In the wake of the 2020 election, Republican concerns about election security — particularly because of the pandemic-related increase in absentee voting.
While Democrats generally dismiss allegations that mail-in ballots are inherently more prone to fraud, anecdotal evidence continues to expose clear vulnerabilities that were exploited during that campaign.
Most recently, a Democratic city council member in Lodi, California, was arrested on suspicion of committing election fraud using a variety of techniques. Prosecutors say Shakir Khan forged voter registration forms, kept more than three dozen absentee ballots at his residence, and attempted to coerce locals to cast their votes for him.
Lodi CA Council Member Shakir Khan indicted for election fraud, had fraudulent absentee ballots, pressured people to “vote one for me, one for Biden.” pic.twitter.com/Eav2Ek9B1A
— Liz Harrington (@realLizUSA) February 20, 2023
According to court documents, Khan allegedly used his home address to register nearly two dozen voters and his phone number was used on 47 registration documents.
While this municipal election and the relatively few votes involved might not have the same significance of fraud on the state or federal level, it highlights the issue that many Republicans have sought to address for several years.
Even before mail-in ballots became the norm due to the ostensible COVID-19 risks associated with in-person voting, evidence showed that they were inherently unreliable. The Election Assistance Commission determined that more than 28 million absentee ballots were never counted in elections between 2012 and 2018 due to the fact that there is no failsafe method for tracking them.
This glaring flaw in the system is also easy for fraudsters to exploit, as Khan allegedly did in the run-up to his election victory in 2020.
Such concerns have prompted a growing number of Republicans to favor rules that would significantly reduce, or entirely eliminate, the opportunity for absentee voting.
Efforts have gained traction in a number of states, including New Hampshire, where state Rep. Mark Alliegro sponsored a bill that would require ballots to be counted by hand.
“It’s our responsibility, and it should be our desire, to count every vote and to imbue confidence in our citizenry that our elections are fair and free, and that their vote is being counted,” he said.
A Pew Research Center poll in 2021 revealed a partisan divide on the issue of absentee voting. While an overwhelming 84% of Democrats favored “no-excuse” early voting, just 38% of Republicans agreed.
The number of GOP respondents who backed such permissive absentee voting rules dropped by 19 points between 2018 and 2021.