October 7, 2020

Noting That Mail-In Voting Can Have Too Many Problems For Such a Crucial Process

To the Editor:

I knew there would be problems. My mail-in ballot came today. Here’s what happened.

1. Too many ballots: My house has two voters. We received three ballots. My daughter hasn’t lived with us for 15 years. Yet the Elections Board still deems her “active.” Invitation to fraud?

2. Which signature? I signed my security envelope with the “short-form” signature I’ve used all my 50-year adult life. Oops! I then recalled that the Election Board has on file my adolescent full-name signature from when I first registered a half-century ago. At the polling place, where I sign a registration book before voting, my previous signatures always prompt me to sign the old way. Now I’ll have to go to the Elections Board to get a new ballot.

3. Enclose ballot in security envelope? I then watched my son vote. After marking his ballot, he inserted the ballot and security envelope separately into the mailing envelope. That would have disqualified his vote. I corrected him. Will everyone follow directions exactly? 

4. No poll workers? Previously at my polling place, the poll workers usually recognized me. They made sure I signed the register correctly, then gave me a numbered ticket. I gave the ticket to another poll worker, who escorted me to the booth. He attached the ticket to a string on the machine, which served as a check for the votes cast at that machine. By this scrupulous process, I felt better that my vote was properly registered and accounted for. Not so with this mail-in ballot.

5. No “challengers”? At polling places, both political parties typically muster poll watchers, or “challengers,” to monitor that the poll workers do everything right, another useful check. Again, not now.

6. Disabled? The directions say either to email the Election Board or go to the polling place on Election Day, where “you will be provided to an in-person accessible voting device.” Email the Election Board? Yeah, right. Go to the polling place? What if your disability is invisible, like a psychiatric disability? Will the poll workers be able to confirm your disability and permit the use of an in-person option? Would stigma attach to such a voter who would have to declare his mental illness to a poll worker? 

7. Vote harvesting? Imagine an elder care facility. With its myriad papers and small print, this more cumbersome voting process will likely confound many residents. Will partisan vote harvesters take advantage of this? 

8. Count oversight? How will this work? Who will oversee it? What is the chain of custody? Voting machine vote tabulators have traditionally made accuracy more certain.

Nope. I’m not a fan of mail-in voting, cooked up for COVID but likely to continue. Too many problems for such a crucial process. Bring back the old way, tried and true.

Thomas H. Pyle
Balsam Lane