One-third. That's the approximate number of mail-in ballots received in last week's annual town election in Chatham. Orleans also received a hefty number of mail-in ballots in its election last week, so many that it briefly delayed the determination of the outcome.
These were local elections, where the turn-out is minuscule compared to what is likely to be a heavy show by voters in the November presidential contest. We can't see into the future, but there seems little doubt that by November, many people will still be unwilling, or unable for health reasons, to vote in person. We anticipate a much higher level of mail-in ballots, both locally and nationally.
As anyone who follows the national news knows, President Trump and his lackeys have mounted an assault on mail-in ballots, claiming they invite fraud and cheating. While experts say it is easier to commit voter fraud with absentee and mail-in ballots, proven cases remain minuscule. Several states have gone to all mail-in voting with few if any problems. A recent all-mail-in election in New Jersey did experience problems without about a third of ballots, but much of it could be attributed to it being the first time such a system was used and mistakes being made by voters unfamiliar with the process. Overall, the system is secure; if not, why do the president and many of his staff members use it?
Voting is every American citizen's right and responsibility, something we need to remember this weekend as we celebrate our nation's independence. Government should bend over backwards to make it as easy as possible. Continually throwing up roadblocks — voter suppression laws, closing polling locations, using misinformation and downright lies to cast suspicion on results — is undemocratic. It's already hard enough to vote in the United States; elections should be held on a Saturday or holiday rather than during the middle of the week when most people are working. With the pandemic still likely to be around in some form or other in November, officials should be preparing now to address the concerns voters will have. Mail-in ballots should be made more widely available, and voters educated about how to obtain a ballot and cast it responsibly.