Someone’s Vandalizing Mailboxes

by Kerry Dougherty

Great. It’s 2020, Virginia just scrapped Lee-Jackson Day, replacing it with an Election Day holiday and now hundreds of thousands of Virginians are afraid to celebrate by voting in person.

I get it. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and one million Virginians have already requested absentee ballots to avoid busy polling places on Election Day.

Shoot, at this rate the polling places may be empty this year.

There is nothing wrong with absentee voting. Despite deliberate attempts to conflate absentee with mail-in balloting, the two are very different. Absentee ballots are sent to voters who request them. Mail-in ballots are posted to all registered voters.

Dead and alive.

But with news that six mailboxes in the Richmond area were vandalized over the weekend, the security of the U.S. Mail is an issue. Again. Federal investigators are on the scene and The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that authorities believe mail from these boxes was stolen.

“We believe mail was taken from the tampered boxes,” said Michael Romano, a U.S. Postal Service inspector, in an interview with the Times-Dispatch.

That’s alarming.

Question is, did the theft include absentee ballots? No one knows. But it’s likely. Thanks to 45 days of early voting, October is now election season.

OK, the likelihood that YOUR mailbox will be robbed is miniscule. Still, there are other, practical reasons not to trust your ballot to the post office. First, the mail is slow. This has nothing to do with the Trump administration, either. I had a gothic experience with the USPS in 2013 that convinced me to never trust my ballot — or anything else of value — to the mail.

On March 25 of that year I mailed a blanket to my niece in Greensboro, N.C., who’d just had a baby. It arrived 108 days later, on July 11th. By then it was summer and about 100 degrees.

The baby needed a bikini not a fleece. Did I mention I paid extra to send the gift Priority Mail? At least it got there, I suppose.

There’s good news, though, for those who want to vote without heading to the polls on Nov. 3rd. Request an absentee ballot and drop it off at the registrar’s office. Or send it certified mail, so you have proof it arrived. Better yet, vote in-person at the registrar’s office and watch as your ballot goes into a voting machine.

Or, do what I’m doing: kick it old school and go to the polls. You know, on Election Day.

There simply is no substitute for the satisfaction you get as a citizen of this great republic when you walk into your polling place, exchange pleasantries with your neighbors and the poll workers, take a ballot and mark the bubbles for your candidate. If November is anything like June’s primary, the machines will be spaced far apart, the poll workers will slide a ballot and a pen to you — which you keep — and you insert your own ballot into the machine.

Easy. Clean. And secure.

Sure, there will be more people in a general election than voted in a primary. Keep your distance. You’ll be fine.

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

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5 responses to “Someone’s Vandalizing Mailboxes

  1. “There simply is no substitute for the satisfaction you get as a citizen of this great republic when you walk into your polling place…..and mark the bubbles for your candidate.” You forgot to add after three hours standing in a socially-distant line wearing your face mask…..

    So I’m fine with the early voters, and of course you can visit the local registrar and vote what they call “absentee in person.” Also quite secure. Like you, I’m not fine with the process of mailing ballots en masse to “last known address of persons still alive the last we heard.”

    If you do want to come Nov 3, do us all a favor and go online to the Board of Elections and confirm your name and address are current. You have about another week to amend those, if needed.

    • “So I’m fine with the early voters, and of course you can visit the local registrar and vote what they call “absentee in person.” ”

      That is what my wife, our son and I did last week. We arrived late afternoon and placed our completed absentee ballots in the ballot box at the registrar’s office. There was no line, no wait and no hassle.

    • “You forgot to add after three hours standing in a socially-distant line wearing your face mask…..”

      Kerry doesn’t vote in a minority majority precinct at a multi-precinct polling place. Her wait will be less than 10 minutes.

  2. My wife asked me to take her absentee ballot to the post office last Friday or Saturday. She emphatically instructed me to take it inside, rather than deposit it in the box outside. I thought she was being silly, but I did as I was instructed. She has been vindicated; our post office branch was one of those whose outside boxes were vandalized.

    My worry now is about the security of those drop-off boxes for ballots. The danger is not that they will be stuffed, but emptied by unauthorized persons.

    I agree with the sentiment of participating in the community act of voting at a precinct on a specific day. But this is not a normal year. Due to the pandemic, there are likely to be long waits (shortage of poll workers, consolidation of voting precincts, etc.) in lines (mostly inside) with some people who follow the leader and don’t wear masks. I plan to vote early in person.

  3. Baconator with extra cheese

    Maybe we should all calm down. As the defund the police supporters suggest maybe just maybe white people (these were mostly white neighborhoods) should get used to some discomfort like BIPOCs.
    And isn’t the construct of a postal system white supremecy? For God’s sake they put white supremecist pickup tines right on the boxes… so so so racist to give people deadlines.
    And the word “deadline”- is that a veiled threat to people of color that says if you don’t meet the white supremecist time frame you will be “deadlined” (hung)?… I made that last part up but it could read straight from an anti-racism PowerPoint.

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