Las Vegas

Despite Trump’s claims, mail voting ensured smooth election

John Locher / AP

A county election employee scans mail-in ballots at a tabulating space on the Clark County Election Department, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas.

ATLANTA — The 2020 presidential election had all of the makings of a looming catastrophe: fears of Russian meddling, violence on the polls and voter intimidation, and ballot staff fleeing their posts due to the coronavirus.

But apart from the lengthy traces and minor technical glitches that occur each 4 years, the election unfolded easily. That’s due largely to 107 million voters — greater than two-thirds of the voters — casting ballots forward of time and taking strain off Election Day operations.

The comparatively trouble-free weeks of mail and early, in-person voting and Election Day balloting stand in stark distinction to the unsubstantiated claims of fraud now being leveled by President Donald Trump and his allies after the outcomes made it clear that he misplaced his bid for an additional time period.

“The 2020 general election was one of the smoothest and most well-run elections that we have ever seen, and that is remarkable considering all the challenges,” stated Ben Hovland, a Democrat appointed by Trump to serve on the Election Assistance Commission, which works intently with officers on election administration.

And the turnout was historic, with specialists predicting that the 2020 rate might hit heights not seen because the starting of the twentieth century, earlier than all ladies had been allowed to vote.

Hovland stated he has but to see any credible proof of widespread voter fraud, including: “If it’s one other baseless declare, it’s dangerous to our elections, disrespectful to the individuals who run our elections and is totally unacceptable.”

Two bipartisan groups representing state election officials said in a recent statement that ballots had been “safely and securely cast.”

Ahead of Election Day, the pandemic upended longstanding voting plans and forced election officials to make systemic changes largely on the fly. They did so with limited federal money to cover increased costs for mail ballots, which take more staff and money to send, process and count.

After problems erupted during spring primaries, the nation worried whether election officials could pull off a problem-free presidential election during a pandemic while confronting the threat of foreign interference from sophisticated adversaries led by Russia.

“In the spring, there were just so many challenges we were facing, and we were just wondering how we were going to manage to do it,” said Larry Norden, an elections expert with the Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s an incredible story.”

Long before a single ballot was cast, Trump raised questions about the integrity of the election and railed against mail voting despite a long history of mail ballots being used successfully in this country. At one point, he claimed the only way he could lose was if the election were rigged.

Some states that expanded mail-in voting to make it safer to cast a ballot during the virus outbreak lean Republican and voted for Trump — Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. He has raised no concerns about the results there.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to probe “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities.

The groundless claims pushed by Trump and his allies about voting and ballot counting have only intensified since The Associated Press and other news organizations called the race Saturday for Democrat Joe Biden, who leads in both the popular vote and in the Electoral College.

Among the many lawsuits filed since Election Day is one in Nevada by the Trump campaign alleging voter fraud. Without explanation, Trump tweeted that the state is “turning out to be a cesspool of Fake Votes.”

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, called the suit “a hail Mary” intended to “undermine the confidence in this election.”

“When they can’t stop you from voting, they try to stop your vote from counting,” he said.

On Monday, Georgia’s two U.S. senators, both Trump supporters facing close runoff elections that could determine who controls the Senate next year, called on the state’s top election official, a fellow Republican, to resign over unspecified claims of election mismanagement.

The official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, said he would not step down and assured the public there had been no widespread problems.

“Was there illegal voting? I’m sure there was, and my office is investigating all of it,” Raffensperger said. “Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely.”

Studies have repeatedly shown that voter fraud is exceptionally rare.

Much of Trump’s ire has centered on Pennsylvania, where the campaign has launched multiple lawsuits despite no indications of fraud or large-scale problems.

“On Election Day, we didn’t have any reports of anything significant,” stated Lisa Schaefer, who leads the bipartisan County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. “We have each purpose to have faith in the results of this election, as we do each different election.”

Some incidents did get consideration: In some Ohio and Texas counties, digital ballot books used to verify in voters had been sidelined when polls opened as a result of they had been nonetheless downloading a database replace. That pressured officers flip to paper backups or lengthen voting hours on Election Day. Some Georgia counties additionally grappled with ballot ebook points and with ballot-processing difficulties in a brand new statewide voting system.

That stated, the errors appeared to have occurred at decrease charges than in most elections, University of Iowa laptop scientist Doug Jones stated.

“The practical consequence of Trump’s call to vigilance to prevent fraud was increased scrutiny from both sides, and this increased scrutiny seems to have worked,” Jones stated. “Election officials have been more careful, and election procedures have been followed more scrupulously than usual.”

The federal company charged with main efforts to safe U.S. elections has stated there have been no vital issues apart from small, atypical glitches.

This yr’s presidential election marked a major step in using paper voting data, with extra ballots being cast both on paper or with an digital voting machine that generates a paper backup than in any earlier election. The election was additionally essentially the most clear. Several election workplaces provided dwell webcams to point out the ballot-review course of and added the flexibility for voters to trace their ballots via the method.

“The system held up given the extraordinary circumstances that election officials faced,” stated Amber McReynolds, who leads the National Vote at Home Institute. “Election officials managed to do their jobs even though, in most cases, they had one hand tied behind their back.”


Izaguirre reported from Lindenhurst, New York, and Carr Smyth from Columbus, Ohio. Associated Press writers Frank Bajak in Boston, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Ben Fox in Washington and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, contributed to this report.


Associated Press protection of voting rights receives help partly from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely answerable for this content material.


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