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April 29, 2020

28 Million Reasons Not to Trust a Mail-in Election

“No idea.” That was the only answer state and local officials had. When a federal elections commission started asking questions, not one person had any explanation for the 28.3 million mail-in ballots that have gone missing since 2012.

“No idea.” That was the only answer state and local officials had. When a federal elections commission started asking questions, not one person had any explanation for the 28.3 million mail-in ballots that have gone missing since 2012. As far as they’re concerned, one in five absentee votes just vanished. No one knows if it’s fraud, system failure, general ineptitude, or a combination of all three. What we do know is that Democrats want us to trust this same process — on a national scale — this November. Thank you, but no thank you.

Four elections. At least seven million missing votes each. By way of comparison, Mark Hemingway at RealClearInvestigations points out, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 popular vote by 2.8 million. “But nearly six million unaccounted mail-in ballots were never counted in 2016 — more than twice her margin in the popular vote.” If that doesn’t rattle you, consider this: according to the federal Election Assistance Commission, these are all low-ball estimates. For starters, the 28.3 missing ballots doesn’t include the number that were “spoiled, undeliverable, or came back for any reason.” Making matters worse, not every area of the country reported back with their statistics — including major cities like Chicago. In other words, this is just the tip of the malfunctioning iceberg.

And these problems, analyst Logan Churchwell shakes his head, aren’t getting much attention. First of all, they’re embarrassing for election officials — and secondly, “people just aren’t paying attention.” But they’d better start. With Democrats trying to use the coronavirus to push America toward its endgame of universal mail-in ballots, voters need to wake up to the gamble they’d be taking with democracy. Already, two liberal senators, Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), are trying to capitalize on people’s fears with what they call the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020. But frankly, Americans ought to be more afraid of the chance they’d be taking with their vote.

On “Washington Watch,” Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who worked as an election official for two decades, said he has plenty of concerns about the idea — not the least of which is the incredibly short timetable to get a new process up and running. “One is just a very practical reason that adjusting from whatever system you have to a system with big changes is hard to do. It’s hard to do in any election [but] it’s particularly hard to do in a presidential election. And two is, while I think ultimately how a state conducts its elections should be left to the state, not the federal government, I have concerns if you don’t have real safeguards on who gets to cast that ballot, and who actually receives the ballot, and who collects the ballot.”

Democrats, he goes on, are talking about a system with no witnesses, no voter ID, no certainty that your vote would even be delivered. “These are things that any rational person should be concerned about.” Now, obviously, the traditional absentee ballot is fine for people who are physically incapable of going to the polls because of illness or military service, etc. “But that’s not what we’re talking about here. "We’re talking about people getting ballots without even asking for them. Or two, asking for them and getting them without any accountability as to whether they come back or not.”

Those are the scenarios, we know from ballot harvesting in more lenient states, that are ripe for abuse. In California, anyone can “walk into an elections office and hand over truckloads of vote-by-mail envelopes with ballots inside," Townhall explains — no questions asked, no verified records kept. In 2018, there were stories of Democrats all across the state knocking on doors to either "help” people vote or pick up their ballots for supposed delivery. What’s to stop someone from trashing those ballots? Or, as officials in Texas discovered, vote for you? “The harvesters sit around and fill these out by the hundreds, often by the thousands,” said one political consultant.

The reality is, Democrats are only forcing this issue because they think it’ll help them win. As FRC’s Ken Blackwell points out, it opens the door to “voter fraud and coercion… [and gives] partisan activists absolute control over physical ballots.” Does a mail-in balloting system guarantee your vote won’t count? No. But even the New York Times admits that the possibility for fraud “is vastly more prevalent than in-person voting…”

We cannot let anyone exploit this crisis, Ken argues, to take away the integrity of our elections. “This pandemic may seem like it’s changed everything, but it has not changed the rules of our constitutional republic. Let’s keep it that way.”

Originally published here.

Historians Doomed to Repeat Themselves

The public schools might be closed, but based on the country’s latest history marks, some kids aren’t missing much! In the “Nation’s Report Card” from the Department of Education, U.S. scores took another big dive in subjects like history, part of an alarming trend that’s prompted the Trump administration to call for “fundamentally rethink[ing] education in America.” And the sooner the better, most people say. At the rate things are going, the only civics our kids will know are the Hondas parked out back.

Calling it “disturbing” and “pervasive,” federal officials tried to come up with some explanation for the across-the-board failure in most eighth-grade classrooms. Except for the “top performing students,” scores in U.S. history were down four points from an already embarrassing mark in 2014. Now, less than a quarter of our country’s eighth graders are considered “proficient” in any social science discipline — and only 15 percent of those can make the grade in U.S. history. We’re talking about students who don’t know about the Lincoln-Douglas debates, the Bill of Rights, or basic global geography, the Washington Examiner laments.

But could these results be coming at the perfect time? Heritage Foundation’s Jonathan Butcher believes so. On “Washington Watch” with Sarah Perry, he pointed out that as discouraging as these numbers are, the coronavirus has actually given parents an opportunity to do something about them. For one, he explains, with more students at home, distance-learning, parents are catching on to what their kids are — and in many cases, aren’t — being taught. By the time children do go back to school in the fall, moms and dads will be a lot more knowledgeable about the gaps in textbooks and classroom lessons. And they’ll be able to bring up those issues and concerns with school administrators. “It’s one thing to be upset about what you read in the news when you hear about what’s being taught in schools. It’s another thing to sit at home with your child [and see it for yourself].”

This pandemic has opened the eyes of a lot of parents, especially when it comes to the impact of Common Core and the rampant “teaching-to-the-test” that’s overtaken education. And unfortunately, the cycle of underperformance and failure has gone on for so long that we’ve raised generations of Americans who lack basic knowledge about the country they’re living in. Is it any wonder that they don’t understand the dangers of socialism or the importance of a constitutional republic? How can they appreciate American exceptionalism if they don’t understand where it came from?

And the surveys of current adults, Jonathan says, only shows where these shortcomings lead. The University of Pennsylvania does one, and in it, they ask people what they know about U.S. government. “It turns out that just under half of respondents… cannot name any branch of government… So that’s troubling. And it certainly puts in perspective these eighth-grade results, which certainly we would hope would be improved through high school.”

Hopefully, as Sarah pointed out, this convergence of at-home learning and these pitiful test scores will force a major change in the public-school landscape. Because, as they both agreed, we need to be able to reach all kids, not just the ones who can afford to find a better option. “There are a lot of kids in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C… [whose] neighborhoods may not be safe. They may be coming from single parent homes. They may not have access to computers.” For their sake, Jonathan insists, “we, as thought leaders and advocates [for education], and believers in the ability of every child to have [the same opportunity], need to be talking — come summer, come fall — about how we make the experience for those kids just as good as the ones who are attending private schools and charter schools and using K-12 scholarship.” At the very least, they deserve a choice — and a chance.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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