Louisiana citizens over the age of 65 were happy to get word they could vote by mail, but some don’t like the way the system is working. I voted by mail for the first time and I didn’t like the requirement that I had to get someone to witness my signature on the return envelope.
I wasn’t the only one, either. A retired state employee from Church Point expressed his displeasure in a letter to The Advocate.
“I would have never signed up for the mail-in ballot if the letter from (Secretary of State Kyle) Ardoin’s office had listed the witness signature requirement,” the man said. “I went yesterday morning to Crowley. At the registrar of voter’s office, I canceled my mail-in ballot status and returned to my in-person voting status.”
The main worry, he said, was having to go out into his community to find a witness and the possibility of that person having the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, I knew my neighbors across the street were virus-free, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
While it might seem trivial to most folks, some voters didn’t like the note on the mail-in ballot that said the return envelope might require more postage. I put two stamps on the envelope just to be safe, but didn’t appreciate having to make that decision.
A retired Lake Charles employee said she was also upset about the witness requirement and she, her husband and about six of her good friends were convinced that the return envelope didn’t need but one stamp.
“So why do the envelopes say ‘may need additional postage?’ she asked. “If that is the case, which it is not, then the ballot should have a warning saying how much postage is necessary. Otherwise, no one would know how much is needed.”
The secretary of state’s office said the July 11 presidential primary produced multiple complaints from people who didn’t get their mail-in ballot, which is provided by the parish registrar of voters. Poll analyst John Couvillion told WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge that 4,000 votes in Orleans Parish weren’t properly delivered.
Couvillion said it is an issue that needs attention and demonstrates “one of the less than advantageous aspects of mail-in voting that I don’t think has really been covered a lot yet.”
Then, came the retired city employee’s explanation of why she thinks voting by mail is so difficult: “I know why they are requiring all those things. Trump and Louisiana Republicans who have firm control of the Legislature don’t like wearing masks and don’t trust mail-in voting.”
She is right on target there. The Legislature in May twice shot down legislation that would have expanded mail-in voting. Secretary of State Ardoin came up with an initial plan to expand mail-in voting, but it, too, was rejected. He had to come up with a more restrictive mail-in plan before lawmakers would approve it.
Some states have expanded voting by mail in efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic disease. All voters in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state could vote entirely by mail before the virus struck.
Trump and other Republicans claim that voting by mail would lead to voter fraud. However, a number of news reports said data has shown voter fraud is rare, especially when using mail-in ballots.
Conservative columnist George Will talked about the country’s handling of national elections and the coronavirus pandemic in a recent column titled, “This is what national decline looks like.”
Will said, “The 2020 presidential selection process began with Iowa’s shambolic Democratic caucuses, a result not of corruption but incompetence, an abundant commodity nowadays. It is scandalous that in many places casting a ballot requires hours of standing in line.”
America is pitied for the first time in its history, Will said, “and not without reason.” He added, “Last Sunday, Germany (population 80.2 million) had 159 new cases of COVID-19; Florida (population 21.5 million) had 15,300.”
Then came Will’s conclusion, which says it all well: “This nation built the Empire State Building, groundbreaking to official opening, in 410 days during the Depression, and the Pentagon in 16 months during wartime. Today’s less serious nation is unable to competently combat a pandemic, or even reliably conduct elections. This is what national decline looks like.”
It seems appropriate to add that the impressive 34-floor Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge was completed in 1932 after only 14 months at a cost of $5 million.
Like Will, many of us aren’t happy about the current turmoil in our country that is compounded by a pandemic that is out of control. We seem to have lost the individual and collective responsibility that made this a great nation.
Nowhere is that more evident than in the resistance of so many Americans to take the personal and collective actions necessary to get control of the coronavirus pandemic — wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands often.