As the COVID pandemic draws on, arrangements are being made for a National “Vote by Mail” campaign for the General election in November. The House is trying to pass a stimulus bill which has $3.6 billion allocated for a “National Vote by Mail” project  President Trump has spoken out, and has been censured by Twitter for calling out the fraud potential of vote by mail. He has also confused mail in absentee ballots and vote by mail elections. 

What is the difference between the two? Most states allow voters to request an Absentee ballot which they can cast in advance of election day by either mailing it in, no postage necessary, or they can drop it in a ballot box or drop off location on election day. 

The Vote by Mail is different. Ballots are sent to all registered voters in a state or county. No one needs to request a ballot and no checks are done to verify the voter rolls are accurate before sending the ballots. All ballots are returned via USPS, there is no place to cast a vote on election day in person. 

California recently had a Special Election, 25th Congressional District. which was conducted as a Vote by Mail. As a registered voter, I was sent a ballot. I also received two more ballots for people with my address, who I don’t know and haven’t lived here in at least three years. If someone was unscrupulous they could have cast those ballots for a candidate they preferred or turned them over to someone else to use.Since I am honest, I put them back in the mailbox. 

The issue is pull vs.push. Absentee ballots are requested by someone whose address is known from the voter registration rolls. If an absentee ballot isn’t received by the voter who requested, they can obtain a replacement or they can simply vote on election day. . Vote by mail is a push, ballots are sent based upon the voter rolls with no knowledge of who receives them or if they were received. There isn’t an opportunity to vote in person on election day, an option many voters prefer. 

Vote by mail also has a greater potential for voter fraud, per the example I presented above. California is a ballot harvesting state, so the issue of extra ballots is much more important, as they end up in the hands of people who might cast them in the name of someone else. Unaccounted for ballots floating around the system is not good for Democracy nor is it a fair way to run an election. 

The best choice for the November election in California is to hold it as a regular, vote in person election. People who are not comfortable visiting a polling place on November 4th are free to request the absentee option and send it back before the deadline. Others who like to see their vote cast and know no one else is trying to vote for them, will be to do that. 

One has to question why the Democrats are so determined to make the General Election a Vote by Mail event? They claim it is because no one wants to vote in person while the COVID pandemic is ongoing. That is a valid reason, but why force everyone to vote by mail? People are free to request an absentee ballot, no cost involved, no postage and it is delivered to their home, the same way the vote by mail ballot is. Or do they have plans to use the extra ballots that will be in the system for their own political gain?  Democrats have far better organization for collecting and submitting harvested ballots than the Republicans in California. Look at Orange County Congressional races in 2018 if you have any question about their abilities to influence races.