Yep, I Did

I watched it. I want to talk about mail-in ballots vs. absentee ballots instead, but duty calls.

I sat in a bathtub, had a few beers, and watched that Zoom call. I figured doing it that way gave me the option to drown if the Zoom call became too painful. You know what? I actually liked the roll call of states, except Texas. I expected big hats and the Alamo and got El Paso protest mural activism. Texas ain’t going Joe Biden now.

I’m confused about how the Northern Marianas Islands cast a vote when the vote was scheduled for August 18th and they were already August 19th, but we’ll let that pass. It was well done.

But forgive me — you want me to vote for Biden and trot out all the Democrats and Republicans who have collectively screwed up American foreign policy for the last twenty years ignoring an emboldened communist Chinese regime and an aggressive Russian regime? You people screwed up our foreign policy, weakened us, apologized for our might, and want us to vote for Biden?

Nope.

Clinton was Clinton and we disagree on a lot, but the man still has a level of political charisma. He knew he needed to make the job application case and I thought he did a good job, but wow has he aged and he is still younger than Biden!

The Carter bit was sad. You heard them but did not see them. You can tell they have hit the age of uncertainty beyond the day. It is sad.

The Jill Biden stuff was strategically brilliant. Donald and Melania Trump do not have that sort of relationship and, frankly, given the age disparity, it’d probably gross people out to see them behave like the Bidens. But that is for the Bidens to capitalize on. I think they’re going to try to make this the Joe and Jill Show with a side of Kamala and I suspect it is going to be effective for suburban women, i.e. the President’s “suburban housewives” who really aren’t fans of the idea of seeing husbands cavorting with their third wives.

The GOP needs to figure out a way to shine more — I suggest live audiences if they can. I still think the President from the South Lawn is a bad and unimaginative idea. The roll call of the states gives the GOP something to consider.

The President needs Bill Shine doing this.

One last note before getting to ballots.

I actually think the Bidens are nice people. Spare me your outrage about how their sins are worse than your own so they are terrible bad people or they have a political position or did something you hate so you hate them. You don’t know them. You are a sinner too. I speak at the civil, civic level where Americans of different politics should be able to be kind to one another. You’re a giant sinner too so spare me.

They are nice people. I know military families the Bidens have helped and they have implored these families to stay quiet lest their private help is seen as political. They were sincere in offering help and I find that deeply commendable. You won’t see these families on the campaign trail. None of them are Democrats. But I suspect they’ll all vote for the Bidens because they dearly love them for their help.

I am a sucker for the stories never told on both sides of the aisle and I like to know that people I may fiercely disagree with politically are still people who’d give someone the shirt off their back if it’d help.

Jill Biden will be an asset on the trail. AOC will not. She did her level best to sabotage the brand last night. It was kind of funny to see.

Now, having reviewed last night, let’s get to the real big issue.

Mail In Ballots vs. Absentee Ballots

“Erickson,” you might ask, “why should I listen to you?”

Well, let me tell you a little story.

Two hours south of Atlanta, across the Flint River, and through pine stands hiding ten-point bucks and turkeys, sits Butler, Georgia in Taylor County. It’s a town with a NAAPA Auto Parts store, the back of which is the most awesome gun store you’ll ever encounter. Hollywood celebrities have flown down there to buy guns.

It is hot, has gnats, and has a small courthouse on the square with a Confederate soldier fixed in time above a pedestal facing North, ever vigilant until Cancel Culture arrives. Butler is home to the first and last cases I ever tried. My last case, in 2005, was a probate case that had been going on since 1905. The descendants of a sharecropper had kept their ancestor’s case in court so white men couldn’t steal the land and finally, someone wanted their acre of land to build on.

My first case involved the challenge of an election where the incumbent Clerk of Superior Court lost by nineteen votes.

You see, dear readers, I was an elections attorney and as a law student helped revised Georgia’s election law. I was only just out of law school and had not yet been sworn in officially, but my law firm roped me into the case because I knew the law, the lawyer on the other side was fine with me doing it because I was just out of law school and he was a city slicker lawyer who went to Auburn and thus knew everything, and the judge just didn’t give a crap. The world was focused on whether George Bush or Al Gore would be President and we were focused on whether the Clerk of Court would keep his job.

My law firm represented Taylor County in defense of the election and in opposition to throwing out the election. The city slicker lawyer thought with a 19 vote margin all he needed to do was find nineteen people who had issues with voting and he could throw out the case.

To make a long story short, actually, there’s a mathematical formula that must be used because you are not allowed to ask anyone how they voted and you cannot presume everyone voted in the race. So you must find the total number of people who voted overall, the total number who voted in that race, the difference between those numbers, and then add the difference between the two candidates. So, in other words, to get real interference in a race where 1000 voted, but only 750 voted in that particular race, you need to discredit 250 votes plus 19 votes for a total of 269 discredited votes. Again, you do this because you cannot presume everybody voted in your race nor can you ask anyone how they voted. The privacy of the ballot is sacrosanct.

In this case, the plaintiff needed about 105 votes, but I was the only one in the room who knew that. He went for 19.

One of those votes was the absentee vote of a dead man who died the day after the election. The man’s sister was called to the stand. It was very clear the man’s absentee ballot signature did not match his voter registration card from the 1950’s. In Georgia, a voter must sign their absentee ballot and only the voter can sign the absentee ballot.

“Ma’am,” city slicker began, “I want to show you your brother’s voter registration card. Do you see that?”

Like the scene from My Cousin Vinny, the elderly black lady put on her coke bottle glasses, and her eyes got large.

“Yes sir,” she said.

“Now ma’am, I’d like to show you your brother’s absentee ballot. Do you see that signature?”

“Yes sir,” she replied.

“Ma’am, do those signatures look alike?” city slicker asked.

“No, they don’t,” she replied.

“Ma’am, do you think your brother signed his absentee ballot?” city slicker asked.

“I know he didn’t. I did it,” she said matter of factly.

“Ma’am, can you read what it says under the signature line?” city slicker asked.

“It says only the voter is allowed to sign his absentee ballot and it is a violation of Georgia law for anyone other than the voter to do so,” she said with her voice beginning to crack.

“Ma’am, are you admitting under Georgia law that you broke the law and signed your brother’s ballot?” city slicker asked.

She began to sob.

“I did it. I had to do it,” she said getting more emotional.

The judge intervened.

“Ma’am, you aren’t in trouble today. This is just an inquiry. Did your brother cast his own ballot?” the judge asked as calmly and reassuringly as possible.

“Yes,” she said. “I filled in the dots, but he told me who to vote for and he watched me. That’s how we always did it.”

“And why did you do it that way,” asked the judge.

“Because he done got both his hands ripped off in a cotton gin,” she said exasperated.

City slicker never got to 105 votes. He didn’t even get to nineteen.

Another guy admitted he had been intimidated and when the judge sealed up the courtroom, throwing out everyone except the lawyers, the man said he had admitted he was intimidated because “I ain’t ever been in no courtroom” he blurted out. The lawyer just presumed the man had been intimidated into a vote.

While the rest of the world was focused on Bush v Gore, I was focused on this hilarious trial in the middle of nowhere.

I know of which I speak on mail-in ballots and absentee ballots and there’s some serious B.S. going on across news programs and op-eds in America.

“Mail-in ballots” are like humans — they come in various forms. “Absentee ballots” are a specific creature.

Generally speaking, each of the fifty states has its own rules on mail-in ballots. Some states, like Oregon, mail ballots to all of its registered voters automatically. Other states require a ballot request. Most states require that ballots be returned by election day. Some states, like California, require they be postmarked by election day, potentially pushing results for two weeks.

It varies by state.

Some states now want to change the rules, but it is generally accepted in federal jurisprudence that states cannot change the rules of an election in the middle of said election. So, for example, Nevada has decided to send ballots to every voter by mail, not just those who request it. That is a big change. But, Nevada’s Republican Secretary of State did that anyway in June without legislative authority so the GOP has a tough argument there.

The bigger issues are vote harvesting, postage stamps, dates of receipt, and signatures.

Vote harvesting is where people can come to your home and offer to collect your ballot for you. Yes, Virginia, there can be fraud here. Can you imagine also Stacey Abrams’ wild claims if white Republicans went door to door in black neighborhoods in Georgia offering to ferry ballots to the mailbox? The media will treat those as serious efforts at voter intimidation, but totally ignore union activists doing the same. And union activists do it all the time.

Banning vote harvesting would be a step in the right direction — require only the voter or his immediate family can transport a ballot to a board of elections or a mailbox.

Postage stamps have always been required to return a ballot by mail, but now suddenly after years of requiring it, Democrats believe it is a poll tax. They just keep moving the goal post and frankly, if they keep moving the goal post as much as they are on the issue, we should all be suspicious. It is not a poll tax because you do not have to vote that way. You can still show up at an elections precinct unless the Democrats cancel those.

Dates of receipt are a big issue because Democrats would have you believe a voter who waits till election day to drop his ballot in the mail is somehow being responsible. The reality is we need certainty in our election and waiting days, if not weeks, for a ballot to arrive expands uncertainty. Likewise, for all the Democrats who believe Russia stole the 2016 election, allowing ballots to float through a mail system for days after the election is asking for trouble and conspiracy mongering.

The strongest security on an absentee ballot is the voter’s signature, which must match a voter registration card. But some voters’ cards are decades old. Signatures change. I am one of those voters whose signature has changed from the time I registered to now. It is a highly subjective test.

There are ways to make mail-in balloting more secure. Again, we just went through an election where Democrats, by faith, believe the Russians stole the election, but they’re now advocating for a system with multiple points of possible disruption including a bellyaching belief that a single man in Washington can slow the mail enough to steal the election.

These are not serious people with serious arguments.

Absentee ballots distributed by request and required to arrive on time with a stamp on or before election day is possible. Done in conjunction with precinct voting on election day and a ban on vote harvesters coming to your door could help.

But spare me the talking point that all mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are the same. I’m ashamed to see reporters peddling that. There’s a fundamental difference between mailing every registered voter a ballot and mailing only to those who requested them. There’s a fundamental difference between cleaning up the rolls so ballots are going to the wrong address and never aggressively maintaining a clean voter file. There are lots of differences, but the Democrats and some members of the media don’t seem to know to care.

The bottom line is that we should not change the rules in the middle of the election and just mail every voter a ballot, particularly when some states have not been good at cleaning up their voter rolls. We fundamentally should not do this unless we are going to ban non-family members from showing up at people’s homes offering to collect their ballots.