Leftists know that changing the rules of the game can bring victory, and have long tried to change election rules to do just that. When COVID-19 came, facing a contentious race with a populist incumbent president, Democrats turned to their vast network of money-men, many under the umbrella of the “dark money” empire known as the Arabella Network, and set about using the new crisis to their advantage.
Their latest push is an expansion of vote-by-mail and its cousin, ballot harvesting, the collecting of mail-in ballots by third-party operators. Promoted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as part of a wish list of items that should be part of the next coronavirus spending bill, their inclusion is ostensibly to ensure people are safe and socially distant during an election that will take place more than six months from now. But make no mistake: it’s all part of a larger effort to politicize the coronavirus crisis.
What vote-by-mail and ballot harvesting would really do is federalize a state-based electoral system, opening it to huge risks for fraud and incompetence, and introducing something else Democrats tend to use when they find themselves desperate for a win: chaos.
Many are already pointing out the potential fraud risk in using the U.S. Postal Service to conduct an election. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky and Public Interest Legal Foundation’s J. Christian Adams point out that millions of ballots go missing and are never counted as complete votes under a vote-by-mail system.
In the 2016 election, for example, “more mail ballots were misdirected and unaccounted for than the margin of votes between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. … [F]or every vote that Hillary won over the eventual president nationally, more than twice as many mail ballots disappeared or went to the wrong addresses,” they write.
In fact, over the last four elections, 28 million mail-in ballots went missing. And when third-party representatives get involved in collecting those ballots, it’s not difficult to see how those with bad intent might succeed in never turning ballots in to favor one candidate over another.
Less discussed is the vote-by-mail backup plan that relies on Democratic losses to work. It’s a tactic that was used quite effectively during the Obamacare debacle of 2010: Create a broken, chaotic system that can be used as an excuse for allowing even more federal control of that system in an effort to fix what’s broken.
With Obamacare, the disastrous website rollout led to almost-immediate discussion that perhaps single-payer might be the fix. In the case of vote-by-mail and ballot harvesting, the inherent chaos of a mail-in system, well known to come with large numbers of missing ballots, can be used to delegitimize any Republican candidate who manages to win.
Sound out of left field? Consider the “hanging chad” controversy of the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Then there’s Hillary Clinton’s exhortations following her loss in the 2016 election that she was the rightful winner because she won the popular vote while Trump came away with a win only in the Electoral College. Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has only recently discontinued her insistence that cleaning up voter rolls led to a loss of voters who intended to elect her over Brian Kemp.
These are all examples of a common theme in modern American electoral politics: blaming inherent chaos in the system for legitimate losses and using those complaints to delegitimize the rightful winners. Create the chaos, and use it to your advantage. That’s the new leftist mantra.
Vote-by-mail and ballot harvesting — like Medicaid before them, to borrow another health-care example — were initially good systems designed to help those in need. Medicaid helped those who were understandably underinsured to afford health insurance. Similarly, mail-in voting helped those who could not make it to the polls. The elderly, active service members, and the indigent all benefitted.
But like Medicaid expansion before it, leftists are ultimately seeking to expand what was originally supposed to be a specialized and targeted system, bringing the federal bureaucracy’s red-tape and inefficiencies along with that expansion.
When it doesn’t work — and it won’t — they can claim the system is rigged against them. Von Spakovsky and Adams quote a revealing confession from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Vote-by-mail is “a harder system to administer, and obviously it’s a harder system to police writ large.” Leftists are counting on exactly that.
This article originally appeared in The Federalist on May 26, 2020.