The only way to guarantee secret ballot is to restore the local in-person option everywhere, including states that have long abolished it, such as Oregon.
This Tuesday’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey should provide more insights into Democrats’ habit of election rigging on the state level. Many consider these off-year contests to be bellwethers for next year’s midterms. So it’s particularly laughable to see road signs for Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe that in effect declare Virginia’s chaotic new election laws to represent “free and fair elections.”
It’s also reasonable to ask what conditions are necessary for an election to be as free and fair as possible. Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with the idea of improving turnout and voter enthusiasm. But a voting system that is designed specifically to hide wrongdoing and corruption, to preclude the ability to find fraud, to prevent even routine measures to ensure the auditability and integrity of an election is not an election.
There are at least four indispensable conditions for truly free and fair elections. The process must first guarantee privacy. It must also eliminate the possibility of identity theft. It must minimize ballot handling by anyone other than the voter. And the process should be as decentralized and local as possible, allowing everyone to vote at a neighborhood precinct.
Let’s look at these in more detail.
1. Protect the Secret Ballot
Every voter should be able to cast a ballot in person, at a local precinct, and in the privacy of a real voting booth. As Dan Gelertner recently wrote, there is no solution to today’s electoral chaos short of a Constitutional Convention that restores our elections to their original format: voting in person on Election Day. I think we also need to recognize that secret ballot is directly tied to freedom of conscience. It’s therefore looking more and more like a constitutional right.
Universal mail-in voting abolishes any guarantee of a secret ballot. Going postal with voting is a surefire way to induce harassment and coercion in any politically polarized household where everyone has access to the mailbox. Yes, people should have the option of requesting an absentee ballot. But the only way to guarantee secret ballot is to restore the local in-person option everywhere, including states that have long abolished it, including Oregon.
It’s simply wrong to force all voters to cast their votes by mail or to drive out to some unattended “secure” ballot box on the street to deposit it. In addition, polling places in local precincts should have real voting booths that secure privacy, not tables strewn with flimsy cardboard optional shields.
2. Remove the Possibility of Identity Theft
The primary purpose of photo identification of a voter is to prevent identity theft. To claim that it’s about voter suppression is patently bogus. No fair electoral process would do away with a photo ID requirement.
If leftists who speak against Voter ID were really interested in preventing voter suppression, they would consider spending a teensy bit of pocket change of the trillions in their proposed budgets to provide a photo ID to everyone eligible to vote. The Georgia voter ID law, so criticized by the left, in fact provides a free photo voter ID to anyone who doesn’t have one. Problem solved.
3. As Little Ballot Touching As Possible
Minimize the ability of others to handle your ballot (and for ballot harvesters to invent ballots). Nobody should ever be put in the position of having his official ballot handled by roommates, neighbors, or family members who happen to be fetching the mail. Neither should anybody be required to have her official ballot handled by the postal service unless she specifically requests it.
Your official ballot should be treated as a hyper-sensitive document, not like junk mail delivered months before Election Day. The best way to minimize the time your official ballot can be handled by others is to vote on Election Day at an official, local precinct, where it is handled for just a matter of seconds or minutes before you cast it.
4. Local Control
In 2016 President Barack Obama declared that our elections could not be rigged because “they are so de-centralized.” Indeed, de-centralization is key to election integrity. But in the Covid-produced elections of 2020, massive early voting by mail-in ballots was a huge step towards centralization. Only about 30 percent of votes were cast in person.
State and local officials eliminated nearly 21,000 in-person polling places out of the 116,990 that were active in the 2016 elections. According to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, the continuing decline in polling places is due to alternatives such as large early voting centers and mail-in voting.
Conservatives add to this problem when they vote early by mail out of fear that they’ll be told they already voted by the time they get to the polls, as happened in the recent election in California. Oddly, Democrats don’t seem to complain when tens of thousands of local polling places simply evaporate, even though they routinely argue that election integrity is equal to voter suppression. Also, way too many local election boards are corrupt due to buyoffs by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and the left-wing billionaire class posing as philanthropists.
No voting process is perfect, but the above four conditions are critical to renewing trust in a system that has proven deceitful. McAuliffe and company have zero interest in any of the above. They are stakeholders in a system that reeks of fraud.