I’m informed that one of Trump’s most endearing qualities is that he says out loud what no one else would be foolish enough to admit. One such admission involves voting.
If election day was a national holiday, no Republican would ever be elected again? Because too many people would vote?
On Senate floor Mitch McConnell rips a federal holiday for Election Day as part of a “power grab” by Democrats to win elections.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) January 30, 2019
But with the pandemic, the concern takes on an entirely new dimension.
On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of voters in Wisconsin will be forced to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote and safeguarding their own lives, not to mention the lives of their loved ones, their neighbors and poll workers across the state.
There will be few polls open because poll workers, who tend to be old folks, aren’t prepared to risk death for the gig. Are voters? Should they be? On the one hand, they are subject to a stay-at-home order, and yet the state refuses to delay the primary or make an accommodation such as voting by mail or online.
This is insane, and utterly unnecessary. Fifteen states, including four with primaries scheduled for this coming week, have already postponed their elections; several have canceled all in-person voting and are relying solely on mail-in ballots. On Thursday the Democratic National Committee pushed back its national convention, which is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, from July to August.
It may be that our circumstances come August aren’t sufficiently better than now, or July, and that further changes will be needed, but so what? What compelling need is there to proceed now, to proceed by voting in person in defiance of the sound policy of staying at home and not, you know, risking death and spreading coronavirus?
Republicans insist that widespread mail voting would be an “invitation for voter fraud,” even though evidence suggests fraud is actually lower in states with all-mail balloting. They also argue it would be logistically impossible to print and mail so many ballots before Tuesday. If so, then why not just push back the election, as Mr. Evers has proposed? The answer can only be that Republican legislators don’t want people to vote.
Whether voter fraud is as serious a concern as argued may be a matter for debate, although one might wonder why only the Republicans fear it and not the Democrats. Then again, the claimed fear is that illegal aliens will vote, felons will vote, all the people whom Republicans expect to vote against them will be stuffing the ballot boxes to beat them at the polls.
If that’s their concern, perhaps they would do well to consider why they fear these cohorts, so large they will cost them any chance of winning elections and yet so presumptively inclined to vote against Republicans that suppressing votes is their only response.
It’s not that voting by mail doesn’t have issues, even if it’s used in some states and counties without any particular problem.
Three states, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, now hold their elections entirely by mailedout ballots. So do 27 of the 29 counties in Utah; 31 of the 53 counties in North Dakota; five counties (and growing) in California; and the City of Anchorage where about 40% of Alaska’s voters reside.
Add all this together, and since 2000 more than 250 million votes have been cast via mailed-out ballots, in all 50 states, without a whiff of serious election fraud. That’s one heck of a sample size to overlook in the “I’m worried about fraud and abuse” argument. Also note those states above are red, purple and blue. This is not a partisan issue.
Plus, there is an unspoken concern about people for whom getting off their butts and affirmatively exercising the franchise is too much trouble, but who might be willing to exert enough effort to vote if it’s limited to checking a box and putting their ballot in the mail. If they aren’t sufficiently politically active to go to the polls, should we accommodate the slacker vote?
But these are questions to be raised in the broader context of elections in general, and the issue of the moment is the fear that Republicans will lose if people unwilling to risk death are able to vote.
The point was made explicit this week by Georgia’s House speaker, David Ralston, who opposed a push for mail-in ballots to be sent to every registered voter on the ground that it would encourage more people to vote. “This will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia,” Mr. Ralston said in a local news interview. “This will certainly drive up turnout.”
If driving up turnout is your real concern, then your problem isn’t voter fraud. It’s that people don’t want to elect you. In the universe of possible arguments against voting by mail, there is no worse argument than that.