. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and numerous others in their administration have voted by mail in the past.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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