Let’s Rethink All-Mail Balloting
Dear Editor, Jan 25, 2021
The all-mail balloting process had its pluses and minuses during the pandemic. It made voting easier for some, but more difficult for many of those who preferred voting in person. For several reasons, I believe that all-mail balloting is not a good idea.
1. Privacy. With in-person voting, I vote as I wish. Others may attempt to influence me by providing me with their recommendations. These might be my spouse, my employer, the union, or my politically engaged friends or neighbors. I may take their advice or not, but my ballot will be private, and others will not know whether I voted as they directed. With mail-in ballots, there is a great opportunity for the politically engaged to pressure others to vote as directed. My employer, the union, my spouse or neighbor may “ask” me to bring my ballot so they can “help” me vote. They can then ensure it gets deposited properly so it gets counted. If I refuse, I set up a potential conflict.
2. Current information. When all but a few needing absentee ballots vote on election day, we are voting with the same information available. It has not been unusual for new and sometimes significant information about a candidate or political agenda to emerge shortly before an election that may change some voters’ thoughts on how to vote. With ballots mailed out a month before the election and voters urged to mail them back soon so they will be counted, we likely will not all be voting with the same information.
3. Unengaged voters. One of the claimed “successes” of all-mail voting is the increased number of voters. But how many of those who hadn’t voted in the past did so because it was easier, and how many did so because of the encouragement and “assistance” received from someone else? At the extreme, in previous elections in other states, there were reports of people “assisting” those in nursing homes who were not mentally sharp with voting. More votes from the unengaged who are influenced by others is not a good thing.
4. Civic Ritual. I have voted on election day in Hawaii for over forty years. It feels good to go to the polling place, complete my ballot in private, and deposit it knowing it will be counted. I don’t wonder if it might be rejected because I didn’t sign it the same way I signed previously. I don’t worry about my ballot getting lost in the mail. I enjoy seeing the poll workers and other voters showing their belief in the importance of voting in the election.
5. Fraud. I put this last on the list, as I believe the other reasons are sufficient, even if fraud were impossible. Mail-in voting does make fraud more possible. This can be stealing ballots from mailboxes, whether to attempt to vote them or to throw them away before they get picked up. It can be voting for persons who have moved away but who are still on the voting rolls and receiving ballots. Signature checking can reduce the risk, but it also may cause legitimate ballots not to be counted if the signature doesn’t look right. Showing an I.D. at the polling place eliminates these risks. A less clear form of fraud can be “helping” the less competent to vote or filling out ballots for others before they sign them. I doubt there was significant fraud in our last election. However, some elections are very close: in the one mid-term election my wife and I failed to vote in years ago, the mayor won by six votes! So even a little fraud can occasionally make a big difference, and if it is not seriously considered and addressed, it will become a greater problem in the future.
All-mail voting was touted as making it easier for people to vote. Voting can be more difficult for those who work some distance from their homes. The law currently requires that employees be free from work at least two hours while the polls are open. That could be extended if necessary. A better solution might be more poll workers and voting booths available for those voting at the beginning or end of the day. Maybe we need more polling places in some areas. Making it easier to vote is a worthy goal, but all-mail voting is not the best solution.
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I got my first covid shot yesterday
Dear Editor, January 12, 2021
I will be 78 in May. I got my first covid shot yesterday.
I just wanted to let you know that no matter what you may see or hear in the media the vaccinations yesterday at the UH Maui campus that started at 8 and ran until 1 were smooth and well organized.
All of the people present from the Maui police, national guard, volunteers and Maui State Department of Health workers were helpful, friendly and professional. I made my appointment Sunday online and arrived a few minutes ahead of the stated time.
The process was not difficult. The drivers stayed in their cars, their paperwork was checked, then they were sent to line up. After the line up they were directed in their cars to a staging area where further checks were made. Then the shot was administered within about 30 minutes. They were asked to remain an additional 15 to 30 minutes to make sure there were no adverse reactions. Altogether an estimated 700 shots were administered
Those who received the shot of the Moderna vaccine each got a card with the batch number and a reminder of when they would be eligible to receive the second shot in Feb.
I was in the category of people 75 years old and older, there were also other eligible categories like front line workers, medical staff etc. There were some minor snafus at the site (no bathrooms) but not many. Hundreds more people showed up than were anticipated.
The hard part was not going through the line. The hard part was the registration, many of the people in the upper age bracket either aren't very good on the computer or don't have a computer at all. The CDC web site was hard to navigate and was confusing. I did manage to work through it on my own, but it took me more than an hour and I think by the time it was done I had ten tabs open.
Despite anything else you may read or hear, the volunteers, police, military, health professionals and all the rest did a good job and deserve our thanks and appreciation for working through a massive crush of people in a relatively short time.
I got there at 9:30 I was out by 11. My thanks to all who helped. Get the word out it's a little crazy but they are doing their best and deserve our appreciation and not criticism.
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World getting better!
Dear Editor, January 3, 2021
Dreading the New Year?
Well, contrary to what you think, the world IS getting better- BIG TIME! Really!
In the United States, the violent crime rate has been falling since 1990. In 1966 half of the world lived in extreme poverty. This had fallen to 9% in 2017. In the last century, deaths per year from natural disasters have plummeted to far less than half of what they were. In the past two centuries, life expectancy has more than doubled.
These are just some of the huge, good facts of the world amongst many that we don’t see because when we hear the usual news report, we forget that in general, “NEWS” means new – NOT the USUAL REALITY and not mainstream.
In other words, YOU (the World) are probably doing a pretty good job! If we work together, we can solve the rest of the world’s problems!
Happy New Year!