For some time now, there has been much controversy over the idea of mail-in voting, at least on a mass scale. However, this year, with the introduction of the novel coronavirus and its subsequent pandemic, it has become more crucial than ever.
On the left, we have people saying the process is the only way to keep Americans safe as we vote in upcoming elections, including the general election this November. And most on the right agree. However, they have also noticed that mail-in voting, while being convenient and allowing people to send in their ballots from wherever has the potential to be quite problematic.
Voter fraud is usually the first problem mentioned, as the process offers no real way to identify if the vote is really coming from who it says it is. However, that argument aside, there are other issues and ones that are proving much more fundamental.
As an example, I offer the recent and still undetermined primaries in the state of New York. As with many states, dozens of hard-fought races have recently come to an end in New York. But with the pandemic going on, many more absentee ballots were applied for and sent in this year than ever before. And this has caused massive problems for the election boards and officials.
In fact, in two of those primaries, which took place on June 23, the results have yet to be finalized, nearly six weeks later.
As the New York Times reported on Monday, “Now, nearly six weeks later, two closely watched congressional races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems are being cited as examples of the challenges facing the nation as it looks toward conducting the November general election during the pandemic…”
The Times points out that most of the problems are purely logistical: some were postmarked incorrectly or not at all, while others were simply not received on time or, again, not at all.
“The Postal Service apparently had difficulty processing some of them correctly and, as a result, an unknown number of votes – perhaps thousands – may have been wrongfully disqualified because of a lack of postmark. Thousands of more ballots in the city were discarded by election officials for minor errors, or not even sent to voters until the day before the primary, making it all but impossible for the ballots to be returned in time.”
And New York isn’t the only state reporting such problems.
In Pennsylvania, it was noted by Salena Zito that because of the massive response to mail-in voting this year, Governor Tom Wolf had to sign an executive order extending the deadline for county election offices to receive the ballots.
But even still some 15,000 ballots didn’t arrive on time. And another 37,119 had to be discarded for some reason or another, including not being deliverable, having no signature, or the label was canceled for some reason.
This means out of the 1.46 million votes to be counted by mail, 52,729 were trashed: a failure rate of 3.6 percent. It’s important to note here that Hillary Clinton beat Trump in Minnesota by a margin of less than this, just as Trump beat her by less than this in all three Blue Wall states.
And just like that, the credibility of the electoral college would be gone.
Neither can we afford to wait six weeks or so, to name a new president. This would put us at just beginning the transition, if there is one to happen, well into mid-December, if not later. The deadline for the Electoral College is usually around January 6 or so, just a few weeks before the current presidential term ends at noon on January 20.
As Democrats and Republicans alike have pointed out, most of the problems boil to one thing: states, as well as the Postal Service, just weren’t prepared for the massive amount of vote received by mail. And obviously, that’s something that can be fixed, at least in theory.
But in such a short time?
It’s already August, leaving little time to figure out how the problems happened in the first place, let alone figure out how to prevent them from happening again. Even if the Postal Service does get funding from the next stimulus package, as the Democrats suggest should happen, it will not be a cure-all for these problems.
If New York’s failed primary tells us anything, it’s that the best thing for our country at this point would be to buck and go vote in person. If we can attend protests and go back to work, then we can surely visit the polls just once.