There is a big difference between allowing absentee ballots as an option for people who are unable to make it to the polls and mandating that an entire election be done by mail-in voting.
And there is a really big difference between the long-standing practice of sending absentee ballots to voters who take the initiative of requesting them and the new Democratic proposal to mail out unsolicited ballots (or applications for ballots) to every registered voter regardless of whether those voters are still alive or eligible to vote in that jurisdiction. And, as we shall explain, this new effort to mail out ballots to every registered voter is coupled with the left’s years-long fight to prevent these same voter rolls from being updated to remove dead and ineligible people from the lists.
And to make matters extra complicated and chaotic, every state has a different standard for mail-in voting. Some states have more safeguards in place than others. For example, some states require that every mail-in ballot include a verifiable signature, additional witness or notary signatures, and even an enclosed copy of the voter’s photo ID. Some states have few, if any, such safeguards. Some states are loosening or experimenting with the rules for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And then there is the issue of sending all these ballots through the mail. Can the U.S. Postal Service process them all in a timely manner? Every state has a different deadline for when these ballots need to be postmarked. What happens if they don’t arrive in time? Can election officials process them all in a timely manner? Counting mail-in ballots is much more time-consuming. It can involve matching signatures, checking postmarks, flattening out ballots that were crumpled in the mail, etc. If the recent primaries in Wisconsin and New York are anything to go by, mail-in ballots will take weeks to process and that process will be fraught with problems and potential for fraud.
(To give you a flavor of the postal chaos to come, the chief clerk for Brooklyn’s Kings County Board of Elections testified in federal court last month that in 2018, the USPS delivered “several hundred absentee ballots from the previous November” — which was “five months after Election Day.” And in Wisconsin this week, three trays of mail, which included absentee ballots, were found in a ditch.)
There is also the issue of how voters can apply to vote by mail and who is eligible to do so. According to FiveThirtyEight, nine states and the District of Columbia will simply mail every registered citizen a ballot. In another 14 states, authorities will mail everyone an application to vote by mail. (Although, as we shall see, some states take a generous view of who, or what, might be eligible to receive such applications if outside interest groups decide to mail them out.) In 16 states, nothing is automatically mailed to voters, although voters can apply online to vote by mail. In six states, voting by mail is permissible only with a “valid excuse.” And the remaining states are some hybrid of the preceding categories.
All of these different rules provide plenty of opportunity to game the system on questions ranging from the verification of identity, addresses, and signatures to the timeliness of postmarks and the ability of the postal service to deliver ballots in a timely manner. Because there are so many “moving parts” to the vote-by-mail process, mail-in ballots are fraught with the potential for fraud. Yes, we’ve seen voter fraud before, but we ain’t seen nothing yet. The further we get from requiring that voters go to the polls to vote in person, the more we expand the avenues for fraud.