President Trump claims universal mail-in ballots lead to fraud; experts say vote-by-mail is safe

Presidents claims about fraud are unsubstantiated, he also votes by mail

This week, President Donald Trump voted by mail in Florida after months of criticizing the practice.

This week, President Donald Trump voted by mail in Florida after months of criticizing the practice.

Trump continues to claims mail-in-ballots lead to fraud, despite using them himself and studies that suggest otherwise.

We put the claim through the News 6 Trust Index, while taking into consideration recent actions by the U.S. Postal Service.

Universal mail-in ballots is a system where states automatically mail ballots to all registered voters. A handful of states have opted to do this and Trump is standing by his unsubstantiated claim that it will lead to fraud.

“Now they want to send in million and millions of ballots,” Trump said. “They’re being discarded. They’re finding them in piles. It’s going to be a catastrophe.”

In Florida, voters have to request an absentee or mail-in ballot, which Trump did. Florida does not automatically send ballots to voters, they must request ballots. Unlike some states, voters do not need to have a medical or other reason to vote-by-mail.

This year, because of coronavirus, more people are expected to skip the polls in person and vote by mail.

News 6 political analyst Dr. Jim Clark says when it comes to voter fraud there is often smoke, but no fire.

“It’s very difficult to do voter fraud these days,” Clark said. ”In cases where people have claimed voter fraud, the reality is that investigations have shown there was no voter fraud.”

Case in point, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated three allegations of fraud after the 2018 election.

One involved the Bay County Supervisor of Elections allegedly accepting 12 vote-by-mail ballots received electronically after Hurricane Matthew.

Another involved the Broward County Supervisor of Elections denying the entrance to Republican Party observers during a recount.

And the third involved four-vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavits with an altered submission deadline.

FDLE investigations found there was no evidence of fraudulent intent in all three cases.

In July, the U.S. Postal service sent letters to all states, including Florida, warning that ballots requested near the deadline, may not be returned by mail in time to be counted.

In Florida, absentee ballots can be requested by mail no later than 5 p.m., 10 days before the election, according to the Supervisor of Elections website.

If you request the ballot now, you could get it by late September.

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles says to make sure your ballot is signed, and you might consider not putting it back in the mail because of the time it takes to be delivered.

Mail-in ballots can be dropped off during early voting at many locations in Florida without even leaving your car.

Then you can track your ballot online to see if there are any issues or if it’s been accepted.

"I think the key thing is take personal responsibility for your ballot," Cowles said.

Based on FDLE investigations and interviews with experts, voting by mail in Florida is safe but with the warnings from the U.S. Postal service we also urge voters to be careful about meeting deadlines when voting by mail.

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About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.