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Fact check: Stephen Miller carries water for Trump in promoting mail-in voting conspiracies

Updated 2:57 PM ET, Fri July 31, 2020

Washington (CNN) - In an attempt to bolster President Donald Trump's false narrative against mail-in ballots, senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller continued spreading erroneous claims on Friday about voting by mail.

In an interview on Fox News, Miller falsely suggested there are no checks on mail-in ballots, claiming that non-citizens can easily vote in presidential election.

"Nobody who mails in a ballot has their identity confirmed," Miller said on Fox News. "Nobody checks to see if they're even a US citizen. Think about that."

Facts First: Miller is wrong. Non-citizens are explicitly not permitted to register to vote in federal elections and all mail-in ballots are authenticated in several ways.

In response to Miller's comments, Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine, professor and one of the nation's top experts in election law, told CNN, "This is false. To begin with, everyone who registers to vote swears under penalty of perjury that they are a US citizen."

Five states already use mail-in ballots as their primary method of voting and 28 states allow voters the option of voting by mail without having to provide a reason, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan, liberal-leaning think tank. In both 2016 and 2018, approximately 25% of US voters cast mail-in ballots.

The Brennan Center notes "[n]one of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change" and that fraud from mail-in ballots as a whole is "infinitesimally small."

All states allow absentee voting, some under certain conditions. These ballots are also mailed in.

In all the above cases, the identity of the voter is confirmed in some manner.

Hasen told CNN that "identity is absolutely confirmed via things like signature matches, use of driver's license numbers, witness requirements or otherwise."

One of the primary ways voter ID is verified is through the ballot envelope. Most ballot envelopes also have a bar code that lets voters confirm that their ballots have been received and allows states to easily eliminate any duplicate ballots because a unique code is assigned to each voter.

The Brennan Center also says that, in the ballot, "voters must include personal identifying information (such as address, birthday, and driver's license number or last four digits of a Social Security number)," which are used to prevent voter fraud.

About a third of states verify signatures as well and match voter information from ballots to existing voter registration records.

Miller also claimed that the House Democrats' recent stimulus package included a section that barred voter identification. The HEROES Act would change voter ID law around federal elections, permitting a voter to "make a sworn written statement attesting to their identity to fulfill the identification requirement." This would not apply to certain first-time voters "who submitted their voter registration by mail."

Justin Levitt, a professor at the Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, reviewed US elections from 2000 to 2014 and found 31 incidents of voter fraud from that time, during which more than a billion total votes were cast.


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