WASHINGTON – To hear President Donald Trump and his allies tell it, every step of the mail is an open door for diligent fraud to take part in the election, from the moment the votes are printed to when they are finally counted.
But the election officials and candidates who have encountered the system up close says that human and computerized guardrails along the journey of a post-in-vote create a structure that, although cumbersome and expensive, cannot be broken in any significant way.
And with the integrity of vote-by-mail becoming a political issue and the corona virus pushing more states and voters to use it, there are clear steps in the way voting is verified and controlled.
Although not all states allow you to vote by mail for no reason. In 201
Every state and local government does it differently. Election experts say it’s part of what makes it so safe. With various systems across the United States to print, deliver and validate polls, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to “hack” the presidential election in any widespread way.
Here are the most important milestones in the journey with a post-in vote:
Step 1: Polls printed
The journey to a post-in poll begins when local election officials verify an individual voter’s eligibility and send an order printer, where it is printed on special fraud-proof paper, usually with a barcode that allows it to be tracked as a package.
Step 2: Choices are sent
In some places, voters must proactively request a vote while other areas send all voters’ applications for one.
Salt Lake County, in heavily Republican Utah, began sending every active, registered voter a real vote. County Clerk Sherrie Swenson says voter turnout rose to nearly 80 percent in 2018, which is almost unauthorized for a half-time election.
“We make sure we do address updates with the national change of address,” says Swensen. “We are constantly cleaning up our listings and making sure they are pristine as they may be.”
Step 3: Polls completed
Once the ballot boxes have arrived, it is up to the candidates to ensure that their supporters fill them out – and return them within the deadline. It requires a different kind of effort to get the vote out than the traditional type that aims to mobilize supporters to physically go to an election site on Election Day.
Democrat Suraj Patel learned that lesson this summer in his long-term primary bid for long-term ropes. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y. With Coronavirus entering New York this spring, Prime Minister Andrew Cuomo ordered that every registered voter be sent an absentee ballot application.
The results are still counted, but if Patel wins, there will be a big uproar, largely due to a postal vote, which he made central to his campaign strategy.
“We completely changed our organization and strategy in our plan to get people to request votes and then follow up and chase them by returning those ballots,” Patel said in an interview. “We usually intend to get the voting period out as the last seven days of the election. We did it for the last eight weeks of the election. “
Step 4: The ballots returned
At home, voters seal their completed ballots, sign them and release them in the mail. That’s one reason Democrats are so concerned about Trump’s threat to cut funding for the US Postal Service. A standardized policy is required that votes marked postmarked by Election Day must be counted because of concerns that the postal service may be slower among poorer or largely minorities in the United States.
The signature is later verified against the voter registration by an election worker, a computer or both.
Step 5: The ballot boxes are validated and counted
You need fewer voting workers – usually retirees as a volunteer – to conduct elections by mail. But you need more professionals at hand and more high-tech tools to validate and count votes so no one can vote twice.
“We have machines that log in the ballot boxes upon return,” says Swensen of Salt Lake County. “We have a barcode on the ballot box, and when a vote is returned, it is automatically logged in as if it was received immediately,” with that voter marked system surpassed as if he had already turned in a vote.
Charles Stewart, a voice technology expert who teaches at MIT, says that large municipalities or localities that carry out large voting operations must buy equipment that automatically rips open the various envelopes and separates the voting – machines he says can cost a million dollars and take up massive storage space.
“It’s like buying a fire truck,” Stewart says. “And you buy dozens of these.”
And it can take time to count all the votes, especially in places that are not used to handling a large volume of post-in polls.
Nearly two weeks after New York’s June 23 primary, the results are so close that no winner has been named, with Patel dragging Maloney with less than a thousand votes with incomplete results.
The reason for the stay is post-in voting, with a large number of absentee ballots leading state officials to delay counting them until this week. It raises concerns about how prepared America is to vote to a large extent by post in November if the coronavirus keeps voters away from the polls.
Patel says that while the long wait for election results is nerve-wracking, he has more confidence in the vote-by-post process and that every vote will count than he did in the race.
“The truth is that we learn this as we go,” Patel says. “Just like everyone else.”