The realities of early and postal votes show the US democratic system is at breaking point
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Fears of voter fraud undermine confidence in the democratic process
There are concerns that fraudulent ballots may contaminate the election outcome, following reports that foreign nations can interfere, that voters may be able to vote twice and that some ballots may be stolen in the post. Whether true or not, these claims undermine trust in the democratic system.
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A poll by Pew Research Center found that 52% of Americans said voter fraud was a major or minor problem of vote-by-mail in presidential elections. Many Republicans, including President Trump, have argued that stricter voter registration measures, such as ID checks, are necessary to prevent voter fraud. Trump claimed that mail-in ballots had been found in waste paper baskets and in rivers. Other fears have circulated about foreign states printing counterfeit ballots to interfere in the election outcome, which many see as legitimate given investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Concerns have also been raised that voters may vote-by-mail and again in person on election day without further registration checks - voting twice is illegal in all 50 states. The Heritage Election Fraud Database details nearly 1,300 proven cases of election fraud, including individuals stealing mail-in-ballots from post boxes. Whether these fears are well-grounded or not, the attention they have received has led to questions about the legitimacy of the election, and legal battles after election day may challenge the outcome. Faith in the democratic process is crucial to its operation, and the threat of voter fraud, whether real or imagined, shows US democracy is at breaking point.
Whilst certain figures have tried to spread fear and doubt, these manoeuvres are party political and the American public do not take them seriously, evidenced by the millions of Americans who will vote-by-mail in this election. According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Centre for Justice, the rate of voter fraud in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.00009%. A study at Arizona State University also found only 10 cases of voter fraud out of 150 million eligible voters, and so the threat is virtually nil to the accuracy of the outcome. When mistakes are found, they are cases of individual error, not intentional voter fraud. Americans are able to see through the transparent fear-mongering and are continuing to vote-by-mail, signifying their faith in the democratic process.
Rejecting the premises