As regular readers know, I avoid politics as a subject. This, however, is a case where civics can cross into politics. In all the noise about mail-in ballots, there seems to be confusion about objections. I’ll start by saying “mail-in” has existed for a very long time, but was traditionally called absentee ballots. That’s because in years past, many people made voting day a priority. Employers were (still are) required to give a certain number of hours off to allow time to get to the polls, vote, and return. There was no early voting then. People who would be absent would apply for their ballot, fill it out and yes – mail it in. Generally, that applied to military and other personnel who knew they would be away on election day. Even older people often had someone take them to the polls to be able to vote. That’s what some of the drives during the Civil Rights Era were – filling buses with people to ensure they could make it to the polls. Population growth, longer commutes which might make it difficult to get to the polls in time, and those who didn’t have access to transportation, etc., began to use absentee/mail-in at a greater rate. Early voting came into play to try and accommodate some of these situations.
There have always been issues with ensuring absentee ballots are properly accounted for and counted. Some errors are human carelessness, some will full mistakes, some delivery errors, and fraud. The concerns with increasing mail-in to large scale is proportionately increasing errors and fraud. Example of a will full mistake is throwing away ballots rather than delivering them. Example of fraud is filling out another person’s ballot, influencing them to fill it out in a way they might not otherwise do, or knowingly having an ineligible person fill out a ballot.
Absentee/mail-in is and always will be a legitimate form of voting. Greatly expanding it comes with risk.