On July 5, the Star Tribune published an editorial that conflated absentee voting with universal vote by mail (“Mail-in voting can keep us all safer”). There is a huge difference between the two, and it’s important for the American people to understand those differences as Democrats continue to call for a radical overhaul of our nation’s voting system just four months ahead of the election.
Absentee voting allows for voters who can’t physically be present at a voting location on Election Day to send in their ballots by casting an absentee vote, which is usually done by mail. In order to obtain an absentee ballot, a registered voter must request a ballot through their state government.
There are two keys to this process. First, the onus is on the registered voter to request the absentee ballot. Requiring some form of voter responsibility and accountability is important to the integrity of the vote. Second, certain inherent and prescribed security measures exist with this type of process.
Voting absentee requires heightened security measures because, by not voting in person, the voter is not identifying himself or herself with an election judge or poll worker.
Now, the mail-in voting being proposed by more and more Democrats as we near the November election is different. It refers to a system where registered voters statewide automatically receive a mail ballot, which is sent to their address before Election Day and filled out by the voter before being sent to a designated vote counting location by Election Day.
The Editorial Board fails to make this distinction.
A reasonable person can surmise the potential for voter fraud under an all-mail-in voting system, as President Donald Trump has rightly pointed out. Because many states lack up-to-date voter registration rolls, sending ballots to all the registered addresses included in a state government’s registered voter database is likely to include discrepancies, like the inclusion of dead voters and voters who have moved. Nevada saw this very problem recently play itself out.
A mail-in voting system is much more exposed to fraud and abuse than an absentee voting system for a number of reasons. In many cases where all-mail-in voting has taken place, partisan political organizations engage in what is known as ballot harvesting to influence elections. When combined with ballot harvesting and a movement by Democrat operatives to eliminate security measures typically used with absentee ballots, an all-mail-in election is exposed to exponentially more opportunities for fraud and abuse.
Ballot harvesting, which allows anybody to collect voters’ ballots to turn into a polling location, is especially susceptible to fraud and sets a dangerous precedent. It allows anyone, including political operatives and campaign staff, to show up and take possession of a voters’ completed ballot for delivery.
The assertion by Minnesota’s DFL secretary of state Steve Simon that requiring voters to request an absentee ballot “just forces voters to take one more step,” and requiring this extra step “costs the state more money,” rings hollow when weighed against the importance of protecting the integrity of our elections.
Protecting each and every citizen’s vote must come ahead of any desire to loosen election security protocols.
The secretary of state is essentially arguing that budgetary concerns trump concerns about ballot integrity. The right of every American to his or her voice heard through a free and fair election is sacred. Our very way of life and form of government depend on the integrity of our elections, and the public’s acceptance of the results.
In fact, the DFL Secretary of State is attempting to waive witness signature requirements that ensure a ballot is actually filled out by the voter to whom the ballot belongs.
The Editorial Board also claims the upcoming election poses challenges not encountered in modern times, as if this in and of itself justifies a complete overhaul of our election system. It sets a dangerous precedent if we allow for tangential excuses to alter the very foundation of our election process.
Finally, the board attempts to suppress the vote in its own right, painting the idea of in-person voting as daunting, and an unacceptable danger.
“There is something satisfying about trooping to a precinct place with your neighbors, popping your ballot into the machine and getting that little iconic ‘I Voted’ sticker as a testament to your good citizen status,” the Editorial Board quips. “But many Minnesotans may want or need to make a different calculation this time, opting to keep themselves and others safe,” alluding to the idea that if you do choose to vote in person, you are not only risking your own life, but you are also being selfish toward others.
It’s an irresponsible tone, and message, to send to voters during a time of uncertainty. The integrity of our elections shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but unfortunately, Democrats have turned it into one.
Justin Clark is senior adviser and senior counsel to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. He is not the Justin Clark who is running in the DFL primary for a Minnesota House seat in District 51A in the Eagan/Burnsville area.