I have some truly brilliant Facebook friends who regularly enlighten me.
For example, I have been puzzled by the degree of opposition displayed by Trump Republicans to voting by mail. The research shows pretty conclusively that vote by mail doesn’t benefit either party (although it does increase turnout, and there are those who believe that larger turnout benefits Democrats.) It just seemed odd that the Trumpers would get so hysterical– and spend so much time and energy– fighting mail-in ballots.
Now I understand.
One of my Facebook Friends is David Honig, an Indiana lawyer whose posts are always informed and perceptive. However, his post this week–in which he answered the “why” question–was especially brilliant, because he cut through all the speculation and explained what is really motivating Republican opposition to vote by mail.
If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities telling them the election has been rescheduled, or their polling place changed, won’t work.
If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities on election day, telling voters to relax, the Democrat has already won, won’t work.
If people mail in their votes, calling out the “Militia” to intimidate voters won’t work.
If people mail in their votes, a “random” road block near a black neighborhood on election day won’t work.
If people mail in their votes, closing down the polling places in predominantly black neighborhoods, and leaving the only polling place miles from the populace, without any public transportation, won’t work.
As David argues–pretty persuasively– this isn’t about managing expectations, or creating an argument about errors in the vote in the event of a close Trump loss. This is about Republicans not being able to use their usual tactics– their time-honored strategies to suppress minority turnout on election day–to eke out a win. (The links will take you to recent examples of those tactics.)
GOP opposition is about the fact that vote-by-mail would eliminate most of the cheating we actually see every election.
As one of my sons pointed out in a comment, an additional problem Republicans have with voting by mail is that it returns the system to good old-fashioned paper. Voting by mail, with paper ballots, eliminates concerns about computer hacking and (with many of the newer voting machines) the lack of paper backup.
With “vote by mail” there is a paper trail that can be checked for accuracy in the event of a dispute or recount.
Ironically, it turns our that the arguments about vote by mail actually are arguments about voter fraud– just not in the way Republicans are framing it. Vote by mail is a way of preventing fraud–preventing games the GOP has perfected and played for years–preventing voter suppression tactics that are every bit as fraudulent as casting an unauthorized or impermissible ballot. When we talk about rigging an election, these are the methods that have been used for years to do the rigging.
Ultimately, vote by mail isn’t just about preventing the spread of disease, or about accommodating the schedules of working folks, or even about facilitating the casting of more thoughtful and considered ballots, although it will do all of those things. It’s about keeping elections honest.
I just didn’t see it before.
No wonder the Trumpublicans oppose it.