(March 26) The cause of secure, fraud-free elections got a boost, or at least a reprieve, in the compromise coronavirus-relief stimulus agreement that is wobbling its way to probable passage.

House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had pushed hard for $4 billion to be made available to states to provide for safe voting amidst a pandemic, but with mail-in balloting to be required as part of that mix. As the bill stands as I write this on the late afternoon of March 25, it provides only one-tenth of the money, $400 million, and does not include mandates for mail-in voting.

The grants would go to states “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 federal election cycle.” Within those broad guidelines, the states would be free to determine the best way to devise their voting procedures in ways that avoid the spread of the contagion, requiring them merely to file “a report that includes a full accounting of the State’s uses of the payment and an explanation of how such uses allowed the State to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”

In other words, the payments would promote federalism by allowing each state to create systems best suited to their own exigencies.

This lack of mandates for mail-in balloting is a key victory for Republicans and for fair and timely elections. To put it bluntly, widespread mail-in balloting is a mess. It often delays final election results for days or even weeks, and it is a system that makes it much, much more difficult to detect and deter vote fraud.

As election-law veterans J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky recently wrote, “Voting by mail is the single worst form of election possible….”

[The remainder of this column about a bad provision that didn’t survive is here.]

 

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