Let me start off and separate "Absentee balloting" from "Mail-in balloting." Much like the legal/illegal immigration issue, the differences between these are critical.
I want to talk about a "chain of custody" first, so you understand what it is and why this chain is critical. Many important things, when sent from Point A to Point B, require a chain of custody. When a police officer picks up a piece of evidence from a crime scene, they drop it into a bag and a piece of paper describing all of the particulars of the evidence and their name and they sign it. "Glock 19, Serial VG253US, 12:35pm, 8/16/2020 Officer John Doe." When the officer hands that bag off to someone, they make sure the person taking possession signs that chain of custody. By both of their signatures testifying the hand off, the receiving person agrees the evidence they are receiving is what the officer giving it to them says it is.
If that chain of custody is broken, that evidence can no longer be used. Why you ask? Because it might have been tampered with, or replaced and thus renders it useless as evidence. If the chain is unbroken and the evidence is altered, then there is a list of suspects. Case in point, The St. Louis McClusky's who defended their property against trespassers with an AR-15 and a pistol, Her pistol was intentionally rendered inoperative by the McCluskys' long before that incident. They reversed a part that rendered the firearm unable to function. Well, a lab technician took the pistol apart for inspection, assembled it together correctly, then test fired it and didn't document that it was received in an inoperable condition. You see the problem here?
Police evidence, samples for medical testing, certified mail and more are all subject to a chain of custody, because the consequences of a broken chain are too terrible to contemplate. Wrongful conviction, someone unnecessarily undergoes chemotherapy, a person loses their home because they didn't get the notice, that's what I can think of just off the top of my head.
So, onto voting.
Voting is the most important duty a citizen has. It's your chance to tell the government what to do. If you don't vote, you have no leg to stand on when you bitch about how things are. To accurately gauge the will of the people, on a set day we all go to our respective polling places, verify we are who we say we are and make our voice heard. I remember when the first free elections were held in Iraq after Saddam was removed from power, you had to stick your right index finger into a pot of ink to hand your ballot in. This prevented a person from voting multiple times because you had a temporary sign that you couldn't hide to show you had voted. You couldn't scrub it off that day, but it wore off naturally in a week or two.
An absentee ballot must be specifically requested by the voter, and a substantial reason must be attached. You are going to be out of the state/country, you are an invalid and cannot travel, something like that. You can't get an absentee ballot if you're going to be at home and able to travel to your polling district on election day or during early voting. Absentee ballots also account for less than 5% of ballots.
Our current voting system looks like this:
In the days before an election, the voting machines are scanned for viruses and malware, then certified by the Election Commissions IT Department, and sealed to detect tampering. They are kept under custody until they are set up at the respective polling places. The polling workers keep custody of the machines until the end of the polling time.
When the voter arrives, their valid ID is checked against the voter rolls. If unverified, they can still cast a provisional ballot, which will be counted if or when the person's eligibility to vote is verified.
After the polls have closed, two people break the seals on the voting machines, recover the cartridge that has recorded the votes and place them into a sealed box. The custody of the box is then passed to the police, who run with lights flashing and sirens blaring to the election commission, who pass the custody of the box of cartridges to the election commission and the cartridges are downloaded and the votes counted. A similar process is used for paper ballots. The serial numbers are logged and a chain of custody for those ballots are maintained until they are counted at the election commission HQ. At no time is there an undetectable opportunity to alter the recorded votes. The veracity and security of the machines and whose who use them are unquestioned. Fake ID's not withstanding. But that's a subject for another post.
This mail-in voting is something completely different. Under this concept, the county governments will send out a ballot based on their list of voters at that moment, accuracy be damned. The reports of voter rolls being years out of date are too numerous to mention. The county mails all of these ballots out, people fill them out, sign them, send them back and they're counted. What's the big deal?
We have already seen multiple instances with this year's mail-in voting where dozens of ballots sent to people in apartment complexes are found on the ground or in the trash. Does this sound secure? A person in an apartment gets multiple ballots, for themselves and the last five years of tenants. Do you think there is the possibility of voter fraud?
Then there's the other side of that coin: Disenfranchisement. If the USPS delayed the transport of the ballot to the voter or back, or lost the ballot entirely, that persons vote won't be counted. If the vote gets to the election commission too late by either USPS delay or the sender mailing it too late, their vote is lost.
I am reflexively sarcastic and hyperbolic a lot of the time. My next sentence, I assure you, is deadly serious and worries me to no end. I have a reasonable fear, if there is a nation-wide requirement to perform mail-in voting, that there will be 67 million write-in votes for Hillary Clinton.
Seriously, people are seriously talking about blindly sending out millions of ballots, in the hope they reach their addressee. Then the person who the ballot is meant for properly fills out the ballot and sends it back. And that the USPS delivers that ballot in time to be counted. Each of these leaps of faith, if they were to be done physically, I'm thinking Seven-League Boots kind of level here.
This goes well beyond wishful thinking. This goes way beyond delusion. This will not be successful by any metric a reasonable person would use. My paranoid side is telling me that if Trump wins, it will provide a context for Leftists to continue their chant of "Illegitimate President!" because of all of the holes and doubt in the accuracy of the votes cast in the light of mail-in voting. If either Hillary or Kamala get into the Oval office (it could be both, you vote for President and Vice-President separately), the United states will have achieved three firsts.
- First woman president
- First President for Life
- First American Dictator
Don't doubt me.