To prevent fraud, all votes have to be verified to be counted. States have different ways to do that for
in-person voting, but by mail, the principal method used to detect and prevent fraud is by verifying information on the mail ballot itself, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy institute.
To vote by mail, voters must include personal identifying information, such as an address, birthday, driver’s license number or last four digits of a Social Security number. A voter’s remaining personal information is matched against the information stored on voter rolls, such as
States verify mailed ballots in
different ways. For example, Alabama requires a copy of the voter’s ID to be included and either two witnesses older than 18 or a notary public must sign the envelope in addition to the voter. In Maine, a signature by the voter on the envelope is compared to the signature on the absentee ballot application. Likewise, Colorado uses bipartisan teams who compare the signature on every ballot to ones the state has on file for every registered voter.
As voting absentee expanded, the terminology evolved. According to the
National Conference of State Legislators, states have chosen to use different terms to describe absentee voting, including “advance ballots,” “mailed ballots,” “by-mail ballots,” “mail ballots” or “vote-by-mail ballots.”
“This issue highlights the fact that we have a diversity of approaches to election administration in the United States,” Michael Thorning, associate director of governance at the Bipartisan Policy Center,
told the Washington Post. “Some people have called it voting at home, some people have referred to it as voting outside of the polling place. But at the end of the day, these are systems for delivering ballots to voters.”
Despite differing terminology, it all refers to the same thing: using mail to deliver ballots and sending those filled-out ballots back via mail as well.
Generally speaking, the term “absentee ballot”
typically refers to ballots that are requested and then mailed, while “mail-in ballot” — though often used interchangeably with “absentee” in a way that’s also correct — might refer to universal mail-in policies in some states. Distinction between universal mail-in voting and absentee policies amplified by politics
The term “universal mail-in voting” refers to a mail balloting system in which ballots are automatically mailed to all registered voters. Only nine states and the District of Columbia plan to hold universal mail-in elections this year, USA TODAY
“It’s a tiny number of states that do this,” Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York School of Law, told USA TODAY. “And they’re not the states that are probably going to determine the outcome of the presidential election.
“In the vast majority of states, voters are given the option to vote by mail, and we should expect that if the primaries were any indication, that many, many people are going to choose that option.”
Trump has attempted to make a distinction between absentee ballots and the ones received in states that use in universal mail-in policies.
“Absentee ballots, by the way, are fine,” Trump
told reporters Aug. 13. “But the universal mail-ins that are just sent all over the place, where people can grab them and grab stacks of them, and sign them and do whatever you want, that’s the thing we’re against.”
But the only difference between the absentee and universal mail-in voting is that in states that use universal mail-in voting, registered voters don’t have to ask to have ballots sent to them. Regardless of the system, a person must be registered to vote to receive the ballot. And for any mailed-in vote to be counted, the voter’s information must be verified by state elections officials.
Our rating: False
We rate the claim that “absentee” and “mail-in” ballots are different, because absentee requires proof of identity and mail-in does not, as FALSE because it was not supported by our research. Absentee and mail-in ballots are both processes for voting by mail. The only difference between them is that states with universal mail-in systems do not require registered voters to request ballots – they just send them. All mailed ballots must be verified to be counted.