Let’s make mail-in ballots permanent

Congress should use its authority over the “times, places and manner” of federal elections to standardize procedures for collecting and processing mail ballots.



December 15, 2020 - 10:28 AM

Ballot boxes are a convenient way for citizens to vote. Photo by Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images/TNS

Though it may be hard to imagine now, sometime in the not distant future, the emergency measures adopted this year to control the spread of COVID-19 will no longer be necessary. But California would benefit by keeping at least one of them in place for good: mailing a ballot to every active registered voter in the state.

When it became clear this spring that the pandemic was not likely to end before the Nov. 3 election, lawmakers acted to ensure that all active registered voters in California could participate without risking infection. Counties were directed to mail ballots to all voters, whether they requested one or not, and, with an onslaught of mail ballots expected, were allowed to start processing ballots extra early. The state also extended the grace period for mailed-in ballots to 17 days.

It was a wise move that paid off. By all measures, the Nov. 3 election in California was held successfully, despite all the wild-eyed stories and false tales of mail ballot fraud spread by the president and his loyalists. (In the end, the only potential large-scale voting fraud in California was perpetrated by the California Republican Party, which set up dozens of phony ballot drop boxes in violation of state law. )

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