NE States Continue to Struggle with Voting By Mail

With less than 50 days until Election Day, some northeastern states continue to struggle with voting by mail.  The most recent issues have arisen in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

This week, Pennsylvania's Department of State announced that they would be directing counties to no longer reject mail-in ballots solely based on whether the signature matches the voter's signature on file.  This is a step in the wrong direction.

Lawmakers should be implementing policies that make mail-in ballots more secure, not less secure.  The policy change comes as Pennsylvania Democrats, with Governor Tom Wolf as the spearhead, continue to advocate for radical policies like allowing counties to begin processing mail ballots up to three weeks before November's election and establishing ballot drop boxes throughout the state. 

Unsurprisingly, last-minute changes to election laws and administrative procedures like the ones in Pennsylvania has led to extensive litigation.

Republican election law attorney Jessica Furst Johnson recently told CBS:

"These states are making very drastic changes in a very short period of time," she said. "A lot of the litigation on the Republican side is trying to hold the officials' feet to the fire on that point. Not only does the Constitution say the legislature has the responsibility for designating the time, manner and place of the election, but these are really knee-jerk changes."

Johnson noted that it took several years for Washington state to transition to all vote-by-mail. But this year, many states are attempting to implement changes to their voting regulations in a matter of months.

"With all of these changes that haven't been well thought out in a lot of instances, we'd be crazy to think that things aren't going to be messy for quite a while after the election," she said, adding, "we all need to be prepared for situations that we've never seen before."

New Jersey is a great example of how changes have already wreaked havoc on their election system.  Last week, local elections officials in New Jersey discovered a trove of uncounted ballots from New Jersey's July primary election.  According to the Daily Caller:

Sussex County elections board officials found more than 1,600 uncounted ballots from New Jersey’s July primary elections Thursday in a “mislabeled” bin that was stored in a “secure area” at the county elections board office.

Board of Elections Administrator Marge McCabe said in a statement Monday that the roughly 1,666 uncounted ballots cast in the state’s July 7 primary were counted and verified by the county clerk’s office Saturday, the New Jersey Herald reported.

Most voters in Sussex County voted by mail for the primary.  In August, New Jersey's Governor announced that the state would be using a modified universal vote-by-mail system in November.  To add to the confusion, multiple pieces of legislation have also been passed to make last-minute changes to the state's election laws.  

Regardless of what radical elections policies Democrats push this election cycle, Republicans are ready to push back.

As Trump 2020 General Counsel Matt Morgan told CBS: "Republicans will be ready to make sure the polls are being run correctly, securely, and transparently as we work to deliver the free and fair election Americans deserve."