Wadena PJ Editorial: Voting by mail is safe, secure, accurate

If you’re wary about voting by mail, that it isn’t secure or reliable, consider this: At a security briefing last week, the FBI told reporters it has found no evidence of coordinated fraud related to voting by mail this year.

This is consistent with Brennan Center for Justice research , which has found that voter fraud, including mail voter fraud , is extremely rare. The FBI noted that the lack of centralization in U.S. voting systems makes such schemes difficult to execute.

Here in Wadena County, voting by mail for the Aug. 11 primary was a popular option and in some districts -- Aldrich City, Nimrod City, Meadow Township and Shell River Township -- mail-in was the option as they did not have a polling place. Among those mail districts, 38% returned their ballots. Absentee and mail-in ballots accounted for 30% of the total of 1,559 votes.

Of the 845 absentee/mail ballots transmitted by the county, 508 were returned. Of those 472 were accepted. Those rejected were for good reason: missing information on the signature envelope, the verifying number did not match the Absentee Application, the voter did not sign the signature envelope, the non-registered voter did not have a witness sign their signature envelope or they did not include the voter registration form in their envelope, or the ballot arrived late in the mail. Fourteen ballots were spoiled or lost, less than 1% of ballots cast.

The Wadena County Auditor’s office carefully accounts for every one of those spoiled or lost ballots and carefully reviews every acceptable vote. They've got their eyes aimed at making sure nothing sketchy is happening. It's true that not all people who hoped to have their votes counted were able to do so due to ballots not being filled out correctly. If you have any questions at all about how to be successful in doing so, feel free to call the election staff at the Wadena County Auditor's Office at 218-631-7621.


The editorial board for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead recently addressed the concerns about mail-in voting:

"Let’s dispense with ridiculous scare claims that mail-in voting is not secure or reliable and poses any risk whatsoever to an accurate count in the November election.

That’s especially true in North Dakota and Minnesota. Both states require those who want to vote by mail to submit ballot applications, an important safeguard to ensure that ballots go to actual voters.

North Dakota, in fact, could serve as a model for voting by mail. Thirty-two of North Dakota’s 53 counties have voted exclusively by mail for decades, with some beginning at least by the early 1990s.

Now, as the nation continues to grapple with the greatest public health crisis in a century due to the coronavirus pandemic, voting by mail has never been so important. Many voters understandably want to avoid the risks of going to a crowded polling place in the November election.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Voters can vote by mail, go to an early voting center or go to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 3. Election officials are arranging for polling centers with ample space for voters and poll workers to maintain safe distances.

But voting by mail is an obvious safe-voting option in the pandemic. In fact, the June primary in North Dakota was conducted exclusively by mail. North Dakotans embraced voting by mail in the June primary and mailed in their ballots in unprecedented numbers.

The editorial concluded with good advice for voters to make sure their ballot is counted:


You can help ensure a smooth count — and ensure that your vote is counting — by voting early by mail. Don’t wait for the last minute. Postal officials have already warned that the high volume of mail during the election will result in slower deliveries.

Voting by mail is convenient for voters and healthy for democracy, which requires citizens to be highly engaged in electing their leaders and making their preferences known at the polls.

And in the midst of this pandemic, voting by mail is a vital option for those who want to avoid gatherings. So feel free to vote by mail — and vote early.

Michael Johnson

Pioneer Journal editor

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