What’s all the yammering about voting by mail? Half who voted in this year’s West Virginia primary did so by mail and nothing bad happened. And many of us will do so again in the general election. Yet we’re already hearing partisan yapping about how we should “vote no on voting by mail.” Most of it from Republicans. Huh?
Here is the skinny:
If you are a West Virginia voter concerned about COVID-19, you may vote using an absentee ballot (vote by mail) in the general election, no questions asked. That’s because Gov. Jim Justice’s “safer-at-home order” and Secretary of State Mac Warner’s relaxed rules allow it. Both are Republicans, by the way.
However, you must apply. Go online to https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/AbsenteeApplication.aspx beginning today or contact your county clerk’s office to do so.
So, what’s the big deal? Gallup found most registered voters (62%) favor vote by mail. Unregistered but eligible people favored it even more (75%).
It’s just that more Democrats favor it (83%) than Republicans (40%). However, 68% of independents are in favor. And younger voters favor it (73%) more than older ones (55%).
President Donald Trump doesn’t like it. He’s torqued about Nevada, which passed a law modifying its vote-by-mail process that supplies an absentee ballot to registered voters in any election held during a statewide disaster or pandemic. The goal is to shorten lines at polls on Election Day and, thus, hold down the spread of COVID-19.
The difference in West Virginia’s and Nevada’s process is that Nevada automatically sends a ballot to every registered voter, while West Virginia requires a voter to ask for one.
The voter may use the absentee ballot or vote in person. The security processes are much the same. Mail-in voters sign their submissions and those signatures are compared with signatures on file, just as is done while voting in person. A person may only vote once.
The difference is convenience. President Trump appears fearful that more Democrats will vote by mail in Nevada, yet Republicans have long relied on a strong absentee campaign in his new home state of Florida.
The president claims that voting by mail is rife with voter fraud. In the Nevada lawsuit, he argues that changes “make voter fraud and other ineligible voting inevitable.”
Yet, Nevada is just one state that has universal vote by mail. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington do as well. California and Washington, D.C., are temporarily sending everyone ballots because of the pandemic.
Do any of these states have rampant voter fraud? Nope.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reviewed all states and found no widespread voter fraud.
Washington first used vote by mail for special elections in 1983 and regular elections in 2005. The last time the state had a voting fraud conviction was in 2010. A single person, Janice Walters, was convicted of double voting in the 2008 general election. She submitted a ballot for her son, a convicted felon. In 2009, another woman was convicted of forging the signature of her son, who had moved. Two other ineligible voting convictions were brought in 2008. That’s hardly large-scale fraud.
Other vote-by-mail states have similar, non-eventful histories.
Trump’s lawsuit against Nevada relies on two main points. One is the counting of ballots that arrive late.
All states allow absentee or vote-by-mail ballots postmarked as of the day of the election and received within a set number of days to be counted. The new Nevada law ignores the postmark, because, today, not all mail is postmarked. They do require, however, that ballots be received by 5 p.m. of the third day after the election.
In West Virginia, we allow postmarked ballots to be received up to canvassing, typically a week after the election.
The other point in the Trump lawsuit is a requirement that Nevada’s two most-populous counties have more polling places than less-populated counties. Duh.
So, what’s the deal? Not much. Seems like it’s only about gaining a partisan advantage.