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VERIFY: Will mail-in ballots lead to a 'rigged' 2020 election?

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that voting by mail would lead to a rigged election in 2020.

AUSTIN, Texas — President Donald Trump posted comments on Twitter stating he thinks that voting by mail will lead to voting fraud. 


Our Verify team set out to check into these claims. 

KVUE spoke with Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvior, who told KVUE ballot forgeries by foreign countries are unheard of. She added it's impossible to infiltrate the 10,000 local election offices across America. 

Debeauvior said ballots are unique for each voter and vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, making it difficult for fraud. Ballots contain specific information, bar codes and timing marks so they can be read by a scanner. The scanners can tell if a ballot does not meet specifications.

Also, voters only receive their unique ballots after it's verified that they are on the voter registration roll. 


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Here is Debeauvior's full response to KVUE: 

"Ballot forgeries by foreign countries are unheard of and impossible to infiltrate the 10,000 local elections offices across America. The decentralized structure of American elections means there is no one point of failure, no pathway to get access to election offices. (At this point, we could have a conversation about the much higher risks of errors or mischief due to an “inside job” by an in-house election worker. Still difficult and very likely to get caught.)

"There is no such thing as “a ballot”. Jurisdictions have individual ballots created for each voter depending on where the voter lives. Each precinct or neighborhood in the county has its own unique set of applicable offices and issues. In Travis County, we typically have over 700 ballot styles, meaning 700 neighborhoods each get their unique ballot style. These formats are set up in an internal database and tested for accuracy and completeness. Information about all the candidates and issues that will appear on each ballot is created about 60 days before election day. Candidate filings are not available beforehand. There is a very quick timeframe between the time the elections official gets certified ballot language, and the time the ballots are prepared.

"Voters get their unique ballot after being checked-off the voter registration roll. The request process starts with a properly registered voter listed in the voter registration database, not a ballot document. This database also is unique to each election. The roll is certified and sent to the elections official from the Voter Registrar 30 days before election day which is about two weeks before early voting starts. Again, another really quick timeframe. 

"Paper ballots are difficult to forge. They contain specific information for one neighborhood, and have bar codes and timing marks that are constructed to be read by a scanner. The scanner knows if the ballot does not meet specifications.

"One final point: We have learned over the past several years that an expensive, difficult, and successful hack of an internal excel spreadsheet is not really necessary to disrupt an election. All bad actors have to do is say they have infiltrated. Social media will do the job of spreading the lie. You don’t need to hire expensive cyber-hackers, foreign or domestic, to actually complete the hack. You only have to convince people on social media that the ballots are invalid to achieve the goal of disruption or reduced voter confidence. Words matter."

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