With the COVID-19 epidemic, adherents of mail-in voting in Virginia and around the country believe they have found the “hook” to pass their favored legislation. That idea needs to be revisited before the primary elections in June and the presidential election in November. Regardless of the epidemic, voting by mail is still a bad idea.
In the 2017 Dallas, Tex., City Council election, there were approximately 700 fraudulent mail-in ballots signed by the same person. The number of fraudulent ballots were larger than the difference in the vote tally in one of he races.
In the 2018 North Carolina gubernatorial election, 61% of mail-in ballots favored the Republican candidate even though registered Republicans accounted for only 19% of those who requested mail-in ballots. The Republican won by a 905-vote margin. The results were thrown out and a new election resulted in the election of a Democratic governor.
In 2016, 83 registered voters in San Pedro, Calif., received ballots at the same address, an apartment complex.
A bipartisan Federal Election Reform Commission, formed in 2005 and chaired by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and former secretary of State James Banker, a Republican, articulated key several principles of electoral integrity that hold true today:
- “The right to vote is a vital component of U.S. citizenship, and all states should use their best effort to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters.”
- “We recommend that states use the registration and ID process to enfranchise more voters than ever. … There is likely to be less discrimination against minorities if there is a single, uniform ID, than if poll workers can apply multiple standards.”
- “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.”
Opponents of voter ID laws routinely claim that they are costly and work against people of color. However, federal law requires that anyone receiving welfare or Social Security benefits have to prove citizenship and have a photo ID.
Moreover, the historical record suggests that Photo ID does not repress minority participation. In the 2008 presidential primary, in Georgia, which had passed a photo ID law, the number of African-Americans voting doubled from 2004, while Mississippi, without a voter ID law, saw only a 2.35% increase in African-American primary voters.
If citizens vote by mail, the ballots have to be counted manually. In a close election that can result in fraud. In Florida, fraud ultimately cost the Broward County Supervisor of Elections her job.
If voters mail their ballots early and information surfaces that might change their thinking, they cannot change their vote. With the closeness of the 2016 Presidential election, would you really want to vote early this year? Who can predict what the last-minute surprises might be?
If a voter is fearful of being in a crowd on election day 2020, a better alternative would be to opt for an “absentee” ballot. You can cast your ballot in person before Election Day without a crowd while maintaining the integrity of the system.
Brian Glass, a commercial real estate broker, lives in Henrico County.