A small printing and mailing business in Rochester, NY made a pretty significant error. Nearly 100,000 mail-in ballots destined for New York City residents need to be resent because some “unknown number” were mailed to the wrong addresses.
Meanwhile, President Trump is being excoriated in the media because he told voters to go vote in person, and to “watch very carefully” during Tuesday’s debate. Let me ask a simple question: Is Trump wrong to ask voters to watch, when that can also apply to vote by mail, and what he called unsolicited ballots mailed to voters?
Is it unreasonable to watch the mail for ballots not addressed to you, or found in the trash, or in a creekbed? Regardless of the media narrative, in which Trump’s comments can only refer to one thing–imagery of armed Proud Boys on a “stand back and stand by” order; brownshirted thugs with swastika armbands and Hitler mustaches–we need to look at the problem rationally and through the lens of reality.
The reality is quite different, and Antifa is just as fringey, goofy, unmanaged, poorly organized, prone to uncontrolled violence, and tiny, as the far-right groups that have the media running for their fainting couches. None of these groups is a major threat to law and order, unless government leaders fail to deal with them (I’m talking about you, Ted Wheeler).
But let’s get back to the core argument. States that use universal mail-in ballots are set up for the process, and have invested in the infrastructure, planning, and processes to handle it. Nine states, including California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Hawaii have established programs of vote-by-mail for all registered voters. Note that most of those states are going to break big for Biden.
New York, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, on the other hand, do not have the planning, processes and infrastructure. They rely on hastily prepared plans, court orders, and spit-glue-string solutions, and small companies like the one in New York to handle a giant lift of ballots. I hate to beat the same drum over and over again, but this is a recipe for chaos and conspiracy-mongering disaster.
In Georgia’s primary election, in June, Fulton County mishandled thousands of absentee ballot requests, leaving voters like me having to vote in person, provisionally. My manually completed ballot ended up in a backpack with scores of others who had to do the same thing in my precinct. Honestly, I have no idea whether my vote was counted or not, but I assume it was. Why would I not want to watch closely when the presidency is on the line?
It’s not so unreasonable to “watch very carefully” when you look at it from the point of view of a daily-changing landscape, hastily assembled plans, back of the envelope ad hoc procedures, and a lack of established and tested infrastructure to carry it out. It only takes a few missing backpacks full of provisional ballots to, umm, disappear at the hands of extra-motivated politically active poll workers.
It only takes a company, trying its best and known in the industry for quality and accuracy in printing ballots, overwhelmed by giant new rush orders, to make a few errors to crash the house of cards.
This election is going to strain our political and technical voting systems. Arbitrary changes by federal judges, ill-planned rush jobs for universal ballot mailing, and potential poll closures due to coronavirus and lack of poll workers is going to make things much, much worse.
But the mainstream media only has one narrative: far-right jackbooted thugs intimidating cowering Black and minority voters, who are scared to enter polling places, while smiling, brave saviors usher their ballots safely from their door to the counting room, and finally making that man “shut up.”
The reality is 100,000 ballots having to be remailed, delivered, counted, and accounted for played out in 1,000 cities across the country, when none of them are prepared for the tsunami that’s coming. Trump is absolutely right to tell voters to “watch carefully.”