John Oliver Points to Oregon Vote-by-mail Efficacy 

Sunday before last, HBO’s late-night show  ”Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” covered a variety of topics in what host John Oliver described as a “truly brutal week.”  

With light-hearted news being in short supply lately, the show’s tone has been a bit different than usual, although this week Oliver featured a particularly interesting segment on the topic of mail-in-voting.  

Oliver refuted the president’s claim that mail-in ballots are “substantially fraudulent” – a tweet which was flagged by Twitter. He pointed to Oregon as a prime example for the efficacy of a vote-by-mail systems, and noted that, while fraud is a possibility in mail-in voting, “In Oregon, in 2016, out of the more than 2 million votes cast by mail, there were just 54 cases of suspected voter fraud.” That would be 0.002% of the votes.  

Additionally, Oregon’s Republican Secretary of State Bev Clarno has rebutted the President’s false claims surrounding mail-in-voting, in the midst of misinformation being peddled that mail-in-voting systems unfairly favor Democrats – a sentiment being shared by the President and other conservative pundits alike.  

Oliver said that the research does not back up this claim. In fact, research has found reliably that vote-by-mail does not show a clear benefit for any party, but does remove barriers to civic participation.  

Also included in Oliver’s spirited segment is the example of the 2020 primary in Wisconsin exploding the cases of COVID-19 in the state in the midst of the Democratic Wisconsin Governor attempting to delay the primary to prevent more infections – an attempt denied by the state’s conservative legislature. He asserts that mail-in-voting needs to be expanded to prevent further spread of the virus among immune compressed individuals, explaining that the risk will be far higher in the general election as the voter turnout will be higher.  

Oliver also shares his thoughts on Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson’s suggestion that “mail-in ballots are an invitation to widespread fraud and manipulation, and if you want to rattle people’s faith in the system that we’ve had for centuries, maybe you would do [mail-in ballots], I don’t know.”  

Oliver points out the fact that mail-in-voting has been around since the Civil War, and that one in four Americans have cast their ballots by mail in the last two federal elections.  

Oliver also responds to a clip from another Fox News anchor, Judge Jeannine, over concerns that people can use deceased individual ballots to commit fraud. He outlines the extreme measures required in order to pull off a caper of this nature, beginning with having to have an extreme amount of detailed information about the dead person. He adds the fact that the end result would be one, singular vote. In addition to how this process would likely fail, and even if the ballot were received and an individual were caught, it would result in several felony charges.  

He goes on to show a 2005 report frequently cited by mail-in-voting opponents, showing that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” Oliver asserts that it is still incredibly rare, and Former Secretary State of Oregon believes that “the vast majority of Oregonians don’t care about politics to the level they are willing to risk prison time.”   


By Sam Schultz