President Trump tweeted something last week and caused a controversy and distraction — which is no surprise. On Twitter, he speculated about a need to delay the Nov. 3 election. That was labeled as preposterous by observers on all sides. But as is usually the case, Trump was using his big stage to call attention to something a little different: a need for election security amid the pandemic and a push to change voting procedures.
Trump’s point was mainly about a major increase in mailed ballots and how it could be abused. If the election is close, and it is too early to tell that, disputed results will cause national chaos. That is something to avoid at all cost.
Americans have been voting for well over 200 years and, although there have been isolated cases of fraud, the process has worked pretty well. There is no reason that the presence of all the technology and resources that we have now should make the process less reliable — it should make it better.
Arizonans more and more have moved to use of mail to cast their ballots — if that is requested in advance by the voter. Convenience is the reason, and this year’s health crisis gave it another boost. We believe the state and counties have a very good system where ballots are returned and verified individually by county recorder’s offices. Unfortunately, the fact that some people do not mail their ballots and instead take them to the polls delays counting, sometimes for weeks. Of course, people who vote too early sometimes miss out on late developments, but the ballots should be mailed by the middle of the week before the election.
Meanwhile in Pinal County, the Elections Department is offering a service for the relative few who still go to the polls. Signs will instruct them on how to call and have their ballot brought outside for voting. That will offer a certain amount of health safety beyond the precautions that are taken inside the polling place.
Election authorities in Arizona do a good job. We can only hope that is the case elsewhere, because the fate of our democracy depends on it.