The United States national election is now only three months away and it should be expected that the out-and-out lies emanating from both parties will increase geometrically as the polling date nears. One of the more interesting claims regarding the election itself is the White House assertion that large scale voting by mail will permit fraud, so much so that the result of the voting will be unreliable or challenged. To be sure, it is not as if voter fraud is unknown in the United States. The victory of John F. Kennedy 1960 presidential election has often been credited to all the graveyards in Mayor Richard Daley’s Chicago voting to swing Illinois into the Democratic camp.
The Democrats are insisting that voting by mail is perfectly safe and reliable, witness the use of absentee ballots for many years. The assertions by Democratic Party-affiliated voting officials in several states and also from friends on the federal level have been played in the media to confirm that fraud in elections has been insignificant recently. That may be true, up until now.
The Democrats, of course, have an agenda. For reasons that are not altogether clear, they believe that voting by mail would benefit them primarily, so they are pushing hard for their supporters to register in their respective states and cast their ballots at the local mail box. Nevertheless, there should be some skepticism whenever a major American political party wants something. In this case, the Democrats are likely assuming that people at lower income levels who will most likely vote for them cannot be bothered to register and vote if it requires actually going somewhere to do it. They have spoken of “expansion of voting,” presumably to their benefit. The mail is a much easier option.
A Fox News host has rejected the impelling logic behind the mail option, saying “Can’t we just have this one moment to vote for one candidate every four years, and show up and put a ballot in without licking an envelope or pressing on a stamp? If you can shop for food, if you can buy liquor, you can vote once every four years.”
The fundamental problem with the arguments coming from both sides is that there is no national system in the United States for registering and voting. Elections are run at state level and the individual states have their own procedures. The actual ballots also differ from voting district to voting district. To determine what safeguards are actually built into the system is difficult as how electoral offices actually function is considered sensitive information by many, precisely because it might reveal vulnerabilities in the process.
To determine how one might actually vote illegally, I reviewed the process required for registering and voting by mail in my own state of Virginia. In Virginia one can both register and vote without any human contact at all. The registration process can be accomplished by filling out an online form, which is linked here. Note particularly the following: the form requires one to check the box indicating U.S. citizenship. It then asks for name and address as well as social security number, date of birth and whether one has a criminal record or is otherwise disqualified to vote. You then have to sign and date the document and mail it off. Within ten days, you should receive a voter’s registration card for Virginia which you can present if you vote in person, though even that is not required. [ … ]