I am doing something many Trumpsters think is dangerous — I am voting by mail. In fact, I already have.
I have mailed in my primary ballot. I have made a voting statement, not a political statement.
President Donald J. Trump has said voting by mail was “corrupt” in an April 7 press briefing.
Here is the exchange with a reporter:
“I think mail-in voting is horrible,” Trump said.
“You voted by mail in Florida’s election last month, didn’t you?” the reporter asked.
“Sure,” the president replied. “I can vote by mail.”
“How do you reconcile with that?”
“Because I’m allowed to,” Trump said.
This was not written for a Saturday Night Live sketch.
Until now, I opposed voting by mail and early voting. I still don’t like early voting, but I have changed my mind about voting by mail.
I voted by mail because of two things: 1- The COVID-19 virus is still out there. Why take chances? 2- Philadelphia will have only 190 polling places on election day, instead of the usual 831.
Why? Mostly because of a shortage of poll workers, said City Commission Chair Lisa Deeley, a Democrat. In Pennsylvania, applications can be found at www.votespa.com.
Like everything else, the vote-by-mail issue has been politicized, with (generally) Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed, even though, NPR reported, mail-in ballots in Florida actually helped the GOP.
The president insisted mail-in voting was ripe for fraud, without presenting any evidence for his claims. As usual.
Any thinking person knows some elections in the past have been tainted, in some cities.
But how about today? How does the Philadelphia system work and what shields it from fraud?
I asked City Commissioner Al Schmidt, the solitary Republican on the three-member commission, representing the party with supposedly the most to lose.
Schmidt started by reminding me that voting by mail in Pennsylvania became law at the end of last year when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill that was passed by the Republican House and Senate.
It is bipartisan, allowing, but not ordering, mail ballots. You can still vote in person if you care to.
Here’s how it works: You get an application and apply online or by mailing it to the city commissioners. (To apply online you need a state driver’s license or PennDOT ID number.)
If the commission finds your information valid, it sends you a ballot and two envelopes — an inner envelope that contains your ballot, and an outer ballot on which you sign your name. The idea, says Schmidt, is “to separate the vote from the voter,” so no one knows how you voted.
The organizing of the ballots and the counting are done in the City Commissioner offices at Delaware and Spring Garden, starting on Election Day, but not before.
It’s done in a large room that is open to the public, to representatives of the political parties and to the political campaigns, “which are hovering over our shoulders while we are doing all this,” says Schmidt.
One question to be answered, he says, is whether mail-in ballots “will grow the pie” or will mail-in voters be former in-person voters. He suspects the latter, because requests for ballots are coming from neighborhoods with traditionally high turnout.
”It’s going to be bumpy,” he says. “No one would choose to have an election under these conditions.”