I have been watching the debate over voting by mail in the upcoming elections in November with interest because the debate checks off several issues that have my attention at the same time. They are making sure Donald Trump does not get another term, my disgust with the United States post office and American elections. Before delving into the debate, I want to be clear that at no time do I believe that Trump’s arguments against the postal service are for America’s benefit. His arguments against mail in ballots is about self-preservation. However, he is correct on his assessment.
Let us break down the discussion into two topics – the safety of mail ballots and the postal service’s ability to deliver the ballots timely and safely.
Election Ballot Security
There is no way that the ballots mailed in can be trusted to be representative of the voter’s will. There are just too many steps in the process where a ballot can be altered, destroyed or misdirected before it gets tabulated.
From the moment that the ballot is put in the mail to the voter it begins a journey where the ballot touches several individuals. Each step of the way, the ballot can be intercepted and redirected somewhere else before it makes it to the voter. Each misdirection allows someone, or a group of individuals to mark the ballot as they want. When the misused ballot returns to the election’s department to be tabulated, at most the only thing that can be verified about the ballot is that it belongs to a legitimate voter. The votes cast on it cannot be verified to be accurate without asking the voter to prove that was their intended vote.
With the number of votes cast it is will be impossible to ascertain that each ballot received via the mail truly represents the will of the voter. Even though some voters may complain that they never received their ballot in the mail, their numbers would be so small as to avoid scrutiny into misdirected ballots.
Voters in America are just not that interested in casting votes to complain about not receiving their ballots.
But misdirected mail ballots are just one way the election outcome can be manipulated.
Even if the voter receives their mail ballot, properly marks it and returns it to the elections department does not mean that the mail ballot was not altered or lost before being tabulated.
For the mail ballots to be reasonably secure there needs to be trust in the post office’s ability to ensure the integrity of each ballot. Unfortunately, that is just not possible. This is because of incompetence and a history of postal employee crimes.
Post Office Incompetence
The United States Postal Service is incompetent. Besides delayed mail deliveries reported in recent news reports there are also issues of lost mail. The postal service has argued that slow mail delivery is because of lack of funding. Taxpayers do not pay for mail via taxes, rather the post office operates on monies it generates from its services.
The post office has been facing money troubles due to labor benefits, competition from other packaging businesses, government interference and the changing face of person-to-person communications because of the internet.
The post office has been arguing that it needs an infusion of taxpayer money to provide better services.
Whether that is true or not is for another post. But for now, the fact remains that the post office is ill-equipped to be trusted with the security of ballots.
In my case alone, I have documented the loss of credit cards and other mail that is yet to reach me. The most important example is of two passports and a United States immigration visa that never made it to our mailbox. In the case of the two passports, a federal agency mailed them, and the post office told us they were delivered. They were not and years later we still do not know where the two passports are.
In another instance, a U.S. government mailed an immigration visa, tracked it and the post office told us it was delivered to us. It never was and years later no one seems to know what happened to the federal documents. That is just my personal examples.
Think about this way, in two separate instances the federal government mails us important documents and although the post office tells us they were delivered no one knows where the documents are. I even complained to the managers at the post office and their response was that the mailman says they were delivered and that is all they know.
The United States Postal Service Inspector General has documented that “between October 2018 and September 2019,” 440 individuals working at the post office were arrested and over 1,000 administrative actions were taken for delaying of mail or for stealing it.
The postal service agrees that its employees interfere with the mail.
However, there are little documented examples of voter fraud. Some of it may not have been detected yet. However, there is little election fraud.
But the likely reason for this has to do with in-person voting.
For election fraud to be effective a critical mass of ballots needs to be altered or their votes manipulated. To get the critical mass of people to cast votes on election day is cost and logistically prohibited.
But by misdirecting mail or intercepting mail ballots, a few individuals can create the necessary critical mass to change the outcome of an election. Remember that the integrity of the voter’s identity remains intact, it is the votes cast that can be changed without affecting the validity of the voter.
Therein lies the problem with vote-by-mail.
To understand this the reader need not look farther than the problem of SPAM mail. SPAM mail remains effective because a few people can reach critical mass with little work or costs.
There are those that will argue that the there is no documented instances of voter fraud via mail in ballots.
They are correct in that few, if any, have been documented. However, it all goes back to critical mass. Few of the votes cast in national elections are cast via mail.
Even if we are to accept that the postal service can guarantee the integrity of the ballot it cannot overcome its deficiencies in the timely delivery as experienced by many in recent years.
Because of this, America cannot afford to have vote-by-mail in November, especially with the importance of this presidential election.