Chances of election fraud: count it out in Erie County

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Claims by some politicians of election rigging and fraud have caused many voters to wonder if their ballot choices on November 8 are in jeopardy. Will their vote truly count, or is there a chance it can be hijacked?

Erie County elections officials insist, chances of widespread voter fraud are beyond slim to none—they are more like miniscule to none. Election Board Commissioner Ralph Mohr said, even if voting machines were stolen, they have the technology to make sure every vote counts.

Mohr pointed out, every single vote is crucial, “We’ve had races in Erie County, countywide, decided by 5 votes. We have had several races decided by a single vote,” and for that reason culling out errors and ineligible voters is just as important.

To vote legally, a resident has to be registered to vote at least 25 days before the election, and if a voter shows up at their respective polling place, and their name does not match up with a name in the poll book, Mohr said they are issued an affidavit ballot.

“But instead of depositing it at the polling place into the scanner machine, you will then put it in a sealed envelope, bring it back to the inspector, and the inspector sends it down to the Board of Elections, sealed.”

Then Mohr said, after two-to-four weeks of research the affidavit ballot’s authenticity, if elections officials determine the ballot is valid, it gets counted–if not, it doesn’t.

But there is a vulnerability, the Republican Elections Commissioner concedes, although miniscule, that someone who has died recently can vote, hypothetically. Mohr explained there are multiple safeguards.

Among them, state health officials provide an annual list of deaths, which are matched against the voter rolls. If someone dies and their will or assets end up in Surrogate Court, the board sends staff to confirm a voter’s passing so their name can be removed.

“If there is an estate proceeding, which was started, we would go down and we would have the information necessary to remove those individuals from the voting rolls.”

But in some cases, Mohr said, elections officials might have to depend on family members of those deceased to report their passing, until the death becomes public record.

“The last thing that a family thinks of, is to notify the Board of Elections when someone passes away, and we don’t expect them to have to do that.”

The chance of someone voting from the grave? Commissioner Mohr says, zero. In the 24 years Mohr has been with the Board of Elections, the commissioner could only recall three criminal prosecutions for voter fraud.

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