October 15, 2020 - Thursday
Ballots 2020: Going Postal Has Its Downsides
October 15, 2020
It was an unexpected headline, especially from the New York Times. Biden, it warned, "is not out of the woods." Democrats may not be prematurely celebrating to the level of Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the stories about potential Cabinet picks and wildly lopsided poll numbers have eerie similarities to four years ago. The result, the Times warns, may also bear an uncanny resemblance. The bottom line? Don't go measuring the White House's drapes just yet.
Like FRC Action's Matt Carpenter, the Times is paying close attention to the voter registration numbers. The Cook Political Report's David Wasserman, they point out, says that "Republicans have swamped Democrats in adding new voters to the rolls, a dramatic GOP improvement over 2016... Florida, since the state's March primary, added 195,652 Republicans and 98,362 Democrats. Pennsylvania, since June, Republicans plus 135,619, Democrats up 57,985. North Carolina, since March, Republicans up 83,785 to Democrats 38,137. In Arizona, the exception, "Democrats out-registered Republicans 31,139 to 29,667" in recent months.
Also worrisome for liberals, Thomas Edsall notes, is that Biden is getting weaker among Hispanic Catholics and African-American women. Combined with the strong support for Trump among evangelical Christians, and the election just got a lot more interesting than the major polling houses are telling us.
Another thing to watch, political strategists are realizing, is this whole mail-in voting scheme. While states race to put out ballot fraud fires and other election errors, some Democrats are starting to worry that this push for voting remotely could backfire. While the headlines about general incompetence are troubling -- 28,879 voters in Pennsylvania were sent the wrong ballots this week -- that's just a microcosm of the bigger problem.
This heavy reliance on mail-in ballot also exposes another vulnerability for the Left, Newsweek's Jonathan Tobin argues, and that's the number of votes that will be incorrectly cast and automatically disqualified. "Democrats may believe that moving to mail-in ballots expands the electorate and increases their vote totals. Yet by making themselves so dependent on absentee rather than in-person voting, they have also made themselves vulnerable to having a significant proportion of their votes go uncounted." It's not just that ballots go missing (as more than 28 million have since 2012), it's that the ones that do arrive are ruled ineligible.
"A study published in USA Today showed that in 2016 as many as 315,651 ballots were rejected by authorities nationwide. Given the closeness of the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton, in which fewer than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin gave Trump his Electoral College victory, that's a significant number. The authors point out that the number of rejected ballots in 2020 could be as high as 1,030,700, given the higher number of votes cast by mail. But they admit that the actual number could be higher still, since the vast majority of those availing themselves of the opportunity to vote by mail will be doing so for the first time."
That's especially troubling for Democrats, who are twice as likely to vote by mail-in ballot than Republicans (40 percent to 20 percent). Adding to those woes, a number of researchers say that Democratic voters "seem to be more likely than Republicans to make the sorts of mistakes that could disqualify their ballots. "Any ballot sent in with the wrong address or name -- rather than a corrected one that we're told voters will eventually receive -- won't be counted. Ballots wrongly marked "military" will be counted, but many citizens won't use them. This could result in widespread disenfranchisement."
Even states, Tobin writes, that have been doing all mail-in voting for years still reject about 1 in every 100 ballots. in an election that will almost certainly be decided by razor-thin margins, that's a frightening thought for either side -- but especially, more headlines are starting to suggest, the Left. Democrats wanted to exploit the pandemic and change the voting system for good. But increasingly, the message is this: Be careful what you wish for.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.