- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 6, 2020

A legal foundation has filed two court briefs that assert that double voting by the thousands happened in 2016-2018 in Georgia and North Carolina, as the nation prepares for its first large-scale, mail-in balloting to elect a president.

Anti-universal mail ballot activists say the two states are a tip-off for what will happen in the Nov. 3 election.

Liberal journalists demand that the Trump administration, which opposes mass-mailed ballots in most states, provide evidence of fraud. The counterargument is that it is difficult to cite such examples when only a handful of states before 2020 adopted remote voting.

Those unique balloting procedures painstakingly took years to perfect the checks and balances needed to avoid doubling voting. Today, because of the coronavirus pandemic, 22 states are fast-tracking the shift from in-person voting and toward the U.S. Postal Service, according to Ballotpedia.

Experts estimate that 80 million Americans will vote by mail in the 2020 general elections, about double those in 2016, when a total of 138 million people cast ballots for president in person or from afar.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) has investigated instances in which fraud already may have occurred.

Clark County, Nevada’s largest, decided to switch to mail-in ballots just two months before its June primary. The result: nearly 225,000 of 1.3 million mailed ballots (17.3%) were sent back by the Postal Service as undeliverable. Only 305,000 mail-in ballots (23.5%) were accepted and counted, according to numbers provided to PILF.

In this year’s primary seasons alone, election boards across the country have rejected 534,000 ballots, compared with 318,716 in the 2016 election.

“American voters have a variety of warning signs demonstrating why voting in person in 2020 is the safest option to ensure their vote counts,” PILF spokesman Logan Churchwell told The Washington Times. “Even if they trust the postal system enough to get their votes handled on time, they still risk historic amounts of rejected ballots.”

Federal law prohibits voting more than once in the same election. From press reports, it appears that most mailed ballots are rejected because the voter’s signature does not match the one on file.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), based in Indianapolis, and Judicial Watch, based in Washington, D.C., are the two leading conservative watchdogs committed to rooting out what they say are antiquated state voter lists, illegal noncitizen voters and sloppy mail-in balloting.

PILF picked North Carolina and Georgia, where lawsuits are pending, to request a huge amount of voter data and then file two court briefs.

In North Carolina, auditors found nearly 20,000 voters who appeared to have voted twice in the 2016 and 2018 elections.

“This is a widespread concern in North Carolina,” PILF President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams said after filing a court brief in July. “We should be talking about how to strengthen our systems against misdeeds done out of the sight of election officials in 2020 instead of defending an imperfect system from total ruin. The plaintiffs are only raising the threat of worsening the settled fact that voter fraud is most common in the mail.”

In Georgia, PILF not only found more than 4,000 dead people on the rolls but also calculated that about 10,000 registrants voted twice in 2016 and 2018.

“It is paramount that Georgia’s election officials investigate and confirm the registrations PILF flagged and further examine Georgia’s voter rolls for other duplicate entries prior to the entry of any injunctive relief that would exacerbate these defects,” the group’s brief said, welcoming state officials to fact-check its audit.

Judicial Watch also has been active on the legal front. It has sued at least six local election agencies to clean up voters lists studded with the dead or the departed. The watchdog has found that some county lists are so bloated they have more registered voters than they have residents.

In 2019, the group found about 2.5 million such “extra voters” nationwide. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said that 20% of counties in Washington state and 67% in Colorado have more registered voters than people.

“No reason to believe things have gotten much better since,” Mr. Fitton told The Washington Times.

Judicial Watch sued California after Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed sending mail-in ballots to everyone, even residents who have not voted in years. Mr. Fitton said the legislature changed the law to ensure that ballots only go to “active” voters.

Mr. Fitton also has sent letters warning of a pending lawsuit unless voter lists are updated. He said that Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, for example, removed 69,000 names after such a warning.

Nevada has become ground zero in the vote by mail debate. Not only did Clark County mail ballots — as opposed to ballot applications, as did other counties — it sent ballots to everyone on its list, including inactive voters.

On the state level, Democrats have approved “ballot harvesting,” which allows third parties to collect ballots and take them to official vote counters.

After President Trump read stories about what Nevada did, he declared the state a loss for Republicans. His campaign has challenged the new law in court.

The Las Vegas-centered Clark County has Nevada’s largest collection of voters, with 493,264 Democrats and 340,102 Republicans, according to Nevada’s secretary of state.

Five states — Washington, Utah, Hawaii, Oregon and Colorado — have conducted all-mail voting. Every registered voter receives a ballot by default. Voters can mail the ballot or drop it off at a designated receptacle. They also can vote in person.

All states provide what are commonly called absentee ballots: A voter applies individually for an application or ballot, fills it out, signs it and mails it back.

This differs from mass-mail voting in which everyone receives an application or ballot, whether requested or not.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, does not share Mr. Trump’s fear about mail-in voter fraud. He said the Treasury Department has pledged up to $10 billion to make sure the U.S. Postal Service can do its expanded job.

Kentucky offers absentee ballots but is not one of the new states doing automatic mailings. The state expects the vast majority of voters to vote in person.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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