Older Americans vote in higher numbers than any other age group. During the pandemic, many of us prefer voting by mail to going to our local polling place or dropping our ballot off at the sole county dropoff site (such as the 700 Lavaca State Parking Garage in Austin).
Sometimes, we may only think that we have voted.1
Beware of these scams when voting by mail!
- “A fake but official-looking ‘government-issued’ envelope arrives in the mail, claiming to be an absentee ballot request and instructing the individual to complete a form requiring the Social Security number, date of birth, and even their bank account number. The instructions say a $10 administrative fee will be drawn to cover costs due to the pandemic. Even if a bank account number isn’t requested, the swindler has the means to open credit cards and other accounts in the person’s name, among other crimes.
- “Individuals receive a phone call allegedly from the county election office or the Republican or Democratic Party, claiming to offer assistance to expedite one’s absentee ballot to ensure it arrives before election day. All that is required is your Social Security number and bank account number so that they can be paid a mere $5 service fee.
Do’s and Don’ts when Voting by Mail
- “DON’T complete an absentee ballot request or an absentee ballot without confirming that it is legitimate. Call your local election board or confirm its mailing instructions on the election board’s web page.
- “DON’T trust any offer to expedite the processing of an absentee ballot for a fee.
- “DON’T trust phone solicitations to assist or process your absentee ballot.
- “DO call your local election board if you need assistance with absentee balloting.
- “DO report any suspicious mail or solicitations to your local election office.”
Suspicious about a ballot? Need to report ID theft? Who to contact:
www.nass.org. Check the legitimacy of an absentee ballot mailed to you with the Texas Secretary of State, Office of Elections.
www.uspis.gov report ID theft by mail
www.ftc.gov report ID theft by telephone
1Charlie Sabatino, “Seniors Beware of Voting ID Theft Scams”, Bifocal September-October 2020, volume 42, number 1, pages 2-3.
Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.