In the first debate between incumbent President Donald Trump and the Democratic nominee, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump reiterated that mail-in ballots lead to voter fraud and will lead to a rigged election. This claim is false. There is no evidence that mail-in ballots are rigging the election. "Unsolicited" mail-in ballots have been used for years in several states, with little to no evidence of voter fraud. In the 2016 US presidential election, nearly one quarter of votes were cast by mail, and that number is expected to rise this time round due to public health concerns over coronavirus.
At the debate Trump said, "As far as the ballots are concerned, it's a disaster." He went on to say that "a solicited ballot" is "OK" but an "unsolicited" ballot is not. And he added, later, that "It's a rigged election." This is not the first time Pres. Trump has claimed that the presidential election is "rigged" because of voter fraud via mail-in ballots. He has mentioned this numerous times at rallies and on Twitter.
Facts First: Trump is lying. The election is not rigged. Fraud is exceedingly rare in US elections -- whether with in-person voting, mail voting in states where voters have to request ballots or mail voting in states where all eligible registered voters are sent ballots without having to make requests.
Voters in nine states and the District of Columbia are being sent mail ballots without needing to request them. However, five of those states -- Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii and Washington -- have held their elections primarily by mail since before the pandemic, and there has not been any significant incidence of fraud.
Since Trump is alleging that Democrats are using mail voting to try to rig the election, it's worth noting that Utah is governed by Republicans; Vermont has a Republican governor, though a Democratic-controlled Legislature; and the top election officials in Nevada, Oregon and Washington are all Republicans. It's also worth noting that Republican election officials around the country have emphasized that mail voting is fair and secure.
Numerous studies have found little evidence that mail-in ballots help one party over another. Of the 16 states where more than half of voters voted by mail in the last presidential election, Mr. Trump won nine. Several Republican states like Iowa, Missouri and Alabama have expanded mail-in ballots this year.
And yet, Mr. Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that “Democrats are also trying to rig the election by sending out tens of millions of mail-in ballots” or that “they’re not sending them to Republican neighborhoods.”