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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Absentee voting key to ensuring fair November election

Wisconsin, voters must fight back Trump’s efforts to undermine November election, support USPS
Ahmad Hamid

Aug. 13, President Trump blocked funding for the U.S. Postal Service. Trump, as early as May and in the middle of the pandemic, claims that mail-in voting will be fraudulent or will sabotage the election because he believes ballots will be printed by “foreign countries, and others.”

It is obvious Trump cares more about the election results than proposing comprehensive plans to reduce the impacts brought by the pandemic, or anything related to actually running the country. Mail-in voting is a basic voting right for American citizens, and voting is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Trump’s block of funding also remains unconstitutional. From now until November, local and state governments must fight to vote and vote to fight Trump by exercising this basic right.

Why did Trump block the funding in the first place? One reason is that he worries he will lose the election because he believes mail-in ballots will be fake, forged or stolen.


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There is no evidence to back up that statement. Mail ballots are printed by each state with dozens to hundreds of different styles, with a barcode on the ballot envelope to allow both voters and the postal service to track it. Moreover, each ballot is signed by the voter and a forgery needs to be repeated for each ballot in each style perfectly, which is impossible.

Then, each ballot is to be collected at the boxes using secure measures such as surveillance, locks, and other methods, which make ballot theft extremely unlikely. Also, most Americans support using absentee ballots to avoid the pandemic, but Trump never believed the danger of coronavirus and claims that it is a scheme of Democrats.

“I believe the [block of funding] is a setup … and [Trump and his administration] are going to lose the election and they’re going to claim fraud,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Trump’s block of funding remains constitutionally and socially unjust. Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution states “all Bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills,” and Section 8 states that Congress has the power “to establish post offices and post roads.”

The block of funding should be an act of Congress, not the President. This is an act of executive overreach, and more importantly, an attack on the Constitution.

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When Trump defunded the USPS, it was against the American people’s will, as 90% of Americans support using parts of the COVID-19 stimulus package on USPS. The President is supposed to serve the people and when they fail to do so, the President should be impeached, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s version of the social contract. The lack of funding also impacts the lives and jobs of USPS employees, who have had hours and overtime cut in recent months.

Despite Trump’s action being unconstitutional and unjust, unfortunately, it is still happening. Given that USPS is a government agency, the lack of funding soon will impact each state, if it has not yet.

That means Wisconsin needs to step up in order to have a fair presidential election in November. Wisconsin, for now, faces three primary challenges — an insufficient amount of ballot boxes, late ballot delivery and the process of absentee voting.

In order to address the first concern, the City of Milwaukee has been increasing the number of ballot boxes in an effort to bypass the USPS. But, at the polling places in Milwaukee and in 35 other municipalities, absentee ballots must be processed in an alternate site from the polling place. The inflexibility causes confusion and inconveniences for citizens to vote.

To solve the problem, Wisconsin should either allow citizens to drop their ballots at all polling places or add more counting locations, especially in remote, rural areas of Wisconsin.

UW Political Science Professor Barry Burden said, “the state needs to continue offering local neighborhood polling places as it has in the past, as well as to rely heavily on the postal service to deliver ballots and to provide drop boxes and drive-up opportunities for voters to hand off their ballots.”

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Despite the challenges the USPS is dealing with, the public should still place trust in the service. But, delayed delivery of ballots still present a problem — late ballots will not be counted. As mentioned earlier, each ballot has a barcode that allows the voter and the postal service to track the location of the ballot at all times.

To enforce and to counter the problem, according to UW Political Science professor and former lawyer Howard Schweber, the Wisconsin Elections Commission “should count the absentee ballots based on the date of their postmark rather than the date of the delivery.” This would stop problems linked to an overloaded mail-in system in November — but unfortunately, legislative leaders refuse to step up and ensure a fair, smooth election.

Another concern would be the process of absentee voting. Absentee voting requires many specific details if the ballot is to be counted, mistakes like not signing the ballot envelope, lacking the signature of a witness, not sealing the envelope or making a simple error on the ballot can make the vote uncountable. The intricate details could be easy to neglect. Hence, Wisconsin should have election volunteers to check the ballots and return them in time to correct the mistake.

Another solution is to send out tutorials along with the ballot when voters request it, so they are not clueless of what to do when filling out the ballot and will be able to check the ballot before they send it out.

At the moment, it is really difficult to predict how the lack of USPS funding will affect the upcoming election in Wisconsin.

UW Political Science professor and expert on elections Katherine Cramer said “there is some evidence by scholars at Stanford that absentee voting will advantage Democratic candidates, but there is not yet evidence specific to Wisconsin that confirms that would be the case here.”

We do know that State officials are making efforts to run a smooth election with absentee voting. Should there be attempts to prevent that from happening, the public will express more anger, frustration, accusations of deliberate voting suppression and a further belief of illegitimate election results.

At this moment, before Nov. 3 arrives, we must do what we can to defend our constitutional rights, and when the time comes, we must vote to fight a sitting President who disrespects the people and the Constitution of the United States.

Ken Wang ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science.

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