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Mail-in voting doesn't benefit either party or invite more fraud, study says

A man wears a protective mask as he passes a row of U.S. Postal Service mailboxes on Wall Street in New York City on March 20. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
A man wears a protective mask as he passes a row of U.S. Postal Service mailboxes on Wall Street in New York City on March 20. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- Mail-in voting doesn't favor one political party over another, nor does it invite more frequent incidents of fraud, according to new research at Stanford University.

The study, published Wednesday, found that despite opposition from President Donald Trump and other Republicans to using mail-in ballots, the postal voting method doesn't prove to be more beneficial to Democrats or Republicans.

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Stanford University's Democracy and Polarization Lab studied the issue by reviewing data from three states that used vote-by-mail between 1996 and 2018. Researchers found the method didn't appear to "affect either party's share of turnout" or "increase either party's vote share."

The study did find, however, that the method increased "overall average turnout rates" by about 2 percent -- but saw "a truly negligible effect" on turnout based on party.

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The idea of expanding mail voting has been pushed by voting rights advocates in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic makes even modest gatherings of people dangerous. Public health experts warned the COVID-19 outbreak will likely continue until scientists develop a vaccine, something that could take more than a year.

That means the November presidential election could prove to be particularly challenging for officials seeking to maintain social distancing guidelines.

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"No American should have to choose between making their voice heard and staying safe," former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted on the topic Monday.

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Many states, such as Texas, allow mail-in voting but only for those with a disability or illness, are 65 or older, are confined in jail, or will be out of the United States during the election period.

Trump and some Republicans have opposed mail-in ballots.

"People cheat. Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they're cheaters. ... They're fraudulent in many cases," Trump, who voted by absentee ballot in Florida, said last week.

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The conservative Honest Elections Project this week announced the launch of a $250,000 ad campaign with the tag line "It should be easy to vote, hard to cheat."

"There are a lot more opportunities for malfeasance," in mail-in ballots, Honest Election Project Executive Director Jason Snead told NBC.

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Bass Pro Shops marketing manager David Smith (R) carries a box of donated face masks into Mercy Health in Chesterfield, Mo., on May 13. The company is donating 1 million FDA-approved ASTM Level 1 Procedure Face Masks to healthcare workers and first responders working on the front lines of the pandemic. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
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