If you read this column from time to time, you may have learned that I am not a fan of the president. This is America, we can all have our own opinions. I’m just not a fan.
But every now and then he makes a good point.
Last week he floated the idea of moving November’s election. I think that is a terrible idea. We have our elections in this country on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. There is no reason to move the election.
But consistent with the standard that we have our elections on the first Monday after the first Tuesday in November is the corollary that we know our results of the election on the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November.
If we are going to have elections that we trust, we need to know the results in a timely manner.
On this point, I agree with the president. When he floated the idea of moving the election, one of his concerns was that he did not want Americans waiting weeks or months to know who won it.
My fervent hope is that our current president does not win it. But if he does, I’d like to know on November 4 or 5.
One of the reasons that many folks still like this president is because he speaks to their sensibilities. We all know that it is probably more dangerous this year to stand in a crowd waiting to vote. We also know that wearing a mask and keeping our hands clean significantly mitigates that risk.
Mail-in voting would completely eliminate the risk of being forced to stand in a crowd and waiting to vote. But it would significantly increase the risk that a significant portion of our population would doubt the results of the election when they get presented weeks or months after the vote occurs.
This is where I agree with the president. That risk is far greater than the mitigated risk of standing in a line waiting to vote.
Our elected officials have known about the risks of in-person voting for four months now. There are obvious ways to minimize the risk. Early voting is one of them. Assigned or appointment voting times are another. A national holiday weekend allowing voting to occur over four days between Friday and Monday prior to November 3 would also eliminate wait times and risk.
In addition, officials could increase the number of voting precincts in concentrated areas to lessen the number of folks that have to turn out in a particular place to vote.
And finally, for those folks who cannot get to a polling place during standard voting times, absentee ballots could continue to be the last alternative in those limited circumstances as they have always been.
I am a reasonable guy. And I know that absentee ballot fraud has occurred before. Some of you reading this column can remember 1986 when Toby Moffett ran against Governor Bill O’Neill in a primary. Fraud was rampant. Ten people were arrested on 94 criminal counts of absentee ballot fraud. It was ugly. It wasn’t the first time there were doubts about absentee ballot voting in Waterbury.
There are a number of ways to decrease COVID-risk while also ensuring the integrity of November’s election. We may be a little late in the game, but it is time for our elected officials to take action.