Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman James Comer (1st District of Kentucky)
Two of the top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday sent letters to election authorities in New York City, Los Angeles and Ohio that are sending updated mail-in ballots to certain voters who got incorrect or mislabeled ballots, raising concerns about “error or fraud.”
The letters ask the jurisdictions about whether or not they have an accurate count of mislabeled or incorrect ballots, how they are ensuring voters are destroying those ballots, how they plan to track any duplicate ballots, and how they jurisdictions will keep people who are submitting mail ballots from voting in-person.
“The right to vote is a hallmark of American democracy and it is critical that we protect the integrity of our elections. But, with issues arising from coast to coast, I’m concerned that blanket mail-in balloting and the dramatic growth in absentee ballots this election cycle is ripe for fraud, abuse and chaos,” House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement.
Government Operations Subcommittee Ranking Member Jody Hice, R-Ga., added: “Americans deserve fair elections; tampering with the electoral process dissolves the roots of our Democracy.”
The jurisdictions in question did not do any election tampering, but instead were responsible for significant ballot-related foul-ups.
Franklin County, Ohio, sent about 50,000 ballots with incorrect races listed or to voters in incorrect precincts. The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk sent about 2,100 misprinted ballots that did not include the presidential race but double-printed state ballot measures. The New York City Board of Elections sent almost 100,000 absentee ballots with mismatched addresses to Brooklyn residents.
Each jurisdiction has made some effort to ensure people will not be voting twice. Franklin County told voters to discard their original ballots on a postcard and emphasized that there are redundancies “built into our system to ensure every voter is allotted only one vote. Sorting systems will drop out and not accept any replacement ballots that are submitted if a voter has already voted in person.”
The New York City Board of Elections told voters that they should destroy their original ballots, but that if they already submitted it they should still fill out the replacements and submit them. “The Board will ensure that the second ballot will be the only one that is counted,” it said in a letter, according to the New York Post.
And Los Angeles County, according to The Sacramento Bee, is also telling voters to trash their original ballots and submit the second ones.
“If they have already filled out and mailed their original ballot, we will cancel their original ballot once their new ballot is received,” Mario Vargas of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office said, according to The Sacramento Bee.
But the Republican representatives are concerned that those efforts are not enough.
“Substantive procedures to detect and prevent voters from casting multiple ballots are essential when conducting any election with a large mail-in component, which presents a voter with the opportunity to vote by mail and in person. This is not a hypothetical scenario,” the representatives say in each of the letters. “It was recently discovered that at least 1,000 residents voted twice in Georgia’s June 2020 primary, each having submitted an absentee ballot but then voting again in person on the day of the election.”
They added: “Yet such procedures become even more necessary where voters are erroneously receiving multiple absentee ballot packages, as receiving multiple ballots permits individuals to potentially fraudulently cast multiple ballots.”
The letters Wednesday come after Comer and Hice earlier this month sent similar letters, co-signed with House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to the Washington, D.C. Board of Elections (DCBOE), lighting into the board for “failure to take responsibility” for its voter rolls. There have been widespread reports of Washington, D.C. voters getting ballots that were addressed to previous residents of their dwellings or people who have died.
The DCBOE said that the “procedure” for auditing its voter rolls is simply that it would remove a voter from the rolls when it was alerted of a change by the voter themselves, their family if they have died, or a new resident of a person’s previous dwelling.
The presidential election is less than two weeks away and the early voting and mail voting totals are on pace to set records in many places. Several states have already reached more than 30% of their 2016 voter turnout. Nationally, almost a quarter of the total 2016 national voter turnout has been cast in the form of early ballots.