Return to sender
By Timothy Easling, Contributor
If there is a substantial increase in voters, before running off to celebrate the end of political apathy in the USA, ask yourself what is truly different about this election cycle.
Mail-in voting is not the sort of controversial issue a democratic society wants to be reading about in the newspaper. When the integrity of elections is brought into question it seems all too reminiscent of the phony elections of the USSR and its puppet states—the strong socialist push from the left in recent years providing an all-too-helpful parallel. Forget Biden and Harris dodging questions of “packing the court”—this is the primary concern for 2020. If voting is compromised in any way, the actions taken post-election are irrelevant.
While most are focused on fraud, not enough pause has been taken simply for the “why?” of mail-in ballots. Yes, we’re currently in the middle of a declared pandemic, but that pandemic has not caused the cessation of all activities. Folks aren’t restricted to their homes or limited to hazmat suits in their wardrobe selection. Citizens are seeing friends and family, getting exercise, and going shopping. As long as social distancing is maintained and a mask is worn, many appear to have no problem with densely populated areas and events. What’s the concern with voting in-person?
Insider estimated grocery stores in the USA to average approximately 30 million customers a day in 2018—and each shopping trip to be around 41 minutes. Essentially, spread across the USA’s estimated 40,000 grocery stores, the entire country takes a trip almost every week-and-a-half. In a grocery store we all handle the same fruit and veggies that the previous customer just pawed over—and that are generally unwashed in the first place. We all congregate in the same buildings that often only have one or two entrances. We all interact with the same employees who are doing their best to follow regulations. Now, the point here isn’t to create a paranoia about shopping but precisely the opposite. Cases are generally being traced back to private parties or events—not essentials like grocery trips. No one is screaming about the immense dangers created by hopping in a car and heading to Safeway with a hundred other folks—so why is voting in-person drawing such attention?
Outlets such as CNN are reporting that it is expected to be a “record-shattering turnout,” but again, the question no one is asking is “why?” Why is 2020 set to be the year that everyone makes sure they’re checking their ballot? Was 2008, the first year a black man became president of the United States not a key date? Was 2012, when that same man ran again, not a major election? And if neither of those were important enough, surely 2016 when Donald Trump first ran, would at least nudge the needle, right? In chronological order beginning with 2008, the voter turnout of the total voting population has been 58.23 percent, 54.87 percent, and 55.67 percent. Just to prove that Obama didn’t change voting attitudes, the 2004 George Bush election saw 56.70 percent of voters hit the polls.
As the numbers show, despite the continued polarization of American politics, voting attitudes have generally remained the same. The “racists” didn’t suddenly show up and vote Trump in or we would have seen a jump in those figures (actually a 2.56 percent decrease from 2008 to 2016). Playing devil’s advocate and saying that the “racists” were the reason for Trump’s election would mean that those same people who were keen to vote in Obama based on his skin colour suddenly decided that Trump wasn’t so bad… and then didn’t even vote. It’s not a strong argument.
All the facts taken into consideration, the narrative being pushed by most mainstream media outlets that this election will be the one to shatter voter turnout is suspicious—and I think is the greatest indicator that something more sinister is afoot. Lines such as this one from CNN help to mislead: “Voters in five key states have already requested more ballots than pre-Election Day votes were cast in all of 2016.” The issue with such reporting is that it tries to draw a false parallel between two completely different elections. There was no COVID-19 in 2016. There was no need to vote early to avoid massive lines or risk of infection. Of course, there are more mail-in requests now. However, the picture many outlets are trying to paint is that more Americans are voting—not more Americans are voting safely. The final voting figures are what’s important; if an additional 30 million previously apathetic American voters show up for this election, regardless of mail-in-figure percentage, eyebrows should be arched.
It’s a similar argument as to why voter fraud has not been rampant in federal elections before. Mail-in voting has never existed at this level in the past—there is no parallel to draw. However, this is not to say there aren’t examples. Tales of voter fraud stemming from mail-in ballots have received little mainstream coverage but are on the rise. Paterson, New Jersey’s third-largest city, was rocked by a municipal election scandal that resulted in four men running for office being charged with varying levels of fraud. Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, a Democrat, was painfully aware of the implications of the situation—his words suggesting in an interview that he didn’t want the story to get broad coverage: “We don’t want Donald Trump to tweet about us.”
Texas saw a mayoral candidate attempt to secure 84 additional ballots by himself. His sloppy execution fortunately resulted in his arrest, but authorities are not always so vigilant, nor are criminals always so obvious. Another case from Texas has unearthed a scheme from a 2018 primary in which many Americans were completely unaware they were being used.
Ohio reported a massive error that saw 50,000 invalid ballots go out. The mistake was ultimately caught but shows the massive scale on which something can go wrong with mail-in ballots. What if the issue hadn’t been spotted? Fifty-thousand Americans (their voting preferences are unknown) could have quietly slipped under the rug.
These are just a few of the recent highlights, but if using a search engine other than Google, there are many more instances of mail-in fraud to be found. The claim that mail-in fraud is not a major issue and has no supporting evidence is a blatant lie. And while many outlets such as the Washington Post write lines such as “officials identified just 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of deceased people out of about 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections, or 0.0025 percent,” in an attempt to quell suspicions, such “facts” only raise more questions such as how did they arrive at this figure?—and if there was successful fraud, how would they know?
Regardless of mail-in, advance, or day-of ballots, the figure to watch is the total number of voters. If there is a substantial increase in voters, before running off to celebrate the end of political apathy in the USA, ask yourself what is truly different about this election cycle. What has 2020 brought that recent decades of elections haven’t? The USA has been rocked by war and disease before—this is nothing new. And if there is no good answer, then perhaps it’s the one many have been trying to deny all along.