Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Going Postal Over Voting By Mail, Voting In Person, Early Voting, Voter ID, And Many More Confusing Things

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, August 14, 2020

Apparently, it ~has~ come to this sorry state of affairs in our nation.

After Donald the Trump’s ravages, America will DEFINITELY need to be made great again.

Perhaps more than anything, this matter points to the need for the Federal government to step in and establish an across-the-board 50-state Uniform Voting Standard law so that there are NO inconsistencies whatsoever.

Presently, there are a plethora of voting laws nationwide, some even varying within the state, as evidenced by this sentence in the news item: “Ohio offers 28 days of early, in-person voting. Traditional, in-person voting also will be available on Election Day.”

For example, in Tennessee, the Secretary of State’s website writes this about Early Voting:

“Early voting is one of two ways in which a registered voter of Tennessee may vote before the actual election day.  The second way for a registered voter to vote early is called by-mail voting.

“The early voting period typically begins twenty (20) days before an election and ends five (5) days before an election. The exception is for the Presidential Preference Primary, when early voting ends seven (7) days before the election.”

But first, there are a few catches.

As they appear on the SOS’ website they are:

  • 1. Am I eligible to vote absentee by-mail?
    You can vote absentee by-mail if you fall under one of the following categories:

    • You are sixty (60) years of age or older.
    • You will be outside the county where you are registered during the early voting period and all day on Election Day.
    • You are hospitalized, ill or physically disabled and unable to appear at your polling place to vote.  Voters who have an illness, physical disability or other underlying health condition that makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and who, because of that condition, are unable to appear in the polling place on Election Day and instead wish to vote by-mail should check this box.  For a list of underlying health conditions that makes a person especially vulnerable see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-increased-risk.html. A physician’s statement is not required to check this box.
    • You are the caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled.  Voters who are the caretaker of someone with an illness, physical disability or other underlying health condition that makes a person you care for especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and who wish to vote by-mail should check this box.  For a list of underlying health conditions that makes a person especially vulnerable see https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-increased-risk.html.  A physician’s statement is not required to check this box.
    • You or your spouse are a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county where you are registered.
    • You reside in a nursing home, assisted living facility or home for the aged outside your county of residence.
    • You are a candidate for office in the election.
    • You are observing a religious holiday that prevents you from voting in person during the early voting period and on Election Day.
    • You serve as an Election Day official or as a member or employee of the election commission.
    • You will be unable to vote in-person due to jury duty.
    • You have a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place.
    • You or your spouse possess a valid commercial drivers license (CDL) or Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card and you will be working outside the state or county of registration during the open hours of early voting and Election Day and have no specific out-of-county or out-of-state address to which mail may be sent or received during such time.
    • You are a member of the military or are an overseas citizen.
    • You are on the permanent absentee list (see question 4 below).

Oh!

And guess what?

  • 8. Can I hand deliver my ballot to the election office?
    No. You must return your ballot by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.).

As well, each county is allowed to set poll hours, and other aspects of balloting. There are 95 counties in TN.

Furthermore, regarding Early Voting in TN, here are the “rules.” (Here’s your opportunity for a WTF moment.)

• Offices must be open a minimum of three consecutive hours on weekdays and Saturdays between 8 a.m.-6 p.m. during the early voting period

• On at least three days, offices must be open between 4:30-7 p.m., and on at least one Saturday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Huh?

BUT WAIT!

THERE’S MORE!

What about Voter ID?

Once again, there’s a hodgepodge of laws across the 50 states, none of which are uniform. Some states – like North Carolina – do not require any ID to vote. Some states – like Arizona, Ohio, and North Dakota – require ID, but not photographic ID. Some states are strict, others are not. There’s no consistency in the matter. None whatsoever.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) features the dual dichotomy of Voter ID – yes, no, strict, non-strict, photo, non-photo, on their site.

When it comes to voting in America, it’s Player’s Choice.

Again, the TN SOS writes this about the state’s Voter ID law/requirement.

What IDs are acceptable?

Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired:

  • Tennessee driver license with your photo
  • United States Passport
  • Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
  • Photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government
  • United States Military photo ID
  • Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo

What IDs are not acceptable?

College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal or Tennessee state government are NOT acceptable. This includes county or city issued photo IDs, such as library cards, and photo IDs issued by other states.

Who is exempt?

  • Voters who vote absentee by mail (view requirements here)
  • Voters who are residents of a licensed nursing home or assisted living center and who vote at the facility
  • Voters who are hospitalized
  • Voters with a religious objection to being photographed
  • Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee

Now there’s a funny thing… IDs (except College Student IDs – huh?) are permissible to be used EVEN IF EXPIRED.

That’s not permissible in Alabama, which is Tennessee’s southern next-door neighbor.

And then, there’s Florida – Alabama’s southern next-door neighbor.

The Sunshine State isn’t so sunny in many respects – especially when it comes to voting.

Who could forget the voting debacle that became Bush v Gore?

In fact, when it comes to voting, voting research and analysis conducted in Florida in 2018 found that, among other things:

  • Mail ballots (commonly referred to as “Vote by Mail” or VBM) have had a higher rejection rate than votes cast at assigned precincts on Election Day and at Early Voting sites;
  • There is a lack of uniformity in the Vote by Mail process as well as  procedures to cure invalid ballots across Florida’s 67 counties, leading to considerable variation in rejection rates and cure rates by counties;
  • Younger and racial and ethnic minority voters were much more likely to have their  VBM ballots  rejected, and  less likely to have  their VBM ballots cured when they are flagged for a signature problem;
  • Younger and racial and ethnic minority voters casting VBM ballots were at least twice as likely as older and white voters to have their VBM ballot rejected in the  presidential elections of 2012 and 2016;
  • The likelihood of younger and minority voters casting a mail  ballot that was rejected increased in 2016 compared to 2012 while the rejection rate of VBM ballots cast by white voters decreased;
  • Florida voters were more likely to have their vote tabulated and validated if they cast their ballot in person at an Early Voting site or at their assigned Election Day polling location.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a page about State Laws Governing Early Voting, and writes this in part about Early Voting:

“Nine states, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, do not offer pre-Election Day in-person voting options.”

The time period for early voting varies from state to state:

  • The date on which early voting begins may be as early as 45 days before the election, or as late as the Friday before the election. The average starting time for early voting is 22 days before the election.
  • Early voting typically ends just a few days before Election Day.
  • Early voting periods range in length from four days to 45 days; the average length is 19 days.
  • Of the states that allow early in-person voting, 24 and the District of Columbia allow some weekend early voting.
    • Saturday: 20 states, plus the District of Columbia provide for voting on Saturday. Four additional states (California, Kansas, Vermont and Massachusetts) leave it up to county clerks who may choose to allow Saturday voting. Delaware and Virginia will also include Saturday voting when the laws go into effect.
    • Sunday: Five states (Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Ohio) allow for Sunday voting. Five states (California, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Massachusetts) leave it up to county clerks who may choose to be open on Sundays. Florida mandates early voting must begin, including Sunday, the 10th day and end the third day prior to the election for state and federal elections. Local election officials also have the discretion to allow early voting the Sunday prior to the election. Delaware will also include Sunday voting when the law goes into effect in 2022.

So as you can see, there’s PLENTY of need for reform and standardization of voting across America.


Ohio Among States Warned By U.S. Postal Service That Mail-Voting Deadlines Could Disenfranchise Voters

By Andrew J. Tobias, Cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio is among the 46 states that recently received a warning from U.S. Postal Service officials that deadlines laid out in the state’s mail-voting laws may result in voters being disenfranchised.

The letter from Thomas J. Marshall, the USPS general counsel and executive vice president, says Ohio’s deadline for requesting an absentee ballot falls too close to Election Day to guarantee it will be mailed in time, especially since a voter then would have to wait for a ballot to arrive. The state deadline to request a ballot is the Saturday before the Nov. 3 election, while mail ballots must be postmarked on Monday, Nov. 2 to be counted.

“As a result, to the extent that the mail is used to transmit ballots to and from voters, there is a significant risk that, at least in certain circumstances, ballots may be requested in a manner that is consistent with your election rules and returned promptly, and yet not be returned in time to be counted,” reads the July 30 letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican.

The letter, a copy of which was obtained via a public-records request, recommends voters request a ballot application at least 15 days before Election Day, and recommends they mail their completed ballots back to their county board of election one week before Election Day. However, in Ohio, ballots can be counted for up to 10 days after Election Day, as long as they are postmarked on Nov. 2. This potential lag between mail ballots being sent and the final votes being counted could leave the winner of the election unresolved for more than a week, elections observers have warned, given the record volume of mail-in voting expected this year.

LaRose and other Ohio officials have recommended that voters planning to vote by mail request their ballots as soon as they are able. County elections offices are accepting applications now, and the first wave of blank ballots are expected to go out in October.

Otherwise, Ohio offers 28 days of early, in-person voting. Traditional, in-person voting also will be available on Election Day.

Maggie Sheehan, a LaRose spokeswoman, said LaRose “has been preparing ways to mitigate potential delays in election mail even before the Ohio primary ended.”

This week, LaRose sought to reassure Ohioans that the state’s system of mail-in voting would be secure and reliable, and said he and his wife plan to vote by mail themselves.

LaRose had asked the state legislature to move the deadline to request an absentee ballot to 10 days before Election Day, and also sought to allow voters to request an application online, instead of the current system, which requires them to sign a paper form and deliver it to their county elections office. Online ballot applications would relieve pressure on the mail system, and save voters the trouble of finding a stamp or printing a ballot.

But the state legislature declined to act. The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit in Franklin County that seeks to force the state to allow voters to request an absentee ballot application online.

“This is just more evidence that the Ohio General Assembly has shirked its responsibility of updating our election systems based on changes to the mail service and concerns around COVID-19,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan voter advocacy group.

Forty-five other states received similar letters from the USPS, the Washington Post reported.

Ohio elections officials are projecting a record volume of mail-in votes this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a typical year, around 20% of voters have voted by mail in Ohio. LaRose has said that number could reach 50%.

Voting by mail, and the postal system’s capacity to process mail, has become a hot-button political issue this year as more states have expanded mail voting as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump repeatedly has claimed, without evidence, that expanded mail-in voting could lead to widespread fraud, while also calling into question the elections protocols of states planning universal ballot mailings.

Concerns have heightened among Democrats, meanwhile, that Trump is trying to sabotage the post office to prevent mail votes from being processed. Other states, including neighboring Pennsylvania, have reported severe mail delays tied to staffing shortages and budget cuts.

Studies have shown that voter fraud is statistically rare, including several recent reviews by Republican Ohio secretaries of state.

Ohio conducted its first nearly all-mail vote earlier this year, after Gov. Mike DeWine effectively postponed the planned March 17 primary election day due to the coronavirus pandemic. Elections officials reported mail delays, particularly in the Toledo area. USPS officials attributed the delays to issues with a sorting facility in Detroit, and said election mail will be sorted in-state for the November election.

Here’s the 2-page letter from the USPS to LaRose:

https://www.cleveland.com/open/2020/08/ohio-among-states-warned-by-us-postal-service-that-mail-deadlines-could-disenfranchise-voters.html

One Response to “Going Postal Over Voting By Mail, Voting In Person, Early Voting, Voter ID, And Many More Confusing Things”

  1. […] I have previously written about these, and other voting-related matters and problems on Friday, Augu… […]

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