You may have heard the oft-repeated narrative that concerns over voting by mail are baseless. This is a dangerous narrative that puts Americans’ votes at risk and undermines public confidence in how we conduct elections.
Let me assure you, widespread voting by mail is undeniably a problem, despite having been largely ignored by the national news media. When they do touch upon it, it’s typically not to report on the facts, but rather to mock Americans’ fears surrounding it or to deflect with a focus on semantics.
But while national news makes a conscious decision to bury incidents of mail ballot issues and fraud, local news stories have been emerging across the country that tell an entirely different story — the true story. Each lost ballot deprives an American voter of their civil right, and to deny that this is a problem is tantamount to the same reported instances of voter suppression that so easily makes headlines.
I would argue that even one ballot mistake or proven instance of voter fraud is too much and damages election integrity; but for others, I know that they are not so easily convinced. Maybe the sheer volume of reports can change their minds.
In the critical battleground state of Pennsylvania, nearly 29,000 voters were sent the wrong mail ballots. Officials were quick to make a statement on the fiasco but have been slow to correct the issue. The New York Post reported that 50,000 Ohio ballots were defective, while in New York itself, 100,000 Brooklyn voters received defective ballots. New Jersey, too, has experienced widespread issues, where close to 7,000 voters opened ballots only to see the wrong congressional district listed. Ballot misprints are a particular cause for concern because they disenfranchise voters through no fault of their own.
Another problem we’re seeing is that of lost, undelivered, or tossed-out ballots. In September, more than 1,600 ballots meant to be counted in the New Jersey July primary were found misplaced due to a labeling error. In September, it was revealed that close to 18,000 mail ballots were rejected in the Massachusetts primary, with many of them left uncounted simply because they were delivered late to the election office. As far as ballot tossing goes, there is evidence for that, too. One hundred blank ballots were recently uncovered in a Kentucky dumpster, and a postal worker in New Jersey was arrested for trashing nearly 2,000 pieces of mail, including 99 ballots.
With how narrow the margin of victory is for elections these days, even a few hundred lost ballots can have national implications.
But perhaps the worst problem surrounding this year’s election is that widespread voting by mail makes it easier for bad actors to try and manipulate the electoral process. In Richmond, Virginia, six mailboxes were broken into. In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the county’s board of elections warned that someone was “unlawfully going door-to-door trying to collect completely filled out Presidential General Election Ballots.”
There is an argument to be made that bad actors will find a way to cheat no matter what — but now, all they need to do is find the nearest mailbox. As election day nears, we are watching in real time as the complications with widespread voting by mail mount.
We shouldn’t be shocked that with the push for widespread voting by mail comes a decline in Americans’ faith in the electoral process. Once voters lose confidence in our elections, there’s not much that elected officials can do to restore it. Compromising the integrity of the vote by relying on widespread voting by mail puts our freedoms at risk as the American voter is left without a voice.
Simply put, concerns with widespread voting by mail are grounded in real stories that impact real people across the country. These stories can’t and should not be ignored. Any voter who wishes to see our elections remain free and fair ought to be equally concerned with elected officials’ push for widespread voting by mail.
Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.