By J. Christian Adams
The California Secretary of State just issued data that show the 2022 election was a mess.
Why? Because of vote by mail.
Indeed, this was California’s first election that relied on the United States Postal Service to get the mission accomplished. In September of 2021, Sacramento passed new legislation that said everyone registered to vote — dead or alive — is automatically sent a ballot in the mail, every election.
That might sound good, but the new data prove that mass vote by mail should have remained a pandemic experiment.
An analysis by the Public Interest Legal Foundation shows over 226,000 mail ballots were rejected by election officials. That’s a quarter million citizens who thought their ballot would count, but it didn’t.
The number one reason for rejection was the ballot arrived too late. That’s what happens when you put the post office in charge. The United States Postal Service has a 94% success rate for timely delivery of political mail.
Put another way, they aspire for only 6% failure, 6% of voters disenfranchised.
Other reasons the data show rejection include the voter forgot to sign the ballot. This is a simple error that is easily caught and fixed in person at a polling place.
Automatic vote by mail elections also need near-perfect voter rolls. Otherwise, deceased registrants are mailed ballots and people registered more than once are mailed multiple ballots.
This massive failure of California’s automatic vote by mail election process shouldn’t be a surprise. It failed everywhere it was tried in 2020. According to federal data, in 2020, over 560,000 mail ballots were rejected. Over half a million citizens did not get to have their voice heard because of vote by mail.
Unfortunately, many states, like California, have now passed laws institutionalizing these pandemic mail voting policies. Along with California, seven other states have enacted the automatic mailing of ballots to every registered voter.
These states have essentially put the U.S. Post Office in charge of their elections. The post office excels at one thing – delivering me my neighbor’s mail. We shouldn’t be trusting them with electing our leaders.
States need to add safeguards to its vote by mail system.
Lawmakers should change their laws to require mail ballots be accompanied with a driver’s license, voter registration number or social security number. Signature matching is an inefficient and inconsistent system.
Finally, states must not allow vote by mail to cause delay in election results. Some states allow the counting of mail ballots that arrive up to fourteen days after Election Day.
It’s supposed to be Election Day, not Election Week. All 50 states should require all ballots to arrive by Election Day.
Top election officials and lawmakers need to step up and enact these common sense reforms before the 2024 elections.
J. Christian Adams is the President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a former Justice Department attorney, and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.
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