Is Voter Fraud A Problem In Southernmost Illinois?

Many voters — especially those who vote Republican — are worried about the possibility of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. In Illinois, only 40 cases of voter fraud have been documented since 2000, which makes it extremely unlikely that voter fraud could turn the tide of an election. Bipartisan committees have long since acknowledged that widespread voter fraud in American elections simply does not exist. Trump’s own FBI director contradicted the president’s voter fraud scare tactics. 

But that hasn’t stopped the president from continuing to sow doubt about the authenticity of an election that he seems poised to lose by a landslide.

Some residents wonder if allegations of voter fraud are more or less likely because of the impending financial crisis due to coronavirus, which resulted in many people losing their jobs — and health insurance. Credit card debt relief attorney Ronald Samuel said, “People think that the next president will make or break this economy, and they’re dead set on voting one way or the other. Many of my clients worry that fraud is a big problem in 2020, but our associates know that widespread fraud is a myth and our problems won’t really go away no matter who’s in office.”

Voter fraud does exist, however — and in the highest of places. A widowed election judge who lived in Southernmost Illinois filled out a ballot for her deceased husband in 2016, voting for Trump. She was charged with voter fraud.

Cases like that have led to an increase in the number of inquiries about what happens if someone casts an early ballot and then dies. Some states allow the ballot to be counted while others do not accept its authenticity. Many advocates of allowing these ballots to be counted contend that the deceased were American citizens at the time of their death with the ability to vote because voting was already open — so why shouldn’t their votes be counted?

Others argue that the point is moot either way. Election officials have no way of knowing that a person who already cast a ballot has since died, making it very unlikely that these ballots are actually tossed. Why argue about something that no one can change?

But these “dead voter” allegations help fear mongers sow more doubt into an election. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said, “The ‘dead voters’ is used as a false narrative, a pretext for changes in some states to how they register voters or count ballots when the data shows otherwise.”

And it’s true that dead voters are often mentioned whenever someone alleges voter fraud. How often do we hear Trump say that millions of deceased individuals managed to cast ballots for Hillary in 2016? 

Southern Illinois District of Illinois U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft acknowledged the fact that even though voter fraud may not be widespread, people do have the right to know where and when it happens. 

Weinhoeft said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.”

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