The 2020 election was a disaster for the republic. Lax voting procedures, last-minute rulemaking by unauthorized parties, and hundreds of accounts of process irregularities created such an atmosphere of suspicion and rancor that 60 percent of Americans of all parties believed the election to be basically illegitimate.
The hapless Trump team looked foolish by blaming rigged voting machines and international conspiracies. In fact, mail-in voting was at the heart of what went wrong.
Democrats, using the Covid epidemic as a wedge, were able to increase mail-in voting to 65%, up from 25% in 2016. Eligibility and security standards were relaxed. Registrants who had not previously voted were signed up to receive bulk mail ballots.
By the time Trump was raging about the “stolen“ election, the contest was over. Hundreds of thousands of ballots have been mailed into a security void, been returned and counted, and separated from any tracking information.
We’re supposed to believe that all these ballots, mailed to corrupted voted lists, were completed without improper influence by the intended voter only and that the ballot harvesters were simply trying to boost voter turnout without regard to partisan interest. Since fraud would leave no trace in this process, the Greek chorus (media) began their “no evidence of fraud” chant.
But simple reflection reveals that it’s a matter of how much, not whether. The evidence comes out in dribs and drabs, cascades of individual coincidences.
Squirrely counts of thousands of consecutive votes, almost all for one candidate, clumped together, an unrealistically large number of “voters“ compared to registrations and boxes of ballots suddenly available for accounting when needed are all explained most likely by millions of nonsecured ballots “out there“.
The ultimate security check for mail-in ballots is signature verification. But it defies common sense to claim that a minimally trained clerk checking signatures provides the same fraud protection as picture ID at the polls.
Actual signature verification of historical photographs, for example, requires great skill and expertise. The slapdash, subjective process used by election officials is biased towards acceptance. Simple testing has shown that it is easily gamed.
Yet the Left is working assiduously to make the system even less foolproof. In Georgia, Stacey Abrams, who registered 185,000 voters for the Senate runoff elections, bragged openly about the lack of signature verification once she had “eviscerated“ the “exact match“ standard.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ballots couldn’t be rejected at all based on signature comparisons. You might as well hang out an “Open for Fraud” sign.
State officials claim they have safeguards in place that provide complete fraud protection. But all they can know is their procedures were executed as prescribed and that the votes received were accurately counted. That hardly proves that all the non-secured ballots arriving by mail were valid.
The only available check on their work is the recount, which is nonsensical. Counting the same ballots, no matter their origin over and over is unlikely to produce more accurate results.
Actual reform of mail-in voting would center on the better vetting of voters on the front end of the process. Assuring that only properly identified, eligible voters receive and return ballots would be difficult, but the real problem is the Democrats won’t stand for it.
They’ve struck electoral gold. They elected a feeble, unpopular candidate with no particular platform with 81 million votes by circumventing the traditional methods used to persuade and enthuse voters. They’re not about to give it up.
So an Arizona proposal to clean up registration rolls by striking voters who hadn’t voted in two election cycles and didn’t respond to mail is being hysterically shouted down as “voter suppression”. Objectors to mail-in voting are lumped in with conspiracy theorists and stolen election rhetoric and then expected to share alleged responsibility for the Capitol riot.
Republicans may have no choice but to learn to play the game themselves. But America needs better.
We seem fated to have close, hyper-partisan elections. The losing side in the past two presidential elections has refused to accept defeat. In this toxic atmosphere. we will never find peace with an election process that constitutes an open invitation to fraud.
Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.