Blessed be the election experts. Heisenberg thought he devised the uncertainty principle? The election experts have given him a run for his money, certainly so. They have turned the one-day election into a six-week shadow contest. Early voting by one week? Oh no. The earlier the better. Make that weeks earlier. Late vote mail-in ballots — by one week? Oh no. The later the better. So what if we don’t know who will run Congress for days, er, weeks, after the election? So what if we don’t know who our congressperson or senator is?
This is not just inconvenient. Far from it. It is dangerous when Election Day turns into Election Weeks.
This provides fertile breeding ground for distrust of the election process. Especially when election denial has taken hold among certain segments of the population, it is critical not to let elections resemble the truism about justice, “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Example #1: Delayed verification.
One California election official said it takes so long to count ballots because it is necessary to verify them when they come in. Really? Why aren’t voters verified when they register? Are bank loans received on good faith, with the verification coming later? Should not something as critical as putting a political candidate into power be at least as strict as granting a loan?
Example #2: Delayed counting.
Some of Colorado’s mail-in ballots need to be mailed eight days before the election. Even so, as of this writing (November 15), Coloradans still do not know the result for House District 3. Boebert or Frisch?
Then there are the states that prohibit the counting of mail ballots prior to election day. This further delays election results, needlessly so.
Then there are the states that count mail ballots if postmarked by election day. Still further delays.
Those who say that all these leniencies around mail ballots increases voter participation do not consider the negative trade-off: the damage to democracy in an absurdly elongated election process.
Example #3: Damaged democracy.
Look what has been taken away from most of the citizenry by privileging mail ballots over polling booths.
Voting day used to be a celebration of democracy. On voting day, people gathered outside and inside the polls. People met the poll workers. People conversed with fellow citizens they never knew before — people who might well be voting for different candidates or policies. It made no difference. They stood together.
Voting in person bound people to the process of democracy.
Voting was personal.
Voting required voters to figure out when they could get to the polls.
We hear a lot these days about danger to democracy. Well, what is democracy? It is when people see other people voting, when voting is a visible, tangible, community exercise, when voting is not just another isolated, sit-by myself, alone-in- my-residence, social-media-like division of one citizen from the other.
Incidentally, do not compare the current, sustained delays in election results to the Gore-Bush delay in the 2000 election. That was not a delayed count. That was a delayed recount. Very different from the current confusion.
Call it extreme, if you want, but Israel says: You want to vote? Then you have to vote inside the country. No mail ballots from overseas. Countless Israelis make a trip they otherwise would not make — just to vote.
The only exceptions are for military and diplomatic personnel. Inside the country, Israel increases voter participation by making election day a public holiday. The US would do well to adopt the practice. As things stand now, our election experts do not stir people to vote. Under the Israeli system — including its ban on mail ballots — a greater percentage of the populace votes!
Voting is about caring, not about convenience.
Example #4: Safety.
The election experts say that mail ballots are better for democracy because they’re safer. Presumably, this means that mail ballots yield fewer fraudulent votes. Has this been proven? In any event, if safety is defined as citizen faith in democracy —derived from quick results, from in-person participation — then mail ballots are less safe. They aid and abet election deniers in casting doubt on election integrity.
Election Denial 1.0 denies the results. Election Denial 2.0 makes it easier to deny the results. Election results delayed feed election results denied.
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