President Trump worries about voter fraud. Here’s the reality in Michigan.

President Trump has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of voting-by-mail. Experts say trying to rig an election with absentee ballots is not only rare but an easy way to get caught. (Shutterstock image)

On the eve of the most contentious election in decades, millions of Michigan voters will have the chance to vote by mail.

But Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s decision to send ballot applications to 7.7 million registered voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary has prompted partisan discord, with backers hailing it as a  “great success” and Republicans saying it has “great potential for fraud.”

That’s because thousands of those applications likely will go to vacant homes, the dead or former residents. A Bridge analysis of the state’s qualified voter file found that Michigan has more than 225,000 more people listed as registered voters than the state’s entire voting-age population, according to 2018 U.S. Census estimates.

And while there’s no indication any of those “extra” voters have ever cast ballots, some clerks said the bloated rolls can undermine confidence in elections.

“The cleaner you get it, the better,” said Sarah Bydalek, the Republican clerk of Walker in Kent County, who acknowledged “we have people who should be cancelled [from voter lists] but who aren’t.”

But she said she’s never found evidence of fraud in 13 years as clerk. When asked by Bridge if she worries about it because of the state’s inflated lists, she was blunt: “No I don’t.” 

The debate comes as efforts increase nationwide to ramp up vote-by-mail options because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 154,000 nationally including more than 6,000 in Michigan.

Benson and other defenders say no-reason, absentee ballots are safe and popular. The state already has double the number of absentee ballots for Tuesday’s primary than prior elections.

But Republicans claim the mailing of ballot applications invites fraud, with President Donald Trump on Thursday suggesting the November election could be delayed, a move that would require congressional approval.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???,” the president wrote on Twitter.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said the response of her mailing 7.7 million absentee voter applications is proof that state residents want and trust voting by mail. (Bridge file photo)

Benson’s Republican predecessor, Ruth Johnson, is one of the loudest critics of her decision to mail applications to all registered voters.

“I don't think that that is the best way if you really want secure and fair elections,” Johnson, now a state senator from Holly.  “There's nothing partisan about that. You want to have good, clean elections, we want to know who really won in the end so our country can move forward.”

Experts say there are very few proven cases of voter fraud by mail. Election clerks said someone would have to commit multiple felonies — opening someone else’s mail, falsifying a signature twice — in order to cast a single illegal ballot, all while leaving a paper trail.

Instead, Democrats like Lansing-based consultant Adrian Hemond said the spectre of fraud is an attempt to de-legitimize the elections and suppress votes.

“They [Republicans] want fewer people to vote. Full stop,” Hemond said. “Higher turnout benefits Democrats.”

Studies including one by the Brennan Center for Justice in New York have found that voter fraud is “very, very rare” and mail-in ballots are “secure and essential to holding a safe election amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Experts say it would be easier, for instance, to impersonate someone at the polls than forge signatures on absentee ballots — and there are few instances of that occurring.

“If you want to get caught committing voter fraud, filling out someone else’s ballot is one of the best ways,” said David Becker, a former voting rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice who is founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research.

Security systems would detect an improper signature, Becker said, and if someone tried to vote for someone who was alive, they should “really hope and pray that person doesn’t show up to vote.”

That happened in Oakland County: a husband filled out his wife’s absentee ballot and sent it in. He was caught when the wife showed up to vote, said Lisa Brown, the county clerk. It’s the only example of mail-in fraud she said she’s seen in her nearly eight years as clerk.

Always a chance

There is little doubt, however, the potential for fraud exists.

Benson’s office has spent $4.5 million in federal funding to mail ballot applications to all “qualified” voters, knowing that hundreds of thousands will go to long-deceased residents, vacant homes or addresses when the intended voter no longer lives.

Michigan has far more registered voters than it has eligible voters, based on Census estimates of the “citizen, voting age population,” the result of expanded voting rules approved in 2018 and a less-than-perfect system to remove voters who have moved or died.

 

In the Great Lakes region, Michigan is the only state to have more registered voters than the 2018 Census estimate of eligible voters, a Bridge analysis shows. The next closest is Illinois (95 percent) while in Wisconsin the number of registered voters is equal to 78 percent of eligible voters.

Within Michigan, 58 counties have more registered voters than eligible voters, including all of the five biggest counties except Macomb County. But in Macomb, it’s close: Registered voters equal 99.9 percent of the eligible voters, according to Census estimates.

A review of the state’s qualified voter roll found over 16,000 people born in 1920 or earlier, including Gabriel Konowich of Flint, born in 1892; he died before 2010, according to a sibling’s obituary. He would have been 128 years old this year but he’s still listed as a qualified registered voter, with a ballot application going to his former home on West Pulaski in Flint.

(Voting records acquired by Bridge go back to August 2009 and show Konowich has not voted in any of those elections.)

“I think we’re using a very flawed list,” Johnson said during this week’s Senate hearing. “We know it’s a flawed list. I don’t think it should be used as a mailing list for absentee ballot requests.”

During her eight-year tenure, Johnson said she helped strike more than 600,000 dead voters from the list (but not Konowich) as well as nearly 150,000 people who moved and over 3,000 who were non-citizens.

Benson said she is using the same procedures to remove deceased voters as Johnson had and has joined a 31-state national consortium that works to notify when voters move between states. (Johnson had used a different group, with fewer states, that has since disbanded.)

And Benson has said the state-wide mailings will allow her office to better identify ineligible voters and start the process to remove them.

‘Opportunity for fraud’

Michigan has traditionally had one of the nation’s best rates of voter registration, in part because of its early embrace of the “motor-voter” act of 1993 that allows drivers to get a license and register at the same time.

But in the heated partisan atmosphere that is 2020, a national group filed a lawsuit in June against Benson and the state isn’t following provisions of that same 1993 law, the National Voter Registration Act, charging it is not following that law’s requirement to “maintain clean and accurate” voter rolls.

“I think it is an opportunity for fraud,” said Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project, a conservative group that brought the lawsuit and has been linked to the DeVos family.

 

Former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, said mailing millions of absentee ballot applications is not "the best way if you really want secure and fair elections.” (Courtesy photo)

Snead said the group has sent letters to three other states, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida, seeking similar changes to the voter rolls. Only Michigan has been sued so far, he said.

Although he said there are examples of voter fraud from Patterson, New Jersey., and North Carolina, he said his group is not suggesting there is fraud in Michigan, but that it is possible.

Benson’s administration has called the Honest Elections lawsuit an attempt to “gain media attention using debunked claims and bad statistics.”

The plaintiff in the case, Tony Daunt of the Michigan Freedom Fund, opposed the expanded voting changes in 2018 and has also challenged efforts to redraw the state’s legislative districts. His organization also has been behind some of the protests in Lansing, including “Operation Gridlock,” over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions.

Benson herself has acknowledged the list is imperfect but she said there are safeguards. Her goal, she has said repeatedly, is to make it “easier to vote, harder to cheat.”

Past problems

Voting problems have cropped up over the years, and in Southfield in 2019, city clerk  Sherikia L. Hawkins was charged with altering 193 voter records following the November, 2018, election. Hawkins faces six felonies.

And in Wayne County, there have been numerous problems with elections, from missing ballots to accusations of sloppy elections and bloated voter rolls.

In 2017, one year before being elected lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist II sought a recount in his loss to Janice Winfrey, Detroit’s clerk, citing accounts of residents showing up to polls and being told they’d already cast absentee ballots.

A year earlier, Michigan’s recount of the presidential election was halted because of numerous irregularities in Detroit. A state audit found no evidence of “pervasive fraud” and blamed the problems on a “multitude of human errors.”

Winfrey told Bridge there is “no evidence in the city of Detroit that voter fraud has ever been committed with absentee voting or any other kind of voting.”  She said suggestions from Trump about the safety of elections are designed to undermine confidence in the election.

Whenever you put out information that is not proven, it’s a form of voter suppression. And when you put fear into people, they have a tendency to not vote. So those are fear tactics,” Winfrey said.

Cleaning the rolls

Voter lists need to be updated constantly because people frequently move and some die.

Every month, the federal government provides states a list of the recently deceased and those are shared with county and municipal election clerks. If people don’t vote in two consecutive even-year elections, clerks can send out letters asking if voters wish to remain on the rolls.

But there is no national clearinghouse to capture voters who moved to other states. Benson has joined the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), the 31-state group that shares information. But, as Johnson pointed out, it does not include California, the most populous state in the country, or New York, another more populous state.

Other states have been more aggressive with voter purges, including Ohio, which has the toughest policies in the nation. It begins the process to strike voters after they miss just one federal election, sending the voter a note asking if they wish to remain ineligible.

That process was challenged in federal court and went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which narrowly upheld it. In Ohio, 88 percent of it’s eligible voters are registered. If Michigan had Ohio’s ratio, it would mean it would have 1.1 million fewer registered voters.

Moved away, but still eligible

State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said some of his siblings, who have left the state, are still on the qualified voter roll.

“Are you concerned about the pile of letters that we have here for dead people? I mean some of these (ballot applications) came to my house to my brothers and sister who've moved away for over 20 years, I mean, do these things concern you?” he asked Benson.

Benson defended her office and the work of the 1,500 election offices in the state. She said the response to voting by mail, particularly in next week’s primary but also in the May municipal elections, showed that the current system works.

As of earlier this week, more than 900,000 ballots had been returned for Tuesday’s primary, nearly three times the 307,353 who did so at the same time in 2016. Nearly 2 million people have requested mail-in ballots, more than 3 ½  times the 540,271 requested at the same time in 2016.

“That was a tremendous success where we were able to give voters safe elections with clarity and certainty and the mailing was a part of that,” Benson told the senate elections committee.

With so few examples of fraud — even the Trump administration’s voter fraud task force found few examples — why does it keep coming up?

Becker, who is working with Benson on election security issues, said it’s simple politics.

“The person who thinks they’re winning never raises concerns about the [voting] process,” Becker said. “And the person who thinks they’re losing does.”

— BridgeDetroit reporter Olivia Lewis contributed

 

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Comments

Kevin Grand
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 12:21pm

If only we could have something to put everyone's mind at ease with 225k more registered than actual voters?

Something that we can use to weed out (and prosecute) scofflaws?

Something like STRONG VOTER ID requirements?

Since you have to produce one in order to cash a check, enter a federal building or buy a beer (VERY short list, BTW), you can just as easily show one at a polling precinct.

middle of the mit
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 1:24pm

Republicans already did that Kevin.

That is why I have to stand in line in my tiny little precinct while I wait for two different groups of three workers each check my ID while a line forms for me to vote. I used to give them a little card that said Voter ID with my signature on it, they checked off my name and then I got my ballot.

What are you complaining about? You want to force people to have even more ID than a drivers license to vote? When will your suppression stop? If you can't remember the laws you have already passed..........................

duane
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 3:33pm

middle,
When I vote they ask for a little card [driver's license] scan it and give me my ballot. I walk over to a table with some dividers [so people don't peek] cast my vote, take it to the the person who tears of the ballot number and I put it into the machine to be counted. That has been how simple and easy it has been for 20 years at my local precinct. The longest step in my voting has always been the time I fill out the ballot request card [print name and address and sign].
I wonder what all the added delays are in your 'tiny little precinct'. I am still trying to figure out how the Republicans have made it slow by requiring a government ID [driver's license] in place of the voter registration card.

So happy
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:18pm

I love the new law, get to study the ballot at home, take my time, not have to get sick or wait in long lines. Mail it and done! This time I put it in my city ballot box because I don't trust what Trump is doing to the mail.

Shelley Langford
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 2:49pm

Same here, voted "by mail" dropped the ballot in outside ballot box, so convenient.

middle of the mit
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:52pm

You just explained exactly what I did duane, you just didn't tell us how long it takes you to vote.

How long do stand in line? How long does it take for them to check your ID?

Maybe it's just because my tiny little precinct is run by Republicans and yours isn't?

Anonymous
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:22pm

They can still match your affidavit signature to the one on your state issued id, investigate, and prosecute you. It seems like a lot of trouble to cast a vote or votes illegally.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 5:10pm

And that affidavit can ascertain your actual identity how?

If you can educate yourself about who and what is on the ballot, you can just as easily get an ID.

I cannot speak for mitt's problems, but like duane, my poll workers are far more efficient. They also scan my license, hand it back to me and send me down to the next table.

If your poll workers are so inept, that it takes you that long to vote, complain to the city or country clerk. Someone hasn't been trained properly on how to do their job.

middle of the mit
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 10:14pm

They ascertain your ID by your signature. I had one of my neighbors ask the same question and asked how do they know you signed it. I told him to fake my signature and I would fake his and see if they matched. Silence afterwords.

Who are you supposed to complain to when they are the ones running things?

You would think it should be just like at the cashier. It isn't.

Welcome to a taste of Republicanville.

Are ya really sure ya want some?

middle of the mit
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 8:16pm

I should also add that this didn't start happening until 2016. My particular area doesn't have many off year elections. Only occasionally. The year before or the year after we had a school millage on the ballot. There were only two election workers there, and there was no line. In fact, I was the only one there at the time.

It only happens during big elections.

That is why I chose absentee ballot.

Imagine what it is like to have to wait for hours to exercise your right to vote?

What is more important? Your right to exercise your right to vote or your right to work out in a gym...........even though you don't need a gym to work out or keep healthy?

LMAO
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 1:19pm

Kevin,
Funny how you say all these things as a Republican in a gerrymandered state that has been run by Republicans for decades. You are spilling the beans for how the Republicans have been winning, voter fraud?????

Kathi Geukes
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 1:13pm

Spot on!!!!

Kevin Grand
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 5:31pm

Confirming that people voting are actually who they say they are...is now considered "voter fraud"???

RME!!!

middle of the mit
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 9:02pm

Claiming to know more about elections but not knowing that signatures is HOW they validate forms?

RME!

Rolling Eyes
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 2:52pm

Kevin, don't be silly. "And that affidavit can ascertain your actual identity how?" That would be a provisional ballot, counted after confirming your signature with the one on your state issued ID card.

Janet Wagner
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 12:49pm

Hate to burst your bubble but we already have EXTREMELY TOUGH voters' protections. I am an election judge and it's pretty amazing, the hoops we make everyone jump through before they can cast a ballot.

middle of the mit
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 12:47pm

I wonder why the former SOS wasn't concerned about the recount in 2016. Obviously that didn't seem to bother her at all.

Also, most of the "evidence" for voter fraud isn't voter fraud, it is election fraud committed by election workers or candidates. Don't put that on the citizens.

And how many of these applications were actually signed and returned?

And last but not least, the one good thing about being a dem and living in a Republican county is that sometime you have to vote for Republicans if you don't want crazy. That means you get Republican voting pamphlets. Guess what I got today?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------\

President Trump is doing his part to Make America Great Again......... Now he needs you to request your absentee ballot online!

"Absentee ballots are fine because you have to go through a process to get your voting privilige" - President Donald Trump
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LOL!!!

And when did voting become a privilege? Can't privilege be taken away? What happened to voting rights?

Too funny
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:27pm

Yes, the GOP always projects their own crimes when accusing Democrats of crimes.

Robert Honeyman
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 7:37pm

IIRC, the GOP fought tooth and nail in 2016 over the attempted recount. Ultimately, the recount effort was dropped. Turns out Jill Stein decided to pocket the several million donated by saps like myself rather than pursue a recount. Live and learn.

Alexander Beaton
Tue, 08/04/2020 - 10:05am

Earlier this year, prior to the pandemic, I received a letter in the mail that included the application to vote through the mail in Michigan. It was sent to me by the Michigan Republican Party. I did not fill it out, but I did use the application that was sent to me by the State, because times changed.
I do think that clerks should actively purge people from the list of potential voters if they move or pass away. However, they are just that, potential voters. There are systems in place to prevent them from becoming fraudulent voters, and steep penalties if that happens. The real voter fraud in this country has more to do with voting machine software, and intentionally creating long lines in minority districts.

middle of the mit
Tue, 08/04/2020 - 4:55pm

Alexander,

That is too funny. I also agree and have no problem with clerks cleaning up the roles. What seems to be happening though is purging voting roles and I can't agree with that. Clearing the deceased should be easy. Every quarter or so check the rolls against the counties obituaries. Clearing those that move is the problem, especially if clerks just use what they have been, clear them if they haven't voted in a couple of years.

The only way I can think of to remedy that situation is to make it a crime to register to vote in another area without first unregistering where you previously lived. And it might not even need to be a crime if you were required to send notification to the area you used to live at the same time you register somewhere else.

These are all common sense solutions that nobody seems to want to implement. Maybe because it would clear things up and there would no longer be a way to sow dissension?

That's the only reason I can come up with.

LMAO
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:14pm

Former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, said mailing millions of absentee ballot applications is not "the best way if you really want secure and fair elections.”

--- Of course that failed Secretary of State would say that! She doesn't even know the difference between an application and a ballot! There are safeguards in place, but the Republicans are running scared because they see the polling for Trump in free fall. They're all licking his (coat) tail.

I call BS
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:03pm

Johnson. Benson has to work against Trump and the GOP who want to stop voting rights, undermine the postal service, and not appropriate money to upgrade our critical cyber infrastructure. Buy hey, live in your delusional world. If it makes you feel better, here is the info to report voting fraud:
Report Fraud to the Office of Investigative Services
https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1640-408563--,00.html
Have at it! Seems someone has a lot of time on his hands.

Norman Vance
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 8:41am

I am a registered voter but I received no mail in vote email. I usually get one from my city, but I didn't even get one of those this year. What gives???

Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:04pm

Contact your city clerk

Anonymous
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 10:45am

What is the best way to secure the right to vote safely to all citizens in the midst of a pandemic, when polling places are not easily accessible or well staffed and with working machines, when election day is a work day for those who still have employment ? The greater threat is exclusion of voters, not fraudulent voting. Systematic research shows little to no voter fraud. There are checks in place as reported in this piece and as detailed in the Michigan Bureau of Elections manual. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/VI_Michigans_Absentee_Voting_Proc...

Arjay
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 11:37am

Of more concern is voter assistance and / or ballot harvesting. How many people, living in assisted living facilities and who can not even remember their own siblings or children, are “assisted” in their right to vote? How many ballots can a single person gather for return to the collection box? Just recently, a mail carrier was found to have “collected” several ballots.

You want security, you go to the polls and put your own ballot into the counting machine. Even an absentee ballot gets handled by another person between the time you vote and the time it is counted.

middle of the mit
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 6:34pm

Arjay,

Why do you constantly ask this question? Ballot harvesting is not allowed in MI. Your close relatives and even your neighbor are allowed to take your ballot to the polling place drop off or your polling place, but they have to sign the envelope under the threat of a felony.

Don't you get it? There are penalties for doing this. Hopefully they are worse than the guy in NC who perfected this game, because he is running for office. https://www.wccbcharlotte.com/2020/04/22/north-carolina-political-operat...

But he is facing charges just like someone that stole something or committed any other crime.

Why do you get to push memes without providing proof?

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/07/11/mail-carrier-pleads-guilty...

Jul 11, 2020Thomas Cooper, the mail carrier who had a U.S. Postal Service contract to deliver mail in Virginia's Pendleton County, pleaded guilty to one count of "Attempt to Defraud the Residents of West Virginia of a Fair Election" and one count of "Injury to the Mail" after altering the party affiliation on at least five absentee ballot request forms.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Do you see that last sentence? Absentee ballot request forms. Again, NOT ballots! Oh! Not to forget......they got busted!!!

System seems to work, doesn't it?

And if that mail carrier delivered you the wrong party ballot, what would you do with it? You would call your clerk and tell them they sent you the wrong party ballot and they would send you another, ad infinitum.

It's just like someone who told me about a cat getting a ballot in a mail in voting State, but when you search engine it what do you get?

https://www.foxnews.com/us/dead-cat-voter-registration-application

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/07/10/dead-cat-receives-voter-re...

The cat can get a voting registration FORM, but he can't be registered to actually VOTE unless he has a working social security number, and is over 18 years of age (in human years) Don't comment here if you are just ignorant about how the voting system works in this country
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Apparently even Britebart has had enough of the conflation of applications for registrations and ballots being confused with actual ballots being sent out.

How did a cat get an application to register to vote? Because everything apparently has to be spelled out in concise terms for Republicans, here is how. Do you have a pet? I do too. Do you go to the veterinarians office? I do too! They use your last name for your pets last name. Now Rex the dog is known as Rex Doe, child to John and Jane Doe. Vet sells their client list. Once that client list leaves the vets office, no one knows that Rex is a dog. Voter registration groups from both parties purchase mailing lists, check them against registered voters and then if Rex isn't registered, but John and Jane are, Rex gets an application.

Is that telling of anything at all?

Walking on Sunshine
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:16pm

Arjay brings it up because Republicans have been doing it for years, voter fraud, intimidation, coercion, etc.? Seniors have been voting absentee for years and they generally are likely to vote for Republicans so there is no evidence taking advantage of seniors helps Democrats. Now, with all the Republicans saying it's patriotic for our seniors to sacrifice their lives for the covid economy, it seems natural that this year most seniors will want to vote for Biden, someone nice whom they know and trust, a beloved American. We all really miss the Obama/Biden eight years. We all really loathe the Trump debacle, the impeached president that pardons the crooks and the swamp creatures he nourished and elevated.

Paul J Pantaleo
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 12:44pm

What about those ballots being mailed to ex-Michiganders who now live in Fla., Texas, Az., etc? Or those mailed to people who now reside in a cemetary? Absentee ballots should be used as originally intended. Make it available for those UNABLE to vote at the polls. Otherwise go to the polls and vote in person! People can shop, attend rallies / protests, go to the beach, etc so they must be capable of voting in person. I'll let others talk about the ballots that simply don't make it to the polling place or are altered by 'officials'.

middle of the mit
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 6:49pm

How do these people get ballots if they don't fill out an application? How do dead people fill out an application? And if someone does do that in there staid or snow birds do it?

JAIL TIME! It IS a felony to do what you are proposing.

Most people don't have the opportunity to do same day polling unless you live in a rural area.

Most people don't live in rural areas.

Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:20pm

Absolutely! These posters don't get it.

LOL
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 1:14pm

Let's be honest, Trump is afraid of losing, again. The writing is on the wall. This time he'll lose the electoral college also. He's too big a failure for even Russia's help, this time. He's the worst president in the history of the United States, if competency is the standard. He's the best if self-enrichment is the standard.

Mike
Sat, 08/01/2020 - 4:28pm

There was no need to mail out all those applications. There was nothing wrong with the system the way it was. You request an absentee ballot, get it, fill it out and deliver it to the proper place by the specified deadline. Now though we have troubling new system that will not only cause problems, but may delay the process and possibly nullify voter confidence. This was purely a partisan decision and a huge waste of tax payer's money.

Rosie the Riveter
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:31pm

As a Republican, I understand your frustration. Mailing the application made it convenient for someone like me, a diehard Democrat. I got the application, returned it, got my ballot, and voted at my convenience. It was heavenly. I will never vote in person again! I'm extremely grateful that the Secretary of State finally made voting so much more easy. I can understand your fear of losing elections going forward. In time you get over it and have to work on replacing your lobbyist-paid stooges with regular hard-working Americans. We WILL drain the swamp for real. Now working people don't have to worry about the weather, finding a babysitter/eldercare, waiting in long lines, dealing with incompetent poll workers, etc. etc. Kudos to Secretary Benson!

Erwin Haas
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 8:45am

The Republican staffer for the congressman in NC9 was caught, but had been doing it for years.

With mail in elections; If I wanted to get a libertarian elected, why I'd get my minivan over to a slummy neighbourhood in October, park it near a mailbox, and open the back hatch (for the shade or protection from rain) put up some sort of portable desk and sit next to it. I'd invited walkers to get me their ballots, fill 'em out in front of me and drop 'em into the mailbox and come back to pick up a pint of gin(-3 dollars wholesale.)

Perfectly legal.

Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:36pm

If it's not illegal, what is the problem? Have you been doing this?

Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:38pm

BTW if you read the ballot, what you describe is in fact illegal.

middle of the mit
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 8:01pm

Is it perfectly legal?

I wouldn't suggest you do that. But if you do, will you post when and where you are going to be on this board?

That way we can find out!

Some dude got in trouble for giving out weed just to register to vote.

Go for it!

Norm
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 9:55am

I don't know about fraud, all I know is that I never received a ballot from the Sec. of State....I figure someone else is voting in my place.

Janet Wagner
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 12:59pm

I didn't realize I could get an absentee BALLOT from the State. I thought we only get the absentee ballot APPLICATION from the State, then send it in to our local election clerk who then mails us an actual BALLOT.

Anonymous
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 3:42pm

Applications were sent, not ballots. You got a ballot only if you filled out the application. You are trying to pretend there is some conspiracy. There isn't.

Janet Wagner
Sun, 08/02/2020 - 12:47pm

Hey, Bridge! You have a misleading headline to this article. Pres. Trump is not "worried" about voter fraud. He knows that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. He is using "voter fraud" as his excuse for delaying the November vote and staying in office.

anna m
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 7:07am

I was hoping this article would shed some light on the question of HOW exactly they prevent fraud/what protections are in place.... regarding all those extra "registered voters" on the list who have actually moved, or died. We got applications for ballots for my in-laws, both of whom are deceased.

Seems if they would answer that question, it could provide some peace of mind to those concerned this process is ripe for fraud. Officials merely claiming "it doesn't happen" or "its tough to cheat" or "you'd have to commit multiple felonies" isn't pgood enough- and doesnt explain how they keep it from happening... and certainly doesnt put anyone's mind at ease.

middle of the mit
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 12:19pm

But Republicans claim the mailing of ballot applications invites fraud, with President Donald Trump on Thursday suggesting the November election could be delayed, a move that would require congressional approval.

Experts say there are very few proven cases of voter fraud by mail. Election clerks said someone would have to commit multiple felonies — opening someone else’s mail, falsifying a signature twice — in order to cast a single illegal ballot, all while leaving a paper trail.
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Maybe we should be told HOW voting absentee makes things more fraudulent despite evidence? But here is an answer to your question

[[[[[“If you want to get caught committing voter fraud, filling out someone else’s ballot is one of the best ways,” said David Becker, a former voting rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice who is founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research.

Security systems would detect an improper signature, Becker said, and if someone tried to vote for someone who was alive, they should “really hope and pray that person doesn’t show up to vote.”

That happened in Oakland County: a husband filled out his wife’s absentee ballot and sent it in. He was caught when the wife showed up to vote, said Lisa Brown, the county clerk. It’s the only example of mail-in fraud she said she’s seen in her nearly eight years as clerk.]]]]]
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“The cleaner you get it, the better,” said Sarah Bydalek, the Republican clerk of Walker in Kent County, who acknowledged “we have people who should be cancelled [from voter lists] but who aren’t.”

But she said she’s never found evidence of fraud in 13 years as clerk. When asked by Bridge if she worries about it because of the state’s inflated lists, she was blunt: “No I don’t.”

State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said some of his siblings, who have left the state, are still on the qualified voter roll.

We got applications for ballots for my in-laws, both of whom are deceased.]]]]

Are you telling me that people don't take personal responsibility for removing themselves from voting roles after they move and living relatives don't do the same for their deceased relatives?

What voting patriotism. Seems they don't really care about the accuracy of the roles........until they want to sow dissension............doesn't it?

realscience
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 9:40am

Nessel said they have checked and only sent to registered voters. funny, I received 4 at my house...2 for people who haven't lived there in 6 years or more and one of them is registered in another state. Plus, my husband already had his absentee ballot...so do we vote 5 times??? We wouldn't but other will, of that I am certain!

middle of the mit
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 5:09pm

Could you tell us how you know all about these people that used to live where you do now? And how do you know they weren't registered? That is the key question you pose, isn't it?

If you think you can get away with passing as any of those people and don't mind committing a felony, go ahead. Try it. See what happens. And PLEASE! Make sure to report back!

I always love to hear about republicans who are arrested trying to prove voter fraud.

Common sense
Tue, 08/04/2020 - 4:58pm

As a landlord with a number of properties I can attest to the fact that ballot applications are mailed to long-gone tenants or tenants I have never heard of, even properties I’ve owned for 15+ years. At worst, it could lead to voter fraud, at best it just suggests our Secretary of State is incompetent.

middle of the mit
Tue, 08/04/2020 - 8:11pm

Does that mean that every Secretary of State over the last 15 years is incompetent? And the only way they would be sending you ballot applications is if you were previously renting to disabled or elderly people over the age of 65, who up until 2019, were the only ones able to vote absentee by an application.

Who is going to commit fraud? You? You are the only one with the applications.

Elsie A. Owings
Thu, 08/06/2020 - 1:12am

Two points here: First, regarding mailing ballots, if a person has transportation, he/she can often bypass the US Post Office and just drop the ballot in your local city or township's drop-box. That's what I've been doing for years; I have to drive past my township office to go anywhere anyway, so I just drop off the ballot (or property tax payment, or whatever.)
Second, regarding inflated voter rolls, it does baffle me that the state in general isn't doing a better job of removing dead people from the rolls, but apparently some counties and townships are keeping up-to-date records, as evidenced by my own family. My parents had been absentee voters for years (including 2016), but Mom died in 2018 and Dad died just this past January at the age of 100. When the absent voter applications arrived this year, my husband and I received ours, but there were none for Mom or Dad, so apparently our local clerks had updated their records.
On a lighter note, though, I did receive a letter to my parents from the Federal Government saying that their government stimulus check would be deposited in their account. The account had already been closed, so that won't happen.

middle of the mit
Tue, 08/11/2020 - 7:00pm

Elsie,

First, sorry for your loss. Second, did the State send your parents applications for ballots? That could be the only difference between the State and local Governments. Third, do your parents still get their social security checks?

Just a curiosity? If they aren't getting them, how did they get a stimulus check?

Again, sorry for your loss.

Barb
Tue, 10/06/2020 - 10:39pm

I understood that we could vote early in Michigan by 45 days. So it took Berrien County ( extremely Republican) till Sept 30 to get ballots to my small town. I called on Oct 1 and was told they mailed them out same day. Small town, usually great post office delivery. And yet, it's October 6 and I still have not received my ballot. Seem that Trump has succeeded in delaying our vote in hopes of dropping it. I was told that had to be sent to Grand Rapids first. I feel that's definitely Republicans at work. Exactly what Trump wants. Very disappointed.