Voting in person, on site at the polling place, on September 1 guarantees your ballots are safely received and counted. No one disputes that those most at risk from the coronavirus pandemic may want to vote by Absentee Ballot. But, as The New York Times stated back in 2012, “votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth.”
Recently, and with viral aftermath, President Trump tweeted that “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”
Many people interpreted this tweet about a possible delay in the Nov. 3 election as a threat by him to postpone the election. But that’s not really what his tweet said—and in any event, no president has the power to delay Election Day. Only Congress has the constitutional authority to change the date of the Federal General Election.
The general election situation aside, here in Massachusetts, the Secretary of State William Galvin set the Primary Election date on September 1, the earliest date in recent memory. This accelerated timeframe has put enormous pressure on the City of Boston to react to mail-in ballot requests and reports are that the election department is having difficulty keeping up with the demand, which will likely have a direct effect on the ballot counting and the validity of ballots.
In the past, the election department had issues with processing absentee ballots and the reports of compromised ballots in some precincts. When asked, one local veteran campaigner lamented, “ With all of the turmoil around the country, the controversy over the postal service funding and the illegal behavior of many protesters and others, don’t think for one moment that mailed in ballots won’t be lost or discarded, or worse”. This concern apparently reflects the unprecedented malevolence of the national elections and the blame falls to both Parties – Democrats and Republicans.
In another first for Massachusetts voters, early voting at some polling places will also be allowed for the primary election on September 1— not just the general election. It is fair to opine that, especially in traditional voting strongholds like South Boston and Dorchester, in-person voting won’t be stopped by the coronavirus on either day.
The controversy with the Postal Service cannot be taken lightly and its effect on the mail in voting experiment could have unanticipated consequences in this election cycle, as well as lasting impacts on the validity of the elections.
Candidates on the ballot September 1, both incumbents and challengers, are not only having difficulty planning and executing their campaign strategies under the pandemic restrictions imposed, they now face the prospects of the failure of mail-in voting and the legitimacy of the final vote count.
Secretary of State Galvin acknowledged to WBUR that voting by mail does add some small measure of risk. But he said his office will be extra vigilant. “You’re liberalizing the process to afford people the opportunity to vote by mail, and when you do anything like that, you’re expanding the opportunity for people to abuse it, as opposed to somebody coming in and actually voting in person, where they can be seen,” Galvin said. “But it’s a risk we have to take. We have to protect the rights of voters to participate who otherwise might not.”
With the primary less than 2 weeks away, and voting by mail already underway, Galvin has said he has concerns about that election, but is more worried about the November election, when there is expected to be far more people casting ballots.
Be sure that your ballot counts! The simple solution: Voting in person is the best way to ensure that your vote is counted.