Gov. Greg Abbott says ‘We must end’ mail-in ballot fraud, points to KXAN investigation finding 150 charges since 2004

State & Regional

Gov. Greg Abbott (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday evening, Gov. Greg Abbott took to Twitter to call for the end of “mail ballot vote fraud in Texas.”

In a tweet, Abbott cited a Thursday KXAN Investigation, which found that in Texas, 150 people have been charged with voter fraud crime since 2004. The methods of voter fraud in these charges included ineligible felons casting ballots and people voting using names of deceased people.

“This shows Mail ballot vote fraud in Texas,” Abbott tweeted Friday. “We must end it.”

But many in the Governor’s replies pointed to the fact that 150 in 16 years does not necessarily reflect a widespread problem.

“150 out of 250,000,000 in 16 years?” someone responded.

Other replies included:

“It shows how difficult it is to get away with mail ballot vote fraud in Texas.”

“What it shows is that the fraud prevention measures we have in place work well.”

The Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan law and policy institute at the New York University Law School, has widely researched instances of voter fraud in the U.S. In one of its most noted reports, “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” the Brennan Center reports that “voter fraud” is most often exaggerated.

Additionally, the report says claims of voter fraud don’t take into account honest mistakes by voters: for instance, someone may not be aware they are currently ineligible to vote and may cast a ballot without knowing it.

The report also points to instances that it says can actually cause what may look like voter fraud, saying “irregularities” at polls can happen by actions other than voters.

“For example, flyers may spread misinformation about the proper locations and procedures for voting; thugs may be dispatched to intimidate voters at the polls; missing ballot boxes may mysteriously reappear. These are all problems with the election administration system… but they are not “voter fraud.”

The Brennan Center’s research also found that claims of “voter fraud” are often used as a way to disenfranchise legitimate voters — becoming a form of voter suppression.

Recent instances of claims of voter fraud include statements made by Pres. Donald Trump, who has said multiple times that the 2020 Presidential Election would likely be impacted by voter fraud. In the first debate of the election, Trump said, (in reference to mail-in ballots): “This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.”

Trump also urged voters to watch polls “very closely” during the first debate. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, the NAACP wrote that in Trump’s statement, “many heard a call for voter intimidation.”

A Saturday article in The Los Angeles Times looks to Republican voting expert Benjamin L. Ginsberg, who has represented many Republican candidates over 40 years. In a recent op-ed, Ginsberg said that Trump’s claims were “unsustainable” based on a lack of evidence.

“The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud,” Ginsberg wrote. “At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged. Absentee ballots use the same process as mail-in ballots — different states use different labels for the same process.”

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