A Warning For Kyle Ardoin

Did you see this story about the comeback of mail-in balloting in Louisiana from Wednesday? Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says he hasn’t decided whether to push for it.

As the coronavirus pandemic persists voting rights advocates say expanding voting by mail is critically needed but Louisiana’s top elections official Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says he has not made a decision yet about pushing for an expansion of mail-in voting as it relates to the November presidential election.

“I have yet to certify what I believe could be an emergency for the November and December election cycle. It requires me to act before the legislature or the governor can act on that issue,” said Ardoin.

Still, Charlie Stephens, Director of the Louisiana Vote-by-Mail Initiative which he says includes a number of groups said voting options should be expanded especially during a pandemic that has hit the state of Louisiana hard.

“What a lot of our critics like to paint it as is like, oh you have to vote by mail. It’s just giving everyone the option to do that,” said Stephens.

In Louisiana voters must have a reason to be eligible to vote by mail. Some of the specific reasons include being in the military, being overseas, being 65 or older, being away at college or if someone is temporarily outside of the state during the early voting period or on election day.

Still for the upcoming August 15 election there is an emergency plan allowing people with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus or becoming severely ill from to apply for mail-in or absentee ballots. That was also the case for Louisiana’s July election.

“For August 15, we put forth an emergency plan to the legislature and the governor and it was passed by the legislature by a bipartisan majority as well as support from the governor that allowed for COVID19 absentee application that had five additional reasons outside of the 11 current law reasons to request an absentee ballot,” said Ardoin.

We’ve been through this before, and there wasn’t a particularly satisfactory conclusion then. Ardoin let the camel’s nose under the tent with an expanded mail-in ballot for the July and August elections, both of which were/are essentially nothingburgers outside of a smattering of local races.

But November is the grand prize. And now that the camel’s nose has poked in, the rest of the camel is trying to follow. This Charlie Stephens kid with the “Louisiana Vote By Mail Initiative?” He’s a Democrat operative in training at the Democrat operative training center otherwise known as LSU’s mass communications school.

There are three things Ardoin needs to be very careful of as he weighs whether to join hands with the Democrats on mail-in ballots.

First, there is the mess he’s asking for with respect to a national election and slow postal delivery. Anybody see what happened in New York?

One out of four mail-in ballots were disqualified for arriving late, lacking a postmark or failing to include a voter’s signature, or other defects. The New York Post reported Tuesday that roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots were invalidated in Brooklyn alone.

The high invalidation rate provides more proof that election officials and the Postal Service were woefully underprepared to handle and process the avalanche of mail-in ballots that voters were encouraged to fill out to avoid having to go to the polls during the coronavirus pandemic, critics said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to make it easier to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot. The state also footed the bill by providing pre-paid envelopes for voters to mail the ballots.

“A 26 percent invalidation rate is astounding. It’s very troubling,” said Arthur Schwartz, who represented several candidates in a federal lawsuit claiming voters were disenfranchised over the BOE and Postal Service’s handling of ballots.

A federal judge ruled Monday that thousands of voters were disenfranchised because of the tardy mailing and processing of the ballots.

The mess included votes not being counted because the pre-paid ballot envelopes were not postmarked.

Manhattan Judge Analisa Torres ordered that ballots received by June 25 be counted, though the state Board of Elections said it is appealing the ruling.

Aside from tardy mailings and processing, Schwartz said scores of ballots were tossed out because the voters failed to sign the interior envelope that came with it.

By the way, the Post Office is performing worse and worse at delivering the mail these days. As an example, one of the Hayride’s sponsors sent a check last Friday for a monthly invoice. The check went into the mail in Kenner, headed for our mailbox in Baton Rouge. It showed up yesterday. It used to be a one-day, or at most a two-day, delivery from the New Orleans area to Baton Rouge; now it’s a week.

Does Kyle Ardoin really want to force his people to be counting ballots for days and days after the election because the Post Office can’t deliver them on time? The presidential and other federal races around the state probably won’t be so close that straggling ballots would make a difference (except maybe in the 5th Congressional District, where they might), but some of the other races could well not be decided for days or even weeks as he has to wait for mail-in ballots to creep in.

If that happens, it will be all Kyle Ardoin’s fault for allowing a mass expansion of mail-in balloting under the color of an emergency. People can go to Wal-Mart and sit in a restaurant; they can show up to vote.

As an aside, though related to this point, David Catron at The American Spectator last week had a very interesting point about the mail-in ballot scam the Democrats are perpetrating across the country that they want to suck Ardoin into. Namely, that it’s too smart by half and might turn into a complete disaster for them.

Acting on the assumption that Congress is unlikely to pass legislation requiring every state to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters, a number of Democrat-controlled states are moving to pass bills that will mandate vote-by-mail schemes within their own borders. Nevada just became the latest state to adopt such a plan. The obvious problem is that Election Day is only three months away and the logistical difficulties of expanding mail-in voting are legion. Five states, including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, conduct elections exclusively by mail and still have serious problems after years of trying to get it right. Indeed, they have literally lost millions of ballots.

Why does this pose a greater risk for Biden than Trump? The states attempting to convert to all mail-in voting are controlled by Democrats. Consequently, they are far more likely to encounter general election problems comparable to the disarray that characterized recent primaries in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In both of those states, mail-in voting disfranchised tens of thousands due to postal delays, signature match problems, and voter errors. Such issues will inevitably recur in any state attempting to set up vote-by-mail before November. And the safe harbor deadline (December 8, 2020) doesn’t afford them the luxury of endless squabbling with the GOP about the validity of ballots in a contested race:

Under 3 U.S.C. § 5, the so-called “safe harbor” provision of federal law, a state can be assured of having its chosen slate of electors recognized only if post-election disputes are resolved within thirty-five days of Election Day.… The federally prescribed Electoral College procedures put a premium on states resolving post-election disputes by the safe harbor date.… Key swing states would be hard-pressed to complete their post-election processes on the timetable contemplated by federal law.

Moreover, lest we forget, Trump won in 2016 by virtue of 80,000 votes in three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. As the Washington Post put it three weeks after the 2016 election, “Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively.” Most of the polls again show Trump behind his opponent in these very same battlegrounds. Yet Biden’s “lead” in these states, according to a new Democracy Institute survey, has evaporated. “The survey shows Trump winning in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and on course to win the Electoral College.” Meanwhile, Trump won’t be encumbered by voters afraid to vote in person. NBC’s David Wasserman frets:

A July ABC/Washington Post poll found that a majority of Democrats (51 percent to 46 percent) plan to vote by mail this November, while nearly 4 in 5 Republicans (79 percent to 20 percent) still plan to vote in person.… The problem for Democrats? Absentee ballots are rejected at higher rates than those cast in person.… Trump, intentionally or not, is setting a trap by shifting more of his own vote to Election Day while Biden’s ballots face a higher risk of rejection.

In other words, the Democratic campaign to convince the public that it is dangerous to vote in person primarily scares their own voters. It isn’t clear how anyone could believe that the U.S. Postal Service is capable of delivering ballots with alacrity in the general election after multiple instances of delayed delivery during the primaries.

A presidential election has to be certified by a state within 35 days, or five weeks, of the election day or else the voters of that state might end up disenfranchised. These blue states pushing universal mail-in balloting had better be riding herd on the Post Office to get its act together.

The second thing Ardoin ought to be considering is ballot security.

Don’t let it go unnoticed that the American Postal Workers’ Union has endorsed Joe Biden. That makes it a little difficult to see the Post Office as some sort of unbiased outfit which can be trusted to protect ballot integrity and to insure every vote is legitimate. Ardoin has a staff of people who do a pretty darned good job of that, but once he outsources the election to the Post Office he can no longer guarantee the integrity of the election.

The Post Office’s job is to deliver the mail. Not to run elections.

And anybody who’s ever seen the New Orleans Post Office’s operation would not be confident in their ability to guarantee the security of mail-in ballots.

Millions of ballots go missing in these states where vote-by-mail is the standard. Do you think those missing ballots are random occurrences? You don’t at least see the potential for abuse there? We could just about guarantee there would be a lot more ballots lost in the mail from Old Metairie than from Gentilly or the Lower Nine, and the same would be true of Santa Maria vis-a-vis Scotlandville.

The Secretary of State’s office counts all the votes from all of those places. Even with all the jokes and snide comments, they have a track record of running clean elections in Louisiana. The Post Office? Lord knows what could happen there.

But the third reason Ardoin needs to be careful about throwing open mail-in balloting in Louisiana is that he said he wouldn’t do it.

Ardoin gave an impassioned speech at the Capitol in pushing the emergency mail-in voting plan this spring, and one of the things he guaranteed was that this was an emergency measure and not a permanent change toward becoming like Colorado and Washington. The speech might have been his best moment in politics, but if he kowtows to the little Biden Youth types like Charlie Stephens and Mandie Landry, the Face Mask Barbie state representative who brought the bill to blow open mail-in balloting in the regular legislative session this year that was rejected out of hand, that speech will end up being the death of his political career.

And no, the fact that some left-wing group is suing to force Ardoin to blow open a mail-in ballot regime is not a reason to cave on a guarantee he made. Some left-wing group will always sue for something. Proper leadership involves fighting and beating the Marxist revolutionary fringe, not making common cause or Peace In Our Time with them. Ardoin knows that. It’s what he ran for re-election last year on, for crying out loud.

People really don’t like it when politicians lie to them. They’ll put up with all kinds of things from politicians, but straight-up lies are problematic. They’re a breach of the public trust, and they’re the best way for voters to get behind a challenger.

And if there’s a major expansion of mail-in balloting in Louisiana which results in a circus like the one they just had in New York, Ardoin is going to find himself the most beatable politician in Louisiana come 2023.

Just something for him to think about.



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