Massive Disenfranchisement: the Republican Goal

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court voted five to four to allow voting to proceed in Wisconsin against the wishes of the governor and health care officials concerned that many registered voters had not received their mailed ballots before today’s deadline and would be forced to endanger their lives by going to vote at polling places (which have been dramatically reduced because poll workers are afraid for their lives). Several weeks ago the Democratic National Committee filed suit to extend deadlines for online voter registration and for mailed ballots to be counted and the federal district court decided in its favor, extending the deadline for one week, to April 13. But the “Gang of Five” on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that absentee ballots had to be sent in today, April 7, election day (several elections are being held, including the Democratic presidential primary and a state Supreme Court race). This is how Harold Meyerson in American Prospect put it, “The only reason that the Republican National Committee doesn’t have John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh on the payroll is that they know they have them for free.” President Trump admitted publicly that vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting that states seek to implement to safely run elections amid the Covid-19 pandemic would mean “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Out of the blue La Jicarita recently receiver a letter from Todd Hathorne of Rio Rancho, a member of the Election Integrity Team of the Republican Party of New Mexico. It clearly lays out how the New Mexico Republican Party is opposed to mail in ballot voting, citing the same hackneyed reasons the national party does: no protections for voter fraud (very rare). He argues that only absentee ballots should be allowed, which of course means that fewer people would actually vote because of having to take the initiative to request the ballot. States like Colorado, which automatically mails ballots to all resigistered voters, has been very successful with its voting protocol. Here’s Mr. Hathorne’s letter.

Dear Editor,

This letter is to clarify the difference between a Mail In Ballot and an Absentee Ballot.

  • A Mail In ballot is mailed to everyone who is on the list.
  • An Absentee ballot is mailed only to those who have requested a ballot.

We are often left without explanations for how the government does what it does. This could not be truer than in the case of the upcoming elections. There have been some who have asked what the difference between the mail in ballot and the absentee ballot. This is an excellent question. The mail in ballot is simply a process where every person on the list who has registered to vote is sent a ballot. An absentee ballot process is where only those people who request a ballot are sent a ballot. It’s all about the request.

The technical difference is a very important point. When you mail everyone on the list, many people have not updated their addresses. Think about that for a moment. Who now lives at that address where you used to live? You might know their name. You might not. If you sold that person your home, you may have met them, maybe even shaken their hands. But do you know if they are registered to vote? Are they a felon? A citizen? The vast majority of the time, we just do not know that much about them. So why would we want that person to have your ballot? In fact, most of us care deeply about having our own ballot.

  • Mail In ballots do NOT have the protections in place against voter fraud.
  • Absentee ballot process DOES have protections in place against voter fraud.

This part is really important. The fact that some county clerks are willing to jettison the very protections that the Legislature put in place to protect your ballot is just plain shocking. While it is important to be concerned about public health, it is also very important to protect your ballot. The message of the Republican Party is simple: These two goals are not mutually exclusive. WE CAN DO BOTH.

Todd Hathorne
Member of the Election Integrity Team of the Republican Party of New Mexico