What to Know About Vote-By-Mail Security

Voting by mail has been around for a long time. The ability to cast absentee ballots was originally implemented for the benefit of soldiers serving in the US Civil War. Today, all fifty states allow mail-in voting under a variety of restrictions and conditions, and the method is popular among voters. Since 2010, roughly a quarter of all ballots cast in national elections were absentee or mail-in.

Election boards collect a good portion of ballots commonly referred to as “mail-in” from secure drop boxes. Those ballots don’t get into the postal system at all, but election officials process them the same as the mailed ballots.

Various groups and commissions have conducted many studies and investigations to assess the possibility of malfeasance connected with mail-in voting. None of the enquiries have uncovered widespread fraud. The mail-in-voting system is secure, and yet some remain skeptical about the validity of ballots cast by mail.

Paper Ballots Tough to Crack

In the US, each state administers their elections. They all have different election rules. However, all states have adopted rules to prevent fraudulent voting or ballot tampering. Paper ballots make large-scale election manipulation difficult. Suspicious behavior is easy to spot, and physical ballots can be audited should anyone question their validity. Sealed envelopes are tamper-resistant. Some states even include a separate secrecy envelope, protecting the ballot as it travels from voters to the election board headquarters.

Ballots are often printed with special inks in designated spaces or include other markings that enable election officials and ballot tabulating equipment to detect non-official ballots. These measures make it nearly impossible for counterfeit ballots to influence an election. Video surveillance, logs, and bi-partisan election teams and observers ensure election officials store ballots securely and handle them correctly. Any discrepancies or unanticipated events can be investigated at once.

When absentee ballots arrive at election headquarters, officials prove their authenticity by comparing information on the ballot envelope to voter registration records. This may include an automated, semi-automated, or manual signature verification, witness signatures, or oaths. States prevent double-voting by removing voter names from the poll books if they submitted absentee ballots. Ballot envelopes feature barcodes or serial numbers to identify duplicates. These numbers also allow election officials to track the status of individual ballots and allow voters to confirm that the election board received their votes.

Barcodes are used which contain metadata pertaining to each individual voter. This data includes the voter’s address and signature of record and in some counties, their social security number or driver’s license. The data is integrated with the voter registration database which indicates if the information is authentic and valid and if the voter is allowed to vote. Only one vote is allowed per registered and verified voter. It is impossible for anyone to vote more than once or vote in other precincts, counties or states. If any data does not match or is missing, the ballot is rejected and not counted.

Ballots designed to follow best practices, combined with ballot processing equipment like the Correct Elect System, allow jurisdictions to conduct mail-in voting securely while simultaneously enabling them to handle large volumes of ballots. In the latest national election, Tritek supplied many election boards across the country with the machines and software they needed to process an unprecedented volume of absentee ballots, with no security issues or election abnormalities.

— From Tritek Technologies. To learn more click here.