Opinion: Don't ignore problems with vote-by-mail

Logan Churchwell

Advocates for mandatory mail-in ballot elections often claim they are expanding democracy. What they overlook, is that the mail voting system has gaping flaws.

In the last decade, 30 million mail ballots were sent to the wrong addresses and/or went missing entirely, according to election officials. That level of failure would not be acceptable from a private business.

The American electorate should not assume that just because it is easy to purchase an expensive item with the reassuring feeling of tracked shipping, the same reliability applies to most counties’ capabilities in handling mail ballots. Amazon and eBay cannot just shrug it off when a package goes unaccounted for. Election officials can.

In 2016, there were two mystery mail ballots for every vote in Hillary Clinton’s margin over victory over Donald Trump in the national popular vote matchup. This is a field ripe for fraud, and Americans rightfully have serious concerns. A new Emerson College poll found that fewer than half of Americans even trust mail-in voting.

According to MIT political science professor Charles Stewart III, a disproportionate number of younger and minority voters see their mail ballots rejected when first giving vote-by-mail a try. Unlike being in a polling place where an accident is fixable with the help of a handy poll worker, errors made at home are final.

From 2012 to 2018, 2.3 million ballots were sent to the wrong or outdated addresses, Churchwell writes.

The figures over our contemporary era of elections are dreary in terms of rejected mail ballots. In the historic 2008 general election alone, there were 1 million ballots thrown out. An additional 1.2 million ballots would go on to be rejected in the presidential and midterm contests to date, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

An increasing reliance on mail balloting forces our election reliability onto a foundation of faulty voter registration records. From 2012 to 2018, 2.3 million ballots were sent to the wrong or outdated addresses.

Reaching for the mail-in ballot solution in this coronavirus emergency risks a painful, hands-on education as to these longstanding problems.

Logan Churchwell is the communications and research director for the Public Interest Legal Foundation. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.