By RICK WAGNER
The ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” seems especially appropriate today.
Speaking of curses, let’s talk about mail-in voting. I know it must be high on everyone’s list of priorities because of its prominence in progressive talking points. To be fair, they put your money where their mouth is by allocating $400 million in this last coronavirus relief act to assist in mail-in voting.
It’s not like that money would be better used to immediately help small businesses or individuals to pay bills or keep staff. No, there seems a more important objective — to make sure as few people as possible show up in person to vote in November.
One can often tell the wrongness of an idea by the people supporting it. This is an especially good example. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer are beside themselves with the importance of this issue as well as our own newly elected Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold. And don’t forget Twitter, which now seems to be the substitute for polling and is positively on fire with support.
By the way, a study conducted by Pew Research in October 2019 determined that 6% of the people on Twitter accounted for 73% of the tweets about politics and of that 6%, those who strongly disapprove of the president generated 72% of the political tweets.
So there’s the source of much of the support of all mail-in voting, which raises the question of why are people who abhor the president so fascinated with mail-in voting?
My take? They want to ensure a result like the presidential election in 2016 doesn’t happen again and they need a system that can introduce a lot of questionable voting into the process.
I can hear the arguments already. We haven’t had substantial direct proof (that is, numerous prosecutions) to demonstrate mail-in voting leads to more voter fraud. But that argument is inane because the mechanisms used for mail-in voting makes the detection of individual voting fraud nearly impossible.
No identification is required. No election officials ensure there is no undue influence or coercion during the process and no one can tell who completes or mails the ballot. There’s even a strong move afoot to prevent election officials from comparing the signature on file with those on the ballot if other things are questionable.
Also, there are some alarming facts about the process and recent changes that have gone along with it. To begin with, keep in mind that hand in glove with the promotion of all mail-in voting is resistance to purging voter registration rolls of people who have not registered or voted in years. This results in ballots being mailed out to individuals who have not had any remotely recent contact with the system.
Where do these ballots end up? Good question. For many of them, no one knows. The Public Interest Legal Foundation studied general elections involving mail-in ballots between 2012 and 2018 and discovered that 28.3 million ballots had effectively disappeared. In 2018 alone, 10,475,000 ballots were “unaccounted for.” That doesn’t seem like very effective targeting.
Many of these ballots end up tossed on the floors and into the trash cans of apartment houses, fraternities and other secure locations. What could possibly go wrong.
If someone does receive a ballot there’s a supportive practice — illegal in most places but not Colorado anymore — which is ballot harvesting. This happens when a helpful individual comes to someone’s door and offers to deliver their ballot, free of charge, to a voting station. Colorado has recently authorized harvesters to collect up to 10 ballots. California, thanks to changes in the law prior to the 2018 election, has not seen the need to even have that restriction.
California allows practically anybody to collect someone’s ballot, including campaign workers and even candidates themselves. With so many ballots being mailed to addresses where voters no longer live or are even alive, this seems to invite filling out unused ballots and submitting them.
What about collecting and then trashing ballots from individuals who probably aren’t going to vote for your candidate? That happened in North Carolina last election and is not even legal to ballot harvest in that state.
It’s not correct to say that every vote should be counted unless we have a system in place that assures those votes are legitimate.
Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.