How is the way to vote in the United States of America decided? The constitution does not give specifics. There is no time set for the Federal Election in the constitution but in 1845 Congress set the date of elections as the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This date was chosen in the agrarian society of the 1800’s because the harvest was over and in most places winter snows had not yet started. It was on a weekday because it gave voters time to travel after most went to church on Sundays. Many people lived far from their polling place and many traveled for a day or more to vote. Still, even though they travelled by horse and carriage, stagecoach, horseback or just walked, all citizens were still expected to cast their vote on the same day. The reason people had to show up in person was so they could be verified as a voter and vote in a place where the vote was supervised.
Somehow in Montgomery County Maryland, in the very mobile year of 2020, where we have over 250 polling places on Election Day, our state allows anyone who wants to vote by mail to just apply for a ballot by mail or in person and then have their ballot posted by Election Day. We also have eight days of Early Voting at eleven different Early Voting sites. We do not require picture ID to vote.
How can anyone possibly believe that it is more difficult to get to a polling place today than it was almost 200 years ago when many had a day or more to travel to get to a polling place?
I know the virus is a big concern this year, but even if things change for this election, we must let it not be permanent. Let us try to keep Election Day as a special day when we can be assured that our sacred right to vote is not compromised.
Why are we so weak today that we allow such lax voting laws? I believe the sloppy way we are conducting elections in many states can lead to widespread fraud. Here are just some of the problems with the way voting is being conducted in some states.
- Voter rolls are not kept clean:
When people move out of state, they can register to vote at the new residence without removing their names from their previous residence. Taking their names off voter rolls is the last thing that people think of when moving.
Judicial Watch recently stated that in 2019 there were over 378 counties nationwide that have more names on the voter rolls than residents eligible to vote, combined they had over 2.5 million registrants over the 100%-registered mark.
A friend was standing in line to vote once and the woman behind her said she was voting twice that year, in person in New York and by mail at her home in Florida.
A woman running for Congress in Maryland a few years ago was disqualified because it was discovered that she had voted twice (in two states) in the previous presidential election.
Also, unused names of voters on the rolls can be used by others.
In the 1980’s I was a consultant to the US Department of Transportation as it was developing a national database to ensure that when anyone applied for a driver’s license in one state their license was invalidated in all other states, thus assuring that no one could use a license from a state where they did not live. Today with motor-voter rules, all state Transportation Departments are directly connected to the state Boards of Election and it would be very simple to pass information on licenses being invalidated because someone moved to another state to the BoE and have those names also taken off the voter rolls.
- Voting without Photo ID is open to fraud, especially Early Voting:
In my Maryland we have 8 days of Early Voting. In my Montgomery County we have 11 sites where anyone can vote. All you have to do is walk into any of the Early Voting centers, without any ID, and state your name and birthdate. You are then given a ballot and can vote.
I had a neighbor who moved to Florida and her name remained on the rolls in Maryland. It occurred to me it would not have been possible for anyone to use her name by going into our local precinct on Election Day, where she was known, but without picture ID it would have been easy for someone to show up at any of the Early Voting sites away from our town and vote under her name. I finally prevailed on her to write to our County Board of Elections and remove her name from the voter rolls here, but most people do not realize that their name remains on the rolls when they move.
In our county there are busses hired to pick up people during Early Voting and drive them to the polls. They are given marked ballots. Without voter ID, it is even possible that those busses can go to more than one Early Voting center and that riders can be given names of voters who have moved away and had not taken their names off the voter rolls.
I think it is wonderful to take people to the polls who are disabled, too old to drive or otherwise require help in getting there. But rounding up young healthy people who are not motivated to vote themselves handing out marked ballots then transporting them to a polling place does not seen to protect anyone’s right to vote.
- Voting by mail is not secure:
Only a very few states require that a picture ID with an address accompany the request for a mail in ballot along with an authenticated reason. But even this is not entirely secure and Maryland requires no verification of identity when requesting to vote by mail.
Hans von Spakovsky, from Heritage Foundation’s Law Reform Initiative, has said’ “There is no way to properly supervise and make sure that voters aren’t being intimidated, their votes aren’t being stolen, ballots are not being forged – signatures forged- or otherwise altered. How do we know that the voter who requested a ballot actually is that voter? How do we know that the ballot actually gets to the voter who requested it?”
Absentee votes, cast outside the supervision of election officials, are a true risk. The whole purpose of a fixed voting place is to ascertain that the voter is who the voter claims to be, to watch that no one influences another’s vote or intimidates a voter and to keep the votes secure and deliver them to the Board of Elections.
What is wrong with the citizens of this country? Why are we letting this sacred right to be taken from us without protest?
People argue that is there is no proof of voter fraud. It is easy to see that the way things are set up, it is very difficult to establish proof. There are solutions of course. Delete voters from the rolls who get a driver’s license in another state. If someone comes into the polling place without picture ID, take a picture and enter it into the voter rolls.
Is it possible for Congress to set laws regarding the election of President? The Constitution says the states vote on the president and then each state shall choose electors to send to the Electoral College to vote for that state’s choice for president. The constitution does not direct the way a presidential election is conducted within each state. But Article 1 Legislature section 4 of the constitution says:
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.
If Congress can set the day of presidential elections and can alter regulations of time place and manner for holding elections of senators and representatives, why can’t the Congress make sensible laws concerning presidential elections? Ensure that all voters are identified as themselves, that each vote is counted as it was cast, that no one can vote in more than one place in each election, and only eligible citizens vote. This would be a big step to ensure that our votes are not stolen and count as the voters intend them to count. A simple first step is that picture ID should be mandatory everywhere.
As a child in New Jersey, I remember walking about one block with my parents to their polling place. Election Day was special for the whole family. It was a holiday in New Jersey then and still is today. It is also a holiday in other states including Delaware, Hawaii, New York, and the territory of Puerto Rico. Many activists have called for Election Day to become a federal holiday so people will understand the paramount importance of voting and can take time to vote without missing work. Other proposals to boost voter turnout include having elections take place over several days or allowing voting to take place by mail or computers are too open to fraud and should be rejected.
In the end, it is up to us to decide how the vote is held in the United States of America. We cannot accept the fact that when a system is so open to fraud that there will be no fraud. We must make our voices heard. Be watchful. Watch out for further eroding of our voices. Fix the problems we have. Speak out. Write to our state and Federal legislators. We cannot be silent. Do not let this precious right die.