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How safe and secure is voting by mail?



FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Amid the current health crisis, voting by mail has become quite popular. The debate on the safety and security of voting by mail also in question this election.

Tuesday is the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail in Arkansas. The main thing is to make sure your application is filled out correctly, completely and returned as soon as possible to avoid any delays in election day results.

Director of Elections for Washington County, Jennifer Price said they have received over 12-thousand absentee ballot requests.

In Benton County, Communications Director Channing Barker said they sent out nearly 16-thousand absentee ballots and over 12-thousand absentee ballots have been returned back to the county clerk’s office.

Price said absentee ballots are being processed and simple mistakes like not having a copy of your photo ID or leaving out your signature can mean your application will not be eligible.

“If your absentee ballot is rejected, the way the law is currently written, there isn’t an opportunity for you to go and fix that. For instance, if you fail to sign, there isn’t a recourse for the voter to come back and submit their signature,” said Price.

The University of Arkansas, Political Science Professor Andrew Dowdle said there is a record number of people using absentee ballots this election season. When it comes to voting by mail fraud he said it’s pretty rare.

Dowdle said one thing the state of Arkansas does well is process and verify mail-in ballots.

He said studies show that states that have high numbers of mail-in ballots, in general, have had no problems with voter fraud.

That’s because the penalties are so high and the gain in so little.

Dowdle explained that elections are decided by such a large margin that even if someone was to file a thousand fraudulent ballots it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.

“Arkansas is so strict in terms of vetting these mail-in ballots– arguably too strict in terms of the industry standards. The trade-off for that is that is you probably end up having even more confidence in that process,” Dowdle.

Dowdle said from the matching of signatures, verifying address info, and copy of ID you can trust the security process and that your absentee ballot is checked by an election official for its authenticity.

He said the state has a good system in place and machines for a speedy count.

According to Washington County, the last day to return your absentee application in person is by the close of the business day before the election, November 2.

By mail, the county clerk’s office must receive your ballot by 7:30 pm election day, November 3.

If you are unable to return your absentee ballot before the deadline, you will be able to go to a polling site and cast a provisional ballot in person.