COVID-19 has given renewed hope to those who advocate mail-in voting for presidential elections.
Given the unprecedented level of partisan rancor this year, 2020 is the worst time imaginable to hastily overhaul our election system.
A hotly contested congressional vote in New York dramatizes just how much could go wrong with widespread mail-in voting.
A month after primary election day, New Yorkers still do not know whether long-term Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the Nancy Pelosi insider who has held the seat since 1993, or Suraj Patel, an Obama campaign official, has won. What went wrong?
It’s the mail-in ballots.
Jewish World Review reports:
Just 648 in-person votes are separating them, with 65,000 mail-in ballots still being counted. And an entire district of 718,000 people across three boroughs have no idea who their next representative will be – a full month after Election Day.
“It’s been dysfunctional to the extreme,” said Brian Van Nieuwenhoven, treasurer of the Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club in the district.
At the center of this mess is a massive influx of mail-in ballots – 403,000 returned ballots in the city this cycle vs. 23,000 that were returned and determined valid during the 2016 primary – and a system wholly unprepared to process them.
It’s not just delayed results that are at issue: In the 12th district and in the primaries across the country, tens of thousands of mail-in ballots were invalidated for technicalities like a missing signature or a missing postmark on the envelope.
Can you imagine not knowing who won the presidency for a month or more? A situation like this in 2020 would make the Bush-Gore Florida recount look positively idyllic.
There are other reasons beyond the possibility of seriously delayed results that massive mail-in ballots could create a national catastrophe.
Large-scale mail-in voting would be essentially absentee ballots writ large, without the protections that ensure the voter is the one who votes with traditional absentee ballots. As we observed recently, mail-in voting on a national scale is an invitation to fraud:
Pew Center on the States found that “Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” When voter rolls are not purged of those who have moved, died, or otherwise lost their right to vote, ballots may be sent erroneously to non-voters. If misused, these erroneous voter registrations are enough to swing an election.
Mail-in voting is also a threat to the secret ballot.