Radical Idea: Elections Should End on Election Day

by Kerry Dougherty

Here are four words Democrats don’t want to hear: “Elections must end sometime.”

They were written by Justice Neil Gorsuch in a recent ruling that required Wisconsin to stop accepting ballots after 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Pity that rule doesn’t apply everywhere in the United States.

I know, I know. States get to make their own election rules. But a little consistency might be nice. In federal elections, anyway.

That way we’d have some hope of knowing who will be the next president during the first week in November rather than getting the news on Thanksgiving. Or worse, Christmas.

The post-election season is going to be crazy this year. Lawyers, start your engines.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued several seemingly contrary rulings in the past week: One to allow Pennsylvania to accept absentee ballots for up till three days after the election, one that allows North Carolina to accept them for nine days and another to force an Election Day deadline in Wisconsin.

Lawyers in those cases argued different aspects of the law. The result is, well, confusion.

In Virginia, absentee ballots received by noon on the Friday after the election — three days late — will be counted, provided they have a legible postmark showing they were mailed by Election Day.

Yesterday a Virginia Judge, partially protected the integrity of the the commonwealth’s vote by smacking down a new rule from state election officials that would allow ballots without a postmark to be counted for up to three days after the election.

After listening to arguments Wednesday in Frederick Circuit Court, Judge William Warner Eldridge IV ruled that absentee ballots without postmarks will not be counted if the barcode does not indicate whether the ballot was mailed by Election Day…reported The Washington Post.

I hesitate to ask this, but how bad of a procrastinator must you be to be dropping a ballot in the mailbox on Election Day itself, expecting it to reach its destination in time?

COVID-19 has been used as an excuse to allow citizens to vote in September, get their ballots in late, skip signatures on their absentee ballots and to accept ballots mailed days after the deadline.

Look, the pandemic has been around since March. Voters who are afraid to vote on Election Day — and I can’t figure out why standing in line for hours in October is preferable to waiting in line on Nov. 3rd, but hey, you do you — have been given ample time to get their votes in.

Is it asking too much to wrap up the voting on, well, Election Day?

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.

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63 responses to “Radical Idea: Elections Should End on Election Day

  1. voatz.com Vote by registered smartphone. In use now in West Virginia for overseas military.

  2. “Elections Should End on Election Day”

    Further proof that you are just another arrogant, over-privileged bigot who hates the poor and down-trodden. How dare you demand that people who have been shut out of your elitist culture adhere to your puritanical ideas about personal responsibility and punctuality…

    • Yep, count me in that number. I’m sure our fearless AG is in court this morning seeking a stay of that very reasonable order. With a smudged postmark, it makes sense to then refer to the date on the signature, or see if the USPS tracking can confirm mailing on or before Election Day. With no postmark, you have broken the law if you count it (until the GA changes the law….)

      As before, this will matter more next year in the smaller legislative and local elections where eight or ten ballots approved or rejected can swing a tight one.

      It also remains legal to bring your completed absentee ballot to the polling place to turn in. I think in many places you will find boxes outside for that purpose, meaning no lines….

      • “It also remains legal to bring your completed absentee ballot to the polling place to turn in. ”

        That is what my wife, son and I did. We called it “hybrid voting”.

    • 🤣

  3. Well, HERE is a RADICAL idea – implement strict rules on ending voting but make it EASY to vote.

    I AGREE that all the different rules is chaos and ripe for neverending lawsuits.

    But keep in mind that we have had longstanding tradition to make it HARD to vote – i.e. voter suprression.

    Make it EASY to vote but with strict rules on closing voting.

    • “But keep in mind that we have had longstanding tradition to make it HARD to vote – i.e. voter suprression.”

      No we haven’t.

      (Gratuitous assertion, equally as gratuitously denied)

    • If you’ve the inclination, would you please explain how it is hard to vote, and how that leads to voter suppression?

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      It is easy to vote. I did so I on September 18th. Step one register. Step two go to the registrar’s office early. Step three present your driver’s license. Step four state your name and address. Step five take the ballot from the registrar. Step six fill out the ballot (practice making round circles in advance). Step seven deposit ballot in the ballot hopper. Step eight proceed to the Frost Diner for Frost Diner Burger with everything on it. 30 minutes of time required and that is counting ordering and eating the Frost Diner Burger.

      • It’s EASY for SOME people who have a car and do not have to be at work.

        Ther are all kinds of folks in this world and voting should be EASY – with a variety of ways to do it in plenty of time in advance of closing voting.

        It’s not secret – easy voting has been suppressed in some places for years (actually resulting in a law to address it) , then we politically interfere with the operation of the post office to spread even more uncertainty for voters… hours standing in lines, limited drop boxes, etc.

        Why?

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Nonsense Mr. Larry. No car? Call Trinity Baptist Church. Preacher Williams will personally drive the church bus to your location, pick you up, and take you to the registrar’s office to vote early and in person.

          • But James.. what about those food deserts and people have no way to get healthy food? 😉

            Why do we have transit if “everyone” has a car?

            But I’d cede the point ..a bit…

            Some folks just can’t get their act together on things with deadlines… true…/

        • Voting IS easy for anyone who really wants to vote.

          There are a variety of ways to register to vote and a variety of ways to cast one’s vote. Anyone who claims they have not voted because it is too hard for them to vote either incompetent, lying or have not even bothered to try to vote and are basing their opinion on its difficulty on the incorrect and misleading information put out there by people like you.

      • Anonymous sources inform me that Frost Diner serves an 8 oz burger. You, sir, are a seriously fast burger eater! I don’t think I could complete your program of action in less than 45 minutes.

        • James Wyatt Whitehead V

          Former school teacher. We had to learn how to eat lunch in less that 10 minutes. I did get 2 hours of lunch duty everyday though.

          The Frost Diner Burger is a double 8 ouncer. If Mr. Gus is on the grill you are in for a treat.

    • Larry you are so full of it,,,,
      It’s easy to vote,,, I’ve only been voting in Virginia since 1970….
      Easy, easy, easy,,,, rain or shine…
      It’s amazing all the whining that goes on….
      The only voter suppression I know of is Democrats telling their constituents that it is difficult to vote….thus discouraging from trying!!!!

  4. Shouldn’t she get the byline or are you starved for attention?

  5. Hard to vote? How about standing in line for hours?

    or having only one ballot drop box in a county with hundreds of thousands of voters?

    Isn’t it funny how the folks who have always wanted to make it harder to vote are,once again devising even new ways to do it?

    • Given this argument, wouldn’t this be more likely that the suppression targets working folks? This should not be such a problem for folks with plenty of time on their hands.

      I would rather err a little on the side of election security that ease of voting. What would happen when there’s no confidence in the results?

  6. re: ” What would happen when there’s no confidence in the results?”

    and why would that be? because of fraudlent votes that should not be counted or legitimate votes submitted but not counted?

    Yes, have the election security = but make it easy to vote – and to count

    Our goal should be to make it EASY to vote but insure it is secure.

    We ought not be making it HARD to vote on the premise that it is more “secure” that way. It’s clearly not… it actually leads to chaos and legal challenges that will undermine faith in the whole process.

    • That sounds good to me. When you come up with a method that meets both of those objectives I’ll be behind you 100%. Until then, I recommend that we err on the side of security.

      BTW, while it may not be the most convenient thing in the world to do, I still don’t consider voting hard.

  7. yes indeed – EASY to vote:

  8. I voted in person in September. So crowded I had to go back four times

    • Five minutes to request an absentee ballot, five minutes to fill it out, my wife dropped it off at our local polling place in less than five. Not even enough time for a burger!

    • I think it’s great. Tuesday will still be a problem, but far less of a problem now that so many have voted early. My third time facing the unwashed voting public for 14 hours since the start of COVID (nobody was wearing masks in March!) ….pushing my luck?

  9. “Easy” is ….. NOT…….. waiting in line for hours…

    “EASY” is having drop box within a few miles of where you live.

    Some of us have indeed been able to vote without standing in line but it’s obvious that many others have had to stand in line – for hours and now some have made up their minds to stay as long as it takes, and vote instead of getting disuaded and leave.

    That should not happen. People should not have to stand in line for even an hour much less hours to vote. It’s anti-Democracy.

    • “Larry’s World”: Where for every election an unlimited number of voting machines and an unlimited supply of poll workers rain down from the sky, landing at uniformly-spaced polling places no more than 2 miles apart; and where no voter is inconvenienced in any way, shape or form as he/she exercises his/her absolute right to cast a ballot in EXTREME comfort…

      • Waynes World – “dumb as a stump and proud of it” 😉

        • voatz.com

          • mixed reviews:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voatz

            but I think the basic concept can be secure with fingeprints and two -factor authentication.

            The Role of Multifactor Authentication in Election Security
            Election authorities can use MFA to enhance cybersecurity for sensitive voter databases and essential applications.

            statetechmagazine.com/article/2020/04/role-multifactor-authentication-election-security-perfcon

        • Okay. Rather than address the legitimate issues which I pointed out in my admittedly sarcastic comment, you chose a personal attack. It says more about you than it does about me.

          It’s obvious you did not think about the potential consequences of trying to enact your “no more than one hour wait at the polls” edict, so now you’re trying to cover your illogical ass.

          • sez who? dufus, who seems to not know the difference between a hole in the ground and a valid point?

          • If you have thought about how you would enforce such a policy, why won’t you describe the process?

            PS – Two direct personal attacks in one day. I’m honored.

          • Two ? LORD! I feel so sorry for you!

          • No need to feel sorry for me. I was 100% serious about being honored by your sniping. It’s further evidence that you are becoming more unhinged by the day.

          • Good! Glad you are happy! 😉

    • Amazing,,, they can’t stand in line…. they stand in line for handouts, they stand in line at the welfare office… they stand in line for concerts…
      Course Republicans are tougher,,, they stand in lines for days to go to a Trump rally…

  10. We have Trash Day every week. So really, what day is Election Day? Is it when the truck arrives at my house, or when it arrives a the dump? Is every banana peal counted?

  11. Correction: When I originally posted this column, I carelessly appended my own byline to it. Kerry Dougherty is the author.

  12. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Waiting in line for hours was once a ritual at this restaurant. Well known for it’s pressure cooked fried chicken. Old time and long gone Warrenton tradition. Some things are still worth standing in line for.

  13. Thank you Jim. Maybe you should take Kerry to the Robert E Lee restaurant in Warrenton a buy her lunch of fried chicken or crabs. Sounds fair.

  14. As much as my thoughts have now strayed to the blue crabs, I must force focus to suggest that Mr. Larry refrain from complaining about limited polling places and long lines until he can report his election day has been occupied working the polls. At the beginning of this “woe is me it takes effort to exercise my privilege to vote” saga I asked the registrars of our nearby counties why this might be true. The responses were unanimous: no help. Polls are staffed by volunteers. People no longer feel a duty to serve, so there are not poll workers to have more open polls. If Mr. Larry believes that voting opportunity is indeed lacking, then he should be doing more than his usual key tapping on Tuesday morning.

    Lest he feels picked on, I have expressed this sentiment to complaining friends and former classmates from New York City to Japan.

    • No one wants to volunteer anymore. Sad commentary on our society. People are treating the right to vote like an entitlement. Why can’t they just vote from home? Why do they even need to go get a ballot and mail it in? Why doesn’t the government come to them and get their vote — that’s where we’re heading. Just plant a chip in my head, and I’ll tell you how I want to vote without getting off the couch.

    • OTOH, I can buy a car from a vending machine.

      • You can bank securely from a phone. Modern day security in the form of blockchain, encryption, fingerprints, facial recognition and multi-factor authentication should made it well within our ability to do it. Do it for the people that are compfortable with technology and retain the older methods for those that are not but you’re gonna find that even geezers these days have Smart Phones and are comfortable with technology.. the numbers that are not are less and less. People should be able to vote – like any day, they might decide to order something from Amazon. or renew plates from DMV or see their Social Security or Medicare account. Just login it and do it and move on.

        The bottom line is that some folks are afraid of too many people voting at elections because those voters are not their “base” and they know if most or all of them vote, they’d not stay in office so the game is to suppress.

    • I did volunteer for a number of years, done my duty. I quit because they were not very well organized (in my view) and wasted the help they did get so that they had lines when they should not have. They were also uniformly unappreciative.

      The “training” I went to one year , 20 minutes of it was a slide show of the hobby show cars one of the election officials owned and wanted to show off even though we had issues with the laptops that year. I was unimpressed to say the least.

      There are a number of ways to reduce the lines and speed up the waiting but don’t blame that on volunteers – it’s the job and duty of election officials to recruit and retain volunteers just like any organization that relies on them. A GOOD MODEL is the Park Service. They totally rely on volunteers and they have real setup to do it and it works well.

      To be fair, the election Staff have a pretty tough job beyond the volunteers especially when redistricting. Just keeping the poll books up to date with voters in the correct districts and removal of those who have moved or are no longer alive is very important work.

      Finally, when you get to be a certain age – being in close contact with hundreds or thousands of people in a few hours is really not a good thing. I believe Steve is doing it again but I would not this year anyhow.

      We really do need to modernize our voting systems. People SHOULD be able to vote conveniently by mail or even electronicallly with properly designed systems that actually don’t rely so heavily on volunteers.

      Our goal should be a system that allows a variety of ways for properly validated voters to vote – not some seat-of-the-pants volunteer effort.

      Voting is as important or more so than schools and public safety. We pay what it takes to do it right and don’t make excuses about volunteers.

      • Hell, don’t see why we can’t vote starting the day after inauguration. I knew 1/22/2017 for whom I would and wouldn’t vote.

        Given the stupidity of our bipolar system, I see no problem reestablishing a straight ticket and accepting ballots on any day.

  15. You know, Social Security, Medicare, your bank, your electric company, your DMV, your real estate, State and Federal income taxes, and more can figure out who you are and where you live, Why can’t the election office?

    This is stupid in this day and time that we say we can’t be sure if someone is a valid registered voter or their ballot is legitimate.

    We can do smart phones with fingerprint security, autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, license plate readers, DNA, and we can’t do secure elections?

    Yes, what we can’t do is have a secure system where everyone can vote conveniently – because doing so would allow too many to vote and it would have big consequences in many elections!

    • Democrats don’t want to secure the process. They object to any effort to require a photo ID and won’t even allow purging of dead people from the roles.

      • Don’t you have to have a photo ID to register to vote? After that, do you really need a photo if you have other “ID” ?

        When I advocate easy to vote along with secure I mean the secure part. People who have moved or died should be identified with standard processes and I would support periodic “checking in” for voters provided it is easy to do – like returning a card to confirm your address or cards that have to be returned if the address has moved, etc.

        I just feel that have a fairly crude system that has not been modernized.

        Having actually been a poll worker who checked in voters – I can count on one hand the number of times I had someone we could not confirm and the majority of them were actually valid voters but at the wrong precinct. We could see who voted in prior elections and who was first time and we did confirm IDs.

        The problem was the lines… which depended on the election. The primaries are lightly attended but POTUS elections are very heavily attended. We know that but we still set up the same way. Something simple like a kiosk check-in would speed things up enormously. It would collect and verify the same info a person does.

    • Yeah Larry,, it’s so simple and easy…
      Ever go,to a gun show,and things are so backed up computer systems down etc. they can’t complete,a NICS check so you can purchase… or you get wrongfully turned down because there is some misinformation in the system or they confuse you with someone else. …
      YES this stuff happens…
      I don’t know where you live ,but you need to get out in the real world and find out how things really work,,,, And if you had a few rental properties and tenants you would quickly lose sympathy for all the losers out there….

  16. I am absolutely floored by the priority put on convenience. If your vote is dependent on convenience you don’t respect the privilege enough to deserve it.

    • Well yes. Waiting in lines for hours is more than an “inconvenience”.

      If we want people to vote – we do need to make it so that they do not have to wait for hours or for a particular day or hour.

      It’s a privledge, yes but that does not mean it should be hard when it does not have to be.

      Make it easy for people to vote and be happy that we have a true Democracy.

      In other things in life, would you wait for hours to do it? No, you would not so why make one of the most important and sacret things we have – hard to do?

      it makes no sense if we really value Democracy and people voting.

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