The Distractor in Chief has a new ploy this week – Mail in voting will be “the greatest fraud ever.” Well, as a man who loves superlatives, and has a passing knowledge of fraud, he should know. Here’s the short version of what he’s peddling. Absentee ballots are trustworthy because the voter requested the ballot, and thus we can trust that they would be the one completing it and signing it as true. Mass mailed ballots, sent to all voters, who didn’t request them, would be open to completion by people who want to vote two or more times, for fraudulent purposes.
Here’s how that would work: start by presuming that there will be a small percentage of cases where people have moved and not updated their voter registration, conceivably some people would be receiving ballots for former residents and could conceivably vote twice. It’s a weak point in my opinion because if you think about it, basically it’s a tiny percentage of people who would have the opportunity, and in a country where only about 40% of the population even bothers to vote in the first place – how likely is it that the stars are going to align so that two ballots would be sent to one address, and the current occupant would be so motivated to vote twice that they would commit a federal crime? I believe this would fall into the statistically insignificant category.
Of course in the Trumpster Fire that is the current administration, one distraction is never enough. The other great lie that is being put forth as a way to stoke the fears and rally the population is that the U.S. Postal Service can’t be trusted to handle ballots in November. Each year the USPS handles over 140 Billion pieces of mail. That’s a daily amount of 383 million pieces of mail that are transported, sorted and delivered. It’s just over one piece of mail per American citizen per day. That sounds like a single ballot…
Now the USPS has its problems, no doubt. There is a budget shortfall, and that has been going on for, well it seems like my entire life. They have huge resources that have to be maintained, updated, recycled, repaired and replaced. Currently there is a huge uproar over sorting machines being decommissioned. The conspiracy theorists are in full throated scare mode, saying this is the dismantling of the USPS so that Trump can steal the election.
I have no doubt that the President will gladly steal the election if he can, I’m just not sure that equipment changes and budget cuts are part of that plan. Sunday night I was having dinner with friends as we watched CNN and the President’s Chief of Staff was on talking about the USPS and the way in which they have changed over the years. The nature of mail has changed, and if you think about it for a second you’ll see that he has a point. How many pieces of mail do you receive that are the traditional envelope format versus what you received 10 or 15 years ago? It’s significantly down, and the number of packages are up over all.
As a kid I would go hang out in the malls like the Santa Monica Place and Promenade. In high school my pals and I would roam Century City as if it was a second home. Everyone had to go to the stores to buy supplies. Going ‘window shopping’ was an activity for a date, or a way to spend an afternoon. Today, the malls are ghost towns, and have been trending that way for the past few years. It’s the Amazon effect.
Most of the people I know are buying more and more items online, which are shipped by FedEx, UPS and USPS. Most of the marketers I know avoid direct mail due to its high costs and low return on investment value compared with the effectiveness of Google Ads and Facebook marketing.
The current pandemic is accelerating the transition from a strong retail market segment to an entirely online shopping experience. The landlords of Santa Monica Place and the Promenade are certainly seeing that and feeling the losses, which are probably offsetting their tremendous profits in some other segment which is why we have so many vacancies that go for months and/or years – it’s a tax thing.
Society is changing and the institutions that have served us for centuries need to keep up, part of that is equipment changes, budget realignments and personnel changes. I’m not in on the high level plans of the USPS, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that some of the current events are a result of trying to adapt to a changing world.
All of that is to say, yes the President is doing everything he can to kneecap the system, win re-election and I wouldn’t put anything beyond him or his minions in that effort, but the truth about the USPS is that they can handle this election. Telling everyone to mail early is good planning on their part, and hopefully will result in a much larger turnout of voters than the traditional 40ish percent.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra