The controversy about voting via mail that is intensifying as the pandemic continues to interfere with the upcoming elections. Donald Trump has made his position clear, mail-in ballots are “fraudulent” without providing proof. Republicans seem to generally oppose mail-in ballots while some Democrats are actively pushing for them.

The central issue seems to be that mail-in ballots can lead to fraud, although the underlining opposition seems to be that mail-in ballots are disadvantageous to the Republicans. Whether this is true or not is immaterial to the argument about the potential for fraud.

Let’s look at what has happened recently.

Many voting districts have moved to electronic voting booths where votes are processed electronically. In many instances there are no paper trails. There are also reports of hacking attempts against voting machines.

Whether votes have been manipulated through hacking or by mail-in ballots is still up for debate.

However, let’s look at the potential for voting fraud.

With electronic tabulation machines without paper trails, the ability to manipulate the vote is not only present but probable.

Without a paper trail it is extremely and unlikely to prove voter fraud occurred. The transit from the vote cast electronically to the final tabulation is ripe for hacking.

At any step of the process, a rogue program can change a “one” to a “two” without anyone noticing thus changing the outcome of the election. Proving that the “one” was changed to a “two” is very difficult. This is especially true when the electronic voting machine manufacturers refuse to let programmers look at the source code of the machines.

Without being able to look at the source code it is impossible to know if the votes were manipulated.

Clearly, the potential for voter fraud exists for electronic tabulation machines, especially when they do not allow paper printouts to be made.

Now let’s look at the potential for voter fraud with mail-in ballots.

It is likely and easy.

But and here is the important “but”.

Mail-in ballots have a paper trail. The ballot is the proof of how the voter intended to vote.

It may be cumbersome and very difficult to manually count the mail-in paper ballots and ensure each ballot represents a properly registered voter but the ability to certify each vote is there is the form of a paper ballot.

Therein lies the counter-argument to mail-in ballots – there is a paper trail to validate each ballot.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...