The Ethan Allen Institute has uncovered election irregularities involving voter rolls and out-of-state college students.
According to research conducted by the Vermont-based think tank, 10 graduates of Middlebury College who left the state years ago are recorded as having voted by absentee ballot in the 2020 election.
Nine of those absentee ballots had been mailed in under the students’ names. Five of the 9 absentee voters had their old Middlebury student mailing addresses on file, and the other four absentee voters received ballots at mailing addresses in other states and countries.
EAI discovered the problem by correlating Middlebury’s list of graduating students, a list of all Middlebury citizens who voted in the 2020 election, and graduates’ LinkedIn profiles.
A statement released by the nonprofit group laid blame for the potentially fraudulent votes on Vermont’s “poorly maintained voter lists.”
“These votes are not enough to call into question the legitimacy of Middlebury’s 2020 House race,” the press release states. “But given the slim margins of some recent Vermont elections, shoddy lists place future elections across the state in peril.”
The news comes as national headlines point to record levels of distrust in federal elections. An ABC/Ipsos poll released in January found that only 1-in-5 respondents are “very confident” in the election system — just 39 percent claim to be “somewhat confident” in elections.
“That’s down from last year, when a poll by ABC News and The Washington Post conducted days after the Capitol riot found that 37 percent of respondents were ‘very confident’ in the integrity of the election system, while 26 percent reported feeling ‘somewhat confident,'” the Newsweek report states.
Several states have continued to investigate irregularities from the 2020 election. A recent story out of Wisconsin suggests that up to 7 percent of mail-in ballots were trafficked into the state from elsewhere.
The Washington Examiner reported last Wednesday that Arizona’s election victory for Joe Biden in 2020 is now being called into question by the state’s attorney general.
“A blockbuster review of Maricopa County’s mismanaged 2020 election by Arizona’s attorney general is raising new questions about the final vote in a state former President Donald Trump was expected to win but lost to Joe Biden by 10,457 ballots,” the report states.
The Ethan Allen Institute researchers noted that the expansion of the state’s absentee ballot system in 2020 — largely in response to fears about COVID-19 — makes it nearly impossible to know who cast the nine votes.
“But we can still prevent this from happening in 2022,” the group added. “…We hope our fellow Vermonters will also reach out to our officials as well and let them know how important electoral integrity is to them. We hope that Middlebury’s, and Vermont’s, voter rolls will be cleaned up in time for the 2022 election, with absentee ballots being sent out in less than 6 months.”
David Flemming, a policy analyst for the EAI, offered a comment by email to True North concerning safeguards typically found in other states’ election systems.
“In 2020, 40 states chose not to rely heavily on absentee mailed ballots as the default voting option,” he wrote. “The other 9 states which did choose absentee mailed ballots as the default voting method required a signature on file to match the signature received on the ballot in the mail. Only Vermont chose not to forgo signature verification.