Arlington, VA

The Right Note is a biweekly opinion column. The views expressed are solely the author’s.

“Today may we all rally to the side of justice for the victims, to the side of using peaceful protests to effect change, and to stand against those who would use this tragedy as an excuse for violence, destruction and further division.”

Yesterday in the Progressive Voice, Delegate Rip Sullivan opined on the “virtues” of voting by mail. For Sullivan, first it was gerrymandering that made our elections unfair. Then it was having to show a government issued ID, free if you need it, to prove you were who you say you were.

Now voting in person is on his radar to be eliminated. What will it be next? Maybe voting by mail will be too hard because it requires someone to walk to the mailbox, so we should let them vote with two clicks on a smartphone?

We should ask ourselves if we want to make it harder and harder to identify who is actually casting the votes in elections?

In California, it is legal for someone to submit your ballot for you. Volunteers can pick up hundreds of ballots and drop them off with local election offices with no accountability in between. You may have read about this, it is known as ballot harvesting. In an April story, one Democrat strategist even suggested they would come and take ballots  out of mailboxes.

What would Delegate Sullivan say about that? Where would he draw the line?

For those with health concerns about voting in the Arlington County Board special election in July or the general election in November, our absentee voting system will accommodate you. Right now you can vote in person in advance, or you can vote by requesting an absentee ballot by mail. In the fall, you will not even need to provide a reason at all. You can just vote early because you feel like it.

Delegate Sullivan suggests he supports moving to all mail-in voting permanently. However, mailing a ballot to every registered voter on a list is problematic in an of itself. Voter registration lists, like any mailing list, are always out-of-date. People move, and sadly, people die. We would unnecessarily be opening ourselves up to fraud when it is already relatively easy to vote now.

Voting is both a right and a privilege. In fact it is one of the most sacred rights we have in this country. At the same time, you are not required to participate. Many people do not vote because they feel like they have no real choice, or that they feel like politicians on both sides have failed them. That is their right too.

But, your elected officials have an obligation to make it both accessible and secure for all those who do chose to participate. It should be accessible to those who are eligible to vote and secure to make sure those votes are not watered down by anyone who wishes to commit fraud.

Mark Kelly is a long-time Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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