Catherine Friend
Catherine Friend

What about Absentee Ballots?


Have you heard this one before? “I received two absentee ballots in the mail!” someone exclaims. “Election fraud!”

“I got three,” another voter cries. “This means I can vote three times! Election fraud!”

Ah, no.

They are likely confusing the absentee ballot application with the ballot itself. You may receive multiple absentee ballot applications. Perhaps the League of Women Voters in your state sends you an application for your convenience. Or the VFW does the same thing. So don’t get your shorts in a bundle thinking you are being asked to vote twice. Two organizations are making it easy for you to request an absentee ballot.

No matter how many applications you fill out and return, your election office will only send you ONE ballot. They keep excellent records, so if they receive a second application from you, they’ll know they’ve already sent you the ballot. Some states actually assign a bar code to your specific ballot.

When you send your completed ballot back, a team of poll workers assigned to absentee ballots will sit down together (at least one Republican and one Democrat) and open your ballot. They will make sure all the information matches. They will make sure your signatures match. They will make sure your vote is clearly marked.

Did you make a slash instead of filling in the oval? Oops. Now the tabulator won’t record your vote. To make sure your vote is counted, a Republican and a Democrat will look at your ballot, agree that you meant that slash to be your vote, then together make the appropriate mark.

One unfortunate county recently designed a ballot so poorly that the absentee ballot was folded right over an oval. This darkened fold looked like a filled-in oval to the tabulator, so it recorded the fold as the vote! Yikes. Election officials of BOTH PARTIES, together, had to redo each ballot so the correct vote would be read by the tabulator. They didn’t change any votes while doing this because both parties were right there, and would never allow it. Trust your neighbors. They are your poll workers.

Imagine that someone wants to spread doubt about election integrity. They could post a video of that county’s election officials performing a necessary and entirely legal task, but instead claim the workers were changing the ballots to favor one candidate. That’s how people spread rumors about election fraud.

Uff da. Makes me grind me teeth at night to think of all the lies being told.


7 Responses

  1. Makes me not sleep at night to think of all the lies being told. It’s hard to stay positive some days! LOL Good article!!!

    1. I get that, but if we combat the lies with truth, at least we’re doing something. Don’t give up!

  2. As an election judge in a small township, I can assure you that the number of steps taken to count ballots, verify the count twice, find the spoiled ballots, record the number of write-ins, etc. is extremely thorough and always done with at least two people. And this is just the counting to make sure we end up with the same number of BALLOTS that we started with. We never count any actual votes. The machine does that. And there are always two people who deliver the ballots to the county office. No matter what time of night or what kind of weather.

    1. People need to know how hard election judges work to make sure elections are run safely and securely. Thanks for sharing your perspective! My wife Melissa was township clerk for 6 years, and it was her job to run the elections…lots of work!

    2. I agree, My husband was an election judge so we know how involved the system is also. The problem is that many people would rather believe the big lie than review the process in their local.

      1. Election officials are really struggling to battle the big lie, so we all need to speak up and debunk the lies about election fraud1

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The Big Pivot

About Me

After twenty-five years on the farm, I’m adjusting to the adventures of city life. Part of that adjustment is figuring out what I want to write about now, since sheep are no longer part of my daily life. I’m challenging myself creatively by painting with pastels and playing the ukelele as I seek my new writing path.


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Catherine Friend is a fiscal year 2021 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.