Opinion: Trump vs. critics on mail-in ballots

Jay Ambrose

President Donald Trump trembles at the thought of required mail-in ballots in every state this election year, and half of everyone else trembles at the thought of President Trump. They say the mail-in ballots will keep people safe from COVID-19, adding that they are super-reliable and that fraud — Trump’s pronounced worry — is not a threat.

To be sure, Trump works hard to earn the discredit, but his critics are slowly catching up with him.

All kinds of scholarly studies have found multiple dangers reside in mail-in ballots, and, if you do not believe in that conclusion, ask former President Jimmy Carter. Fifteen years ago he was on a bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform that concluded, “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.” The source here is John Lott in the Wall Street Journal, and he talks about how an easily examined mail-in ballot was once a chief means of vote buying, thereby leading to the secret ballots that made the practice harder for a simple reason.

Lott says that while so many are going around saying there is no voter fraud, there is indeed fraud, as in the Dallas City Council finding 700 mail-in ballots all signed by a witness with a made-up name. In San Pedro, California, 83 ballots were sent to a small apartment, meaning either that the rent per person was tiny and sleep at night awkward or somebody was pulling a fast one.

Fraud is a definite problem, as Democrats used to say when worrying about what Russia would do in 2020, but so is counting these ballots, as in New York City.

And then we have California, which finally rejected 100,000 mail-in ballots in the March presidential primary because of late arrivals, missing signatures or other failings avoided at voting stations because of official guidance. The scary thought is that a national mail-in ballot election could be a replay of the Democratic presidential primary caucuses in Iowa this past February. It took a month of recounts to confirm that somebody may have won.

A worker processes mail-in ballots at the Bucks County Board of Elections office prior to the primary election in Doylestown, Pa.  on May 27, 2020.

Trump has no sure way of stopping the mail-in ballot movement, and has come around to saying he would at least go along with absentee balloting that occurs when someone can’t get to the voting station, such as the elderly fearing COVID-19 exposure.

If he still doesn’t get reelected, the concern may be that he will take up sumo wrestling as a way to get past federal troops guarding the Oval Office.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service.