Why Democrats should be worried about mail-in voting

There is a giant scheme afoot to disenfranchise voters in November — and it’s called mail-in balloting.

Mail-in voting has, like many things in our politics, taken on the aspect of tribal warfare — if President Trump is vociferously against something, Democrats must be vociferously for it, and vice versa.

Absentee voting is unquestionably less secure than in-person voting. But there is no evidence of widespread fraud. Nor is there ­evidence that, at least prior to this campaign, mail-in voting has ­favored Democrats, as the president believes.

Trump shouldn’t be trying to delegitimize the process, a point that journalists have often made. Yet there hasn’t been enough ­focus on the other side of the equation: Does it make sense for Democrats to be fervent boosters of a process that may lead to a historic number of votes cast in a presidential election not counting?

Stacey Abrams, call your office.

No matter what anyone says, there is inevitably going to be more mail-in voting in the fall, but in-person voting is superior.

Consider: Only about one-hundredth of 1 percent of in-person votes are rejected, whereas rejection rates of 1 percent are common with mail-in votes, and some states exceeded that during their primaries this year.

This should be a five-alarm worry for Democrats.

According to polling, almost twice as many Biden supporters as Trump supporters say they will vote by mail this year. According to NPR, studies show “that voters of color and young voters are more likely than others to have their ballots not count.”

In another universe, if Trump were urging Democrats to stay away from the polls and instead use a method more likely to get their votes discarded, it would be attacked as a dastardly voter-suppression scheme.

There are at least three ways that mail-in voting could contribute to a 2020 nightmare. Trump could be winning on election night, and the outcome slowly reverse over time. Delayed by the volume of mail-in ballots, states could blow past the deadline for finalizing their results. And if the margins in battleground states are very close, rejected mail-in ballots could lead to protracted, high-stakes court fights.

More than half a million ballots were rejected in this year’s presidential primaries. Ballots are discarded for improper postmarks and signatures, and mail-in voters are also more prone to accidentally vote for more than one candidate or make other errors.

In its primaries, New York state delivered up the perfect storm of ramped-up mail-in voting and inadequate preparation. In the 12th Congressional District, it took weeks to declare a winner — and the number of rejected mail ballots was roughly three times Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s 3,700-vote margin of victory over challenger Suraj Patel.

If this had happened in, say, Georgia in a race a Republican candidate narrowly won over a Democrat, it would be it considered a notorious offense against democracy.

What happened in New York easily could preview the general election. NPR notes that more than 23,000 absentee ballots were rejected in Wisconsin’s primary this year, exceeding Trump’s margin in the state in 2016. Nearly 40,000 were rejected in Pennsylvania, where Trump won by 44,000 votes in 2016.

In light of all this, it makes sense, first and foremost, to try to make available more options for in-person voting.

In addition, states should allow the counting of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day to minimize any swing in the count afterwards. Congress should delay the date that states have to finalize their results, currently Dec. 8. And election officials and the parties should do everything they can to educate mail-in voters — to do it correctly.

What should be intolerable is any attempt to change the rules after the fact — although it is ­entirely conceivable that Democrats will feel compelled after Nov. 3 to argue that the mail-in voting that they have done so much to promote is desperately flawed and deeply unjust.

Twitter: @RichLowry

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