The best editorial of the weekend

Exactly. That’s the obvious response to yesterday’s editorial in the Washington Post entitled “Federal leaders must get behind absentee voting — or explain why they’d prefer chaos.”

As the essay explained:

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday found that only 16 percent of voters cast ballots by mail in recent elections, yet 51 percent say it is at least somewhat likely that they will do so in November. As the covid-19 pandemic continues, more people will conclude absentee voting is the safest option. And they will be right.

But much of the country is not ready for a surge of absentee voters. Federal leaders must help immediately — or explain why they instead prefer an unsafe and chaotic November election.

Ill-preparedness could produce electoral calamity. Sixteen states require absentee voters to have a valid excuse. All of these states should declare that coronavirus fears qualify as one. But that’s just a first step. Serving millions of new absentee voters will be a massive logistical challenge for most states.

After then surveying the messes that have occurred recently with primary voting in Wisconsin and Ohio, the editorial explains that it will be essential for the federal government to help address the problem:

Avoiding such failure on a larger scale in November will require investment and planning at a time when state revenue is collapsing. States and localities must buy letter-opening machines, mail sorters and ballot scanners. They will need space to accommodate equipment and staff practicing social distancing measures. They will need money for printing and postage. States must bolster absentee-ballot-tracking systems and ensure they have the ability to notify voters whose ballots were discarded because of a signature mismatch or other issue.

The editorial also rightfully notes that states will have a critical role to play in all this. Fortunately, North Carolina’s State Board of Elections is already responding to the challenge. It released a list of recommendations back in March that centered around what it described as “three major themes”:

  • Modifying the absentee by-mail voting process to ensure it is simple and accessible to North Carolina voters, and making changes designed to help county boards of elections process a significant increase in by-mail ballots;
  • Ensuring that an adequate number of poll workers are available to work at early voting sites and Election Day polling places; and
  • Providing funding to help cover costs associated with necessary changes in elections processes, the anticipated increase in by-mail voting, the sterilization and ongoing cleaning of polling places and voting equipment, and proper protections for poll workers and voters.

Unfortunately, some members of the Trump camp are trying to set up roadblocks to change – claiming absentee balloting will spur widespread fraud of the kind a Republican operative recently attempted to perpetrate in the special 9th District congressional election. Let’s fervently hope the General Assembly doesn’t buy into this.

As the editorial puts it:

But voter fraud of any type is extremely rare in the United States, and it is no excuse to keep voting difficult or dangerous in the midst of a pandemic.

Congress has committed trillions to staving off an economic catastrophe this year. Why would Republicans skimp on preventing a democratic disaster, too?

Click here to read the entire editorial.

One Comment

  1. John Q Publius

    May 12, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    The “editorial” lays great store in the need for the Federal government to supply the usual mother’s milk (money) to facilitate this absentee voting boondoggle. Unfortunately, the WaPo editorial people haven’t kept up with the requirements of the Constitution. The only interest the Federal government has regarding voting is to assure that persons 18-years-of-age and up shall have the right to vote. Amendment 26: “1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.” Nothing there about funding elections of any type for any reason.
    There are a host of unsupportable assumptions included in the editorial that just make it laughable.
    But the most farsical sentence is the last one: “Congress has committed trillions to staving off an economic catastrophe this year. Why would Republicans skimp on preventing a democratic disaster, too?” Mail in voting is a wide-open-door invitation to an undemocratic voting disaster.
    The best government is that government that is closest to the people. Voters at a polling place is just exactly that.

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