Alison Jones: Mail-in voting works

by Alison Jones

Pima County GOP Chairman David Eppihimer railed against mail-in ballots in a recent Op-Ed (“The left’s all-mail voting fantasy must be put to rest,” April 25). While Eppihimer is parroting Trump dogma, most voters — including most Republicans — disagree. Eppihimer’s arguments against all-mail voting are deeply flawed. Let us count the ways:

This article first appeared in the Arizona Daily Star.

First, he insists that a once-in-a-century pandemic should not change our voting system. Why not? Tradition for its own sake is a lame justification for anything.

People used to have to travel to participate in a census. And some people thought the Pony Express was worthy of saving. They were wrong too. Eppihimer seems to think that “voter convenience” is insufficient justification for all-mail voting. He’s wrong. Voting is a right.

Exercising our rights should be as convenient as possible, by definition. Americans in every generation have given their lives for the rights we enjoy.

We should not have to continue fighting for those rights.

Eppihimer says that voters should be clamoring for a return to in-person voting with absentee ballots available only to those with a “valid excuse.” This is a shop-worn ruse to deny voters access to the ballot.

The U.S. Constitution says nothing about the mechanics of voting. Reverting to all in-person voting reflects, at best, a profound lack of understanding of how many Americans live today, with unpredictable work schedules and the gig economy, transportation, health, and mobility issues.

Let’s remember something important here: some 75% of Pima voters, including Eppihimer, are registered to vote by mail on the Permanent Early Voting List, known as PEVL.

This, in itself, does not make vote-by-mail right. But these facts do: Voters appreciate that our Pima County Recorder’s Office offers ballot tracing so they can monitor the status of their mail-in ballots. Voters like having ballots early so they can research the candidates and initiatives they are being asked to consider. And thrifty Pima County voters like the cost savings.

Pima County achieves all of this with no loss of election integrity. Despite the unfounded “what-if” scenarios accusing the postal service, “ballot harvesters” and other bogeymen of ballot tampering, the Brennan Center for Justice reports that despite dramatic increases in mail voting over time, fraud rates remain infinitesimally small.

None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter-fraud scandals since making that change.

The New York Times notes that vote-by-mail states “have encountered essentially zero fraud: Oregon, the pioneer in this area, has sent out more than 100 million mail-in ballots since 2000, and has documented only about a dozen cases of proven fraud.” That’s 0.0000001% of all votes cast.

The author’s arguments lead me to only one conclusion: The Republican party is against mail-in voting because they fear that making voting more accessible will hurt their candidates.

Eppihimer asks, “What price democracy?” But I argue what he is really asking is, “How can we impose as much hardship on Americans as possible so they will give up on voting?”

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