Drawbacks of vote by mail

Ana Mercedes Díaz

When a person is going to exercise his Right to Vote, because he meets the requirements demanded by the Electoral Law (Legal Vote), he generally presents himself physically at the place where he is going to vote; he identifies himself to verify that it is the same person that has the Right to Vote; then he is given a ballot or he is directed to the place where a voting machine is and in a “secret” way without anyone being able to “coerce” him, he proceeds to vote.

The identification of the voter, the secrecy of the vote and the impossibility of pressing him are fundamental requirements in any electoral process.

Absentee or Remote Voting is one where the voter cannot physically appear to exercise their right to vote, either for military, consular, medical or economic reasons. It was created in its origins as an exception, due to very specific circumstances, and having rigorous standards to comply with.

Voting by Mail is part of the Absentee Voting modality, since the voter does not appear to vote physically but receives and returns the vote by mail. Lately the requirements for its exercise have been “reduced” so much that there are States that send ballots by mail without even having been requested by the voter.

Trading certainty and reliability for convenience or economy is not exactly a breakthrough.

● Identification of the Voter: Unlike the face-to-face vote where there is a perfect identification of who is voting, without major complications, in the case of Voting by Mail even DNA tests should be used when there are suspicions of manipulation since it is very difficult to determine that whoever received the ballot by mail and vote is the holder of the right to vote. Recent case we have that in Maricopa County in the State of Arizona where it was proven that more than 23,000 vote-by-mail ballots were sent to previous addresses. We would have to ask ourselves: who received the ballots and who voted? Were they the true holders of the Right to Vote? Was there any manipulation?

● Secret of the vote and Coercion: Currently within the great achievements that electoral systems have is the protection that people are given to exercise their vote in a free and secret way which is why at the time of voting they are given an isolated space to do it thus preventing any kind of pressure.

In the case of Vote by Mail, it cannot be established with certainty that there is no form of coercion, forcing the voter to vote for someone other than his preference.

It is good to remember that in the 2016 US presidential election, approximately 33 million votes were cast by mail, and some States gave the following reasons for rejecting mail-in ballots:
– Non-matching signatures
– Voting deadline not met
– No signature
– Without signature of witnesses
– Deceased voters
– Vote in person
– First time voter without proper identification

It has been said before “… Misconduct in the voting by mail process is significantly more prevalent than misconduct in the in-person voting process …”

We have argued on several occasions that every electoral system must be subject to the principles of legality, reliability, transparency, objectivity, impartiality, certainty and publicity that guarantee its proper development as well as the protection of the will of the voters and the credibility of its results.

As we can see Vote by Mail contradicts some of these principles and its indiscriminate implementation and lack of controls threatens the integrity of the elections.

“The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author”.