Will Democracy Seem Lost in the Mail?

The 2020 campaign has been so contorted by the coronavirus that the Democrats and Republicans are still figuring out how on Earth they’ll hold virtual conventions. Now imagine how it could make a mess out of November.

As President Donald Trump bizarrely tweeted about delaying the election, the media are starting to admit that mail-in voting might not turn out very well.

People inherently know from experience that trusting the U.S. Postal Service with their vote sounds sketchy. Almost everyone has lost something they sent in the mail.

A month ago, The New York Times was throwing the usual darts at Trump for tweeting that mail-in voting would lead to fraud. It was spewing “fact-checks” in staunch defense of the integrity of mail-in voting.

Then, reality intruded. The Times published a story headlined “Mail Carrier in West Virginia Pleads Guilty to Attempted Election Fraud.” Then it was forced to report from its own city on July 17. The headline and subheading were blunt: “3 Weeks After Primary, N.Y. Officials Still Can’t Say Who Won Key Races: Tens of thousands of absentee ballots in New York are still uncounted and many races have yet to be called. What will November look like?”


Two Times reporters lamented it was "absurd" that ballots had been barely counted: "In the 12th Congressional District, where Representative Carolyn B. Maloney is fighting for her political life against her challenger, Suraj Patel, only 800 of some 65,000 absentee ballots had been tabulated." Even now, the Associated Press hasn't declared a winner between these Democrats.

This does not inspire confidence. It leaves too much time for cynical conspiracies about manipulation of the results.

The first and foremost reason for these delays is the number of absentee ballots: More than 400,000 were mailed for the June New York City primary, compared with just 76,000 counted in the city in the 2008 presidential election. Now imagine this deluge nationwide. Do we really want to wait weeks to figure out who won which races?

CBS News also attempted to explain how mail-in voting may not be ideal. "CBS This Morning" co-host Tony Dokoupil reported that they attempted to mail 100 mock ballots to a post office box in Philadelphia. The early results were terrible. "Twenty-one percent of our votes hadn't materialized after four days," he said. That number eventually improved after CBS begged postal workers for assistance, but the test concluded with a shocking 3% failure rate.

Dokoupil concluded: "(T)hat means three people who tried to vote by mail in our mock election were, in fact, disenfranchised by mail. In a close election, 3% could be pivotal, especially in what's expected to be a record year for mail-in voting."

This kind of journalism looks like an attempt to test the system "without fear or favor." CBS took the chance to experiment with it and then shared the results even when they weren't inspiring, at a time when reporters have stormed around saying there is "no evidence" that elections might be hampered.

Voting is a right and an honor, and this year, people have risked their health and stood in long lines to participate in our democracy. The prospect of an orderly election with results the people can have confidence in is looking grim.

In 1984, I cast my first presidential vote for Ronald Reagan with an absentee ballot mailed home to Wisconsin. My father regretted to inform me, after Reagan won in a landslide, that my vote wasn't counted. That wasn't heartbreaking, but if this election gets messy and isn't a landslide, we're going to have heartbreak, angst and rage.

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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7 thoughts on “Will Democracy Seem Lost in the Mail?”

  1. The answer is easy. Instead of a one day vote, have a week long vote. Quite a bother for the people maning the vote process, but spreading out doing it in person should work – though weekends would be quite busy. Maybe a week including two weekends would be worth the effort.

  2. The notion anything democrats want is good for anyone but a democrat is ludicrous! Democrats have proven they will cheat any chance they get and voting by mail is not voting it’s only a method for treasonous democrats to promote their vile treason upon America!
    Take covid for instance it’s not rising in America democrats their media are reporting the flu deaths car wrecks heart disease and cancer deaths in the totals thru their communist media!
    Omish people here in America are completely unaffected by the covid virus! The Omish are farmers who live without technology and live a simple early 20th century life!
    What is different about the Omish people why are they not affected by covid?
    The answer is very simple!

  3. With all the socialistic restrictions on our economy I am not optimistic about recovery. Soon people without jobs and income will be starving in the streets. Fauci can dictate everything to hamstring us and our progress along with the Bernie, Elizabeth, and Joe Marxist alliance to reduce us to nothing! Now with this phony mail in vote Donald will most likely lose to the “vote early and often” Democratic group. Duck and cover folks.

  4. “vote by mail” is just another chapter and scheme of how the democommunists (by their own admission) will do ANYTHING to regain complete POWER and CONTROL over this country to push their continued LUST for THEIR “new world order”, “one world government” globalist agenda, and turn the citizens in this country, to controlled “subjects” they will be free to use, abuse tax to death, or “eliminate”, if the citizens to not kowtow to every “royal decree” they utter.
    Wise up America, what you are seeing now in democommunist-run cities, is just a “taste” of what this country will be like under democommunist “rule”. Vote wisely in November my friends, the continuation of our Constitutional republic as well as the lives of your children, and grandchildren hangs in the balance.

  5. Thinking about mail in votes, I wondered about the task of counting them one by one, even if they arrived on time. The mails are no longer reliable. It took over a week for a letter to go from NC to Norfolk, Virginia. Once it would have been delivered next day. Yes, I know the reason. Teachnology! It we cannot go to vote, perhaps the faster way is by Email. Even that is not assured.

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