There is nothing more important to an honest representative democracy than protecting the legitimacy of our elections. You not only have the right to vote, you have the right to know as a legal voter that your vote will be counted and that those who are not permitted to vote, are prohibited from doing so.
Over the past few years in the U.S there has been a tremendous push for mail in voting. In New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy unwisely changed the election law in an attempt to force people into voting by mail by locking them out of the voting machines if they voted by mail prior to the 2018 General Election. That law has confused voters, and caused some people to be disenfranchised. This is a law the voters do not understand and did not ask for.
Now, using the Covid-19 lockdown as convenient motivator, New Jersey and many other states are pushing for more mail-in voting regardless of the consequences. In the upcoming N.J. Primary Election on July 7 almost everyone MUST vote by mail. Like other pandemic edicts by Gov. Murphy there is little evidence to suggest that his dictate is backed by science or any discernible data. Will going to the voting booth and taking proper precaution spread the corona virus? Probably not; certainly, no more than thousands of protesters storming the streets and looting.
Voting by mail, in my opinion, has always been a bad idea, especially in New Jersey where corruption of the mail-in process had become an artform long before the new mandatory edicts were enacted.
Among the problems with mail-in ballots is that election officials and candidates cannot be certain that the voter whose name is on the ballot actually sent it – or worse – was coerced or tricked into voting for a candidate. Signatures on the ballots often don’t match voters’ signatures in the ballot books and people who moved never get their ballots in the mail.
While the media wants to pretend that voter fraud doesn’t exist, the evidence, at least in the Garden State. is overwhelming that it does exist.
Last week state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal filed voter fraud charges against Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez, and two other men in connection with the May 12, election in Paterson. All four men are charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election. The charges may or may not hold up, but the charges do paint a picture of a convoluted process of gathering mail in votes. Some people claim they never got a ballot and others say they didn’t vote, but someone voted for them.
The Passaic County Election Board rejected approximately 3,200 mail-in votes, including that of Assemblyman Benji Wimberly. Many of the rejected ballots carried Hispanic surnames, which could mean that Hispanic candidates received far fewer votes than they should have.
One study by NJ Spotlight found that one in 10 mail-in ballots were rejected statewide on May 12. The problems with Vote by Mail – are not confined to the cities. Allegations of voter fraud involving VBM’s have cropped up in many other places including Montclair, Cliffside Park and Bernardsville.
But these atrocities against the voting process are not new. Under Murphy’s VBM edict – ballots have been sent to the homes of dead people, ballots are sent to addresses the voters no longer live at and some ballots simply don’t make it to the mail box, or are removed from the mail box by campaign operatives. In some cases, it is alleged, campaign officials go to the doors of voters, especially in poor neighborhoods, to coerce people to vote.
The fact that the VBM process has spawned a new campaign industry – firms that specialize in Vote Harvesting – pretty much tells you all you want to know about how corrupt the voting system has become in many parts of the nation.
The politicians’ stated goal of forcing you into mail-in voting is to increase voter turnout by making voting easier. There is not much evidence that more people are voting; but there is plenty of evidence that VBM’s increases voting corruption and disenfranchises many honest voters.
Voting should be something meaningful and thoughtful, not as easy as a scratch off lottery game. In New Jersey few people live very far from a polling place – so travel is not an issue as it is in some other states such as Montana or North Dakota. People routinely wait in long lines to get concert tickets, or to meet a celebrity at a book signing, or buy tickets to a sporting event. If they are willing to do those things, why aren’t they willing to wait a few minutes in line to do the most important thing they can do in our democracy –VOTE? Why do the politicians insist that standing in line for a few minutes to vote is detrimental to our democracy, but forging, manipulating and harvesting write-in ballots isn’t?
I suggest we return to the old system of Absentee Voting where people voted by mail if they were sick, disabled, or traveling. Everyone else can show up at the polls if they choose to.
Another alternative that almost no one on the liberal side of the aisle seems willing to embrace is to increase voter turnout by moving elections to the weekend, when most people are not working and have more time to vote. When it comes to voter turnout, the US ranks 138th out of 172 nations (https://whytuesday.org/evidence) Weekend voting works well in Europe, why not in the USA?
We are coming up to one of the most important and contentious elections in our nation’s history in November and it appears too many states are going to push voters in a corruptible and illegitimate VBM system that will lead to a contentious outcome. That’s not what America needs right now.
Barranco is a journeyman member IBEW Local 102 and a former candidate for elected office. He is also the founder of Square Deal for NJ, an organization founded to encourage ideas to address New Jersey’s many problems