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A look at the debate over mail-in voting for November's elections

WASHINGTON — For months President Donald Trump has railed against mail-in voting, claiming efforts to expand access to absentee ballots because of COVID-19 will lead to widespread fraud. But leading election security experts contend it’s unlikely the president’s claims will materialize, in part because of long-standing safeguards in place.

Trump, who has voted by mail three times in the last three years, has stepped up his attacks on universal mail-in voting as more Americans than ever are expected to vote by mail this November. He has demanded that states that plan on mailing ballots to all registered voters — including New Jersey, Nevada and California — reverse their plans, insisting that voters should be required to request absentee ballots from their local election board.

The president and his campaign have offered conflicting messages on mail-in voting — with Trump arguing an expansion will lead to “massive fraud and abuse,” while his campaign has encouraged supporters in ads and robocalls to trust mail-in voting as “a safe and secure way to guarantee your voice is heard.”

Election security experts contend that while there have been highly publicized cases of fraud involving mail-in voting, those cases generally highlight that systems put in place to detect fraud are working.

“Both mail-in voting and in-person voting have risks, but those risks can be managed,” said Jennifer Morrell, an elections security consultant with the firm The Elections Group. “Just like we have various policies and procedures around in-person voting, we have similar policies, procedures and controls around the mail-in ballot process that build layers of safeguards to defend the process from manipulation.”

How secure is mail-in-voting?

Is there evidence that foreign actors will look to distribute counterfeit ballots?

Is it illegal to cast both an absentee ballot and vote in-person?

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