U.S. state election officials say little evidence of absentee ballot fraud

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FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian passes a sign urging people to vote outside the site of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which will be a largely virtual event due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., August 17, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top election officials from two states told Congress on Friday they have seen little evidence of absentee ballot fraud in U.S. primary elections this year and do not expect it to be a big issue in the November general election.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that a rise in mail-in voting will lead to a rise in fraud, though he has expressed more openness to absentee voting, which is the way he has cast ballots.

Authorities in Michigan, a swing state that Trump won in 2016 but polls suggest he could lose in 2020, so far this year have found “zero evidence of fraud or irregularities,” the state’s top election official, Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told the House Committee on Homeland Security.

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Michael Adams, secretary of state in solidly Republican Kentucky, said voting in his state’s June primary election likewise was clean of fraud.

Asked whether he had seen evidence of outside forces, such as foreign governments, seeking to interfere in this year’s elections, Adams said Kentucky authorities sensed some “rattling on our doorknobs,” but offered no details.

Benson said likewise her state had encountered some evidence of foreign attempts at election interference, but also did not offer details.

To make absentee voting more secure and accessible, Benson said Michigan will deploy 1,000 “drop boxes” across the state where voters can directly deposit their absentee ballots for subsequent counting by election officials.

Adams said in Kentucky, Republican voters expressed the most enthusiasm for drop boxes, and he said more drop boxes would be deployed for the November election but would be kept under “continuing surveillance” to ensure against fraud.

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