Ballot confusion

There is a movement to adopt “mail-in” voting. We are encouraged to believe that “mail-in” voting is the same thing as “absentee” voting. But the two processes are wildly different. Absentee voting requires the voter to send in a ballot request form, receive the ballot, then mail it back in. To prove his or her identity and address, the requester must provide certain documentary information (driver’s license or social security numbers or copy of utility bill). So that, when the board of elections mails the ballot out, they are certain the ballot is being mailed directly to a living person, who is a registered voter, and at the correct address.

“Mail-in” voting, on the other hand, is a mass mailing of ballots to all registered voters. There is no verification to determine if voter still resides at the address listed on the voter rolls or is even still alive. “Mail-in” voting should actually be called “mail-out” voting, or “let’s scatter ballots to the winds” voting. While this system has been used in several jurisdictions with what can only be described as “mixed” or “confusing” results, Ohio and most other states are not prepared for this. One reason is the voter rolls themselves. The rolls need to be thoroughly and frequently scrubbed of bad information. Many people no longer live at the same address listed and some have died yet are still registered to vote. This means that ballots would be sent to people for whom they were not intended.

Every legal citizen who wants to vote should be able to. Ohio’s absentee and early voting procedures already provide options for those in the military, overseas, hospitalized, disabled, and persons needing assistance. If you are not registered, you still have plenty of time to register; online, by mail, or in person. If you might not make it to the polls on November 3rd, ample opportunities are available to you to vote early or at a distance – to protect your health or for whatever reason you have.

Making legal voting safer or more accessible is good. Simply mailing out ballots puts the integrity of the entire voting process at risk.

James Wilson



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