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This article makes the claim that voter fraud stemming from absentee ballots could have had a major impact on the recent California recall election. Is there any evidence from this election or others that absentee ballots have led to widespread voter fraud?

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  • After taking time out to read this article and its link, I am voting to close. You have 1.1k points on Academia and 4.2k on Stack Overflows, so you are aware that many sites have expectations of prior research. Both articles look fairly substance-free, for reasons mentioned in my answer. Stripped of this particular article, whose debunking would be best left off to Skeptics, this is yet another "how much fraud is there in the US voting system?" question, which already has been answered here before or can easily be researched elsewhere. To me this looks like "an attempt to discredit". Jan 27, 2022 at 18:08
  • Most notably, any cursory search on "Torrance California ballots police" returns latter evidence that it was just a simple case of stealing mail for criminal enrichment purposes. If this exact question had been asked right after the initial discovery, i.e. Aug 2021, rather than on January 26, 2022, 2 weeks after police released their finding, on January 4th, 2022, then I would be more charitable in my assumption or not of good faith. Or appropriate prior research. Jan 27, 2022 at 18:22
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    This would be a better fit on Skeptics, though it looks like its been satisfactorily answered already
    – Gramatik
    Jan 27, 2022 at 20:46

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The 300 ballots were a simple theft.

In this election, for this case cited, look at No evidence of election fraud by man found passed out with 300 recall ballots, drugs in Torrance: Police | KTLA.

“After reviewing all of that evidence, investigators have not uncovered any evidence indicating Mena intended to engage in any type of election fraud,” Torrance police officials said in a news release.

They did, however, find evidence that Mena was involved in schemes to commit bank fraud and identity theft, police added.

The election ballots were among many other pieces of mail stolen from a United States Postal Service vehicle, authorities said.

Note that any basic prior research would have found recent articles about the findings of the Torrance's police subsequent investigation. This is how I found the article above.

"They said"

Now, onto some of Townhall.com fine article about frauds happening, linking to https://crimeresearch.org/2021/09/evidence-of-large-scale-vote-fraud-in-california-recall-election/:

KTLA reporter said election officials 1️⃣ told Republicans: “This has been happening all morning.” The video is more complete than this quote from the KTLA news article.

West Hills resident Estelle Bender, 88, 2️⃣ said she was far from the only person who was being told incorrectly that they had already voted.

In addition to friends of hers who experienced the issue and two other women outside the polling place, Bender said that inside, “the man next to me was arguing the same thing.”

Bender said she filled out a provisional ballot and “left really angry.”

Bender added that, to her knowledge, many of those affected by this issue are self-identified Republicans, and she’s suspicious.

“I’d still like to know how I voted,” Bender said.

So, in 1️⃣ we get baited with "election officials". Which has been switched to "one citizen", in 2️⃣. No election officials were named, which seems odd, you figure they'd want to get it on the record.

60% of ballot fraud could be...

Since 2010, turnout for virtually every special election in California has been below 40% — often well below that. So for every thousand ballots that are stolen and not caught, perhaps 400 people will try to vote and be given provisional ballots. But for the remaining 600 ballots will be fraudulently cast.

There’s no reason to think that election officials are discovering all stolen ballots. Fraud is usually only discovered when someone tries to vote and discovers that a vote was already cast in their name. But not everyone tries to vote.

So for every thousand ballots that are stolen - and used to perpetrate fraud . I.e the ones that are merely stolen - the ones is this article - and not turned in as votes are not "uncaught votes".

But for the remaining 600 ballots will be fraudulently cast. Doesn't really follow from the above, but let's proceed anyway.

So, because you have a 60% no vote on average, that will allow 60% to be cast fraudulently, "knowing" that they can get away with it.
Again, let's assume this is correct.

What's equally certain is that the 40% which do get caught out in fraudulent attempts to vote would make the news.

They would with something else than "(unnamed) election officials". And the incidence of fraudulent voting attempts foiled would sure as heck would in the official tallies of the recount procedures launched after the 2020 POTUS election. It wouldn't be just cited in "this article" for the California recall.

Do you have any credible news sources that have substantiated actual large scale mail fraud attempts have happened? As opposed to insinuating that it might have happened?

I think this type of question, asking about the veracity of one article, would be a better fit for Skeptics. If it's a question about election fraud in the US, Is there any evidence from this election or others that absentee ballots have led to widespread voter fraud?, then it could very well be that this a duplicate of the many such questions.

p.s. In addition, neither publication linked looks very credible:

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/crime-prevention-research-center/ https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/townhall/

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This article makes the claim that voter fraud stemming from absentee ballots could have had a major impact on the recent California recall election.

Note the article doesn't claim that voter fraud could have had "a major impact" on the elections. Try working through the numbers. The article says:

Since 2010, turnout for virtually every special election in California has been below 40% — often well below that. So for every thousand ballots that are stolen and not caught, perhaps 400 people will try to vote and be given provisional ballots. But for the remaining 600 ballots will be fraudulently cast.

It doesn't say how many thousands of ballots are stolen, but one of the examples it quotes is "Torrance, California Police found 300 recall ballots and multiple California drivers licenses in a felon's car." If we assume there are ten such incidents (seems very unlikely, since if there were ten such incidents they would have been reported) then there are up to 3000 fraudulent votes. California has a population of 39,538,223 (Wiki), so on 40% turnout that means there are roughly 15.8 million votes.

3000 fraudulent votes would have virtually no impact on that.

So: there could be fraudulent votes, but it wouldn't be on a scale sufficient to swing the result of the election.

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  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I'm doing order of magnitude calculations to show how many such incidents there must be to actually influence the election results. Given the reported incidents, how many more incidents do you postulate there are that happened but were not found? Do you think law enforcement caught 10% of the incidents? 1%? 0.1%? None of those figures are likely to affect the result simply because the numbers required are too large. That is the essence of the numbers.
    – Allure
    Jan 27, 2022 at 4:12
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    The "stolen ballots" are almost always incidental to wholesale mail theft when you drill down to the actual incident. That is, someone steals a bag or bin of mail to get credit cards or checks or other valuable goods, and the around election time those bundles happen to include ballots being mailed to people. The mention of "absentee ballots" in the list draws attention from the conspiracy-minded, regardless of context. Jan 27, 2022 at 15:39
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    It would be worth noting that 12,838,565 people voted in the 2021 recall election and the margin of victory was 3,049,619 which would mean it would taken millions of ballots to have any real impact on the results.
    – Joe W
    Jan 27, 2022 at 16:07
  • Turnout figures are normally the proportion of registered voters, aren't they? But even if they are the proportion of eligible voters, they're certainly not expressed as a proportion of the total population. A 40% turnout in California, therefore, will be somewhat less than 15.8 million votes.
    – phoog
    Jan 28, 2022 at 0:30
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This article makes the claim that voter fraud stemming from absentee ballots could have had a major impact on the recent California recall election.

No. This claim is provably factually false, and is not supported by any credible evidence.

Is there any evidence from this election or others that absentee ballots have led to widespread voter fraud?

No. There is no evidence for widespread election fraud of any kind. See, e.g., this relevant Politics.SE answer.

This conclusion extends to absentee ballot fraud, which actually tends to reduce rather than increase election fraud. A 2020 academic study found that:

We estimate the change in the reported number of voter fraud cases when states switch to conducting elections by mail. We consider two types of states: states where a large number of voters receive their ballots by mail (receive-by-mail states, RBM) and a subset of these states where all registered voters are automatically sent ballots by mail (vote-by-mail states, VBM). We then compare the number of voter fraud cases in RBM (VBM) states to the number of cases in non-RBM (non-VBM) states, using two approaches standard in the social sciences. We find no evidence that voting by mail increases the risk of voter fraud overall. Since 2016, RBM (VBM) states have reported similar fraud rates to non-RBM (non-VBM) states. Moreover, we estimate Washington would have reported eighty more cases of fraud had it not introduced its VBM law in 2011. While our analysis of the data considers only two of many possible approaches, we argue our findings are unlikely were fraud more common when elections are held by mail.

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