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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s no secret that life isn’t always fair. Given a choice, though, common-sense citizens would prefer fairness over inequity 99 times out of 100. That’s why it is disturbing that there is no guarantee elections are fair and square. With the stakes mounting higher with each succeeding national election, the temptation to tilt vote outcomes with erroneous and fraudulent ballots has never been stronger. The best course of action that concerned Americans can take is to vote in person.

The coronavirus pandemic panic has understandably caused some Americans, the elderly in particular, to blanch at the thought of standing in long lines, cheek-to-jowl with other voters, waiting to cast their ballots in the tumultous 2020 presidential contest between President Trump, a Republican, and Democratic contender Joe Biden.


Many states have subsequently revised their customary procedures to make mail-in voting a safer alternative. Additionally, certain crucial battleground states follow lax rules that raised few eyebrows in the past but could unfairly tip the balance this year, when half of American voters, numbering 153 million in 2018, are expected to avoid the polls and vote by mail.

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina and New Hampshire do not require election officials to match voter signatures on their mail-in ballots with those recorded on their voter registration forms, a vulnerability pointed out by Just the News. In New Hampshire, a law requiring a match of signatures on a mail-in ballot and an accompanying affidavit was struck down in 2018. The judge reasoned that “rejecting voters due to a signature mismatch fails to guarantee basic fairness.” Counting ballots with mismatched signatures could overlook fraud, though, an equal threat to “basic fairness.”

A study of national voter rolls released last month by the Public Interest Legal Foundation turned up opportunities for mail-in mischief that go well beyond inattention to signatures as a means of verifying voter identity. Data collected from 42 states found nearly 38,000 cases from the 2018 national elections in which an individual cast two ballots from the same address. Thousands of these duplicates were exclusively mail-in ballots. Similar cases were discovered from the 2016 elections numbering nearly 44,000. Tens of thousands of misprinted and discarded absentee ballots have been discovered in Ohio and Kentucky, adding to the record of error.

Americans should take seriously the right to choose their leaders. Few would feel comfortable, say, handing a pile of cash to a stranger and asking him to deposit it in the bank for them. The ballot is likewise a precious asset that ought not to be entrusted to a stranger, be he a ballot harvester offering to deliver a mail-in envelope to the election board, or even the postman.

For all but those most susceptible to the coronavirus, the safest ballot is the one submitted with the personal touch — inside the voting booth.


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