Stacey Abrams predicts election 'chaos’ unless Congress expands mail-in voting nationally

Abrams, a potential running mate for Biden, says states sending out ballots automatically to voters won’t increase chances of voter fraud

Updated: August 3, 2020 - 10:53pm

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Stacey Abrams, former Democratic leader of the Georgia House and potential 2020 Democratic vice presidential candidate, predicted "chaos" in the November election without more federal funding for states to expand voting by mail.

President Trump criticized the Nevada legislature for recently passing a bill to allow ballots to be automatically sent to every voter in the state. He's also tweeted about the mail voting fraud in a local Patterson, N.J. election as an example of what could happen on a larger scale in November.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom previously announced that the state would send every registered voter a ballot automatically for the upcoming election.

Opponents of expanding mail-in voting have pointed to potential logistics problems such as ballots going to the wrong addresses and individuals mistakenly on voter rolls in multiple states receiving ballots. Federal Election Assistance Commission data shows that 28.3 million mail-in ballots are still unaccounted for from 2012 to 2018.

Just the News asked Abrams if she thinks automatically mailing out ballots to voters could increase the chances of fraud, as opposed to requiring voters to request an absentee ballot first.

"I would actually say no, in part, because one way the absentee ballot process works is that it gets you the ballot but you still have to demonstrate that you are the appropriate recipient and those ballots will be matched against the records that are maintained by the elections officials," Abrams said during a conference on Monday.

"That's the process that actually helps you uncover the election fraud that occurred in New Jersey, the election fraud that occurred In North Carolina, and so while there may be some confusion, I don't believe that confusion outweighs the utility of being able to make it easier for voters to get access to this information," she added.

To support her position, Abrams cited states that already automatically mail ballots to voters for elections such as Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

"The de minimis harm that can be created by expanding access is more than met by the utility of having these processes to actually get voters to turn in their information and get voters included in the process," she said.

Abrams was asked how long she thinks Americans will have to wait for the final results of the presidential election, given the anticipated influx of mail-in voting due to the pandemic

"I think that depends on the U.S. Senate. If the Senate finances the scaling of infrastructure, then the counting of ballots can be fairly quick," said Abrams, founder of Fair Fight Action.

"One of the reasons for the extraordinarily long delays we've seen this year is because you have cash-strapped states that are facing instead of 5 to 10% usage rates facing up to 15% to 50% usage rates of mail-in voting without the infrastructure scaled, and the staffing necessary to quickly process. If the states get the resources they need, I think it probably will be a five to ten day period at max," she added. 

The HEROES Act, the $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill the House passed in May, includes billions in mail voting funding for states and would require them to mail ballots to all registered voters during emergencies. It has not been voted on in the Senate. Abrams said the public should expect delays without any additional federal funding going to states to expand mail-in voting or to the U.S. Postal Service to handle processing.

"But if they don't get the funding they need, then, yes, we could see what's happening in New York," Abrams conceded. "You could see what happened in Wisconsin; what happened in Kentucky. We will see delays, and the way to solve for those delays is to scale up the capacity, because the reality is people are not going to, unfortunately, most people will do their best to not die.

"By the time we get to early voting and absentee voting, we know that the risk to people for standing in line will be high, and Americans are going to be desperate to change what's happening, and so if the Senate will do its part, then we will be able to process those returns very quickly." 

Abrams warned of "chaos" in the election if large numbers of voters decide to vote in-person, particularly in states that weren’t able to expand mail-in voting due to a lack of funds.

"If the Senate does not do its part, that will not stop Americans from trying to vote, but as both Leah and Sean have articulately pointed out, they're going to have to risk their lives to do it, or they're going to have to face chaos," she said.

Abrams was referring to Sean Eldridge, founder and president of Stand Up America, and Leah Greenberg, co-founder and co-executive director of Indivisible.

Greenberg echoed Abrams' analysis on mail voting.

"States like Colorado have successfully been conducting vote-by-mail-only elections for years," Greenberg said. "It's completely possible to do."

Eldridge said failing to pass federal funding to expand mail-in voting could "create unprecedented chaos in our democracy."

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