1/ The baseless claims that POTUS & AG Barr are making about "counterfeit" by-mail ballots are getting attention, w/ good reason. Many others like @MilesParks @NPR are doing a great job debunking these conspiracy theories. In this thread, I'll go deeper. https://twitter.com/npr/status/1275156942315536384?s=21
2/ Digging into the details of ballot processing & the technical features of ballots will show that "counterfeit" by-mail ballots can't be "dropped into" an election, willy-nilly. This thread is a detailed "drill down" on good ideas started by many others--with my thanks to them.
3/ w/FAQs, we'll see that...

- Blank ballots are *not* sent out en masse, w/out controls

- By-mail voting depends on voter identification, just like in-person voting

- Tech features of ballots make them hard to copy.
4/ Q: Will by-mail voting happen nationwide?

A: The U.S. doesn't have a uniform national election system -- in accordance with the Tenth Amendment, each individual state decides how to administer its own elections, or whether/how to offer by-mail voting.
5/ Despite what POTUS & Barr would have you believe, by-mail voting has broad bipartisan support. It's not a Rep-Dem divide. @OSET research found that w/ the pandemic, 48 of 50 states are currently offering some form of by-mail voting to all voters. https://bit.ly/2YCoGUO 
6/ Q: With by-mail voting, isn't there mass mailing of blank ballots to all manner of people? Doesn't it lack controls?

A: By-mail voting gives blank ballots only to registered voters, just like in-person voting. Election officials match voter reg records before sending ballots.
7/ Q: I thought that with by-mail voting, everyone gets a ballot?

A: No. Only 5 all-mail states proactively send blank ballots to all registered voters. During COVID-19, the vast majority of states are requiring voters to submit an absentee ballot *request* to get a ballot.
8/ With by-mail voting, states continue to implement all of their state-specific rules to determine eligibility & maintain integrity, incl. the need for IDs, signatures (under penalty of felony crime), and other forms of voter qualification.
9/ Since every ballot is tied to voter reg records, or to a specific ballot request, for a malicious 3d party to "counterfeit" a ballot," they would need to know personal voter information & they would need to send the fake at *exactly* the right time, i.e. before the real voter.
10/ Q: Can't someone simply recreate the ballot? Isn't it just a bunch of titles, names & ovals?

A: Hard to fake. To be accepted by voting sys scanners, ballots must be created with specialized software from the voting system. Only that SW can create a properly-formatted layout.
11/ For a ballot to be scanned as valid, a counterfeiter would need to know all of the following technical or logical specifications:

Codes that uniquely identify the specific election
Precinct codes
Specific election content
Exact placement of ovals/boxes
More barcode info
12/ IOW, when ballots get scanned, the voting sys will only recognize ballots that were programmed from the voting sys itself, through the use of SW that is secured in the elections back-office. Some of the validation info isn't even human-readable; it's invisible to the eye.
13/ Another wrinkle: diff ballot "styles:" in a given election, not all voters have ballots that look the same; e.g. depending on Federal, State, and other districts (which vary by address), an election could have 1000s of styles; a bad actor would need to get them exactly right.
14/ So far, to make a fake ballot that slips thru, you'd need to know personal voter reg info; whether the voter requested a ballot; time the fake ballot to arrive at the right moment; tech programming features; and complex styles.

But you also need to print exactly right...
15/ Q: What's so hard about printing a bunch of ballots? Isn't it like using a copier?

A: In addition to all of the ballot logic that a bad actor would need to get right (above), ballots & scanners require specific paper weights; exact margins & image sizes. If wrong >>rejected.
16/ Q: What's to prevent a fake ballot sent to the elections office from being accepted?

A: Assuming a bad actor could jump through all the difficult hoops to make a fake, when it's received, the envelope is validated w/ a barcode uniquely tied to a voter registration record.
17/ So, every incoming piece of mail is being checked for three things:

a) Does it have a barcode in the specific format that the elections office uses?

b) Does the barcode on the envelope link to a valid voter record; and

c) Was a ballot actually mailed to that voter?
18/ Q: What's to prevent someone from returning a ballot that is intended for a different eligible voter?

A: Ballots inside returned envelopes aren't accepted for counting until the voter's signature on the envelope is validated by authorized people - usually bipartisan teams.
19/ Signature verification is a critical part of ensuring that only valid ballots from eligible voters get counted. Larger jurisdictions even train their elections staff and bipartisan teams on handwriting analysis from forensic experts associated with the FBI, for example.
20/ To summarize, all of the following aspects of by-mail voting have a host of security protocols and safeguards:

- Outbound mailing of blank ballots
- Inbound validation of voted ballots
- Processing and scanning of ballots

Here are the details...
21/ The outbound is controlled:

Ballots are not sent en masse
Ballots are not sent to just anyone
Ballots are usually not sent proactively
Ballots are tied to validated records of eligible voters

If a returned ballot can't be associated w/ an eligible voter, it's investigated.
22/ The inbound in controlled:

Returned envelopes are barcoded
Returned envelopes are verified against mail records
Returned envelopes are verified with signatures

If a returned ballot fails any of these, it's investigated.
23/ Processing and scanning is controlled:

Ballots must meet all tech specs of voting sys software
Ballots must meet all logical data of election definition
Ballots must meet all printing specs

If a returned ballot fails any of these, it will be rejected by the scanner.
24/ And last but not least, don't listen to the inflammatory talk about "fraud" associated with by-mail voting. It's just talk, and the facts say otherwise.

Documented rates are incredibly small...less than zero percent; like, literally, fractions of a percentage point.
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