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.