Republicans should be given a break on their common-sense Voter ID laws, and Democrats should be given a break on their common-sense demand for voting by mail. Here’s why.
Last Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary, held during the coronavirus pandemic, saw Milwaukee consolidate its 180 polling places into five. Even then, they didn’t have enough poll workers, so members of the National Guard had to step in.
Conceptually, poll workers know their neighbor-voters and are the first line of defense against voting irregularities. Well, the Wisconsin election put the need in the necessity for voter IDs, should the same situation occur here.
Now, we need the ability to conduct an all-mail election.
President Donald Trump said during a news conference last week, “Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they’re cheaters. ... They’re fraudulent in many cases.”
Previously he said, “... if you’d ever agreed to [elections by mail, etc.], you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again ...”
Voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States. A national study in 2016 found few credible allegations. A panel Trump charged with investigating election corruption found no real evidence of fraud before he disbanded it in 2018.
Regardless, Trump claims voting by mail is full of fraud.
He seems to rely on claims from his son, Eric, who said, “14% of all noncitizens are registered to vote.”
That claim is based on two reports. First is a review by Old Dominion University professors citing an opt-in internet survey asking 489 respondents in 2010 if they were registered to vote. Fourteen percent of that sample self-described as noncitizens.
The researchers, however, never asserted it was representative of all registered voters. In fact, they said, “it is impossible to tell for certain whether the noncitizens ... were representative of the broader population of noncitizens.”
Other peer-reviewed articles also argue that the data does not provide evidence of noncitizen voting.
The second source cited is a 2012 Pew Center of the States study of ways to make the election system more accurate, cost-effective and efficient.
Here, they found about 24 million, or about 12.5%, of voter registrations were invalid or were significantly inaccurate. They also found 1.8 million deceased voters, and 2.75 million registrations in more than one place.
But they did not find, or even look to find, the percentage of noncitizens registered to vote.
Republicans at the state level see it differently.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland is sending mail-in ballots to every registered voter for their June 2 primary.
Kim Wyman, Republican secretary of state of Washington — with universal mail voting since 2010 — said it’s “disappointing when anyone in leadership makes fraud claims ... when it happens, the public loses confidence in ... our system.”
Republican state officials in Iowa, Ohio and West Virginia have all taken steps to ease access to mail-in ballots. Nebraska’s Republican governor urged voters to apply for absentee ballots. Florida’s GOP chairman says they will continue to run a robust vote-by-mail program.
Our Republican West Virginia secretary of state, Mac Warner, says he is working with county clerks to assure every voter receives an application within the next 10 days to vote by mail in the June 9 Primary Election.
What’s the difference in voting by absentee and mail-in voting? Nothing. And even though Trump has attacked the concept of mail-in voting, he votes by absentee ballot himself.
We need legislation allowing our state to conduct an all-mail election, should another situation occur. And we should have a few voting places for those who want to vote in person.
And when they vote, they should still be required to show their identification.