Mail-in voter fraud? Twitter fact checks the president

SEATTLE -- On Tuesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots for November's election would come with substantial fraud, a claim that earned him a fact-check label from Twitter for the first time, which said the claim is unsubstantiated.

The tweet was in response to a Republican Party lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom over his order to send every registered voter a mail-in ballot for November's election.

States have been scrambling to come up with solutions with in-person voting becoming increasingly problematic during a pandemic. Many are calling on Washington state for tips.

Washington state, which has been all-mail for about a decade, sees little fraud from its elections, according to Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

"Vote by mail in Washington state is a secure method," she said. "I'm not sure why the conversation has gone down those partisan lines."

She said not every state will be ready for Washington's way, which has spent years building up the back-end security, like signature matches. But California is one of the states that could see success with mail-in voting.

"States in the West predominantly have very liberal absentee laws, like California, where anyone can get a ballot by absentee vote and many of their counties are moving to vote by mail," Wyman said. "They're going to have an easier time than the states on the east coast where, you know, 5 percent of their ballots in any given election are returned by mail."

But is widespread fraud a realistic risk? According to an audit released this month on Washington state's 2018 general election, there were 142 instances of suspected improper voting. More than 3.1 million people voted in that election, producing a fraud rate of 0.004 percent, according to the secretary of state's office.

The cases have been forwarded to local election offices and prosecutors. If found fraudulent, it's a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Wyman said the greater election risk is not casting fraudulent ballots, but casting doubt on the results.

"We have to have public confidence no matter who wins, that the person that was elected won fair and it was an accurate election," she said.