The Dangerous Dynamic of Mail-in Voting
Fifty years ago, internet fraud wasn’t a thing. But if someone told you in 1980 that you should not expose your personal data on line, would you cite the lack of data breaches at that time as a reason not to worry? What we all do changes what we can do safely. Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.” I believe that people screw with the votes, if they can, where the ballots are. So long as those ballots are created almost entirely in secure and private booths, there is no accessible point of attack. But if we abandon the booth as the principal voting site, the bad guys are sure to turn up.
Fraud isn’t even the issue.
References to past voter fraud in mail-in voting are doubly irrelevant. As I have already hinted, the sheer size of the target makes prior experience irrelevant. But even more important, changing where people vote creates opportunities for mischief that have nothing to do with fraud.
Secure, private votes cannot be bought at scale. If I agree to accept a dollar not to vote, how do you know I will keep my word? Do you have the resources to track every voter whose vote you buy to make sure they don’t vote anyway? And if I accept $10 to vote for your candidate, how are you going to make sure I keep my word once I enter the booth? You can’t. Ballots created in a private booth cannot be faked or bought or coerced. That’s why we use the booths.
Mail-in ballots are a whole ‘nother thing. Simply put, anything that good people can exhort you to do, bad people can extort you to do. The only question is whether the juice is worth the squeeze. Bad actors can buy a mail-in ballot. They need only get the voter to sign the ballot in blank and hand it over. They can make a list of people who did not hand over their votes and deal with them as viciously as suits them. If mail-in voting without a verifiable evidence of incapacity is optional, they can intimidate voters into requesting mail-in ballots that can then be taken from them.
The problem is especially challenging in states like New Jersey, where everyone is being sent a mail-in ballot whether they want one or not. Yes, some will be stolen and forged, because there will be one in every mail box…