The hidden risks of voting by mail - Front Page Live

The hidden risks of voting by mail

03/26/2020 10:53 am ET Brian Frazer
The hidden risks of voting by mail

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Mailing it in seems to be the simplest solution to circumvent the coronavirus during an election year. But unless we get started soon, November could be fraught with flaws — it’s not as simple as just counting stacks of ballots.

Fraud: it’s not just electronic

A 2005 bipartisan commission agreed that mail-in ballots are the most vulnerable to fraud. Ballot harvesting scandals in North Carolina and Texas seem to back up those findings.

Daily mail isn’t universal

In a letter to Congress, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) said: “In light of the threats that this virus poses, every American should be able to cast a ballot by mail without excuse.”

Yet, getting everyone a ballot won’t be easy. Many communities, such as Native American reservations, don’t have traditional mailing addresses. There are also the issues of multiple families sharing a single post office box and remote villages where regular mail delivery is unreliable.

Not as easy as it looks

Mailing a ballot isn’t like sending a birthday card to your aunt. The ballots need to be printed in multiple languages, envelopes must be a certain thickness to ensure voter privacy, and the paper must be compatible for the scanners to read. Oh, and the paper takes up a lot more room than you’d think. Arizona’s Maricopa County alone would require nine truckloads of ballots.

“A large county may have 2,000 different ballot styles,” says Jeff Ellington of Runbeck Election Services. “A voter who lives across the street from another might get an entirely different ballot than their neighbor.”

The icing on the confusion cake

Everything’s bigger in Texas: including the chaos. Because the Lone Star State’s election administration is primarily controlled by counties, there’s no centralized way of doing things. Each county pretty much sets its own method of voting. Good luck getting everyone to adopt the same set of rules.

Amber McReynolds, CEO of Vote at Home, acknowledges that it will be difficult but says “States certainly need to look at other states who have implemented good systems. A lot of this has been documented and trainings are ready to go.”

What you can do

Check out Vote at Home to see how you can vote at home.

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