Tag Archives: vote by mail

Growing fonder of vote by mail

I am not King of the World, but if I held that title, I would mandate that we all vote on Election Day, in person, in the privacy of a polling booth.

However, since I cannot do that, I am left to deal with the real world. Reality at this moment rests in a pandemic that threatens the health of voters who want to cast their ballots for president of the United States. They fear that voting in person would expose them to COVID-19. So they want to cast their ballots by mail.

I do, too.

Thus, I am baffled, flabbergasted and confused by the opposition to vote by mail by Texas’ top elected officials. Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton have formed a troika that opposes vote by mail.

Why? They contend it invites rampant voter fraud. They parrot Donald Trump. They’re all Republicans. They are launching a sickening end-around game that seeks to suppress voter turnout.

The Texas Tribune also reports — and this is rich, man! — that all three of them (four if you count Trump) have cast ballots by mail in the past. They have done so out of convenience, I reckon. The TT reports that Paxton regularly votes in person in his Collin County precinct, but has voted by mail. Same for Patrick and, yes, for Abbott.

So what’s the real problem here? Is it voter fraud as they contend? I think not!

I am not necessarily a fan of all-mail voting. You know that already. However I prefer it by a wide margin over not voting at all. I am one Texas resident who has a concern about potential exposure to a possible killer virus.

I also want Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton to stop hiding behind a phony excuse as justification for refusing to allow as many Texans as possible to cast ballots for the next president.

Rampant voter fraud does not exist. Nor will it exist if we develop a secure system of voting by mail.

Voter fraud: reddest of herrings

I am likely to begin screaming at the top of my lungs.

What will cause me such apoplexy? It will occur the next time I hear Donald John “Smartest Man in History in Chief” Trump declare that mail-in voting is an inherently corrupt method of exercising our rights as citizenship.

The second-most probable cause for my scream would be to hear it from his Republican cultists who like to echo the idiocy that pours forth from the nation’s No. 1 liar.

Texas might allow voters to cast their ballots by mail for the July runoff elections that were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, it is that very health crisis that gives all-mail voting the legs it normally wouldn’t necessarily have.

I need to remind everyone who fears a non-existent threat of “rampant voter fraud” of this fundamental truth.

It is this: We already have voter fraud in this country. It’s been a small problem in certain pockets of the country for, oh, about as long as we have had a United States of America. Every now and then, we hear about cadavers casting ballots; does Duval County, Texas, ring a bell for anyone?

Do we have widespread, rampant voter fraud now? No. We do not!

Does mail-in voting necessarily produce voter fraud? No. It does not!

How does one define “widespread” voter fraud? Well, I suggest it involves a level of fraudulent voting that far exceeds the hit-miss instances we hear about on occasion.

In 2016, roughly 135 million Americans voted for president of the United States. The vast bulk of those votes went either to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Virtually every ballot cast in 2016 was done according to the rules set by every state in the nation.

However, you will recall that Trump came forth with an accusation that since has been debunked and dismissed, that about 5 million “illegal aliens” voted for Clinton, giving her the 3-million vote plurality she won; Trump was elected, though, because he won enough Electoral College votes to win the presidency.

My point is that Trump’s yammering about mail-in voting “corruption” is merely a continuation of his ongoing bitching about the voting process.

Voter fraud is a canard, a phony-baloney excuse to disguise Trump’s real intent, which is to deny Americans the ability to vote. Mail-in voting boosts turnout tremendously and empowers Americans who otherwise might be inclined to sit on their hands.

With the nation still reeling from a pandemic, we need to search for ways to keep our democratic process alive and well.

Mail-in voting far better than not voting at all

I offer this recommendation with a hint of trepidation, given my often-stated preference for traditional Election Day voting.

Given the option of facing an election later this year threatened by potentially fatal viral infection, I choose instead to endorse a revolutionary reform in the way we elect our presidents: Let’s go to a mail-in system.

Donald Trump doesn’t want this to occur even under the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The president says, without a hint of evidence, that mail-in balloting is corrupt, that it invites voter fraud.

We all know what’s going on inside Trump’s thick and vacuous skull: He sees a system that would boost voter turnout and it poses a threat to his re-election.

Five states conduct their elections by mail. One of them is Oregon, the state where I was born and where mail-in voting was first begun. All the states report that their systems are secure. Moreover, they all report that incidents of fraudulent voting constitute a tiny, infinitesimal portion of the total number of ballots cast.

Mail-in voting can be done nationally on a state-by-state basis.

Texas isn’t one of the mail-in election states. A state judge recently issued a ruling that opens the door to more expansive mail-in voting in Texas. State Attorney General Ken “The Indicted One” Paxton has said he plans to appeal the ruling; the AG doesn’t want mail-in voting, either.

Americans are faced with a potentially frightening dilemma this November if they are forced to go to their polling places while the pandemic is still sickening and killing us. How do they venture to the polls and expose themselves to possibly being infected by the COVID-19 virus?

What’s the option? Staying at home and filling out a ballot that comes to them via the Postal Service and then sending the ballot back to the county election office where it will be stored until it’s counted on Election Day.

The turnout among residents who face that threat would increase dramatically. Indeed, states with mail-in voting report voter turnout that far exceeds the national average.

What, I must ask, is wrong with allowing more rather than fewer Americans the chance to cast their ballots? Isn’t a representative democracy built from a framework that encourages greater participation? Of course it is!

My version of The Perfect World would be an election system that allows us to vote on Election Day at the polling place of our choice. Moreover, such a world would produce voter turnouts that outpace the sometimes dismal turnouts we experience.

I cannot achieve electoral perfection. Moreover, I certainly can’t achieve it with the potentially dire threat posed by a killer virus.

A reasonable and workable alternative is to allow American citizens the chance to vote by mail for president of the United States.

It is time to come up with an alternate election plan

This is not a great flash, but I’ll offer this bit of advice anyway. Donald Trump needs immediately to order a blue-ribbon team of experts to devise a way to conduct a presidential election Nov. 3 if conditions do not allow for a safe in-person vote of citizens.

We have been at that moment for several weeks now. The U.S. Constitution sets out an election date, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. That cannot be changed without amending the Constitution.

I offer this bit of advice only because presidents take an oath that implies many unspecified responsibilities. One of them is that the president must be able to multitask in times of  crisis.

We’re in the midst of a monumental crisis at the moment, with the coronavirus killing thousands of Americans and — at this time — making in-person balloting impossible, given the threat of exposure to infection.

So it becomes imperative, absolutely essential for there to be an alternative to voting drawn up, tested and determined to be an effective way for Americans to cast their ballots for president of the United States … on Nov. 3.

The best alternative to the current system, it seems to me, is mail-in balloting. Several states already conduct elections using the U.S. Postal Service. Surely, clearly there must be some statewide experts in, say, Oregon and Washington — where this is done already — who would be willing to share their knowledge and how we can employ such a system nationally if the need arises.

I am aware that Trump thinks Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is a “snake,” and he likely doesn’t think much of Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. I mean, they’re both Democrats. However, they also govern states that have employed voting by mail successfully.

Time is not anyone’s ally here. Let’s get busy looking for alternatives to conducting the 2020 presidential election.

Vote by mail in case of emergency? Hmm, let’s think about this

They’ve been voting for president by mail in the state of my birth, Oregon, since 2000.

Now the state’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Ron Wyden, has come up with an idea to nationalize this practice in case of a medical emergency that prohibits Americans from traipsing to their polling places on Election Day.

Man, oh man. This gives me fits. Here’s why.

I like what I consider to be the “pageantry” of voting on Election Day, of going to the polling place and casting my ballot. I like handing my ballot to an election judge or placing it into a bin where it’s counted once the polling place closes.

Oregon and a few other states do it differently. They send ballots to voters in the mail. Voters then fill out their ballots and send ’em in also by mail. They’re collected and then tabulated.

Sen. Wyden’s idea might be worth doing … but only if the current pandemic escalates into something far more dangerous than it is at this moment.

As The Oregonian reports: “No voter should have to choose between exercising their constitutional right and putting their health at risk,” Wyden told The Washington Post. “When disaster strikes, the safest route for seniors, individuals with compromised immune systems or other at-risk populations is to provide every voter with a paper ballot they can return by mail or drop-off site.”

Wyden is asking the federal government for $500 million to help states get ready for a vote-by-mail program if national health officials determine it’s too dangerous medically for voters to cast their ballots the old-fashioned way.

If that’s what happens, then I’m all for it. I will not surrender my right as an American patriot to do my civic duty, to perform my role as a citizen.

Beto on Texas vote turnout: It’s a conspiracy?

Readers of this blog know that I admire Beto O’Rourke, the former West Texas congressman who nearly got elected to the U.S. Senate in 2018.

However, I believe the young man is mistaken when he offers this reason — as published in this Twitter message — for the historically low voter turnout in Texas. He blames it on some sort of conspiracy by “those in power.”

Hmm. Here’s my take on it.

I believe Texans at times suffer from a case of “voter fatigue.” It’s also a bit of a cultural phenomenon that afflicts suppressed voter turnout here. The lowest percentage of turnouts occur in states that formerly comprised the Old Confederacy. Does that mean we care less about the health of our form of government that citizens who live in high-turnout states such as Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington? No, it doesn’t mean that all.

Texas’ Constitution establishes a lot of electoral offices. We vote for our entire slate of statewide constitutional offices every four years; those elections occur during those “midterm” years. We vote for municipal and school district offices every odd-numbered year. If we live in a community college district, we get to vote on boards of regents, too!

O’Rourke blames this lack of turnout on the ability of “those in power” to suppress voter participation. I believe that is an overly cynical view.

I remain a voting traditionalist. I prefer to vote on Election Day when I’ll be at home. I am no fan of vote by mail, which some states require; it’s been said that the high turnout in Oregon and Washington is a direct result of those states’ mail-voting provisions.

I would like to see Election Day turned into a national holiday. I would like to see state, local and federal governments conduct intensive public-service campaigns to encourage voter turnout.

As a voting junkie, I enjoy the prospect of standing in line at my polling place and waiting my turn to exercise my constitutional right of citizenship.

I just cannot buy into Beto’s belief that the lack of turnout in Texas is the result of some dark conspiracy.

What now? Well, Beto might run for president in 2020. Maybe he can channel the enthusiasm he generated in his near-miss loss for the U.S. Senate in Texas into a national wave. That would dispel any conspiratorial notion, correct?

Still prefer to stand in long line to vote

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We went to the polling place tonight.

We arrived at the place where we usually vote. The parking lot at Arden Road Baptist Church was full. We walked through the door and turned left down the hall, walking past a long, long line of Randall County residents.

We made another turn down another hall and took our place at the end of the line.

It took five minutes past an hour before we cast our ballots.

Man, it was fun!

I remain committed to voting on Election Day. I remain equally committed to the manner we do it in Texas. We have this open primary system. We all stand in the same line. We inch our way to the room with the voting booths. We declare which party we want to vote in. We cast our ballots. Then we leave.

We don’t register with political parties. We make our choice on Election Day — or least we declare our choice when we reach the end of the line.

There’s a certain pageantry to standing in long lines with other citizens seeking to exercise their rights as Americans. We chatted among ourselves, careful of course not to talk about partisan preferences. We joked with election judges who came out to remind us of the need to have our photo ID and voter registration cards handy.

Some states — such as my home state of Oregon — do all their voting by mail. That’s fine, too, I guess. It boosts turnout, which is the best outcome of that process.

However, I remain an old-fashioned kind of guy. There just remains a certain semblance of ceremony attached to going to the polling place, waiting in line, chatting up your neighbors and then doing your civic duty.

I love the process.