WASHINGTON (SBG) — President Donald Trump started his Friday morning by tweeting his opinion that mail-in voting would lead to a rigged election, despite data that shows mail-in ballots have not led to widespread fraud.
As coronavirus cases increase in more than 30 states, many secretaries of state are making it possible for more voters to cast their ballot by mail.
In a tweet, Trump said "mail-in ballot fraud found in many elections."
Darrell West, the vice president and director of governance studies at Brookings Institution said that's simply not the case.
“There’s very little evidence of fraud that takes place," West said. “In primary elections we saw many Americans avail themselves of mail-in ballot and the system actually worked pretty well.”
West said there are many protections in place to ensure election security when voters cast ballots by mail. He cautions people to understand the difference between voter fraud and error.
"There certainly are cases where local officials don’t do their jobs and people request ballots and they don’t get sent out but it’s very localized," West said. "It’s not systematic fraud and it doesn’t really have any impact on the election.”
John Malcolm, the vice president for the Heritage Foundation's Institute for Constitutional Government said it's impossible to know how much voter fraud has been committed.
“My guess is that if we had more robust voter integrity laws and people actually paid attention to them and prosecuted cases of actual voter fraud, you’d find probably that there is quite a bit of voter fraud," Malcolm said. "I cannot prove that but I can’t prove the opposite.”
The Associated Press has reported Trump voted absentee by mail, as has Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and 12 other White House and Trump campaign officials.
The president's son Donald Trump, Jr. and Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump lent their voices to robocalls that encouraged voters to cast their mail-in ballots for a Republican congressional candidate in California.
“You can safely and securely vote for Mike Garcia by returning your mail-in ballot by May 12," Lara Trump said a robocall for the now congressman-elect.
Malcolm said he has no issue with voters mailing in ballots who have a "legitimate reason for doing so" but thinks it's too risky to make mail-in ballots automatically available to every voter.
"I just want to make sure that only legitimate voters are getting those ballots, which usually means that they should request them," Malcolm said.
The issue of allowing all voters to vote by mail has become political. Arguments against it often come from Republicans.
“What Republicans worry about is if you make voting easier, there are gonna be more young people and minorities who vote and those groups tend to favor Democrats but what they’re ignoring is, and particularly in a COVID era, senior citizens actually like mail-in balloting," West said.
West said there is little evidence to suggest mail-in voting benefits one party over the other.
“If you make it easier to vote, it makes it easier for everybody," West said.
Though Trump is critical of the method, the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission published guidance for local officials to expand mail-in voting.