Making Mail-in Ballots ‘Secure’

Although more deeply at odds than at any time since the Civil War, both sides of our fractious nation’s political divide seem to agree on this: the 2020 federal elections are the most consequential of our lifetimes. Voters are being asked to decide nothing less than whether they want to “fundamentally change” America, or to keep America fundamentally American.

If the franchise is so very precious, if voting is a “sacred” right, then government must do everything it can to protect the integrity of our elections. But government has been failing in that solemn duty. Yes, the states spend a bunch of money and go through the motions on voter registration, but they never go to the heart of the matter when establishing the identity of each voter.

The claim that there is no evidence of fraud in America’s elections needs much more scrutiny. The reason that some, like the “experts” at the Brennan Center, contend that there’s “no evidence” for widespread election fraud is because it’s a debate tactic, an attempt to put those who make the opposite claim in the position of having to disprove the experts’ claim. But two can play that game, for there is “no evidence” that election fraud does not occur, and that each ballot was freely cast by an eligible voter who voted only once. Why is evidence expected for one claim but not for its opposite?

We know that election fraud occurs because people have been convicted of it. So when apologists for the current systems say that there’s “no evidence” that such fraud is widespread, they should be required to put a number on it. But they can’t, because with our current election systems fraud can be undetectable.

Unless fraud is detectable, it’s crazy to talk about there being “no evidence” for it. Even with in-person voting, election fraud can be pretty much undetectable. If an ineligible person, like an illegal alien, can just get on a voter registry, there’s little to stop him from voting. (Check out this August 29 article by Jon Levine at the New York Post on fraud with mail-in ballots.)

Suspicion of fraud and thoughts of stolen elections are corrosive. Since an election can be decided by a single vote, no fraud whatsoever should be tolerated. So those who contend that election fraud isn’t a problem need to be able to show the means by which the states detect fraud.

It’s doubtful that mail-in voting could ever be as secure as in-person voting. Even so, mail-in voting can be made more secure. Recently, this writer wrote that the inclusion on the ballot of a single piece of information, the SSN, would help government to ensure election integrity. Indeed, with the SSN on the ballot, fraud becomes detectable. Without a valid SSN that is on file with the feds, a ballot could be rejected. By requiring the SSN, elections could be flooded with more ballots than there are U.S. voters and the true winners could still be known. We’d even be able to detect double voting.

But with our current methods of doing mail-in voting, fraud is much more likely than with in-person voting, and much more undetectable. For instance, how can one know that a mail-in ballot was used by the person to whom it was mailed and not by someone else, like some “ballot harvester”?

With our current methods, whether or not one’s mail-in votes are deemed legitimate and are added to the counts can depend on the subjective judgment of whether or not a signature is legitimate. This would be less of a problem if mail-in ballots had to be notarized by a notary public. This June 1 article at NPR treats the states’ notarization and witness requirements and it includes an interesting map. The map shows that the states have several ways to verify ballots. Congress should require the states to abide by a single standard when conducting their elections for federal office.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is running a series called “Voting Outside the Polling Place,” or VOPP. But the NCSL’s search page for “VOPP” doesn’t seem to list any studies regarding any notarization and witnessing standards for mail-in ballots held by the states, (perhaps you can find them).

However, when one looks at “Signature and witness requirements” in the Ballotpedia entry for “Absentee/mail-in voting,” one sees that the vast majority of the states have no requirement for notarization, nor do they even require a witness. The only states that have any such requirements are the Red States of Alabama, Alaska, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

Immediately after the section on signature and witness requirements, we come to this: “Temporary modifications to absentee/mail-in voting procedures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.” And what we see is that requirements are being modified (waived, actually) for the 2020 elections. Of special interest are the modifications in Oklahoma: “On May 7, 2020, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) signed SB210 into law, reinstating the absentee ballot notarization requirement struck down by the state supreme court on May 4, 2020.” (When it comes to voting, Oklahoma seems to be more rigorous than the other states, see SB 210).

There seems to be a media blackout of Joe Biden’s cognitive decline. Yet, early voting has already begun, and we haven’t even had the first debate. I doubt that Biden voters availing themselves of the early voting option will be allowed to change their early votes if they’re horrified by Biden’s debate performances.

When one puts early voting together with the way the states are doing mail-in voting, one might think that the 2020 elections really should begin again. If we were to start over and send out mail-in ballots again, the voter should be required to enter his SSN on his ballot. The gist of this was laid out in my last article and it’s pretty simple. My solution assumes that there will be voter fraud, but it provides a way to detect and correct it.

Because it’s dysfunctional, it’s doubtful that Congress can get itself to do anything about this insecure election coming up. Besides, Democrats think it perfectly fine to allow fraudsters to decide the character of our nation and her future.

Left-wing “activists” are threatening violence if President Trump nominates a replacement for Justice Ginsburg. But the uncertainty that mail-in voting has put our elections makes it more likely that candidates will be headed to court, just as in 2000. Having the full complement of nine justices, with its impossibility of a 4-4 tie vote, is essential for achieving a definitive decision by the high court. America may need a new Supreme Court justice just to decide the election.

America is conducting a supremely consequential election with election systems that are wide open to fraud. If that be so, then we need to do nothing less than restart this election with a single secure new system that all the states must use. Yes, early voters would need to vote again. But if the authorities cannot give confidence to the electorate by demonstrating and proving that the vote counts are correct and legitimate, then we can expect continued chaos in the streets.

Jon N. Hall of ULTRACON OPINION is a programmer from Kansas City.

Image: Colette Cassinelli

If you experience technical problems, please write to