To the editor:
The COVID-19 pandemic will most likely affect the safety of in-person voting in November.
We’ve witnessed what happens when states like Georgia fail to prepare. Voters should not have to choose between their civil rights and their health. Of all U.S. adults, 72%, including 65% of Republicans, support a requirement for mail-in ballots this November.
To transition efficiently and securely, states without universal mail ballots need federal funding to expand vote-by-mail infrastructure.
In the last two federal elections, one out of every four Americans cast a mail ballot. It is legal and safe. In five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – mail-balloting has been the primary method of voting. Thirty-one more offer no-excuse absentee voting.
Mail ballots have not encouraged significant fraud. Oregon has sent out 100 million ballots since 2000, with just a dozen cases of proven fraud. Washington and Colorado have done even better.
Ballot fraud on a scale that would sway an election is detected by automated validation systems. This happened in North Carolina, where a political operative was arrested for harvesting mail ballots.
Voting by mail is politically neutral. Nationwide, about the same share of Republicans and Democrats voted by mail in 2016. In the 2018 election, vote-by-mail increased voter turnout in Colorado by 8 percentage points for each political party. Perhaps opponents of mail ballots are more afraid that expanded voter participation will make it harder on candidates with narrow appeal.
Between low voter turnout and an electoral college that skews the popular vote, a small fraction of the population can dictate the direction of the entire country. In 2016 slightly over a quarter of the eligible voters cast their ballot for the current administration.
In the end, no democracy can survive minority rule.
(s) RoNN Smith