Researcher: Mail-in voting presents some risks

Is mail-in voting risky?

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A record number of people are expected to vote using the mail system this November due to the ongoing pandemic, but with just five months to go, there are questions on if the current voting infrastructure can handle such a big change.

Vulnerable voters may choose not to step foot in a polling place.

"If they feel more comfortable, we want them to vote absentee, we are trying to encourage people to vote absentee,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill recently.

University of South Alabama's Dean of the School of Computing has researched cyber security and voting processes for decades.

"There are holes, gaping holes in this voting system that was intended to be an exception to the voting process, which is now being repurposed for a mass voting process and the gaping holes have now become a problem,” said Dr. Alec Yasinsac.

One of those holes, things can get lost in the mail. Another, a voter can make a mistake on the ballot.

"I’ve made some mistakes that likely invalidated some of my ballots, for example I put initials on my ballot when I corrected an error, and when you put initials on a ballot it disqualified the ballot,” Yasinac said.

You can track your absentee ballot online at AlabamaVotes.gov and even hand-deliver it to an absentee election manager instead of mailing it in.

But for those able, Dr. Yasinsac says polls are the safest bet.

"I am willing to go to the polls where election officials understand the risks and poll workers understand the risks and create mechanisms to make it safe to vote where that is possible."

Merrill says polling places will be stocked with hand sanitizer and poll-workers will be wearing masks and gloves.

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