Filipino Amer­i­cans take safe­guards to pro­tect their votes in US polls | Global News
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Filipino Amer­i­cans take safe­guards to pro­tect their votes in US polls

Texans Casts Their Vote On Last Day Of Early Voting In The State

People wait in line to vote at Fretz Park Branch Dallas Public Library on the last day of early voting on October 29, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images/AFP

Gina Soli­man (not her real name) has al­ready filled up her mail-in bal­lot, vot­ing for Joe Bi­den for pres­i­dent in the 2020 United States elec­tions.

Two weeks ago, she and her hus­band, both Fil­ipinos who mi­grated to the United States in 2000, went to their county in North Carolina to per­son­ally de­liver their bal­lots even though they could al­ways mail them back to au­thor­i­ties.

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Hav­ing asked for bal­lots to be mailed to them to pro­tect them from the new coro­n­avirus, the cou­ple nev­er­the­less took a few min­utes’ trip from their home to their des­ig­nated county drop-off point to hand in their bal­lots.

“We want to pro­tect our votes,’’ she told the In­quirer, when asked why she went to all that trou­ble. The Soli­man cou­ple lives in North Carolina, one of 12 US states said to be the bat­tle­ground for the 2020 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

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Soli­man said the de­sire to pro­tect their votes came af­ter hear­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing the Oct. 2 pres­i­den­tial de­bate be­tween him and Bi­den, his Demo­cratic Party ri­val.

Trump had ques­tioned the in­tegrity of mail-in bal­lots.

Trump cited in par­tic­u­lar the case where some mail-in bal­lots were dumped in rivers in Wis­con­sin.

No miss­ing bal­lots

But the US me­dia has since re­ported that Wis­con­sin of­fi­cials have de­nied there were miss­ing ab­sen­tee bal­lots.

How­ever, the US Postal Ser­vice is con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter au­thor­i­ties re­ported that some bal­lots were tem­po­rar­ily lost in a batch of mail found in a ditch in Wis­con­sin.

While the Soli­man cou­ple are con­cerned over the pro­tec­tion of their votes, David Levine, Elec­tions In­tegrity Fel­low at the US Al­liance for Se­cur­ing Democ­racy, said mail-in vot­ing was a “se­cure process.’’

“We’ve had mail-in vot­ing right in the United States since the Civil War. We’ve seen state and lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum that have some form of mail-in vot­ing that ex­ists,’’ said Levine, who be­longs to a group sup­port­ing elec­tion se­cu­rity in the United States.

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Mail-in vot­ing fraud ‘rare’

Brief­ing par­tic­i­pants of the US For­eign Press Cen­ter Vir­tual Re­port­ing Tour on the 2020 US elec­tions, which in­cluded the In­quirer, Levine stressed that fraud in US elec­tions, in­clud­ing mail-in vot­ing, was “rare.’’

“I think there’s been a num­ber of stud­ies that have been done right in this both in gov­ern­ment, as well as in the re­search com­mu­nity that in­di­cate that fraud is rare,’’ he said.

Levine men­tioned an op-ed in The Hill where Am­ber Reynolds, a for­mer Colorado elec­tion of­fi­cial and now the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Na­tional Vote at Home In­sti­tute, and Charles Stew­art, di­rec­tor of the MIT Elec­tion Data and Science Lab, wrote that more than 250 mil­lion bal­lots had been cast by mail na­tion­wide over the past 20 years but just 143 crim­i­nal con­vic­tions re­lated to them.

Safe­guards in place

“That av­er­ages out to about one case per state every six or seven years, or a fraud rate of 0.00006 per­cent,’’ he said.
Levine as­sured that state and lo­cal of­fi­cials had a num­ber of checks and bal­ances in place to en­sure there would be no elec­tion fraud.

“(V)ot­ers should feel con­fi­dent that safe­guards are in place to pro­tect their votes from cy­ber­at­tacks and tech­ni­cal prob­lems that could arise for the Novem­ber 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,’’ Levine added.

He cited the “sub­stan­tial progress made to im­ple­ment the kind of backup and se­cu­rity fea­tures that should al­low all vot­ers to cast bal­lots that will be counted even in the event of a suc­cess­ful cy­ber­at­tack or other un­fore­seen sys­tems fail­ure.’’

These in­cluded the US gov­ern­ment mak­ing sure that “there will be a pa­per record of nearly every vote for 2020,’’ he said.

In the ques­tion and an­swer por­tion, Levine cited safe­guards that elec­tion of­fi­cials had set up to pro­tect against fraud and ma­nip­u­la­tion in mail-in vot­ing.

These in­cluded, among oth­ers, sig­na­ture ver­i­fi­ca­tion of vot­ers through the use of sig­na­ture match­ing soft­ware in some states; the use of mail bal­lot tech­nol­ogy; and more op­tions to sub­mit mail bal­lots that in­cluded states
in­stalling “ac­ces­si­ble, se­cure drop boxes and drop-off lo­ca­tions that make it eas­ier for vot­ers to drop off their bal­lots per­son­ally as op­posed to re­ly­ing on a third party, such as the (US) Postal Ser­vice, to as­sist with this task.’’

The last op­tion was the one taken by the Soli­man cou­ple, who went to the drop-off sta­tion to hand in their bal­lots per­son­ally.

Levine said they ex­pected a record num­ber of mail-in vot­ing this elec­tion as well as a large num­ber of peo­ple vot­ing in per­son.

As of Oct. 30, more than 85 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have voted early—either by mail or in per­son, ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing News which quoted the US Elec­tions Pro­ject. It said the num­ber of Amer­i­cans who have voted early so far com­prised 62 per­cent of the to­tal num­ber of Amer­i­cans who voted in the 2016 elec­tions.

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