By State Rep. Jim Townsend
The American voting system can best be described as one voter-one vote. In recent weeks, Congressional Democrats have been pushing a national mail-in vote scheme as part of any new coronavirus relief bill, arguing that because of the pandemic it is unsafe to require Americans to vote in person. This effort greatly harms the sanctity of every person’s vote.
This is the second time this year that a national mail-in vote is being pushed by Democrat leaders across the country, including here in New Mexico. The ballot harvesting that took place in Florida’s last election is a strong argument against mail-in voting.
After this year’s 30-day legislative session ended, the secretary of state asked the Supreme Court to ignore the protections in New Mexico’s election law and allow her to send ballots to the last available address of every registered voter in the state. The Supreme Court refused this request.
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The Supreme Court encouraged the secretary instead to increase an absentee voter effort, which has in place more ballot protections.
Most voters don’t realize that absentee voting is very different than the all mail-in proposal that was argued before the court.
The all mail-in system sends a ballot to the last known address of a registered voter. Unfortunately, this information is highly unreliable since people move and forget to re-register at their new address. This will cause tens of thousands of ballots to be sent to the wrong addresses.
Who knows if the incorrect mailings will be thrown in the trash, returned as undeliverable or if the current residents will just fill out the ballots that they received in their mailboxes? This is the worst way to run an election if you care about the voter integrity and voters’ rights being protected.
Current absentee laws have an established process for getting ballots to the voters where they actually live. This process requires the voter requesting a ballot be sent to their home, if for some reason they are unable or just don’t want to vote in person. This process also allows a voter to update or change their registration that very same day.
Even this process can’t guarantee that their vote will actually be counted. After the June 2 election votes were counted, over 1,300 votes were received too late to be processed. Anything that is sent by mail relies on the timeliness and accuracy of the mail system.
Absentee voting, during the middle of a pandemic threat, was still the best option for many New Mexicans who were worried about voting in person at a voting location. Still, the only way to guarantee that your vote is properly registered is to vote early or on election-day at a certified and monitored voting site.
The June primary election was safely accomplished with social distancing and face-covering measures in place during the middle of the COVID-19 threat. There is absolutely no reason for an all mail-in voting system to be put in place when New Mexico voters can request a ballot be sent to them if they have any reason not to vote in person.
Since the governor, the secretary of state and all of your elected legislators know that tens of thousands of ballots will be sent to the wrong addresses, why in the hell are they trying to push through this reckless voting measure that will defraud thousands of New Mexican voters?
Is one voter-one vote a thing of the past? Could it be that some politicians actually want a system that allows for votes to be cast illegally? You need to decide that for yourself.
State Rep. Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, is Republican leader of the New Mexico House of Representatives. The views expressed are those of the author.