Vote by Mail: Turning the Clock Backwards
Concerns about corruption in voting are not a new phenomenon. During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison worried about the abuses that might occur under the new Constitution.
Our federal system of government is predicated on the faith that a citizen, adequately informed and unmolested is capable of judging who is best fit to govern our country.
The U.S. Constitution stipulates - "the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.”
Over time, what has developed in the United States is a system of voting protecting both the legitimacy of an election and the privacy rights of the voter from outside interference. Without these two components we would have no fair stable system of elections. All would descend to chaos of corruption.
Today, using the coronavirus as an excuse, the Democrats seek to abolish how we conduct elections in the United States.
Our current system of voting came into being as a result of a great progressive reform movement in the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century.
Ardent progressive reformers, like the socialist Henry George in 1886, strove to prevent corruption in the electoral process. The progressive reformers championed a system of voting by an official ballot printed at public expense by a neutral authority. Previously political parties had printed their own ballots and ward bosses paid people to vote for their candidates, stuff ballots and vote repeatedly.
The system was intimidating and enormously corrupt. A supervisory public authority was necessary to monitor balloting, ensure fairness, and provide the necessary element of voter secrecy.
The new structure of reform called the 'Australian ballot', (named from its place of origin) specifies that a citizen coming to the poll be registered to vote and identified. At the poll, he gives his name and address. He receives an official ballot; marks it in the secrecy of a booth and hands it in to be counted.
Additional laws were passed protecting the voter from solicitation at the polls. These laws still survive today. Wardens at voting places acting on laws regulated by the local secretary of state keep those soliciting votes 100 ft. away from voters when they enter a polling place.
Massachusetts was the first state to adopt the secret ballot in 1888. By 1896, almost 90 percent of states had adopted it. The secret ballot is largely credited with rooting out the worst forms of voter fraud and intimidation. Later, voting machines came into being, which eliminated the paper ballot but ensured the same secrecy protections were kept with a curtain on the voting machine.
The corruption of the old political machine politics boss has ended, but the Democratic party today seeks to bring back Tammany Hall by a procedure called "Vote by Mail" which takes away voter privacy and mails millions of ballots often to those no longer living at the address the ballot is mailed to.
One should not confuse "Vote by Mail" with voting by an 'absentee ballot'. Absentee balloting is an older established regulated process. It is used in extraordinary circumstances for illness or absence when the voter cannot appear at the poll. Ballots are requested by the voter, are registered, and require a signature certification by the voter.
There has been corruption in absentee balloting. The most secure method of voting is to vote in person at the poll.
"Vote by Mail' which the Democrats are advocating nationally is an irresponsible, unregulated system that seeks to mail ballots to every address in the country from inaccurate unpurged voter rolls regardless of whether the persons at the address is living, currently registered to vote, or are even citizens. Critics point out that ballots delivered to a wrong address or to someone who moved would be piled up in hallways for anyone to pick up and tamper with.
'Vote by Mail" then allows the ballots mailed to be collected by unregulated political activists who are entrusted to bring them to election places to be counted. What happens along the way to these ballots is left to the horror of one's imagination. There are no voter identity checks anywhere in the 'Vote by Mail" scheme. Its unsecure procedures encourages tampering and ballot fraud on a massive scale.
In the recent midterm 2018 elections, Republicans in the state of California were winning on election night in seven Congressional districts, but the vote harvested ballots allowed by "Vote by Mail" overturned the election results, giving all seven seats to the Democrats.
Some sections of California were found to have a voter registration of 112% -- more registered voters than there were actual citizens! This is corruption pure and simple.
Fair elections are an essential part of the integrity of republican government. Any process that does not guarantee voter protections is an attack on the U.S. Constitution and on every voter's civil rights.
'Vote by Mail" denigrates U.S. citizenship and the integrity of the electoral process as it takes away the dignity and responsibility of a citizen appearing at a polling place, while invading the voter's privacy as the ballot passes through so many different hands. The voting booth is the last citadel of privacy in America.
The progressive reforms of the early 20th century are a proud part of American history. Various states in our federal republic became laboratories of democratic electoral reform. It would be a disaster to the integrity of the electoral process to turn the clock backwards to the days of ballot stuffing, bribery, and Boss Tweed.
Patrick J Walsh is a writer in Quincy Mass.