The events of 2020 have shown us how fragile a republic is that relies on the honest, open election of leaders and representatives.
And now, there are some who are seeking to capitalize on the current health crisis by changing election processes.
In Arizona, there are calls from a vocal minority for mandatory, “all mail-in” voting, despite state law already having an extremely popular voluntary vote-by-mail system, commonly known as the Permanent Early Voter List.
It was Rahm Emanuel who uttered the now-infamous phrase “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” That’s what is at work here. Various Arizona county officials have been discussing all-mail elections since 2011.
The purpose of PEVL was to provide a convenience to voters that would enhance voter engagement. Current events are being used to try to force ballot-by-mail on those who do not want it.
Nothing is more important than voters having confidence that their votes will be counted and counted correctly. If a voter is not comfortable with an intermediary, such as the U.S. Postal Service, handling their ballot, why should that be imposed upon them?
Voters should be able to decide if they vote by mail or not. It should not be the county records and elections officials who dictate how voters submit their votes. Recent calls for an “all ballot-by-mail” election are a solution in search of a problem.
Under Arizona Revised Statute, voters can already opt-in to be placed on the PEVL. Our current laws (ARS 16-541 A, ARS 16-544 D) include safeguards that prevent ballots from being mailed out to people who do not want them. Such ballots will probably be discarded or worse, used for nefarious purposes.
The recent presidential primary and judicial election in Wisconsin does not give confidence to voters leery of someone else handling their ballot. In that election, some ballots in Milwaukee were never delivered by the USPS. There were problems in four other counties.
Also, there were ballots delivered on Wednesday — the day after the election, without postmarks. Without the postmarks, election officials have no way to verify they were mailed by Tuesday, election day, which is required by law.
Further, such a massive change in voting process would surely cause significant confusion for those who have voted at the polls all their lives and would no doubt show up at their traditional polling place expecting to vote and being denied their fundamental right.
One of the tactics used in the notorious practice of “ballot harvesting” is the collection of signed but blank ballots in exchange for something of value. Recent prosecutions in Los Angeles prove that similar practices occurred during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.
Certain operatives offered hundreds of homeless people in Los Angeles’ famous Skid Row area one-dollar bills or cigarettes in return for fraudulent signatures on voter registration forms and ballot petitions.
For the past four years, two under current occupant Katie Hobbs, the Arizona Secretary of State’s office was supposed to have added municipal, county and precinct committeeman positions onto the online nomination petition system called E-QUAL (ARS 16-317).
Although required by law, it wasn’t a priority for Ms. Hobbs or her staff. This became a form of voter suppression. Candidates have to collect a minimum number of signatures to appear on the 2020 ballot.
“Mandatory social distancing” restricted candidates’ abilities to gather paper signatures – without the E-QUAL option, some were not able to make the ballot. Voters are now unable to vote for the people they might otherwise have supported.
Now we are supposed to trust that an election’s office that was unable to make a legally required change in four years will be able in a few months hold an all-mail election, which has never been done in our state before, without making any mistakes.
Confidence in the elections process is critical to a thriving, democratically elected, republican form of government. There are too many opportunities for corruption of the final outcome when voters are not permitted to choose how they will vote. The major flaw cannot be overlooked.
If voters are forced into a system that is reliant on an undependable intermediary — USPS — as opposed to the more predictable precinct voting station, a fundamental check on special interest power will be sacrificed.
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