Warning to Dems: Mail-in voting may disenfranchise minorities

Warning to Dems: Mail-in voting may disenfranchise minorities
Marc Elias of Perkins Coie in a panel discussion at Hamilton College in 2017. YouTube video

If you thought every Democrat marched in lockstep with the rest of the party on the issue of mail-in ballots, you thought wrong. One who doesn’t is attorney Marc Elias. Alert readers may be familiar with Elias’s name. He was general counsel for the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign and is a partner in the law firm Perkins Coie. If neither the name or reference to Perkins Coie rings a bell, you can refresh your memoy here.

Earlier this year, Elias launched a new website called Democracy Docket, which advocates on behalf of the rights of voters. In May, he published an article titled “Vote By Mail Isn’t Fair For Everyone,” which should be required reading for all Democrats. In it he writes:

On average, between 1-2% of mail ballots are rejected every election because they fail to meet hyper-technical state laws that govern counting the ballots of lawful, registered voters. Yet, the burdens of these laws do not fall equally on all voting populations. Instead, over and over again, we see evidence of how these seemingly neutral rules serve to disadvantage young voters and voters of color.

Two recent studies illustrate the scope and depth of this problem.

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study of rejected mail ballots in the 2018 Florida election found that the rejection rate for vote by mail ballots for those ages 18 to 21 was 5.4% compared to .6% for those over 65. Meanwhile, mail ballots cast by Black, Hispanic, and other racial and ethnic minorities were more than twice as likely to be rejected than mail ballots cast by white absentee mail voters. In total, 31,969 mail ballots cast by voters in the 2018 Florida election did not count. The U.S. Senate race was decided by 10,033 votes and the gubernatorial race was decided by 32,463 votes.

Similarly, a study of rejected mail ballots from Georgia’s closely contested 2018 election found that “newly registered, young, female, and minority voters have rejection rates that are higher compared to their counterparts, varying from 4 to 7 percentage points.”

Apart from the seriousness of the matter, there are other hidden pitfalls to voting by mail that Democrats may not have accounted for in their push to vote by mail this coming November. The video below illustrates.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer and regular contributor to "Liberty Unyielding."