Frontline dives into the Heritage Foundation Database:
eila and Gary Blake didn’t want to miss elk hunting season.
It was 2000, and the election conflicted with their plans, so the Wyoming couple requested absentee ballots.
But the Blakes had moved from 372 Curtis Street five miles down the road to 1372 Curtis Street, crossing a town line. When they mailed their votes using the old address, they were criminally charged. The misdemeanor case was settled with $700 in fines and a few months’ probation, but two decades later, the Blakes are still listed as absentee ballot fraudsters in the Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database.
Far from being proof of organized, large-scale vote-by-mail fraud, the Heritage database presents misleading and incomplete information that overstates the number of alleged fraud instances and includes cases where no crime was committed, an investigation by USA TODAY, Columbia Journalism Investigations and the PBS series FRONTLINE found.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing investigation by FRONTLINE, Columbia Journalism Investigations and USA TODAY Network reporters that examines allegations of voter disenfranchisement and how the pandemic could impact turnout. It includes the film Whose Vote Counts, premiering on PBS and online Oct. 20 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST.