Back in the spring of 2020, when the world was being swallowed whole by the growing COVID-19 pandemic, a group of well-funded, smart leftists saw an opportunity. The opportunity was called vote-by-mail. It would be a miracle cure for everyone too afraid to go to the polls to vote for Joe Biden.
Vote-by-mail was hatched like so many other so-called electoral “reforms,” such as automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and ranked-choice voting. It was incubated with left-wing philanthropic dollars and presented as a cure-all to our voting woes.
New groups appeared like mushrooms on the morning dew to push vote-by-mail. Existing leftist groups such as the Brennan Center and the ACLU maneuvered in unison to push for vote-by-mail. For a brief moment in the spring, they wanted Congress to give $4 billion – indeed, with a “b” – to the states to implement vote-by-mail. Thankfully, they failed and only obtained a fraction of that number.
Flush with federal cash, states such as Nevada decided to conduct all-mail primary elections. Other states abandoned other election-integrity procedures such as requiring postmarks or witness signatures on mail ballots.
The advocates told us vote-by-mail was the voting method of the future, like Dippin’ Dots were the “ice cream of the future,” then weren’t.
Since those halcyon spring days, reality has proven vote-by-mail to be a disaster.
From Paterson, N.J., to Nevada and-pp from Maryland to D.C., efforts to adapt our traditional election system to mail voting have collapsed into farce.
Let’s begin with the United States Postal Service. Vote-by-mail proponents want to put the fate of the nation into the hands of the postal service. Yes, that postal service, the organization that regularly delivers your neighbor’s mail to your house.
An inspector general report by the USPS establishes the lofty goal of only 96 percent for election mail delivery success. Sadly, in 2018, the post office couldn’t even meet that sorry goal, delivering only 95.6 percent of election mail successfully.
Vote-by-mail advocates want an election system that aspires to only four percent error. How ambitious.
In the 2016 Presidential race, four percent was more than the margin of victory in ten states representing 124 electoral votes.
Good enough for the post office isn’t good enough for the country.
If that wasn’t bad enough, don’t forget Thomas Cooper, a postman from Dry Fork, West Virginia. Cooper entered a guilty plea in federal court for altering mail ballots in his custody this summer. Credit goes to West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner for creating an environment in the Mountain State where election crime isn’t acceptable.
Mail voting also failed in the Wisconsin primaries. An inspector general report of the USPS noted:
- Three tubs of absentee ballots from Appleton and Oshkosh were found at the Milwaukee Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC) after polls closed on April 7, 2020.
- Absentee ballots requested on March 22 and 23, 2020, were not delivered to voters.
- Three hundred ninety ballots that were mailed by voters did not receive postmarks. The election office was unable to determine whether they were received by the Postal Service in time to be included in the official count.
New data shows that vote-by-mail also failed in Nevada. Clark County, home to Las Vegas, voted to go all-mail, just like the advocates wanted—over the objections of local election officials who knew better. Clark County mailed 1,325,934 ballots to registered voters, including voters who never asked for a mail ballot.
Roughly 310,000 mail ballots came back. Of those, about 7,000 were outright rejected by election officials. But here is the staggering statistic: 223,469 ballots bounced back as undeliverable. Forty-two percent of those bounced back from active registrant addresses, compared to inactive. That’s 93,585 ballots that bounced back as undeliverable to the address election officials show is a real, live location of a valid active voter.
In the District of Columbia and Maryland, election officials decided to conduct a mail election, except the mail didn’t arrive. Thousands of people never got ballots, then showed up in person to try to vote. Election officials, unfortunately, thought their mail-voting panacea made polling places obsolete, so many were closed. Chaos and long lines followed—in places where the voters could even find a polling place.
You are starting to see the benefits of a system where someone votes a real ballot in person at a government-run precinct, where the public can observe the process.
When you decentralize an election through the mail, you also risk ending up like Paterson, New Jersey. Converting the election to all-mail in Paterson unleashed waves of crookedness of every sort.
In Paterson, NBC interviewed people who were shown to have voted a mail ballot, but said on camera they never did. That wasn’t a one-off. Ghost voters were all over Paterson. Ramona Javier was interviewed and shown a list of eight relatives who cast a mail ballot, except they never did either.
One Paterson activist – YaYa Luis Mendez – was reported to have confessed to investigators that he snatched ballots straight out of mailboxes and voted them. Photographs around Paterson showed ballots were strewn about the floors of apartment complex lobbies, were carried around by the dozen by mystery men, and shoved, in stacks, into a single family’s mailbox.
Paterson is where vote-by-mail went off-script. The advocates didn’t expect YaYa Mendez to show up.
But some of us did. We’ve known YaYa Mendez by a different name when mail ballots are involved. In Mississippi, YaYa was called Carrie Kate Windham, another ballot-collector who would snatch mail ballots and vote them for other people – a case I helped prove at trial in a federal court in Mississippi. In Ohio, YaYa goes by the name of Melowese Richardson. Melowese voted ballots that came to her house in the mail for people who no longer lived there before she went to jail.
The advocates for mail voting blew it. They had the cash. They had the script. They had the audience. Then reality intruded. It proves once again, when your product is lousy, no amount of money or spin can save it.