Letter to the Editor: Mail-in voting: Should we think again?

COVID-19, which has the potential for death and a greater potential for “long-haul” permanent and incomplete recovery, makes mail-in voting a simple and attractive option.

However, reports have come out about mailed-in ballots not being counted because of errors, omissions and signature mismatches.

Opinions I have read so far, saying that mail-in voting is OK or not OK, were not reassuring either way to me. And reports in the media indicate that different states have vastly different requirements (some need a witness signature and even notarization).

A big question is about the person judging the compliance of the ballot received from you. Were your checkmarks correct? Were all lines filled in absolutely correctly and compliantly? And, maybe most importantly, does the signature match that on file?

Signature mismatch is a big problem, and articles have appeared that say many ballots in the past were rejected because signatures on ballots were judged to not match a signature on file.

I know that sometimes my own signature is sufficiently unlike that at other times. An internet search on signature forgery detection accuracy showed many references to accuracies of 75% to 95% from handwriting experts in controlled experiments. How many ballot-counters are handwriting experts? Do they get forensic training? Do they pass a handwriting test? Are computer systems used?

What assurance do we have that the ballot-counting operation does not include political bias-induced ballot rejection on the part of ballot-counters?

The National Conference of State Legislators reported that only 19 states notify the voter of a ballot rejection and offer an opportunity to revote or correct the rejected ballot. I saw the list, and Delaware was not on it. Time factors and deadlines were not given.

Other uncertainties are additional delays caused by recent sorting machine shutdowns and the effect of reassigned or displaced senior U.S. Postal Service officials by recent Donald Trump-appointed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, who is politically pro-Trump and also has commercial conflicts of interest.

Since I was a kid, elections were supposed to be secret. Nobody but you and anyone you told was to know how you voted. On a mail-in ballot, your name and how you vote will be visible to everyone who handles your ballot. That information could be easily captured by digital camera and sold or traded or used in other ways. What laws guarantee or warrant your privacy? What checks and balances are there on these processes?

Political litigation has exploded — in both directions — during the Trump administration. Trump continually issues rock-the-boat statements. And in two interviews, he declined to promise he would not challenge the election result if he lost. Thus, the election is already partly destabilized. An internet search returns links to many in-progress lawsuits over mail-in ballots.

Maybe the choice comes to this: Do you want Trump to be reelected or to take your chances with COVID-19 by voting in person?

Arthur E. Sowers