The Real Objection To Vote By Mail

I have some truly brilliant Facebook friends who regularly enlighten me.

For example, I have been puzzled by the degree of opposition displayed by Trump Republicans to voting by mail. The research shows pretty conclusively that vote by mail  doesn’t benefit either party (although it does increase turnout, and there are those who believe that larger turnout benefits Democrats.) It just seemed odd that the Trumpers would get so hysterical– and spend so much time and energy– fighting mail-in ballots.

Now I understand.

One of my Facebook Friends is David Honig, an Indiana lawyer whose posts are always informed and perceptive. However, his post this week–in which he answered the “why” question–was especially brilliant, because he cut through all the speculation and explained what is really motivating Republican opposition to vote by mail.

If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities telling them the election has been rescheduled, or their polling place changed, won’t work.

If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities on election day, telling voters to relax, the Democrat has already won, won’t work.

If people mail in their votes, calling out the “Militia” to intimidate voters won’t work.

If people mail in their votes, a “random” road block near a black neighborhood on election day won’t work.

If people mail in their votes, closing down the polling places in predominantly black neighborhoods, and leaving the only polling place miles from the populace, without any public transportation, won’t work.

As David argues–pretty persuasively– this isn’t about managing expectations, or creating an argument about errors in the vote in the event of a close Trump loss. This is about Republicans not being able to use their usual tactics– their time-honored strategies to suppress minority turnout on election day–to eke out a win. (The links will take you to recent examples of those tactics.)

GOP opposition is about the fact that vote-by-mail would eliminate most of the cheating we actually see every election.

As one of my sons pointed out in a comment, an additional problem Republicans have with voting by mail is that it returns the system to good old-fashioned paper. Voting by mail, with paper ballots, eliminates concerns about computer hacking and (with many of the newer voting machines) the lack of paper backup.

With “vote by mail” there is a paper trail that can be checked for accuracy in the event of a dispute or recount.

Ironically, it turns our that the arguments about vote by mail actually are arguments about voter fraud– just not in the way Republicans are framing it.  Vote by mail is a way of preventing fraud–preventing games the GOP has perfected and played for years–preventing voter suppression tactics that are every bit as fraudulent as casting an unauthorized or impermissible ballot. When we talk about rigging an election, these are the methods that have been used for years to do the rigging.

Ultimately, vote by mail isn’t just about preventing the spread of disease, or about accommodating the schedules of working folks, or even about facilitating the casting of more thoughtful and considered ballots, although it will do all of those things. It’s about keeping elections honest.

I just didn’t see it before.

No wonder the Trumpublicans oppose it.


  1. Every word of this is the absolute truth…..rigging the election in favor of the POS POTUS is the supreme desire of the Republican party who supports this abomination of a presidential leader. He is the most ignorant person I have ever encountered in my six decades of life. He has ignored every tradition established by our country’s history, every aspect of tradition of the office of the presidency. His behavior on Memorial Day, his comments towards our veterans were despicable. But then he never served in the military, even though he attended a military school during his high school years, apparently he never learned any damn thing at that school. There is no one more hypocritical than this man, and those elected officials in both Houses of our government who allow him to continue on, are just as despicable to me as he is!

  2. Call me paranoid, but I actually think Trump is thrilled with this issue the democrats are pushing as it will provide him with the perfect excuse to refuse to except the election results. First it will take days to have a final count. During that time he will whip up his militia men, they will demonstrate and refuse to except the Voter fraud/“rigged“Election. Trump will declare a state of emergency as civil unrest becomes violent. And he will have the perfect excuse to refuse to accept the results. I am afraid we are handing him the best excuse to hang onto power that heCould ask for. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing and he is thrilled with all the distraction of this issue And is setting it up . It is a win-win For him.

  3. I don’t recall any recent efforts by Republicans in Indiana to put a stop to vote by mail for the primary. Is that because they believe the state is so red that they do not have to challenge it? Come Fall that may be a different story.

  4. Theresa – they didn’t exactly make it easy for people though. I never saw any way to submit that request online and I don’t have a printer so printing it required going somewhere and paying to get it printed.

    Not everyone can do that. It should have been automatically assumed that voting would be done 100% by paper this year.

  5. It would appear that the only way the Republicans can distort the count when people vote by mail is to use the technique they used in Georgia to elect Kemp as Governor. they compare the signature on the ballot to one on the application for a mail-in ballot, and arbitrarily say they are not the same. They do this even though no one in the state government has any experience looking at handwriting or signatures. I know that my signature varies, depending on the pen I am using, the height of the table the paper in on, how much of a hurry I am in to get the thing in the mail, etc. If the ballot counter looks at an address uses the zip code to adjust his scrutiny, that is voter suppression.

  6. Theresa Bowers, I get what you are saying, but the Primary is hardly the issue. I see the primary as Republican’s way of pinpointing voters’ choices. The November biggie is the one they want to suppress.

  7. The short-fingered vulgarian voted illegally, by mail, in Florida’s primary by listing Mar-a-Lago as his official residential address. Residential use of Mar-a-Lago is prohibited by the agreement the vulgarian signed with Palm Beach County in the 1990s when he converted it into a private club. Members, including the vulgarian, are allowed only 3 seven-day stays per year, and these can’t be run together.

    So, look for Republicans to suddenly embrace vote by mail and then fall back on another suppression tactic in addition to the others- voter roll purges in the name of compliance with HAVA requirements for accurate voter registration databases. Sometime just before voting by mail begins in your state, expect a “registration verification” card with a very short return deadline and a notice (in very tiny print, of course) that voters who fail to respond will be removed from the registration database and will not receive a mail-in ballot. By the time someone realizes they aren’t going to be able to vote by mail, it will be too late, and they’ll have to show up at the polls. If they can get there.

  8. Well, I do find it hilarious Sheila! And I mean hilarious in a sarcastic way.

    When you look at it, they have just adopted the Trumpian method! Or maybe, Donald Trump realized that the GOP method held more possibility for him to be president of the United States! After all, Donald Trump repeatedly lamented, “that he would not be qualified or allowed to run for president” because of his past behavior and opinions!

    So, birds always flock together, especially birds of a feather! You don’t see Hawks hanging out with Blue Jays, or Blue Jays hanging out with Crows, and on and on. Donald Trump is a perfect fit GOP flock, birds of a feather, birds that will hang together!

    The whole lying fiasco, has been rigged from the get-go. When you have those that constantly deflect on others what they themselves are actually guilty of, you know they are reading directly from that playbook! This link, is quite interesting, I’ve bookmarked it a while back, and it correlates perfectly with your Facebook Sheila!

    Another link that was just published, was from Snopes which explains it all quite well, they do good research that’s easily verified, and pretty much nail it!

    And we all remember the famous GOP voter fraud in the Mark Harris 9th Congressional District election, with all of the stuff going on, we tend to forget the Leslie McCrae Dowless shenanigans and his industrial sized voter fraud on behalf of the GOP!

    Every state has some sort of mail in or absentee balloting, and, the red states cannot ban this type of voting and still allow their GOP brethren access to mail-in ballots! So, they are in a bit of a bind!

  9. Pascal’s description of signature comparison as how Georgia purged votes brought to mind the movie from John Grisham’s book, “The Firm”. Tom Cruise saved his butt by remembering a little known and rarely used issue of Mail Fraud, a federal issue with convictions resulting in jail time and heavy fines. If denying the ballot signature against the application signature, they should have to prove this by legally investigating and charging each voter with Mail Fraud for using the United States Postal Service to mail-in ballots. Was there any legal action taken to support the voter denial mess in Georgia which cost Stacy Abrams the gubernatorial election? Will local Post Office be subjected to heavily armed protesters during the elections?

  10. If you check the recent history of voter fraud cases, they appear to be primarily Republican. We used to have a saying that describes this issue: “He who smelt it, dealt it.”

  11. If you look at many of the outrages by Trump and the Republicans, it’s quite Shakesperean in nature. I can think of numerous examples from voter suppression, terrorism, fake news, gay issues, religion, COVID19 origins, etc.

    From Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

    Or, as Peggy put it, the guilty party always tries to cast blame or suspicion on others. There’s another version that says, “If you’re pointing a finger at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

    Quite frankly, this is very pervasive in our society at the moment. When the State Department and Trump are both yelling loudly that the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, then you might consider it a red flag and want to take a closer look. Especially when they don’t have any evidence to back up their claims.

  12. When taking a closer look behind every rock, guess what we can find:

    “The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.

    The project announced it was spending $250,000 in advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida, and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action.”

  13. Sheila, you mentioned that “the links will take you to recent examples of those tactics”. Please check the links to make sure they are correct and working. I just tried them and got a “Page not found” error on every one of them.
    I know anyone who doubts that these things are going on will say “Show me the proof”, so I like to be prepared.

  14. Melissa,

    I believe my wife and I requested our mail in ballots online, so there was a way to do it – though it escapes me now where we did that.

    I will say that when I received my paper ballot I noticed that it was still dated for the original May election day. Since the rules say “the ballot must be received prior to the date listed” and they didn’t even send the ballots to us until after that day – looks like we have to vote in person. Wouldn’t want to risk our votes not counting, even in a primary.

  15. Sheila, it would help me if you would provide a link to Mr. Honig’s original comment on Facebook so we could read the entire thing. I’ve been to his page (I’m a follower now) and can’t find anything newer than May 14–I wonder if it was removed.

  16. Here is David’s original post, with link:

    Good evening, folks. You know all those conversation we’re having about mail-in voting? The ones where some people say it’s all about Trump setting us up so he can say he didn’t really lose, and other people say it’s all about enabling voting fraud by mail? You’ve read those conversation, right?
    They’re bullshit.
    Let me tell you what it’s really about.
    It’s really about enabling voting fraud.
    Here’s why:
    If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities telling them the election has been rescheduled, or their polling place changed, won’t work.…/virginia-voters-get-mysterious-…/
    If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities on election day, telling to relax, the Democrat already done, won’t work.…/bs-md-shurick-trial-20111129…
    If people mail in their votes, calling out the “Militia” to intimidate voters won’t work.…/militia-group-calls-on-me…/
    If people mail in their votes, a “random” road block near a black neighborhood on election day won’t work.…/contesting-vote-black-voters-arri…
    If people mail in their votes, closing down the polling places in predominantly black neighborhoods, and leaving the only polling place miles from the populace, without any public transportation, won’t work.…/midterm-elections-cl…/1774221002/
    Folks, this isn’t about managing expectations, or creating an argument. This is about Republicans not being able to use all of their evil tricks, their hate-filled manipulations on election day, to win. It’s about the fact that vote-by-mail eliminates most of the voting fraud we actually see every election.
    Stop kidding yourself. This is about the bank robbers complaining about the locks on the vault.
    Once you realize that, you’ll understand what the debate is really about.”

  17. I just tried one of the links, and Sam is correct–the story was no longer there. I don’t know what happened–I used them initially and they worked then. Anyone have an explanation?

  18. Sheila,
    It’s called intellectual suppression!

    More shenanigans, I guarantee it!

    Also, everything was working fine for me while I posted my comments this morning, now, all of my information was erased, it took me a while to reload and log it all back in.

    Marv and I were talking about this very thing, somebody is paying attention!

  19. As clear as it is now that Trump’s mental state is deteriorating as it becomes more and more apparent that he and Trumpublicans are being outsmarted by a virus, what paranoia will Election Day bring?

  20. Absolutely true! Voting by mail allows the currently disenfranchised to actually have a say in our government, and of course 45 and the GOP don’t want that. There are ONLY good reasons to vote by mail. No downside.

  21. Folks – in case you don’t believe this stuff…I was a DEM volunteer in Columbus, Ohio on election day, 2004. “Official announcements” were put up in Black barber shops, grocers, hairdressers, etc. that election day had been changed…

    Columbus that day helped that narrow POTUS result mightily….

  22. Lester,
    Oh, I’m a believer brother! By the way, did you happen to see the video of that cop putting his knee on the neck of that black brother in Minnesota? If you did, look at it again while the guy is pleading for his life because, as the brother was exhorting, “I can’t breathe,” the cop was actually smirking along with the other one standing next to him while he kept his knee on the guy’s neck. What was the point? That’s why those coppers have handcuffs and squad cars designed to hold suspects. Dig into the background of these clowns, I guarantee they’re connected with some of those right-wing militias up there in Minnesota.

  23. I have been voting by mail absentee for years. I worked at the polls for years. I never encountered anyone trying to cheat. The poll workers were very helpful and scrupulous in going about their jobs.

    Their should be Federal Laws that control elections when there are elections to Federal Offices. We cannot have piles of ballots in boxes waiting weeks to be counted. The system needs to be efficient. One thing the mail-in or absentee ballots must NOT be entrusted to contractors to collect or deliver – Must be through US Mail.

    The Reactionary Right Wing Trumpter’s now do not trust the Post Office. They post pictures of boxes of mail and allege they are ballots in California, etc., that have not been counted, to show the system of mail-in voting is a failure and ripe for fraud.

    The other scenario they post, is: You stand in line at a big box store or grocery store, you can stand in line to vote too. They seem to conveniently you can order products by mail and skip the store lines, or have groceries delivered to your door.

  24. Nothing untoward. The links that you posted have “…” in them. That’s replacing a bit of necessary text in the real web address. It’ll probably work fine if you post the full link.

  25. I am very concerned. Why is every link that Sheila offered, from various sources, blocked? How is this accomplished? Is there someone out there capable of finding the answer and determining who is responsible?

  26. The notion that the opposition to vote by mail is part of some master Trump plan assumes Trump is way more intelligent than he actually is.

    So much of this “voter suppression” stuff is nonsense. Like Republicans closing down voting locations in urban African-American communities…local people in virtually every state of the union decide the location of polling places. Those elected local people are almost always Democrats. Likewise, in other pieces, cleaning up voter registration rolls by purging non-voters is often cited as a “voter suppression tactic when such actions are required by law and virtually no one who is purged for not voting for several years still lives at the address they are registered and most likely reside in a cemetery. I won’t even get into the other far-fetched voter suppression scenarios suggested in my esteemed colleagues’ correspondence.

    FYI, D’s constantly and falsely crying “voter suppression” means that when actual vote suppression happens like the Wisconsin GOP forcing voters to go to the polls in the middle of a pandemic, Democrats’ claims aren’t taken seriously. Democrats would be well advised to be more judicious in their claims of voter suppression.

    Let me suggest a much more believable reason for why Trump is so anti-voting by mail…he want to undermine the legitimacy of an election he likely is going to lose, and possibly lose very badly. After the election, Trump is going to argue the election was stolen from him and point to the large number of mailed ballots. Trump’s rhetoric is laying the groundwork to do exactly that.

    Of course, that brings me back to the assumption that Trump is clever and launching this major strategy to de-legitimize the election. Given that we know Trump is not intelligent and not clever, quite likely he’s just taking verbal swipes at a shiny object – vote by mail – he sees.

  27. Madison threw a bone to the states with his constitutional gift of being in charge of elections, even federal ones, fortified two years later with another gift to the states of the 10th Amendment which sealed the deal that the federal government is one of delegated powers. Apparently today states have all such powers unless in contravention of federal constitutional rights (see Bush v. Gore, which I think was wrongly decided and which triggered by resignation from the Supreme Court bar). I thought and still think that state supreme courts are courts of last resort in voting matterrs under the Constitution, but trouble is, it is federal courts which decide whether voting irregularities in a particular state warrant federal intervention. Tsk!

  28. Paul – It wouldn’t matter the pretext; Trump will insist that the election was stolen whether at the polls, in the mail, or whatever and however, so let’s not worry about what tactic he will choose. As for his success in delegitimizing the electoral result, not to worry, since as a private citizen he has no more right to occupy the Oval Office than I have, and I fully expect Secret Service personnel to stand aside while federal marshals remove him from the Oval Office, if necessary. Then the real fun begins as civil suits and perhaps indictments (or perhaps his institutionalization in some mental facility) become the new internet sensations.

  29. “Paul – It wouldn’t matter the pretext; Trump will insist that the election was stolen whether at the polls, in the mail, or whatever and however, so let’s not worry about what tactic he will choose. ”

    That is absolutely true. Trump could lose all 50 states and he would still claim the election was stolen. And you know what? His cult followers would believe him. It would be helpful on the latter though if he was laying groundwork for the claim. Again, any claim though that Trump is launching some brilliant strategy is highly unlikely. The one consistent thing about Donald Trump is that he is a spectacularly stupid man. The University of Pennsylvania (an Ivy League school) should have its credentials pulled for admitting Trump and giving him a diploma.

  30. Hard to believe that the Russies and their ilk aren’t well on their way to manipulating info for the election. Sheila’s links might be the tip of their iceberg.

  31. Excellent post. New perspective. Those aren’t the only reasons GOP opposes voting by mail. But they are some I had not thought about. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Here are the corrected links:
    If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities on election day, telling to relax, the Democrat already done, won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, calling out the “Militia” to intimidate voters won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, a “random” road block near a black neighborhood on election day won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, closing down the polling places in predominantly black neighborhoods, and leaving the only polling place miles from the populace, without any public transportation, won’t work.

  33. Here are the correct links

    If people mail in their votes, robocalls to black communities on election day, telling to relax, the Democrat already done, won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, calling out the “Militia” to intimidate voters won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, a “random” road block near a black neighborhood on election day won’t work.

    If people mail in their votes, closing down the polling places in predominantly black neighborhoods, and leaving the only polling place miles from the populace, without any public transportation, won’t work.

    There was no conspiracy to hide them all.

  34. Any Republican who opposes “no reason necessary” mail-in voting in November in Indiana who is not already on the record in opposition to the primary election process exposes themselves to be the partisan hack that they are.

  35. I have been wondering why all the hysteria about mail in voting and now it is clear that the real reason is that offense has gotten better than defense and they want to change the rules. Let us get this out!

  36. Thank you for the perspective, Sheila. This makes a lot of sense. While I don’t give Trump any credit for strategy, I do believe that his backers and the GOP establishment are strategic in their thinking.

    I see this as one of three reasons, and probably the most important in the short run. This is a desperate attempt by the GOP leaders to try to retain some power after the 2020 elections.

    The second reason is clearly Trump’s ego. He can be encouraged to hop on board the anti-absentee ballot train by appeals to his vanity. If he loses, it is voter fraud; if he wins, his win would have been huge if it wasn’t for voter fraud.

    The third reason, I think, may be long term. Clearly this isn’t a Trump thought, but it probably is the thinking of some of his backers who desperately want to remain in power. If easy absentee voting prevails, an all-mail vote may follow. Add in easy registration and we might have more participation. I know some believe that we already have large participation and lazy people shouldn’t vote, but easy registration and easy voting could lead to increased participation. Large turnouts have always favored Democrats. It is the unspoken idea that if every eligible citizen voted (more likely the easier it is made to register and vote), the current version of the GOP would see their power crumble.

    I do have a prejudice here. Back in 1972, my brother engineered a mail-in election to put Perry Bullard into the state legislature from Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Michigan courts had just ruled that students could register where they wanted, so a large registration campaign was mounted, with requests for absentee ballots. Michigan primaries are held in August when students (and factory workers) are usually on vacation. Being a “blue” district, the primary was everything. Perry was slightly behind in the in-person vote. The absentee ballots (counted separately) came back in large numbers, with about a 10 to 1 preference for Perry. He held that seat until 1993 when he retired from the legislature. Strategic use of absentee voting can have a large effect.

  37. A headline story on NPR this morning was about Trump’s mail in voter fraud tweets were tagged by Twitter as being false or misleading, and a link was given with factual information.

    Of course Trump’s response a few hours later, was that these companies are going to be shut down and face stiff regulation. They “violated his first amendment rights” to free speech. It is about time.

  38. Yes, the virus created some issues with the voting process. I have worked at my Indiana county election board for 11 years now, so I am familiar with the process.

    The State did create a site – – where voters could go and do everything online – no printer needed. The voter was asked the same questions as those on the paper application. Once completed, the voter was issued a confirmation number that his or her submission was successful. The State then sent it to us at the local level – often in a few seconds – to prepare the ballot and send it out.

    As to the envelope still having the May 5th date, these are standardized forms printed ahead of the election. No one foresaw that a virus would cause the May 5th primary to be delayed. Thus, the ABS-6 envelopes were not reprinted. Our office printed slips of paper to be placed in the ballots advising of the June 2nd primary.

    Another reason that I believe the Republicans do not want mail-in in voting in Indiana is that it doesn’t require a photo ID. We verify the same way we did for decades – using a signature and matching the person’s DOB and registration address to information in our state database.

  39. Charlotte,
    I am curious, I have seen the voter registration book, and the signature they have on file for me was from when I was 18 years old, 1980. Some 40 years later, it has changed a lot. Is that going to cause me problems when I try to vote via mail?

  40. I would love to share this article, but not a single one of the links to what you are saying works. Each one goes to a page with “Page Not Found”. You need to fix your links if you want to be taken seriously.

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