J. Christian Adams, Here’s why.
Federal data show that in the 2016 and 2018 elections, millions of ballots sent through the mail were never counted as valid votes. Many were sent to invalid addresses. Others were rejected for errors. And in 2018 alone, 10,475,573 were just listed as vanished for reasons “unknown.”
It’s no surprise then, to some, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made federally mandated vote-by-mail requirements her top legislative response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Democrats have long lusted for federal mandates over our elections. They want Washington D.C. controlling the rules for elections. They hate how the Constitution gave power over elections to the states.
They also never let a crisis go to waste.
When the Coronavirus pandemic exploded, the entire institutional architecture of the Left awakened and began to demand the same thing: federally mandated all-mail elections.
Never before have we seen such sudden and uniform frenzy around a single issue on the Left. From abortion activists, to green energy zealots, to the Sierra Club to even the Union of Concerned Scientists, federally mandated all-mail ballots became the rallying cry. The latter group had evolved from serving as a mouthpiece to echo the Soviet Union on defense issues all the way to demanding that we election the next Congress through the mail.
Pelosi almost got what she wanted too. In fact, the House passed the plan to nationalize elections. Her plan included mandated vote by mail nationwide, same day voter registration and at least a month of early voting.
Pelosi’s vote by mail mandate puts the election of the president into the hands of the people who routinely deliver to your home your neighbor’s mail. Thankfully, Senate leaders stopped the federal takeover, even after Pelosi made it her final negotiating holdout.
Think about that. Her final holdout demand wasn’t speedy FDA approval of a vaccine, or boosting respirator manufacturing. She dug in on how we vote. She wanted elections to move behind closed doors, out of sight of election officials and observers.
In just the 2018 election in California, San Diego County sent out 69,700 mail ballots that went to bad addresses, bounced, disappeared and ultimately never came back as a valid vote. Orange County, California saw 34,257 ballots fail in the mail.
Unfortunately, mail ballots are the easiest way for fraudsters to steal votes. I know this because I tried a case in federal court where mail ballot fraud helped keep a political machine in power. In Noxubee County, Mississippi, mail ballots were snatched from mailboxes by swarms of collectors. They took the ballots to the people who lived at the houses, and helpfully offered to vote for them. These collectors were paid by the political machine for every voted ballot they turned in. The voters, usually poor or minority, gladly allowed their vote to be stolen.
Progressives don’t have a problem with this arrangement. They view the electoral process through the lens of race and class. If a ballot collector comes to a house to make sure a ballot sent to that house was cast, then to progressives, the collector is doing a public service. They are giving voice to the voiceless. They assume that class and race – at least in a general election – would make the preferences of voter entirely obvious. So what is the harm if a mail ballot collector simply harvests a ballot from the voter? Aren’t we better off if more people vote?
The ballot harvester exploiting mail ballots relies on this lie. Their twisted worldview says that the failure of the downtrodden to participate in American elections is what is preventing utopian progressive policies from becoming reality. They claim barriers exist to the ballot box. They speak of voter ID, voter registration requirements or polling places as examples of disenfranchisement. But they never speak of the apathy or disinterest that many Americans have toward elections.
It is this apathy and disinterest that the ballot harvester seeks to overcome. In the progressive worldview, the harvester is doing a good deed in collecting, and even voting, someone else’s ballot. Even the victims think so.
During the federal court trial in Mississippi, one witness for the Justice Department told the court that the ballot harvester knows who is the best person to vote for. Even the victims are happy to have their vote stolen.
Into this cultural and political dynamic, enter mail ballots. Better yet, enter a federally mandated all mail election to elect the President in 2020. That’s why, in a flash, tens of millions of progressive dollars deployed to push for all mail elections.
The progressive Left is built around deploying street muscle. If a hundred million ballots are sent by mail into homes, we will never be able to observe how those ballots are voted or who is voting them. Instead of third-party observers and election officials watching the process, mail ballots move the election behind closed doors.
There are ways to make the 2020 election safe for Americans. The Coronavirus pandemic cannot be an excuse to fundamentally transform how we elect the President and Congress.
J. Christian Adams is former Justice Department lawyer, President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, winner of the Annie Taylor Award and author of the New York Times bestseller Injustice (Regnery).