A simple detail from WA and OR elections prove that mail-in voting isn't a partisan fraud conspiracy
Image by Suzi Wilson from Pixabay

As a resident of Washington state, where voters have been able to vote by mail for all elections for nearly a decade, I've been watching recent debates over voting systems with fascination.

People tend to forget that Washington is even up here in the corner of the country, so it's a little weird to suddenly be getting so much attention for the way we vote. But what's funny is that our system is getting attention only on a surface level. Like, people are paying attention to the idea of mail-in voting—with some totally freaking out over it—but most are not actually paying attention to any of the details of our voting system or election results.


Since the President started harping on mail-in voting being "RIPE for FRAUD," here's the gist of conversations I've been seeing:

"Mail-in voting is a good option for upcoming elections since we don't know if it will be safe to send people to the polls."

"What?! No! There's too much opportunity for widespread fraud with mail-in ballots!"

"But what about the states who have done all mail-in voting for years without widespread fraud?"

"Those are all 'blue' states! Clearly mail-in voting is a big Democrat conspiracy to win elections!"

The total jump over logic aside, there's some simple proof up here in the Northwest that the Democrats-cheat-by-mail argument bears no weight.

Let's look at Washington and our neighbor to the south, Oregon—two states with all mail-in voting. Most would consider these states pretty solidly "blue," right? (They're not solid blue, but that's another discussion. Just stick with me here.)

On a state level, elections are run by the Secretary of State. These elected officials control and oversee the running of elections—local, state, and national. They are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the election, the privacy and validity of ballots, and voter registration. They are in charge of election security, and by extension, voter fraud.

So who is Washington's Secretary of State? Her name is Kim Wyman. She was elected by the people of Washington state in 2012 and 2016.

Who cares, you ask? Well, Kim Wyman is a Republican.

Oregon's Secretary of State is named Bev Clarno. She's been serving since March 31, 2019—and she's also a Republican. She was appointed to the position after her predecessor, Dennis Richardson, passed away while in office. He had been elected by the people of Oregon in 2016.

And yep. He was also a Republican. How about that.

Riddle me this: If mail-in voting is some big conspiracy by Democrats to steal elections, how is it that both of these predominantly blue states elected Republicans to oversee their elections? I mean, if there's really fraud here that's actually impacting election results, wouldn't those sneaky, conniving Democrats at least make sure to elect a Democrat to the position charged with election integrity and validity?

Oh oh oh and—if there was really was widespread voter fraud among Democrats in these states, don't you think the Republicans who are in charge of the elections would be sounding the alarm?

Yes, of course they would. But they're not. Because it's not happening.

Kim Wyman—again, Washington's Republican Secretary of State who oversees elections—has said that the idea that widespread voter fraud is rampant in the U.S. is "ludicrous on its face." And Washington, with it's decade-long experience with mail-in voting, ranks #2 in Harvard University's Electoral Integrity Project—an ongoing study that surveys hundreds of election experts on how each state fares in its electoral processes.

Does this mean that voter fraud doesn't exist at all? Of course not. But it does mean that there's nothing inherently favorable to Democrats in a mail-in system. Washington and Oregon have spent many years improving the process and the security of the process of voting this way, implementing hundreds of safeguards at various levels to make sure voting happens as it should.

No system or safeguard is 100% foolproof. Voter ID laws can be gamed with fake IDs. Signatures can be forged if someone practices hard. Electronic voting machines can be hacked. Election officials can be bribed. Pollsters can "lose" ballots.

Any number of things can happen in an election, and they very occasionally do. There is evidence of voter fraud, but it's by no means rampant or widespread.

Even if you look at the conservative Heritage Foundation's voter fraud website, you'll find around 1200 incidents of voter fraud. But that's for the entire country, and over a 20-year period, which includes billions of voting instances. They state that it's not an exhaustive list, but if they're trying to make the point that voter fraud is a concern, they'd surely list just about every instance they can find. Even if it's twice or three times what they list, that's still a teensy-tiny, bunch-of-zeroes-after-the-decimal-point, fraction of of a percent of total votes—by no definition "rampant."

Not to mention, voter fraud and election tampering are actual crimes, punishable by law, and I personally don't believe that there's a huge, widespread swath of Americans chomping at the bit to criminally cheat in an election. This deep distrust of our fellow Americans due to partisanship is gross and needs to stop.

Bottom line: The fact that voters in both of these predominantly blue states elected—by mail—Republican officials to be in charge of their elections seems like more than adequate proof that well-orchestrated mail-in ballot systems can work beautifully and fairly, regardless of party loyalties.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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