Tens of thousands of ballots in Ohio and New York bear the wrong name of either candidate or voter. In California, Republicans have set up their own ballot boxes.
Three weeks before the US presidential election, there is a huge demand for ballot papers used to vote by mail. The country’s electoral system is under severe pressure as a result of the corona crisis and many Americans’ desire to avoid appearing physically on election day.
While President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that the many postal votes will lead to electoral fraud, his party, the Republicans, have set up unofficial ballot boxes in churches, gun shops and other premises in the state of California.
The state’s Minister of Justice Xavier Becerra has ordered that the boxes be removed and threatens that those who try to tamper with the election risk prosecution.
But Republicans have responded that they will not follow the order, which they say is in line with California’s liberal election law. It gives everyone the opportunity to collect votes and submit them to the electoral authorities.
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Record number of postal votes
Over ten million people have so far voted in advance of the US presidential election. That is several times as many as at the same time before the last presidential election in 2016, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.
US voters have asked for 75 million postal ballots, more than twice as many as the 33 million sent out four years ago.
But already now there are reports of problems that could weaken the credibility of the election in several states.
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In addition to printing errors, delays have been reported in both the sending out and the submission of the ballot papers. Errors in the handling of submitted ballot papers are reported, as in the state of Pennsylvania, where ballot papers have ended up in the trash.
There have also been reports of people receiving not just one, but several ballot papers.
Horror stories from the nomination elections earlier this year, in which tens of thousands of voters either did not receive a ballot paper or got them too late to vote, raise concerns. Then there were also thousands of ballot papers that were not stamped by the postal service, which made it impossible to check that they had been delivered on time.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that postal votes will lead to electoral fraud and promised to complain about the processing of ballot papers.
– Out of control. A choice with cheating !!! he tweeted last week when it became known that 50,000 residents of Columbus, Ohio, had been sent ballot papers with the wrong candidates.
Here the choice can be decided: – Many from my generation move back
But experts believe that the election process is currently going well, and that the problems are being inflated by the media.
Analyst Kevin Kosar at the American Enterprise Institute says that errors will appear along the way, but that it is good that they are detected early.
– It’s 2020, and everyone’s on their toes, says Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote At Home Institute.
– Will everything be perfect all the time? No. It has never been a perfect choice, she says and emphasizes that the election process works well in most places.
Fear poor capacity
McReynolds emphasizes that physical attendance also has its problems, as in the state of Georgia, where long queues were reported on Monday when the polling stations opened for advance voting.
– I actually think there are more problems with physical attendance, she says.
She fears problems on election day itself, especially in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which she believes have not set aside enough time to open, control and count millions of postal votes.
Since it is expected that far more Democrats than Republicans will vote by mail, there is great uncertainty about how long it will take to declare a winner, and whether the one who seems to have received the most votes on election day will be the one actual winner.
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The fact that the Republicans have now started to set up their own submission boxes in selected places does not make the situation easier. They have also given clear notice that they will not follow the order to remove them.
Democrat Alex Padilla in the state government emphasizes that only local election officials are allowed to set up official ballot boxes where people can come and hand in their postal votes. There are rules for how often they should be emptied.
Unofficial boxes are not regulated in the same way, which increases uncertainty.
In addition to the order to remove the boxes, the state justice minister has also asked the party to give the state authorities the names, addresses and birthdays of all voters who have used the unofficial boxes.
As a result of the corona pandemic and fear of infection, California has for the first time sent out postal votes to all registered voters, over 21 million people. The ballot papers come with a return envelope with prepaid postage.