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EDITORIAL: Absentee ballot fraud concerns lead to new election

Reality is catching up to those who downplay the possibility of absentee and mail ballot fraud.

This month, a Connecticut judge set a new election date for a previously conducted mayoral primary. At issue is the Sept. 12 contest between Democrat Mayor Joe Ganim and his challenger, John Gomes. Mr. Ganim won the primary by 251 votes out of around 8,200 ballots cast. Mr. Gomes did better with in-person voters, but Mr. Ganim won after absentee ballots were tallied.

That disparity isn’t proof of fraud, of course. But there was surveillance footage showing Ganim supporters appearing to put multiple absentee ballots into outdoor collection boxes. Talk about stuffing the ballot box. The women seen in the video were called to testify about their activities. They declined to answer questions, invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Mr. Ganim denied any wrongdoing, but during a previous stint as mayor, he was convicted of corruption. He did seven years of hard time before being released and winning his old job back. How does a man convicted of corruption keep winning mayoral elections? When the election system is insecure, perhaps that question answers itself.

This isn’t the only recent example of potential fraud involving mail ballots. In Lawrence, Massachusetts, at least two voters tried to cast ballots on Election Day but were told they had already voted. They claim they didn’t. One man checked his home security cameras and saw a woman appearing to steal ballots from his mailbox.

These incidents highlight the vulnerability of indiscriminate mail voting, especially in states such as Nevada that mail ballots to every registered voter. People can steal the ballots. Signature verification is weak. The chain of custody regarding ballots is far from secure.

These events can’t be dismissed as the evidence-free fantasies of Donald Trump. Neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts is a Republican stronghold. The elections involved were low-profile. Yet there’s strong evidence that someone involved cheated. That’s an obvious observation, not a conspiracy theory.

It’s simply not possible to know how often this happens. People who commit election fraud felonies aren’t going to admit it afterward, like some sort of murder mystery dinner reveal. Security is especially important in low-turnout elections where a few dozen ballots can change the result. In Nevada, numerous elections for state and local offices have been within a few hundred votes. It’s vital to have a system that bad actors can’t exploit.

What happened in Connecticut and Massachusetts is a reminder that universal mail balloting — initiated in Nevada as a “temporary” measure during the pandemic — can indeed present election security issues. Nevada lawmakers should take heed.

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