COVID-19 has stirred up another national debate, this time about voting. To mail or not to mail, that is the question.
Democrats want mail-in voting nationwide, which is unprecedented. They cite safety as the reason.
President Trump says voting must be in person because mailed ballots are subject to widespread fraud. On top of that, there could be a lengthy delay for the outcome if several million mailed ballots must be counted.
Let’s start with the pandemic. Experience shows we can vote safely in person, if polling officials use the safety protocols recommended by experts – the same guidelines we use at the grocery store, at the pharmacy, and so on.
While COVID-19 has certainly disrupted our lives, it would be a mistake to go to an all-mail election. The president’s concerns are based on recent, documented problems. Mailed ballots are subject to theft, alteration, and forgery.
Look at what happened in Paterson, New Jersey. Four residents were charged with election fraud in an all-mail vote, including a city councilperson and council-elect. Voters never received absentee ballots but were recorded as having voted, and there are accusations of a campaign submitting fraudulent ballots.
Also, mail-in ballots have a higher rejection rate than in-person ballots. In Paterson, 20 percent of votes were invalid because of signatures not matching those on file and non-compliance with other rules.
Then there’s the issue of delivery. Recent primaries in Maryland and Wisconsin had voters not receiving ballots as well as them not being returned. And since absentee ballots aren’t postmarked, we have no clue if borderline ones were mailed in time.
Consider the last four federal elections saw 2.7 million absentee ballots misdelivered, while 1.3 million were rejected by officials.
Can we subject our elections to such a degree of potential error? It seems foolish.