'It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting'
That's how Al smith put it back in the '20s. Voter fraud is a fact, and mail-in ballots are vulnerable to being altered, stolen, lost, or rejected. Mail-in ballots also make it easier for your pet cat, conjoined twin, or dead uncle to cast a vote.
In ancient Greece, two safeguards were introduced to combat voting error and fraud: the "secret ballot" and the protected "polling station." These simple measures minimize intimidation, "vote-buying," and errors in tabulation. Polling stations also offer inexperienced voters an opportunity to interact with knowledgeable poll workers. Mail-in ballots provide no mechanism for the correction of errors.
The primary assurance that the returned mail-in ballot is kosher is a signature received in the mail without witnesses. The integrity of mail-in ballots depends on the signature verification skills of poorly trained local officials.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, most of us can safely vote in person if election officials implement the same protocols used at the grocery store.
Present statistics regarding the minuscule "percentage" of error and fraud associated with mail-in ballots are calculated based on past numbers of mailed in votes. If this volume explodes, so will the insurmountable burden placed upon the ailing shoulders of the United States Postal Service.
According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, voting by mail increases the number of ballots that are rejected, and "the pipeline that moves mail ballots between voters and election officials is very leaky."
According to the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, fraud and security are social problems, and "people will commit fraud if they are willing to win by any means."
In response to the politicization of the mail-in ballot controversy, Congress is already suggesting a delay in final ballot counting. The date for elections has been set by law as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November since 1845. Congress has never delayed a federal election, even during the Civil War and World War II.
In California's presidential primary, 100,000 mail-in ballots were rejected. In Paterson, New Jersey's city council election, of the 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots submitted, one out of five was disqualified. In the Miami mayoral election of 1997, fraud so pervaded the mail-in ballots that every one was discarded. The winner was declared based solely on the votes from the polling stations.
What is worse than not voting is having your vote not count.
Get off your couch, grab your ID, put on a mask, and go vote.
Image: Library of Congress.