Improve the voting process
Editorís Note: Bryan King, author of this guest column, is a former Republican state representative and state senator whose district included Carroll County.
By Bryan King
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights we enjoy as Americans. Every vote matters and our process needs change to ensure public confidence no matter your political perspective.
I am a voter, and a former election commissioner and state legislator who authored several bills and state constitutional amendments on voting. Todayís issues such as COVID-19 and public discourse have brought never-before-seen scenarios that could have monumental impacts on who we elect. Here are some of my recommendations that I see based on my past experience dealing with elections.
1. Expand early in-person voting immediately. Early in-person voting has increased. Many in the past, including myself, voted on Election Day but now enjoy early voting. To those who only vote on Election Day, I think you need to think of the many possible scenarios that could impact or prevent you from voting on Election Day. Also, one needs to think about the already-tough process of getting workers for the polls on Election Day.
What if a COVID 19 outbreak or perceived outbreak in your area pops up on or near Election Day? How many would stay home or not go vote? What if public protesting, discourse or rioting happens on Election Day at or near your polling site? What if your polling site cannot open due to lack of poll workers? These and other questions need serious thought with action to make sure everyone has fair and equal access to vote.
2. Make voting a national paid holiday. We already have national holidays. Many employers routinely let employees off for birthdays and holidays. This gives part-time or workers employed 40, 50, 60 or more hours per week access to vote with the same opportunity as someone who doesnít work for whatever reason or those already retired. Our elections are vitally important and have profound impacts on our future. Allowing workers time off to go vote seems only fair and just. Voting should be viewed as jury duty, a important civic duty worthy of service. Employers and workers should be given flexibility to let someone off work during early voting or Election Day.
3. Embrace mail-in ballots but also embrace verifications that ensure integrity and confidence. They must go together.
Mail-in ballots are great for a variety of reasons but can also be easily manipulated and susceptible to fraud. Just look at the voter fraud case of former State Rep. Hudson Hallum. He, along with his father and other elected officials, pleaded guilty to voter fraud due to a mail-in ballot scheme.
To paraphrase Hudson Hallum, mail in ballot fraud is just the way itís always been done. Here are just a few examples of what the convicted voter ring carried out.
1. Exchanged votes for money, vodka, and chicken dinners.
2. Identified voters, tracked their ballots, and collected absentee ballots from them.
3. Destroyed any ballots that were cast for Hudson Hallumís opponent.
If you think votes donít matter, remember Hudson Hallum only ďwonĒ his special election by eight votes.
We need more verification in our mail-in voting process so that all Americans have confidence in voting by mail. I have always fought for photo ID for in-person voting and I think it should be used for mail-in voting as well. Technology today can make this process simple and safe.
Mail-in voting is and should be an open process. But being an open process also makes it easily corruptible when people want to manipulate the result. Mail-in ballot requests can be easily monitored to know when the ballot is sent out, mailed and returned. Just look at the Hudson Hallum case for a perfect example.
Seems every politician is saying this election is the most important election in our nationís history. Well, thatís true, but itís also true for every election. Thatís why itís critical to make the right decisions which make voting easy, fair, flexible for any situation, and, importantly, a trusted process. The two words on the publicís mind after an election should not be ďwhat happened?Ē