I was somewhat surprised to read a recent Signal column entitled “I Guess Cheating Is OK for Astros and Elections” written by my friend Steve Lunetta (Nov. 12). Steve did a phenomenal job of explaining the dastardly acts committed by the Houston Astros in 2017. As a lifelong Dodger fan, I could not have written a better column about that sad escapade in baseball history.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the column appears hastily written and probably requires further discussion. To be clear, Steve raised some valid points, but there is more to them than he discussed in his column.
First of all, I am amazed that we were able to overcome logistical impediments on a scale not seen since the election of 1864, which was conducted during the Civil War. Nearly 150 million people voted in a peaceful manner that set an example for the world.
While there are many allegations of cheating and stealing the election, at the time of this writing, none of the legal challenges appear to have merit. Neither party dominated the election as the polls predicted. If widespread cheating had occurred, one party likely would have dominated. In California the Republicans won back some House seats and defeated several propositions that were written by the Democratic Legislature.
Because of the pandemic, much of America voted by mail. Several states have utilized voting by mail for years without problems, and I suspect it will become the future norm. But as our voting process evolves, we need to ensure that the elections continue to be fair and honest.
Although Steve raises a number of valid points, he failed to mention that President Donald Trump suggested that voters should “stress test the system” by voting twice. Doing so is illegal and the president suggesting that our system is fraudulent may eventually create the perception that democracy is not our best form of government.
Steve also presented valid concerns about voter rolls. He mentioned that there were numerous reports of people receiving multiple ballots with names of deceased or moved voters on the envelope. That is why the ballot signature is so important. If a ballot is received and the signature does not match the signature on file, the ballot is rejected and not counted. Before the election, I thought this was a leap of faith, but apparently automated signature recognition was effectively utilized.
One of my neighbors, who signed up for the online ballot tracing system, mailed in his ballot and was notified that his signature did not match. While I am not certain of the exact procedures, he evidently was able to rectify the problem; this is objective independent evidence that the controls to prevent voter fraud worked.
Having said that, we need to do a better job of purging the voter rolls of deceased and otherwise ineligible voters. In a settlement with Judicial Watch, California embarked on such a program in 2019, the results of which were audited by Ernst & Young, a Big 4 accounting firm well positioned to evaluate the process. Perhaps we should adopt a rule where people who don’t vote are purged from the roles and must re-register.
Steve questioned why signatures, instead of identification cards, are used. Signatures have been used since before I started voting in 1972. It appears that the automated signature recognition system is working and probably is more effective than the use of identification cards that can be forged. I believe that identities should be verified when voters register.
Steve’s other big complaint was about ballot harvesting, a procedure where someone collects ballots from voters and submits them on their behalf. I share his concern, but I wonder why he failed to mention the unofficial ballot collection boxes that Republicans installed at churches and other sites. They were the ballot harvesting equivalent of using John Deere’s largest combine. Those boxes were not secure and the Republicans could easily have compared the names on the collected ballots with their voter registration database and tossed ballots cast by voters who were not registered Republicans. I am not saying they did this, but there are valid concerns involving the lack of controls around their procedures that would have allowed them to do so.
Steve concluded his column by referring to the election as a “train wreck election.” This was an election where approximately 150 million people voted. The runner up received more votes than any candidate received in previous elections. Virtually all the ballots were counted in the presence of observers from both parties. I believe our nation went through extraordinary efforts to ensure that the ballots were accurately and fairly counted. To suggest that the process was frivolous is irresponsible.
But I do agree, the Astros got off too easily for their egregious actions and lack of remorse.
Jim de Bree