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Election 2020 Facts: What is mail-in voting?

People have been voting by mail in the U.S. for close to a hundred years, but it's never been as big an issue as it is in the 2020 election. This is the start of a five-part animation series by The Associated Press, Election 2020 Facts (Sept. 21)

Video Transcript

- People have been voting by mail in the United States for nearly 100 years. But it's never been as big an issue as it is in the 2020 election. And there are two reasons for that.

First, more people are voting by mail than ever before. And that's because of the pandemic. It's made voting in person risky and hard to do because a lot of poll workers don't want to staff polling stations so fewer polling stations are open. There's been as much a tenfold increase in requests for mail ballots in states that don't usually do mail voting. Five states relied on mail in voting before the pandemic and had very few problems. It's considered a very safe and effective way to vote with very low rates of fraud.

The second reason mail voting has become an issue is President Trump, who has been claiming that widespread mail voting will inevitably lead to huge amounts of fraud. There is, again, little evidence for that. There are however, plenty of Republicans who'd like to vote by mail and want the party to continue voting by mail. And it's important to understand, that in the places where there is widespread mail voting, studies have shown that there is no big advantage to one party or the other.