Colorado officials dispute claims of mail-in voting fraud

For the past few months, President Donald Trump has fiercely and frequently claimed that if states allow mail-in voting for this November’s presidential election, it would result in rampant voter fraud and corruption.

The president, on Aug. 23, said on Twitter that allowing mail-in voting would amount to “The greatest Election Fraud in our history.”

But is there any evidence to back the president’s claims?

In Colorado, where a 2013 law requires all voters receive a ballot in the mail, state officials resoundingly say, “no.” 

To dispel some of the unsubstantiated claims the president and his allies have made in recent months, attacking the credibility of mail-in voting, Colorado Democrats, including Secretary of State Jena Griswold, Gov. Jared Polis and Sen. Michael Bennet, held a press conference on Aug. 17. The mission was to discuss mail-in voting and its impact on the Centennial State.

“[Trump] said mail-in voting increases fraud, and that’s simply not true,” Bennet said. “As we know in Colorado, an American is more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to commit fraud. An American is more likely to win the lottery than they are to commit fraud with a mail ballot.”

Bennet referenced data from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., that found out of 250 million absentee votes cast across the nation over a 20-year period, the rate of fraud was .00006 percent — or right around 150 out of all those votes cast. 

Bennet also addressed the president’s claims that mail-in voting is nothing more than Democrats trying to steal the election. He noted that Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner was elected in the first year the state offered vote-by-mail, and that in two of the last three elections in Colorado, more Republicans voted by mail then Democrats.

Not only are mail-in ballots safe, Bennet said, they greatly increase voter turnout. Colorado has the second-highest voter turnout in the country.

“These are the facts, and we need to repeat them today and every day until the election because the president knows exactly what he’s doing by making these false claims,” Bennet said. “We have to push back against the disinformation and make sure our friends and neighbors have the facts about where to register and vote. 

“Let’s remember, Americans have voted during a Civil War, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and two world wars. And no matter what the president says, we’re going to vote in November, here in Colorado and all across the country.”

Following up on Bennet’s remarks, Polis spoke about how Colorado has led the way in demonstrating how safe and reliable mail-in voting can be in the U.S.

“Since [vote-by-mail] has become the default [way that people vote in Colorado] we’ve been able to … increase participation, reduce fraud and make sure we’ve been able to administer fair elections in our state,” Polis said. “We have strong safeguards to to prevent fraud — every ballot contains a signature box and every voter’s signature is verified by a bipartisan team of election judges. And if a signature doesn’t match, the ballot is set aside and the person has an opportunity to show that it’s theirs.”

In 2018, Polis said, only .0027 percent of the 2.5 million ballots cast in Colorado (roughly 67.5 ballots) were suspicious enough to warrant investigative action. Additionally, many of those were able to be cured.

Secretary Griswold has been particularly active in refuting the Trump’s claims on Twitter, calling them lies designed to tilt the election in the president’s favor. 

“Vote-by-mail for all is the responsible way to run an election during a pandemic,” Griswold said. “It’s 2020, and no American should be forced to risk their life to cast a vote. 

Where to vote

“Voting by mail is like wearing a mask: It can save lives and help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Reporter

Zach Hillstrom is a Colorado Springs native and graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo. He has worked as a reporter for Southern Colorado print outlets since 2015.